By DAVID BAUDER, AP Media Author
NEW YORK (AP) — This coming weekend, CNN’s Sam Feist will distribute to his employees copies of the testimony information executives gave to Congress after they tried to clarify how tv networks acquired 2000’s disputed election so spectacularly improper.
It is required studying — maybe by no means greater than this yr. Media planners are preaching warning within the face of a surge in early voting, excessive nervousness ranges general and a president who raises the specter of one other disputed election.
“We have to put together ourselves for a unique form of election evening,” mentioned Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief, “and the phrase I preserve utilizing is ‘endurance.’”
Almost half of individuals polled just lately by the Pew Analysis Middle mentioned they intend to comply with election evening returns carefully. It is easy to see this yr eclipsing 2008’s report of 71.5 million individuals who watched for outcomes, and plenty of could have laptops, tablets or smartphones prepared for a multi-screen expertise.
CBS Information constructed a brand new studio the place pop stars as soon as visited MTV’s “Complete Request Reside,” and Fox Information employed the makers of the “Fortnite” online game to design whiz-bang graphics, an illustration of the cash and planning that goes in to the quadrennial occasion.
Reside tv protection will prolong into the early morning of Nov. four and maybe past. NBC Information has mapped out a schedule to remain on the air for days if needed, mentioned Noah Oppenheim, NBC Information president.
In addition to the standard broadcast and cable information networks, there will likely be live-stream choices from the likes of The Washington Submit and others, together with web sites stuffed with graphics and uncooked numbers.
“There may be an odd mixture of anticipation and uncertainty about this election evening, greater than another election evening I can bear in mind,” mentioned David Bohrman, a tv veteran who this yr is producing the CBS Information protection.
Election nights all the time have surprises, however the fear this yr is being pushed by the big variety of folks voting early or by mail, partially pushed by the coronavirus. By many estimates, the early vote will eclipse the variety of folks going to polling locations on Election Day for the primary time.
That is a rare change: In 1972, solely 5 p.c of votes had been forged previous to Election Day, and by 2016 it was 42.5 p.c. That profoundly impacts how the outcomes are reported.
Some states start counting early votes as they arrive in. Some wait till Election Day and even after polls shut. Some key states depend absentee ballots provided that they’re postmarked by Election Day. Elsewhere, ballots can arrive as late as Nov. 13, as is the case in Ohio.
Some states have sufficient expertise that their counts normally go shortly and easily. Different counts are extra problematic. Florida and North Carolina are two battleground states which have, traditionally, carried out nicely at counting and posting the outcomes of mail ballots on election evening.
Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are prohibited by state legislation from processing mail ballots till Election Day. It may be a cumbersome course of, and since neither state has expertise counting as many ballots as are anticipated this yr, it might be days earlier than their outcomes are identified.
With extra Democrats than Republicans voting early, the tempo of how votes are reported can be vital. Some states will launch early votes earlier than the Election Day tallies. That may make the primary numbers proven on the display seem misleading, mentioned Steve Kornacki, elections guru at MSNBC.
The problem is figuring out all these idiosyncrasies and speaking them clearly, he mentioned.
“After I say I need a number of extra days (to review), that is why,” he mentioned.
As an alternative of itemizing what number of voting precincts are reporting, ABC Information will inform viewers the proportion of anticipated votes which can be in thus far, mentioned Marc Burstein, senior government producer who’s been accountable for ABC election protection since 2000.
“Our byword of the evening is transparency,” Burstein mentioned. “We are going to inform folks what we all know. We are going to inform folks what we don’t know, and we’ll inform them why.”
Information organizations will nonetheless declare winners in particular person states a lot as they’ve carried out up to now, utilizing a mixture of ballot outcomes and precise vote totals. Once more, the expectation is these calls could also be slower than in previous years.
Producers say viewers ought to look to Florida as an early bellwether, due to its significance, effectivity in counting and early ballot closing time. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight weblog mentioned final week that if Democrat Joe Biden wins Florida, his possibilities of profitable the presidency shoot as much as 99 p.c. If President Donald Trump wins the state, his reelection possibilities bounce to 39 p.c, what Silver calls primarily a tossup.
North Carolina and Ohio are different states the place comparatively early outcomes might give a sign of how the evening goes.
“If 2020 has taught us something, it is to count on the surprising,” mentioned Alan Komissaroff, Fox Information senior vice chairman of reports and politics.
Extra reporting from exterior of studios will possible be on show, with information organizations putting larger emphasis on voter integrity points and the potential of authorized challenges. PBS is tapping a dozen public broadcasting reporters from throughout the nation to contribute to its protection. The Washington Submit is stationing reporters in 36 states.
Networks are hiring election legislation specialists in case these points should be addressed.
Due to the coronavirus, CBS’ Bohrman mentioned individuals who will likely be on the community’s new set are being examined every single day.
ABC Information’ Manhattan set is not sufficiently big for everybody to be 6 ft aside, so the community will function out of three totally different studios on election evening, together with the set of “The View,” Burstein mentioned.
Sooner or later, after months of pontificating and speculating, the conclusion of the 2020 election will likely be identified. 4 years in the past, The Related Press declared Trump the subsequent president at 2:29 a.m. the day after the election.
“We’re moving into ready however with out preconceptions,” Oppenheim mentioned.
AP’s Election Choice Editor Stephen Ohlemacher in Washington contributed to this report.
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