How Are Races Called?

Greensboro, NC-- It's a phrase we hear every election,"the race has been called for:Blank." Some years... There's no contest. In others, there's been some controversy, like in 2000 -- when experts called Floridaa bit too early, ahead of weeks of re-count drama.

Before you watch the election night coverage, we're getting answers on who calls those races, and how they do it.UNC GreensboroPolitical Science ProfessorDavid Olson joined Frank Mickens to give some insight into the process.

Olson said, "There are two kinds of votes to call. The popular vote per state and the other is the electoral college vote for the whole country. For the state, its usually a group decision: statisticians, pollsters, campaign experts, and the news director of the network or the station. Its a group, not a single person's decision."

They make the decision based on various indicators. "One is a public opinion poll, the other consists of the exit polls, a third consists of the hard-reported numbers about how the vote is going generally, and then there is the matter of the precinct and county votes. The general vote has to be broken down to the precinct and county level and the question is are those votes similar to previous elections or not."

The key is multiple indicators. If they all come together, its an easy decision. If they're not together, it may be a delayed decision. Olson said, "Beware of the first call, it might be wrong."


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