It entails each actual-time outcomes and data from exit polls. CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS work with the polling agency Edison Research in what is called the National Election Pool for outcomes and exit polling information. Fox News and the Associated Press have a separate association.
CNN’s Brian Stelter lately interviewed Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist on “Reliable Sources” about how CNN tasks races and the way the method will probably be completely different this yr. A transcript of that dialog, edited barely for size, is under.
Separately, I additionally spoke with Jennifer Agiesta, CNN’s director of polling and election analytics, who runs the community’s resolution desk. Keep studying for her views.
This yr is completely different
BRIAN STELTER: This is — Sam, that is, what, your eighth presidential election at CNN, proper?
SAM FEIST, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Right. 1992 was the primary one.
STELTER: There’s rather a lot that hasn’t modified by way of the choice desk course of. What is the most important X issue this yr that makes you and your colleagues suppose we have to clarify this extra about how the election works?
FEIST: This goes to be an election like no different. You’ve heard that time and again. But I’m unsure that the counting or reporting of the votes are going to be a complete lot completely different. In truth, I feel there’s each cause to imagine it will be orderly.
Obviously, this yr, due to the mail-in ballots, because of the pandemic, it might take somewhat bit longer, proper? It takes longer to depend 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 somewhat longer.
But I actually imagine that if we do not have a winner on election evening, there’s an excellent risk that we will know the reply on Wednesday or Thursday as a result of the overwhelming majority of votes could have been counted by then.
How will we get election returns?
STELTER: Let’s get into the weeds in regards to the counting. So the native precincts within the states, they depend — they depend the votes. And then what occurs with the information media, hundreds of people decentralized throughout the nation which might be getting that information and feeding it to you and your colleagues of the choice desk?
FEIST: That’s proper. Local officers throughout the nation on the county, metropolis, township stage, or generally on the state stage, they depend and publicly report the votes. And then all throughout the nation, the National Election Pool and the Associated 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 after all, report them to the — to the viewers. And that occurs all through the evening, after which it’s going to proceed occurring and all the time does after election evening is over as a result of votes proceed to come back in. Mail in and absentee votes proceed to be obtained. And that may occur for days after. And then 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 hundreds of interviews with voters after they vote to get a way of why they voted the best way they did. But, you already know, networks don’t use exit polls alone to make projections and shut races. So, I feel we must always — we must always debunk that delusion proper now.
Also on display screen 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 have been proper that in 2000, I feel that there could have been some competitors between networks to be first. But I’ve not seen that so long as I’ve been doing this. I’ve been doing this working with the choice crew since 2004, and there’s no race to be first. There’s a race to be proper, which isn’t a race in any respect. It’s much more essential to be proper than to be first.
And I actually can guarantee you that the choice groups on the networks will not be 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, nevertheless it’s actually the votes that drive the selections. When there’s sufficient votes in a specific state to offer the choice crew the boldness that that particular person goes to win, then they’ll announce a projection. So, you’ll not see a race this yr, nor do you have to, and that is a great factor for the general public.
STELTER: I feel it is fascinating that there are two completely different methods, two completely different teams doing all of this. And that is new prior to now few years. You have the National Election Pool, together with CNN, after which this sort of competitor in the marketplace, AP Votecast. Maybe it is a good factor, although, this yr to have two completely different teams assembling the outcomes, as a result of it is sort of a test and steadiness and would possibly give individuals extra confidence within the outcomes.
FEIST: Yes. I would not actually name it a competitor. I might counsel that there — the 2 organizations are working in parallel, the National Election Pool and the Associated Press. Each will probably be independently acquiring the vote depend 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 impartial media consortiums, two impartial 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’d like 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: Typically 11:00 p.m. is the earliest time — 11:00 p.m. japanese time — that an election will probably be known as as a result of the western states have closed their polls. Is there any likelihood of a projection at 11:00 p.m. on November 3?
FEIST: Yes, after all there’s an opportunity of a projection. It is feasible and we are likely to make projections early on election evening if the race just isn’t shut significantly in these battleground states, so it’s attainable. But it’s totally attainable that there will not be a projection on election evening.
You know, individuals overlook that in two of the final 5 elections, we now have gone to mattress with no president-elect. Everyone remembers 2000 the place Florida was the deciding state after which it was too near name on election evening, and we did not know, and it took one other 31 days.
But 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 mission a winner on election evening, so we waited. And it was noon the subsequent day when sufficient outcomes have 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 depend. You must open them, it’s a must to course of them, and so it may very well be that we do not know till Wednesday or Thursday and even later. But I feel the overwhelming majority of the votes within the nation will probably be counted by late within the election week, so I imagine that we’ll probably know a winner. It simply will not be on election evening.
