HOW can they call Maryland for Obama?

The link shows that as of this moment, with 5% of precincts reporting:

Obama 47%
McCain 51%

So how can CNN call Maryland for Obama? How does this work?

Key (swing) precinct results combined with exit polls.

Let’s say there’s a state divided in two relatively equally sized areas. Traditionally, in Area 1, 80% of the population votes for Party A, and 20% for Party B. In Area 2, on the other hand, 20% of the population votes for Party A, and 80% for Party B.

So there’s an election, and the results start coming in. We don’t have the results from Area 2 yet, but in Area 1, Party A gets 54% of the vote and Party B gets 46% of the vote.

So, even though the results that are in so far have Party A winning, Party B will probably win the state, because if Party A is only barely winning in Area 1, where it’s traditionally strong, it’ll probably do terrible in Area 2, where it’s weak.

There’s nothing to lose if they’re wrong. They don’t pay a fine or such.

What Captain Amazing said, but I’ll be more explicit. Less populous, more rural areas are usually more Republican. Said areas, given their smaller populations, can get their votes counted and reported sooner than the more populous, more Democratic areas.

Good, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who saw that then. My wife thought I was crazy last night when I saw that. I guess they knew Maryland would go that way, but still to see Obama’s name as winner with less percentage was strange.

Because there was really never any question. Maryland is very Democratic these days. The Baltimore Sun said on Sunday that “you can bet your house” Obama would carry the state:

As someone else mentioned earlier in the thread, the news organizations also have very good data from exit polls, which they keep a lid on until after the polls have closed. So if their statewide exit poll data shows a very strong preference for one candidate, they will call it, even though the early polling results seemingly are contrary.

Heh. I met a DNC operative from Maryland yesterday who was serving as a pollwatcher in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He told me with a smile that there wasn’t much for him to do at home.