Calling our elections

“If you don’t like Tucker Carlson or Rachel Maddow or Wolf Blitzer, don’t worry, they’re not making the calls.”

It is not CNN, Fox News or any other news organization which is legally tasked to declare projected winners. The states certify their election results weeks after the election.

On November 7, 2020, at about 11:20 am, the Associated Press called the election for Joe Biden, the projected winner of the election. Within 20 minutes, every network had called the election. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris celebrated that night.

Not all networks follow AP. There’s another organization called Decision Desk HQ. They also called Pennsylvania but not Arizona. CNN has not yet to call Arizona.

Some felt that Trump should concede immediately. I did not feel this way, and if Joe Biden had been the loser, I would have felt the same way. Conceding soon after an election is “called” makes sense if the candidate has lost in several states. Here, it was only Pennsylvania and I saw no reason for Trump to concede that day. The next day, the vote margin exceeded 0.50%, a vote recount could only happen with a court order, which appears unlikely.

In contesting an election, the legal challenges should be directed to the narrowest margins, namely Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. However, as these challenges may be filed, it is likely that this week, the Associated Press will call the election for Joe Biden in Arizona and Nevada, which will mean Biden no longer needs Pennsylvania to win. Georgia’s recount will not matter.

Certainly, at that point, it’s time for Trump to thank his supporters and throw in the towel.

Others opined that Trump will never concede and that will be terrible ending to his administration. For four years, Trump has been on the attack of the media, and it must appear to him that they (and not the electorate) have declared him a loser.

Obvious, the Associated Press or Decision Desk HQ can not tell a president he has lost. It has to be an independent decision. I’m sure he will listen to his lawyers on the chances of his lawsuits succeeding. In public, Rudy Giuliani will blast away at election results, and confidently announce they have solid proof of wrong doing. Yet privately, Trump will want to know the truth.

Let’s face it – our nation is polarized and so are the broadcast networks. It is sometimes incredible how the news stories vary or what is considered the most important story of the day.

Yet, they all came together as you could flip the channel and see the identical projected winners of the election. They could still disagree on everything else. Commentators on conservative networks in general did not call the results as fake, rigged or stolen, as Trump did. The keyword was election fraud is suspect.

The general public wants results as soon as possible not only the winner of the presidential race but of the 435 congressional seats that were up for re-election. It reduces a network’s credibility if they project a winner one moment, and change it a few minutes later.

See the link for more specifics on election projection by Decision Desk HQ, and the Associated Press. ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News have a different method on election night. They rely on a partnership called the National Election Pool, which provides exit polling and other data to the member organizations.

The issue is always the same, if the outstanding votes can possibly change the outcome. When the difference between candidates becomes very narrow, then they have to err on the side of caution and wait for more votes to be recorded.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

How the press calls elections, explained


AP Explainer: Why did AP call the election for Biden

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