What's in store on Election Day?

Who knows what the future holds in the next four days?

Americans are going to elect a new Congress, several governors and thousands of county commissioners, sheriffs, constables (in Texas at least — ugh!) and assorted lower-level government officials.

Everyone who follows this stuff, though, has their eyes on the U.S. Senate. Will it swing from Democratic control to Republican? Virtually everyone who isn’t a dedicated Democratic Party operative thinks it’s a done deal.

Here’s what we ought to look for on election night to determine how strong the tide will be.

The earliest poll closings will be back east. In New Hampshire, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is being challenged strongly by carpetbagger Republican Scott Brown, who lost his Senate seat in Massachusetts and then moved to New Hampshire because he wants to serve in the Senate from another state. If the race is too close to call when the polls close — or if Brown is declared the winner — in the Granite State, Democrats are going to lose big.

Look for something similar to happen in North Carolina, where Democratic Sen. Kay Hagen is being challenged by tea party Republican Thom Tillis. If Tillis is declared the winner outright when the polls close, turn out the lights — as Dandy Don Meredith used to say — the party’s over.

OK, one more key race to ponder. Down yonder in Georgia could tell us something. If Democratic challenger Michelle Nunn defeats Republican foe David Perdue for that state’s Senate seat, then we’ve got something quite different going on. The seat has been in GOP hands. Both of these candidates are kin to political giants in Georgia: Michelle’s dad is former Sen. Sam Nunn; David’s cousin is former Gov. Sonny Perdue. Talk about dynasty politics, right?

These early races could determine how much of the rest of the country will go.

Texas’s Senate race between GOP incumbent John Cornyn and Democrat David Alameel? That one’s over.

The GOP tide has yet to build in the eyes of many observers. We’ll know in due course whether the swells are growing across the country or whether the Senate flips with a slim majority turning up on the Republican side of the chamber.

If the Senate turns Republican Red when all the ballots are counted, then the game changes. We’ll have to see how these folks intend to actually govern and whether they can rise beyond the role of obstructionists.

I’m waiting anxiously.