McCarthy urges networks not to call presidential race until 'every polling center has closed'

McCarthy urges networks not to call presidential race until 'every polling center has closed'
© Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthySchiff: McCarthy 'will do whatever Trump tells him' if GOP wins back House House GOP campaign arm raises .8 million in third quarter McCarthy raises nearly M so far this year MORE (R-Calif.) is urging the heads of major broadcast and cable news networks not to make any call of the winner of the U.S. presidential election until "every polling center has closed." 

"It is estimated that voter turnout for the election on November 3, 2020 will be the highest on record. It is clear that Americans are taking their civic responsibility seriously. The media also has recognized its responsibility by educating voters on the date and process of the election. That responsibility extends through election day in its entirety," McCarthy writes in a letter obtained by The Hill to Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott, ABC News President James Goldston, NBCUniversal Chairman Cesar Conde, and CBS News President Susan Zirinsky, and CNN President Jeff Zucker.

"Americans will be watching their television and monitoring their social media feeds anxiously awaiting the results of the election. And understandably, the competition within the media to be the first to deliver those results is intense," he continues. "But media bragging rights should not supersede Americans’ voices. Any media organization that declares a winner of the presidential election before polling centers have closed will unquestionably disenfranchise Americans who have not yet voted.


"Patience must take precedence over prognostication. Therefore, I am requesting that every network and media organization refrain from declaring a winner until every polling center has closed," McCarthy concludes. "Election day is a celebration for our representative democracy, we must ensure that every American is encouraged to participate."

Mail-in ballots in key battleground states including Michigan and Wisconsin cannot be counted until Election Day, setting up a scenario in which a winner in the race between President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks State school board leaves national association saying they called parents domestic terrorists Sunday shows preview: Supply chain crisis threaten holiday sales; uncertainty over whether US can sustain nationwide downward trend in COVID-19 cases MORE might not be known until well after Election Night.

All the major broadcast news and cable news networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News — made and withdrew projections on election night in 2000, largely based on exit polling, for Democratic nominee Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreMcAuliffe on 2000 election: 'I wish the United States Supreme Court had let them finish counting the votes' All Democrats must compromise to pass economic plans, just like 1993 Amy Coney Barrett sullies the Supreme Court MORE before eventually projecting GOP nominee George W. Bush the winner.

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 KerryJohn KerryPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space MORE was seen to be ahead in key battleground states. Bush went on to win the popular vote and Electoral College that year, 286 to 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 by the news service, is set up in conjunction with NORC at the University of Chicago.

The 2020 presidential race is getting tighter in the RealClearPolitics index of polls in key battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona, with Biden leading by just 3.5 points. Florida has moved into the president's column, while North Carolina shows only a 0.7 percent lead for Biden.

Pennsylvania, considered by many political pundits as the most key state for both candidates, shows a 3.4 percent lead for Biden, down from 7 points two weeks ago.

On Election Day, Alaska's polls don't close until midnight ET while Hawaii's don't close until 1:00 a.m. ET.

--Updated at 2:13 p.m.