EXPLAINER: Why do the media call races in US elections?
The Associated Press and the major TV networks have long played a major role in announcing the victor in elections based on their own data. There is no national elections commission to tell the world who wins on election day, unlike in many other countries. A FRAGMENTED PROCESSThe expectation of same-day election results is a modern one, as is the notion of one single Election Day. So the vacuum remained between individual states’ results and the country’s collective decision. Major U.S. television networks follow roughly the same process, using either AP's vote count or another vote count to call races.
After waiting game, media moves swiftly to call Biden winner
Because votes are counted state by state, verdicts by the media outlets' decision desks serve as the unofficial finish line for the presidential race. The closeness of the race in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and North Carolina proved another challenge. “We just have to be certain before we call a winner in the presidential election,” said Sally Buzbee, executive editor and senior vice president of the AP. Heading into Saturday, CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC — which coordinate their vote counts and exit polls — had Biden at 253 electoral votes. All know that calling a presidential election wrong is a career-wrecker.
Biden sees path to 270; Trump attacks election integrity
“This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room. Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits there on Thursday. Trump held a small edge in Georgia, though Biden was gaining on him as votes continued to be counted. One reason is because elections officials were not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law. Some of the Trump team's lawsuits only demand better access for campaign observers to locations where ballots are being processed and counted.
RESULTS 2020 UPDATES: Trump again seeks to stop vote count; Biden urges calm
The nation is waiting to learn whether Biden or Trump will collect the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency. As the hearing unfolded Thursday evening, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were locked in a tight battle for the 20 electoral votes in Pennsylvania. But President Donald Trump is renewing his unfounded claims that Democrats are trying to “steal” the election from him. The presidential race has not yet been called because neither Trump nor Biden has yet collected the requisite 270 Electoral College votes. AP executive editor Sally Buzbee says: “The Associated Press continues to watch and analyze vote count results from Arizona.
EXPLAINER: A closer look at Arizona
Election officials arrive for work at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Phoenix. The Associated Press has called the race in Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden. “The Associated Press continues to watch and analyze vote count results from Arizona as they come in,” said Sally Buzbee, AP’s executive editor. Many of the gains have been driven by the shifting politics of Maricopa County, which is home to Phoenix and its suburbs. Maricopa County accounts for 60% of the state’s vote.
Show your work: AP plans to explain vote calling to public
The AP plans to write stories explaining how its experts make decisions or why, in tight contests, they are holding back. “The general public has a more intense desire to understand it at a nitty-gritty level,” Buzbee said. The closer a race is, the more AP's decision desk relies on actual votes rather than VoteCast. The AP's sprawling election night operation also compiles the vote from across the United States, as it has since 1848. The AP's vote calls were 99.8% accurate in 2016, flawless in calling presidential and congressional elections in each state.
Peaceful protesters get lost in action-packed coverage
Muslim protesters pray before joining a demonstration in the death of George Lloyd , Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Miami. What's easy to get lost are peaceful protesters concerned about police treatment of minorities the raw wound reopened by George Floyd's death. When darkness falls and prime-time television begins, earnest activism is replaced by tense scenes of conflict unique in their breadth. Networks have done strong work covering demonstrations and speaking to peaceful protesters during the day, but what comes later is hard to compete with, said Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. That gets lost in a newscast that goes from city to city, and scenes of looting or violence, Rather said.