6:28 PM: McCain is ahead in Kentucky 62%-36%! And away we go. No more polls, no more ads, just solid numbers. My flag is waving in the breeze.
6:38 PM: Of course, the key job for any network's election coverage: who gets to man the big map? On ABC, it's George Stephanapoulos, who looked 15 when we first met him in Campaign '92 and now barely looks old enough to vote himself.
7:01 PM: Man, Keith Olbermann looks chipper.
7:07 PM: Over on Fox News, Carl Cameron is referring to the "wistful" mood on the McCain plane. Can an entire network be wistful? One suspects that there's going to be a black border around the Fox screen, like they used to have in the Soviet Union when a party leader died.
7:15: CNN just hologrammed reporter Jessica Yellin into their studio, even though she's in Chicago at the Obama bash. Right, just like Star Wars. George Lucas is now producing CNN's election coverage. Chewbacca has taken a seat next to James Carville.
7:40 PM: The MSNBC team is curious, since anchor David Gregory is relatively obscure compared with the likes of Joe Scarborough and Rachel Maddow, who are hovering around the perimeter offering commentary, as is wise man Chuck Todd.
7:57 PM: Approaching the time when it's going to get fun, with much of the country preparing to close their polls. John King of CNN is bouncing off the walls with his now-famous map.
8:00 PM: Projection-palooza! Obama pulls into the lead.
8:05 PM: MSNBC calls Pennsylvania for Obama, where McCain took up residence for the last two weeks of the campaign. Is this foreshadowing? Keep reading.
8:13 PM: Howard Dean speaking on MSNBC, trying real hard not to scream.
8:23 PM: Katie Couric has to handle her own map. Budget cuts at CBS?
8:36 PM: I like Katie well enough, but it's not the same without the folksiness of Dan Rather, who would no doubt be telling us right now that this evening is more exciting than a (exotic animal) in a (major weather event).
8:50 PM : Fox News is on the voter fraud beat. Way to be big old downers, Fox.
9:00 PM: Obama now most of the way to victory with the 9 PM calls.
9:10 PM: On CNN, the panel is trying to come up with some excuse for us to keep watching. What if they promised a Bill Bennett/James Carville throwdown? I've been watching these guys for two hours, and it sure looks like they're considering it.
9:14 PM: Fox has been quickest all night with calls of states. You think they just want to get it all over with?
9:24 PM: Hank Williams, Jr. is playing the McCain event in Phoenix, which is as depressing as it sounds.
9:33 PM: My home state of Ohio becomes the first state to switch from how it voted in 2004: for Obama. The networks have subtly shifted to their "Well, it's not over yet ... except it kinda is" mode.
9:40 PM: ABC has a remote shot from Kenya. They're up late there. Gee, you'd think that no son of a Kenyan had ever been in line to become president before.
9:44 PM: Wolf Blitzer says we can go to CNN.com and play with our own map: "If you want to be John King, you can do it!" I do, I do want to be John King!
9:46 PM: Chuck Todd on MSNBC has been throwing cold water on the Democrats all night. I can't tell if it's strategy to hold viewers or if he's just Edward G. Robinson in The 10 Commandments.
9:55 PM: MSNBC shows the Obamaniacs in Chicago's Grant Park. No Hank Williams Jr., so they're already one up on the GOP.
10:04 PM: Technically, Obama is still just at 200 electoral votes, but the CNN panel is now discussing what sort of president he's going to be.
10:12 PM: Luke Russert, wet-behind-the-ears son of the late Tim, has been on hand from Indiana University with the youth perspective. If he really wanted to give the youth perspective, he'd be reporting from inside a keg right about now.
10:21 PM: Comedy Central joined the fray at the top of the hour with Indecision '08, with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. They welcome Steve Forbes to the set, where the world's stiffest man opines on the returns. The partisan studio audience cheers the good news for Obama as Colbert gripes about whether or not we need all these Democratic states anyway. As Iowa is called for Obama, Stewart says, "For people who are enthralled by watching corn grow, you would have thought they would go with McCain."
10:53 PM: With California's polls closing at 11:00 and expected to easily go to Obama, the usual battle to see which network calls the new presidency first figures to be no battle at all: they will all make the call immediately.
11:00 PM: As they all just did.
11:02 PM: Not much commentary right now, as the networks are limiting themselves to shots of the delirious crowd in Grant Park. And what can really be said? This is really pretty incredible.
11:13 PM: There are still races to call, but with the main event decided, the networks are getting reflective and falling over each other to acknowledge how awesome it all is. Even Karl Rove seems moved. This is the last conciliatory thing Fox will say about Obama for four years.
11:18 PM: McCain concedes the race with class, though his supporters sound like they're in recount mode.
11:58 PM: The Obama family appears at Grant Park! Oprah is there too! It's the dawning of the Age of Aquarius! The 44th President rises to the occasion with his own speech.
1:02 AM: We're now deep into talking-head mode on all the networks, as the main news is done (Missouri still needs to decide) but it's too early to sign off. There is consensus that this is a night none will soon forget. Ron Allen of MSNBC, who is black, tries and isn't totally successful when it comes to separating his emotions from his job. I think all will agree he's entitled this one time.
1:54 AM: The first poll for the 2012 presidential race is released. Oh, I'm just kidding!