Pollster Nate Silver calls on AP, Fox News to take Arizona out of Biden column as lead narrows


FiveThirtyEight pollster Nate Silver urged The Associated Press and Fox News to retract their early call awarding highly contested Arizona to Democratic nominee Joe Biden, as President Donald Trump narrows the former vice president’s lead in the state amid ongoing vote counting.

“I don’t know, I guess I’d say that Biden will win Arizona if you forced me to pick, but I sure as heck don’t think the state should have been called by anyone, and I think the calls that were previously made should be retracted now,” he wrote on the FiveThirtyEight live blog around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

Silver ‘signed off’ on the blog a couple of hours later, pledging to “come back” online when there is breaking news.

Fox News was the first major media outlet to call Arizona for Biden, a decision that was highly criticized at the time and since, including by some of the network’s own personalities and correspondents.

Arnon Miskin, who heads up the network’s Decision Desk, continued to defend the early call Thursday, saying “we strongly believe that our call will stand, and that’s why we’re not pulling back the call.”

The AP also defended its early call in an explainer published Thursday:

The AP called the race at 2:50 a.m. EST Wednesday, after an analysis of ballots cast statewide concluded there were not enough outstanding to allow Trump to catch up.

With 80% of the expected vote counted, Biden was ahead by 5 percentage points, with a roughly 130,000-vote lead over Trump with about 2.6 million ballots counted. The remaining ballots left to be counted, including mail-in votes in Maricopa County, where Biden performed strongly, were not enough for Trump to catch up to the former vice president.

The Times also called the race in Arizona for Biden on Election Night, but by Wednesday morning the paper had taken the state out of Biden’s ‘win’ column. As of Thursday morning, the state remained ‘undecided.’

And according to The New York Times live presidential election blog Thursday morning, correspondent Jennifer Medina in Phoenix indicated that the state is still in play.

She noted that “Trump hit the percentage he needed to stay on track to potentially win Arizona, but it may not hold. The next Maricopa release is not expected until Thursday night.”

Also, in a segment Wednesday night, CNN host Chris Cuomo and guests noted that, based on current trend lines, the president is on track to overtake Biden’s lead win the state.

Also, a similar analysis during MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s program Wednesday evening indicated that the president is tracking to overtake Biden — so much so, in fact, that the analysis elicited a response from Maddow.

“Oh, god,” she said as her guest explained incoming vote tallies showing Trump getting with 59 percent or more of the totals.

In addition, the president’s own campaign has said they expect Trump to eke out a win in Arizona by some 30,000 votes.

Nevertheless, what is apparent is that Arizona has clearly become a ‘purple’ state.

With Mark Kelly overtaking incumbent GOP Sen. Martha McSally, he will join Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in Washington, giving Arizona two Democrat senators for the first time in decades.


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Jon Dougherty


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