New York Times' election needle experiences technical difficulties

New York Times' election needle experiences technical difficulties

The New York Times's notorious election forecast needle experienced technical difficulties Tuesday evening, prompting a flurry of jokes on social media as midterm results filtered in.

The needle, which projects the likelihood of a particular outcome, such as which party will control the House or how many seats each party might win, was not up and running until about 9:45 p.m. Eastern time, after several states already reported results.


"Well. We have issues over here. Don't know when we'll have something," Nate Cohn, a writer for The Upshot at The New York Times, wrote on Twitter.

"Well, technical difficulties persist on the needle," he added around 8:45 p.m. "But the basic outline of the night seems to be clear: A rehash of the 2016 election, but with more Democratic strength."

Cohn shared at 9:45 p.m. that the needle was back up and functioning. At that point, the tool gave Democrats overwhelming odds to retake control of the House. 

The needle, which has become a staple of The New York Times's Upshot page, gained notoriety during the 2016 presidential race, when it moved from a solid forecast for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIf Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report The wisdom of Trump's lawyers, and the accountability that must follow Mueller's report MORE toward a victory for President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE.

Many election observers, whose anxiety fluctuates along with the needle, celebrated the news that the feature was slow to make a return on Tuesday.

The needle was also taken down in a Pennsylvania special election in March after one county said it would not release results by precinct, which was necessary to assess the probability of the outcome.

Updated at 9:58 p.m.