It includes each real-time outcomes and knowledge from exit polls. CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS work with the polling agency Edison Analysis in what is called the Nationwide Election Pool for outcomes and exit polling knowledge. Fox Information and the Related Press have a separate association.
CNN’s Brian Stelter lately interviewed Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist on “Dependable Sources” about how CNN initiatives races and the way the method might be completely different this yr. A transcript of that dialog, edited barely for size, is under.
Individually, I additionally spoke with Jennifer Agiesta, CNN’s director of polling and election analytics, who runs the community’s resolution desk. Hold studying for her views.
This yr is completely different
BRIAN STELTER: That is — Sam, that is, what, your eighth presidential election at CNN, proper?
SAM FEIST, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Proper. 1992 was the primary one.
STELTER: There’s lots that hasn’t modified by way of the choice desk course of. What’s the largest X issue this yr that makes you and your colleagues suppose we have to clarify this extra about how the election works?
FEIST: That is going to be an election like no different. You’ve got heard that time and again. However I am unsure that the counting or reporting of the votes are going to be a complete lot completely different. Actually, I feel there’s each cause to consider it’ll be orderly.
Clearly, this yr, due to the mail-in ballots, on account of the pandemic, it might take just a little bit longer, proper? It takes longer to rely mailing ballots. They must be opened. They must be processed. Some states do not start processing mailing ballots till Election Day, so it might take just a little longer.
However I actually consider that if we do not have a winner on election night time, there’s an excellent risk that we’ll know the reply on Wednesday or Thursday as a result of the overwhelming majority of votes can have been counted by then.
How will we get election returns?
STELTER: Let’s get into the weeds concerning the counting. So the native precincts within the states, they rely — they rely the votes. After which what occurs with the information media, 1000’s of people decentralized throughout the nation which might be getting that knowledge and feeding it to you and your colleagues of the choice desk?
FEIST: That is proper. Native officers throughout the nation on the county, metropolis, township stage, or generally on the state stage, they rely and publicly report the votes. After which all throughout the nation, the Nationwide Election Pool and the Related Press, for that matter, ship out reporters to find out about and report the votes.
The votes come again to a central tabulating middle for us, after which we in fact, report them to the — to the viewers. And that occurs all through the night time, after which it’s going to proceed occurring and at all times does after election night time is over as a result of votes proceed to return in. Mail in and absentee votes proceed to be acquired. And that may occur for days after. After which when all of the votes are counted, we report all the outcomes, and it is so simple as that.
STELTER: There’s some misconceptions about how this works. For instance, the exit polls, there are tens of 1000’s of interviews with voters after they vote to get a way of why they voted the best way they did. However, you recognize, networks don’t use exit polls alone to make projections and shut races. So, I feel we should always — we should always debunk that fable proper now.
Additionally on display right here, the networks don’t compete to be first to announce projections. Now, I really feel like within the yr 2000, there was a priority that that did occur. What about 2020?
FEIST: So, you had been proper that in 2000, I feel that there could have been some competitors between networks to be first. However I’ve not seen that so long as I have been doing this. I have been doing this working with the choice crew since 2004, and there’s no race to be first. There is a race to be proper, which isn’t a race in any respect. It is extra vital to be proper than to be first.
And I actually can guarantee you that the choice groups on the networks should not in a contest with one another. They’re largely in sync with one another. One community could also be barely forward in a single state, one community could also be barely forward in one other state, but it surely’s actually the votes that drive the selections. When there’s sufficient votes in a specific state to offer the choice crew the arrogance that that individual goes to win, then they will announce a projection. So, you’ll not see a race this yr, nor do you have to, and that is an excellent factor for the general public.
STELTER: I feel it is attention-grabbing that there are two completely different programs, two completely different teams doing all of this. And that is new prior to now few years. You might have the Nationwide Election Pool, together with CNN, after which this type of competitor in the marketplace, AP Votecast. Perhaps it is a good factor, although, this yr to have two completely different teams assembling the outcomes, as a result of it is type of a test and stability and would possibly give folks extra confidence within the outcomes.
