Participating in the Political Process/Election Projections

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Question
I have been watching American elections since 1988 and have still not figured out why the media "project" an election when here in the UK we wait until each district's votes are counted (even if it takes all night) before announcing a result.

Is there a reason why the media "project" an election or is it just for them to say "First for Election Results election after election"?

Answer
Dear Harry,

Your speculative answer is basically the right one. I think the basic difficulty that does arise is that much of the public confuses the media projection with an official election result - not helped by the practice of using the word "call," as in, "Well, we're calling this one for Bush." So to many people, who don't really understand the fine points, it seems like it's all over once the election is "called" by the networks.

It's also partly the way that our Electoral College works - i.e., a particular state may be very late in counting its votes, but if the majority is already determined then the outcome of the election is known. I guess that would be true in the UK as well - there may be a few constitutencies outstanding, but you might still know which party has won the majority.

Hope this helps!

John

Participating in the Political Process

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John C. Berg

Expertise

How to run for office and win, how to lobby, how to promote your political cause effectively, how to get involved in electoral and issue campaigns, how to get a job in politics.

Experience

I have been a professor of political science since 1974, and direct a graduate program in professional politics. I have worked on many campaigns in various capacities.

Organizations
American Association of Political Consultants, American Political Science Association, Caucus for a New Political Science, National Society for Experiential Education, International Political Science Association.

Publications
Polity, New Political Science, Policy Studies Journal. Author of Unequal Struggle: Class, Gender, Race, and Power in the US Congress.

Education/Credentials
PhD, Harvard University, 1975
MA, Harvard University, 1973
BA with Honors, University of Wisconsin, 1964

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