I'm not going to analyze the popular vote because it's complicated and it doesn't matter, strictly speaking. It does matter a lot for legitimacy purposes, but only for Obama. My guess is that the result will be about 50-49-1% in favor of the incumbent, which will make him a legitimate victor in the minds of Democrats and true swing voters, and would mostly shut the media up. If Obama loses the popular vote but wins the electoral college, the press will insist that he bow to every Republican whim, which of course they did not do for Bush the Lesser. That would be both entirely unfair and entirely unsurprising, because media has two separate standards for the two parties.
On election night, the first state to watch for will be Virginia, where polls close at 7PM EST. If Obama takes that state, he'll almost certainly have won the election (given the near-certainty of Obama winning the 265 EVS in the higher confidence categories). The networks may also call Florida at 7PM EST, but most likely they will wait until 8PM EST when polls in the panhandle close. Florida is another state that would basically guarantee that Obama was victorious. If Obama loses in both of those states, he will need to win Colorado, Iowa, or Nevada. Those states close their polls at 9PM EST, 10PM EST, and 10PM EST respectively. New Hampshire polls will close at 8PM EST, but by itself the state's 4 EVs cannot give Obama the win when added to his baseline of 265. I think we'll have to wait until after 9 PM to see the good guy win.
|Certain Dem.||Likely Dem.||Lean Dem.||Lean Rep.||Likely Rep.||Certain Rep.|
|District of Columbia||3|
* - By state law, both Maine and Nebraska can split their electoral votes, but that won't happen in 2012.