Explainer: Why news organizations have different electoral vote counts

Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 4:14 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - You’ve likely noticed that ever since polls began closing Tuesday, different news organizations have had different numbers for electoral vote counts in the presidential election.

The reason: they have different methods for projecting state winners.

The major news networks, like ABC, NBC, and CNN, share a common news data network called the National Election Pool. The NEP works with the consumer research firm Edison Research to collect election data until results are certified by all states. Other news organizations like The New York Times also use this service. But while they have access to the same data, each organization’s news team has its own criteria for projecting a winner.

The other major source for election data is the Associated Press, which is the primary source for many national news organizations - like NPR and USA Today - as well as most local news organizations.

For our part, Dakota News Now uses exclusively Associated Press projections on our website as well as our newscasts. And if you’re curious, here’s a look at how the AP made the call for each and every state - including South Dakota.

Dakota News Now is confident that both the Associated Press and the major networks will have a consensus once all the state counts are final.

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