|No matter who wins Tuesday's presidential election, you can be sure of one thing: The networks aren't going to hold back calling the election for Barack Obama or John McCain if either gathers the magic number of 270 electoral votes.|
That means it's possible, if not altogether likely, that the presidential election could be called before polls close in the West. That happened once before, in 1980, when the election was famously called -- and conceded -- by 9 p.m. ET. But it'll be the Internet, cable and the speed of news that will be the driving factor this time.
The networks all promise to take the time to project the race accurately, and and say they won't make any predictions before their time. But executives say it would be foolish for them to sit on a projection if they're sure, and it wouldn't be fair to viewers.
"There's no way to get around it," CBS News senior vp Paul Friedman said. "If one man gets 270 electoral votes before the West Coast polls are closed, we're not going to pretend (he doesn't)."
Phil Alongi, who runs special events programing at NBC News, agrees.
"If you project a state and (the candidate) reaches the electoral vote, what are you going to do? Lie?" Alongi said. "We will project a state when we're comfortable with the projection. If one of them hits the required 270, you have to report that, and you can't hold back."
The networks all have agreed not to call an individual state before the voting stops there. But an overall projection could come before folks in California, Nevada and Washington finish voting. Executives know it's a fine line that they'll be walking, and it goes beyond a strict up-and-down counting to 270.
"Suppose that one guy has 260 (electoral votes) and we have exit polls and other information indicating that he's going to pick up the votes he needs," Friedman said. "It becomes the delicate matter of telling the audience of what we think is going to happen without discouraging them to vote."
Monday, November 3, 2008
Networks can't wait to crown Obama.
Politics: Fever pitch!