FEIST: Sure. I would not actually name it a competitor. I’d recommend that there — the 2 organizations are working in parallel, the Nationwide Election Pool and the Related Press. Every might be independently acquiring the vote rely from across the nation. And I feel that they in some methods present a test on one another as a result of when the general public sees that two unbiased media consortiums, two unbiased media shops report the votes and so they’re very related, I feel that is a confidence builder and that is one thing that we want on this election. So, I do not actually see them as rivals. I see them as working in parallel and that is good factor.
Have endurance, America. This might take some time.
STELTER: Usually 11:00 p.m. is the earliest time — 11:00 p.m. jap time — that an election might be known as as a result of the western states have closed their polls. Is there any probability of a projection at 11:00 p.m. on November 3?
FEIST: Sure, in fact there’s an opportunity of a projection. It’s attainable and we are inclined to make projections early on election night time if the race just isn’t shut significantly in these battleground states, so it’s attainable. However it’s solely attainable that there will not be a projection on election night time.
You realize, folks overlook that in two of the final 5 elections, now we have gone to mattress with no president-elect. Everybody remembers 2000 the place Florida was the deciding state after which it was too near name on election night time, and we did not know, and it took one other 31 days.
However the very subsequent election was 2004, and in that case, Ohio was the state that was going to be decisive and we didn’t have sufficient votes in to venture a winner on election night time, so we waited. And it was noon the following day when sufficient outcomes had been clear in Ohio that George W. Bush gained Ohio and was reelected. So, it’s not uncommon for elections to not be selected Election Day, particularly this yr as a result of mail-in ballots take longer to rely. You need to open them, it’s important to course of them, and so it may very well be that we do not know till Wednesday or Thursday and even later. However I feel the overwhelming majority of the votes within the nation might be counted by late within the election week, so I consider that we’ll doubtless know a winner. It simply might not be on election night time.
And that is OK. That does not imply something is incorrect. The general public, the media, the candidates simply have to be just a little bit affected person.
What if a candidate prematurely declares victory?
STELTER: Proper. We have to inform folks to have endurance. A sluggish rely is a protected rely. However you recognize, we do not know what is going on to occur by way of Florida or different key states, what is going on to occur with the turnout in these votes. What about to illustrate it is midnight or 1:00 a.m., and Donald Trump comes out and says I’m the winner of the election, and our knowledge doesn’t again that up in any respect, what is going to CNN do?
FEIST: If now we have not projected sufficient states for a candidate to get to 270 electoral votes, and a candidate comes out and declares victory, we’ll make it clear that the information don’t again up that declare of victory. And we’ll do it in a variety of methods. For those who’ve watched CNN’s election night time, John King on the magic wall spends an terrible lot of election night time explaining why we have not projected a winner in a specific state.
And he goes county by county, reveals what number of votes are left to return in, what number of votes have been counted, which counties haven’t reported a lot votes. This yr, in fact, we’ll layer in absentee votes all through the night time in our dialog. And if we’re not able to venture the state — we’re not able to venture the state, that does not imply that something is incorrect.
And we’ll make it clear to our viewers and our readers, that there is merely not sufficient info to make a projection, and that the candidate, if a candidate goes out and declares a winner — declares victory forward of time, that they’re doing it earlier than the votes have been counted, earlier than — that’s based mostly in truth.
Everyone seems to be trying on the identical outcomes, together with Fox Information
STELTER: Sure, the candidates will not know something greater than the networks. They will not have any magic knowledge that the networks will not have entry to.
FEIST: That is appropriate.
STELTER: Sam, what about Fox? What about Fox Information? Is the choice desk at Fox reliable provided that elsewhere on the community you’ve got received propagandists like Sean Hannity who would possibly attempt to facet with Trump in some type of election tug of warfare?
FEIST: The entire networks have glorious resolution groups. These are made up of political scientists and knowledge scientists. Jenn Agiesta, who runs the CNN resolution crew, is our polling director. She’s been working with our resolution crew for a few years. And that’s true at all the networks. The general public has each cause to believe within the resolution groups of the networks.
And my recommendation to all people, all the politicians, the partisans, the commentators, the analysts, await the projections from the networks and the Related Press, and do not get out forward of them. These are the specialists that the nation has come to depend upon over time.
And any analysts that suppose they know greater than these resolution desks which have been doing this for 30 years is incorrect. They only do not. And I’d have numerous confidence within the resolution desks. And that they are going to be affected person — they’ll take their time, and so they’re not going to get forward of themselves. So, I’d give that recommendation to all people on election night time.
Nobody is aware of what is going to occur
STELTER: Backside line right here is it is about endurance, and about not assuming we all know what is going on to occur. There’s lots of people assuming the worst, and that is not a good suggestion. However we also needs to be ready for lots of various prospects. Is that truthful?
FEIST: That is appropriate. That is completely proper. And we simply have to offer the — these — native election authorities the time to rely the vote. In lots of states, they might have time to do it on election night time. In different states, due to state election legal guidelines the place they cannot start counting absentee ballots till Election Day, simply give them time. It might take a day or a number of days. Give them time. They’ll rely the votes, after which we’ll all know.
Agiesta on the particular issues the choice desk considers
WHAT MATTERS: What are the particular metrics you are on the lookout for to venture a race? Is there a magic threshold by which you are in a position to say there isn’t any means a specific candidate can overcome this?
AGIESTA: There is no magic concerned in projecting races, sadly, it is actually all math. There are a selection of issues we’re on the lookout for in every state to believe in a projection. Most vital is what’s been counted: The place are the votes coming from geographically inside the state, what varieties of votes are included within the rely, and the way a lot of the entire vote does the rely symbolize proper now?
If there is a clear lead for one candidate within the present rely, however not one of the votes from the strongest a part of the state for the trailing candidate aren’t in but, that margin doubtless will not maintain up. If as an alternative there may be good geographic illustration within the vote, that is some extent in favor of a projection.
If the whole lot that is been counted is absentee and early votes, or all Election Day votes, there will not be a transparent image of how all of the votes will look when each varieties of vote are included. A few of each are wanted for projections in nearer races.
And the quantity of vote left to rely is crucial, and could also be a tougher piece of data to trace down in 2020. That is tougher for 2 causes. First, the rise in vote by mail, and the variety of ballots which can have been mailed in time for Election Day, however are acquired by election officers afterward. There isn’t a method to know on election night time precisely what number of of these there are. And second is the decreased worth in understanding the variety of precincts reporting. There are fewer folks voting on Election Day in most locations and a few states are consolidating precincts, so comparisons of the variety of folks voting in a specific precinct now to the previous are much less helpful, and it might be tougher to get an excellent learn on Election Day turnout earlier than a county or city is totally reported.
It is usually helpful to check what we all know concerning the vote now to what’s occurred in a state or county prior to now by way of each turnout and who they’re voting for. Whether or not these patterns stay the identical or are altering this yr will assist to find out after we could make a projection.
What states are key to a presidential projection?
WHAT MATTERS: Is there one particular state you are taking a look at this yr as a bellwether for the presidential race?
Agiesta: It is tough to slim it down to 1 state, however there are typically two varieties of states that election analysts want to this yr, and one state inside every kind that’s most crucial for figuring out the president. One set are fast-growing, historically Republican, Solar Belt states the place Democrats have been gaining floor because the make-up of the inhabitants has modified. Arizona, North Carolina and Florida are emblematic of these developments, and inside these three, Florida is most crucial to the electoral fortunes of both presidential candidate. The opposite set are Northern states which have been Democratic in latest presidential elections however broke for Trump in 2016. These states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — have sizable populations of White voters with out faculty levels and economies which have needed to change because the financial system in America has shifted. In that group, Pennsylvania is the powerhouse in electoral votes.
What concerning the Senate?
WHAT MATTERS: You are not simply trying on the presidential race — management of the Senate can be up for grabs. Will you be projecting Senate races and is the method completely different there?
Agiesta: Sure, we’ll venture all these Senate races, in addition to gubernatorial contests within the 11 states the place these might be held. Projections for downballot races observe the identical procedures as presidential races. We’re taking a look at how a lot we find out about all of the several types of vote which might be on the market, the place within the state these votes have come from, how they examine to what we find out about votes there prior to now, and what we find out about what’s left to rely. We want the identical kind of confidence in that details about Senate and gubernatorial contests as we do for the presidential races.