Election Night Coverage

What do you think of the election night coverage you’ve seen? Good, bad, indifferent?

I have been watching MSNBC. Two things annoyed me.

  1. Early on, LONG before the polls closed, even the Central time zone polls, they started calling races based on projections, and they called them as if they results were final. VERY poor journalism, in my opinion. “With 33% of the votes in, NBC is calling the election for Congressman X,” the would intone gravely. Hey, I don’t care HOW fucking accurate you think your projections are, with 67% of the vote still out, you are fucking GUESSING you idiot! CALL it a guess. Not a “projection.”

  2. There is nothing more boring than a victory speech, unless it be a concession speech. Don’t give them air time, they are boredom on a stick! Keep looking at the races!

CNN’s coverage has been pretty good. They’ve not been calling the races too early, and given that they’re very late in their updates (they’ve been 15% or so behind Pennsylvania’s SecState page all night) they seem to be trying to be sure before they declare. Good on them.

BBC always has good coverage. This time, too.

The Daily Show had a great bit last night spoofing the network coverage, with John Oliver walking around in a “hologram” suit (actually a skintight, genital revealing green screen suit) with images of the capital projected on it.

CNN’s was fair, with a good mix of pundits on the left and right.

Fox had two pundits from the left…Juan Williams and Joe Trippi.

Did MSNBC have anyone on their panels (not remotes) who gave the moderate/right perspective?

This has been going on for decades. Are you just noticing it now?

Yeah, in fact it’s not all that uncommon for the networks call a race as soon as the polls close in races where the outcome is pretty much a foregone conclusion (like, say, the Senate race between Jim Demint and Alvin Greene).

I think I have been ‘spoiled’ by years of BBC coverage of the UK elections with John Snow walking through virtual Number 10s, laying pavement on Downing Street, the famous swingometer and whatnot. The examples of the US coverage that TDS showed were beyond pale in comparison.

In some cases one can also quite accurately guess the outcome by looking at a few key areas. For example, if you know the Democrats usually take District X and the Republicans usually take District Y, you can look at those two and see how high the turnout is in each, and how the candidates are doing there when the first returns come in.

Or there may be a “swing” area that has had different patterns in different years, and see that District Z is Republican this year, whereas they were Democrat the last two elections.

I used to be active in local politics, and we would have poll watchers at each precinct who would call our team base with preliminary numbers before they were official. We knew if we didn’t take a particular part of town in a big way we would be overwhelmed by another part of town where we knew we did not have support, and vice versa.

I don’t have cable, so I watched only the networks, mostly NBC.

I don’t think they EVER called any races until those particular polls closed. I saw, for example, that NBC had a digital countdown in the upper right hand of their screen (a little digital clock) that showed the time until the polls closed in California and the rest of the West Coast.

Then, shortly after those West Coast polls closed, they predicted winners based on exit polls and whatnot. But they NEVER, as far as I saw, predicted winners/losers until those specific polls closed. IOW, they NEVER gave out information that would have caused voters the opportunity to say “Oh, I guess the results are a foregone conclusion, so I don’t need to bother to vote now.”

I’m O.K. with that, and don’t think that’s poor journalism.

As far as I noticed, that was true this year, but not in 2008. I’m pretty sure they projected Obama to win the presidency as soon as the west coast polls closed, meaning people in Alaska and Hawaii could view that race as a foregone conclusion.

Not really the media’s fault. The way the electoral college decides things, it really can be a foregone conclusion before all the polls are closed.

You just noticed? Are you to young to remember the media’s “It’s Gore, wait, it’s Bush, nevermind it’s … oh hell, we don’t know” performance in 2000?

In general, this isn’t that annoying provided it is done in races that are foregone conclusions and only done after all polls have actually closed. For example, I forget which site it was, but one of the news media called Pelosi as winner after .2% of the votes in her district were counted. I didn’t mind because everyone knew what the result would be. Besides, once the votes were counted, the media outlet was right.

Hell, if anything, I was more annoyed at the reverse. Big headlines that O’Donnell lost. No shit, really? Was there someone out there who didn’t know she’d lose weeks ago? Her losing isn’t news in the same way that Pelosi winning isn’t.

Despite how competitive some races were, the majority were of the sort that it was very very clear who would win before the first vote was even cast. The US system, and gerrymandering especially, make many districts foregone conclusions.

Well, that was because Obama HAD won the presidency as soon as they could project the winner of the elections in California and a few other western states, which they could do as soon as the polls in THOSE states closed.

That type of projection they’ve always done. It’s just a matter of adding up the electoral votes.

I’m OK with projections provided they’re well grounded statically.

What pissed me off about CNN was the meaningless banter. They did a poll showing, “Will the economy be effecting your vote in 2010?” WHAT A DUMB QUESTION. The answer is going to be pretty obvious but even then won’t tell you anything. What way are these people voting? Even worse because CNN’s graphics were already set up for in in that 58% had 58 little cubes. How much harder to color those 58 cubes red and blue to add a third dimension to the graphic.

Got a lot of meaningless info last night.

The silence is deafening.

Repeat after yourself … “Fox evil; MSNBC good, Fox evil; MSNBC good.”

I’ve noticed it before, but they seemed to have backed off a bit from their tone of certitude when discussing projected wins in years past. The MSNBC crew was announcing their guesses as if they were fait accompli. That annoys me. No matter what the basis of your guesses, however sound they might be, they are still GUESSES. From the tone the MSNBC crew was using, once the NBC analysts called “Rhode Island” for “Senator Foghorn” there was no point in continuing to count the votes thereafter.

I am not sure you need a political perspective to cover vote counting. The MSNBC crew did after all announce that the Republicans handily took the House and very nearly got the Senate. They were fairly objective about it, didn’t maunder about voter fraud without evidence (and not much seemed to have been in evidence) but mostly speculated about what this means for Congress in the coming years … whether Dems and Pubs could work together with a split majority … there were differing opinions on this issue. They were all clearly glad that Reed beat Angle, and a little surprised that he did it so decisively. I imagine a lot of Republicans felt the same way secretly … imagine having to defend that moonbat’s looney tune pronouncements for two years.

Exit polling is extremely accurate and dependable. It has been for a long time and works around the world. It has failed twice. Both of them were when Bush was running. Pure coincidence i guess. In 2000 the people in charge of exit polling were shocked by the results. They spent 4 years covering all bases and tripling the amount of people they polled so 2004 would be perfect… It was a certainty they would be within a percentage or so. In Ohio they missed by 11,7 percent. That is impossible.
A month after our elections, there was an European election. Exit polling. not even as thorough as ours showed a 12.5 percent discrepancy. Our government came down hard and the rest of the world agreed that was a fix. The election was redone.

That’s not true. Exit polls tend to overstate Democratic strength in general. In 1992, for instance, exit polls overstated Clinton’s strength by about 2.5 points. Here’s an article by Mark Blumenthal about the inaccuracy of exit polls:


The local news affiliate called John Dingell’s race for the opponent after 8% of precincts reported.

Congressman Dingell won reelection by 17 points.