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Were Election Projections Announced Too Early During Election Coverage? [OPINION]

The election is now behind us, and after getting a chance to cover the election results from the Pettis County Courthouse, I had the chance to finally watch the national coverage. I have to say, this will not be a rant on the results and whether I agreed with them or not because I think you have received enough of that in the last 24 hours.  However, some of you wanted to talk about the coverage, especially the national items.

One of the big buzz words yesterday on television and radio stations was the word “projections.”  I find it interesting that yesterday, as you flipped through the channels every TV station was trying to get ahead and project winners based on exit polls.  While exit polls are a valuable tool to try and guess on how one will win or lose a state, I have to wonder whether this is good practice.

Look back at the 2000 election, when Florida was in the balance.  There were many who said it would go to Al Gore and others who said it would go to George Bush.  In the end, it went to Bush a few weeks later.   Last night, there were some states called without even 1% of the actual vote in, while others like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania took a little longer.

Networks try and prop themselves up by saying they are the first to “project’ or “call” a race, but I have to wonder is it a good idea to do this when polls are still open in the Central, Rocky Mountain, Pacific and other time zones.  I had a friend in Alaska waiting to vote when it was pretty much announced that Obama would win.  This year the projection got so bad it resulted in a whole argument on Fox News.

My belief is that predictions should not be projected until at least 50% of the vote comes in.  This would end a lot of arguments as to whether it discourages or encourages more to get out to the polls and vote.  What do you think?

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