Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Report: I Have Been Elected President In 2012

What is perhaps the most amazing part of the elections each time is the predictions that the networks and Associated Press make, or more accurately: how early they make them. Whatever formulas they are using to make these predictions need to be manipulated by someone so they can be used to predict sports outcomes and make a lot of money. And by "someone," I mean "me."

One thing that I discovered yesterday, while working in CBS' newsroom for the election coverage, is the the AP is far more conservative with their predictions than the networks are. It is relatively simple to deduce why: AP is a news organization dedicated to getting the story right. The networks are news organizations dedicated to getting the story first, and preferably right as well.

Now some of the time, these predictions are kinda obvious. A state like Oklahoma, which is a Republican stronghold and has polled very strongly Republican leading up to this election, was always going to be won by John McCain. So when AP called that results when not a single vote had been counted yet, perhaps it wasn't that surprising. McCain ended up getting 66% of the vote there.

During the course of the evening, AP called Oklahoma, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington D.C., Vermont and Delaware before a single vote was counted in any of them. Every one of these was correct and every one was a blowout:
New York: Obama - 62%
Minnesota: Obama -54%
Wisconsin: Obama - 56%
Washington D.C.: Obama - 93%
Vermont: Obama - 67%
Delaware: Obama - 61%

There were some other amazingly early predictions as well: Maine was called with three votes counted. New York was called after just 405 voted were counted. But the most amazing thing about these predictions is that every single state was predicted correctly (with Missouri and North Carolina still up for grabs as I write this). The biggest winner for the prognosticators was New Mexico: This state was accurately called for Barack Obama after just 4% of the vote was in...and McCain was leading by 7,000 votes!

I firmly believe that these early predictions do hamper voter turnout and could be seen as borderline voter tampering. Yesterday's presidential election was called at about 8 p.m. PST, before a single vote was counted from the western states (although some were included in Obama's winning total at that point). But the race was reported to be all but over by 6:30. So for the last few hours of polling out west, the election was seen as over already - why bother voting?

This doesn't seem to affect the election too strongly, it doesn't favor either party, and the networks are not going to hold off on getting a scoop in the interest of journalistic integrity (how sad is that?), so this will not change in the future. In fact it will likely get worse: the President-elect will accept the concession speech by noon!

The best line I have read this morning with regards to the election is this, a headline from The (a satirical "news" source, if you are not familiar)...and you will have to pardon the language:
"Nation Finally Shitty Enough To Make Social Progress - President-elect Barack Obama did very well among women and young voters, who were most sensitive to the current climate of everything being fucked."

No comments: