Early election night call - good or bad?

With states like OH, NC, and FL all trending blue and bluer, it looks possible that the news organizations could call the election for Clinton early in the evening after the Eastern polls close. If they were to do so, what do you think the effect would be on downticket races further west? Would an early call cause more Ds or Rs to stay home/come out? How are the Senate seats up for grabs likely to be affected?

I think they try not to do that anymore.

I don’t think it’s realistic that the winner can be declared until California checks in at 11 pm ET. So even though if Hillary takes OH, PA, and FL it will be quite obvious who the winner is, they won’t declare her president-elect until 11:00:01 pm ET, at which point nearly all the votes for all offices are pretty well completed.

They call the states as they are “decided”–that is, the moment a) the polls are closed and b) there is a clear winner.

A lot of the earliest-closing states are likely Trump states: South carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia all close relatively early in the evening. Conversely, some Eastern states that will go for Clinton don’t close till later on: NY, for example, closes at 9 eastern.

States that are close, they’ll hold off on. So I wouldn’t expect OH, FL, and NC, for example, to be called until some time after the polls close there.

In 2012, IIRC, Romney had a significant lead for a while early on for just this reason: a lot of early closing states were clearly his, while Obama states in EST and CST either closed later or took time to sort out who had won.

And Clinton will expect a lot of votes from late-closing states in the west: CA has, what, 52 votes and WA and OR and HI another 20? I’d be very surprised if she had already been declared the winner before those states and their 70+ votes are factored in. (She may have enough–I hope she does!–, but it’s doubtful that the networks will have called states for Clinton amounting to 270 EVs before the polls close in western states.)

States like California are so likely to go for Clinton that they don’t really have to wait. They probably will for down ticket reasons, but they don’t have to.

The election was called in 2012 and 2008 when the polls closed in Ohio/Pennsylvania. Karl Rove famously flipped out when Fox called it at 10pm CST-ish because they had enough Cleveland and suburb results in.


Indiana and Kentucky are the first states to close. If they’re not immediately called for Trump, Hillary has won and it’s not going to be close.

If Hillary has 270 before polls close out west, it won’t matter. The only west coast state that might even be competitive is Alaska.

That depends – if Trump continues to be damaged by unflattering revelations and his antics in response thereto, those states might not be so close this time.

I have this feeling that at 6:00 PM EST, The news channels will say, “Well, we have 1% of only Rhode Island polls in and we declare Hillary Clinton as the winner.” :smiley:

Yes, he did flip out in part because at the time it was called for Obama, Romney was leading in the reported. But the statisticians could see where those counts were coming from and what precincts had not yet reported, presumably a lot from Cleveland and other urban areas. They inferred that Romney’s lead would not hold up and they were right, but Rove was incensed.

California’s Senate seat won’t be affected as the only two candidates are both Democrats.

Other than that, it depends on how early Clinton gets to 270. It won’t happen at 8:00 Eastern (like it did with Reagan in 1980, although they called states before their polls closed back then). If it does happen before 10:00 Eastern, it may come down to how badly Trump burned his GOP bridges; I don’t see him conceding early and telling the Republicans out west, “We may have lost the White House, but we can still keep Hillary’s hands off of the Supreme Court if you vote for the Republican in your Senate race!” (and I don’t see anybody other than Fox News airing a similar announcement from anybody else in the GOP).

Your cite doesn’t match your post. The networks called various states after their own polls closed. Ohio and PA were closed by 8 PM, but they didn’t call the election until after 11 PM Eastern - when every state was closed except Hawaii and Alaski

California is so blue the ocean is jealous. Guaranteed 55 EV for Hillary, not even a chance if it going any other way unless Hillary gets caught selling American nuclear weapons to ISIS.

If Florida and NC go blue, call the race. It’ll be all over by 11:30 PM Eastern on 11/08/2016.

When a network calls the election is up to them, but, really, this is the correct answer. If it is apparent Florida and North Carolina have gone Clinton, the election is over. There is no path to victory for Trump if those two states are blue.

You could quite literally program a TV to filter things out such that you aren’t allowed to see or hear anything about any state except Florida and North Carolina, and if all you knew was they went Clinton, you would know Clinton won. If Florida goes Clinton and NC goes Trump, you’re 97% sure Clinton won; vice versa, maybe 60%; if both are Trump, you need more information.

Right. Ohio was too close to call immediately after it closed. It was only a little after 11 pm Eastern, after California closed, that enough votes were counted in Ohio that the call could be made there. Then the electoral votes of Ohio, added to those of California and all the rest, made Obama president. It was the determination that Ohio was going to Obama that led to Rove’s famous fit, and that was after California closed.

Absolutely correct, but the networks won’t actually declare a winner until one person has won states totaling 270 EVs.

After the early evening calls for Reagan, the networks pledged they wouldn’t call the elections until the polls had closed on the West Coast.

Since then, the earliest call I can remember was Obama in 2008, at exactly 11 p.m. Eastern. To refresh my memory I reviewed the Fox News call. Notice that even before Fox officially declared Obama to be the winner, the little counter in the bottom right showed him with 297 electoral votes. Over on CNN they were holding back – only showing Obama with 220 electoral votes,while ABC had 207 and CBS listed 206.

So even when everyone knows what they know, the networks will politely refrain from calling anything until 11 p.m. Eastern.

As noted above, the mainstream media exercise *some *restraint in when they call a result. Their restraint probably peaked in the 1990s and has been slowly declining since.

The world of alt media and social media will exhibit zero such restraint this time.

What’s new or nearly new in 2016 is that a tremendous fraction of the populace get their primary news feed from alt and social media.

My bottom-line point being that what matters in terms of impact on the western states’ races is not what CNN says whenever they get around to saying it, but what Facebook says from the opening bell on Tuesday morning.

I know, but it’s still silly.

I mean, if Clinton has 215 EVs in the bag and California hasn’t closed the polls yet, I think you can count that as 270. Trump has less of a chance of winning California than I do. And indeed, as **kunilou **provided a link to, Fox News did exactly this in 2008; with enough EVs clearly called, they simply added California and declared Obama the winner.

I appreciate the “don’t call it until everyone gets to vote” sentiment but the Fox News guy was simply reporting the plain facts; there was no doubt Obama would win California, and therefore no doubt he had won. If Clinton has piled up blue on the East Coast there’s no point in denying it.

Obama won the 2012 election by a greater margin than Ohio provides - actually, he won by a greater margin than any state provides - so if they called it just on Ohio, there must have been something else still up in the air.