And that is OK. That does not imply something is unsuitable. The public, the media, the candidates simply should be somewhat bit affected person.
What if a candidate prematurely declares victory?
STELTER: Right. We want to inform individuals to have endurance. A sluggish depend is a protected depend. But you already know, 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 information doesn’t again that up in any respect, what is going to CNN do?
FEIST: If we now 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 quite a lot of methods. If you have watched CNN’s election evening, John King on the magic wall spends an terrible lot of election evening 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 come back in, what number of votes have been counted, which counties haven’t reported a lot votes. This yr, after all, we’ll layer in absentee votes all through the evening in our dialog. And if we’re not able to mission the state — we’re not able to mission the state, that does not imply that something is unsuitable.
And we’ll make it clear to our viewers and our readers, that there is merely not sufficient data 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 the truth is.
Everyone is wanting on the identical outcomes, together with Fox News
STELTER: Yes, the candidates will not know something greater than the networks. They will not have any magic information that the networks will not have entry to.
FEIST: That’s appropriate.
STELTER: Sam, what about Fox? What about Fox News? Is the choice desk at Fox reliable on condition that elsewhere on the community you have obtained propagandists like Sean Hannity who would possibly attempt to facet with Trump in some form of election tug of battle?
FEIST: All of the networks have glorious resolution groups. These are made up of political scientists and information 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 public has each cause to trust within the resolution groups of the networks.
And my recommendation to all people, all the politicians, the partisans, the commentators, the analysts, look forward to the projections from the networks and the Associated Press, and do not get out forward of them. These are the consultants that the nation has come to rely on over time.
And any analysts that suppose they know greater than these resolution desks which have been doing this for 30 years is unsuitable. They simply do not. And I might have a number of confidence within the resolution desks. And that they are going to be affected person — they’re going to take their time, and so they’re not going to get forward of themselves. So, I might give that recommendation to all people on election evening.
No one is aware of what is going to occur
STELTER: Bottom 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. But we also needs to be ready for lots of various prospects. Is that truthful?
FEIST: That’s appropriate. That’s completely proper. And we simply have to offer the — these — native election authorities the time to depend the vote. In many states, they could have time to do it on election evening. In different states, due to state election legal guidelines the place they can not start counting absentee ballots till Election Day, simply give them time. It could take a day or a number of days. Give them time. They will depend the votes, after which we’ll all know.
Agiesta on the precise issues the choice desk considers
WHAT MATTERS: What are the precise metrics you are in search of to mission a race? Is there a magic threshold by which you are capable of say there is not any means a specific candidate can overcome this?
AGIESTA: There is not any magic concerned in projecting races, sadly, it is actually all math. There are quite a lot of issues we’re in search of in every state to trust in a projection. Most essential is what’s been counted: Where are the votes coming from geographically inside the state, what forms of votes are included within the depend, and the way a lot of the whole vote does the depend signify proper now?
If there is a clear lead for one candidate within the present depend, however not one of the votes from the strongest a part of the state for the trailing candidate aren’t in but, that margin probably will not maintain up. If as a substitute there’s good geographic illustration within the vote, that is some extent in favor of a projection.
If every part 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 forms of vote are included. Some of each are wanted for projections in nearer races.
And the quantity of vote left to depend is vital, and could also be a tougher piece of knowledge to trace down in 2020. That’s 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 obtained by election officers afterward. There is not any strategy to know on election evening precisely what number of of these there are. And second is the decreased worth in understanding the variety of precincts reporting. There are fewer individuals voting on Election Day in most locations and a few states are consolidating precincts, so comparisons of the variety of individuals voting in a specific precinct now to the previous are much less priceless, and it could be tougher to get a great learn on Election Day turnout earlier than a county or city is totally reported.
It can be priceless to check what we all know in regards to 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 these patterns stay the identical or are altering this yr will assist to find out once 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’s tough to slim it down to 1 state, however there are typically two forms of states that election analysts need to this yr, and one state inside every kind that’s most important for figuring out the president. One set are quick-rising, historically Republican, Sun 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 tendencies, and inside these three, Florida is most important to the electoral fortunes of both presidential candidate. The different 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 school 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 in regards to the Senate?
WHAT MATTERS: You’re not simply wanting 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: Yes, we’ll mission all these Senate races, in addition to gubernatorial contests within the 11 states the place these will probably be held. Projections for downballot races comply with 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 depend. We want the identical kind of confidence in that details about Senate and gubernatorial contests as we do for the presidential races.