October 31, 2002

Election night entertainment…

Voter News Service is not sure it will be able to provide timely exit poll results in the election next Tuesday. And this creates a problem for TV news coverage. With so many close races, even under the best of circumstances TV may not be able tell us who won the big enchilada–control of the Senate–until sometime the next day.

So what. Does anyone other than the candidates and campaign staff need to know on Tuesday night? The drive to call the election early has little to do with a journalistic desire to be first with the news. Voters have no civic use for election results an hour before bedtime. Instead, because drawn-out election coverage is boring, it’s far more entertaining to make the call early. Then the networks and cable news shows can trot out the talking heads and spend the rest of the evening yapping about what it all means.

UPDATE (11:35 a.m.): Roll Call has an election night viewing guide.

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