Fox News president warns of calling winner too soon on election night: 2000 still ‘lingers over everyone’
Fox News Media President Jay Wallace recalled the election night chaos from 2000 in cautioning networks against declaring a winner too early on election night, Nov. 3.
“I think 2000 still sort of lingers over everyone,” Wallace told Reuters in an interview published Monday. “As competitive as networks can be, you do know that you’re calling a presidency and you don’t want to be wrong on something like this.”
All the major news networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News — made and withdrew projections in 2000, largely based on exit polling, for Democratic nominee Al Gore before eventually projecting GOP nominee George W. Bush the winner in the election-deciding state of Florida on Nov. 7, 2000.
A recount of votes in Florida followed for weeks, with the winner of the state and election not decided until Dec. 12 after a 5–4 Supreme Court decision in favor of Bush.
Exit polls also played a role in 2004, when Democratic challenger John Kerry was seen to be ahead in key battleground states. Bush went on to win the popular vote and Electoral College that year 286-251 after losing the popular vote four years earlier.
In November 2018, The Associated Press and Fox News said they would end their practice of conducting exit polls and replace them with a voter survey that would be conducted over the course of several days.
The service, called Fox News Voter Analysis by the network and AP VoteCast service by the wire service, is in conjunction with NORC at the University of Chicago.
“By combining poll data with timely information on registered voters and actual vote results — the Fox News Voter Analysis will provide the best possible report on American elections. Most important, we will provide in-depth coverage of every statewide election in 2018 and 2020, which will be particularly valuable as we expand our digital coverage,” Wallace said at the time.
The volume of mail-in voting also presents the possibility that a winner may not be declared on election night, with states including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin barring election officials from counting ballots before Election Day.