A discrepancy discovered in polling data reported Wednesday morning may have just invalidated early attempts to call the state of Arizona for 2020 presidential nominee Joe Biden.
According to New York Times breaking news editor Patrick LaForge, the exit polling firm Edison Media Research Inc. mistakenly overestimated the number of precincts reporting from the state Wednesday, leading numerous prominent establishment media outlets to publish election maps with exaggerated confidence in the Biden lead.
“An error was found in the data feed from Edison Research (used by @nytimes and other news organizations) for Arizona results — 86 percent of ballots have been counted, not 98 percent,” LaForge announced on Twitter.
“NYT has not called the state for Biden, though he still leads.”
An error was found in the data feed from Edison Research (used by @nytimes and other news organizations) for Arizona results — 86 percent of ballots have been counted, not 98 percent. NYT has not called the state for Biden, though he still leads. https://t.co/mPDkiKsExQ
— Patrick LaForge (@palafo) November 4, 2020
Real-time maps and data reports currently made available by outlets which, like The Times, rely heavily on Edison Research, have since been edited to reflect the less complete vote count, though it did take time for the error to be rectified.
The announcement, among others regarding potential irregularities in Arizona, has led some commentators to suggest the state might still be in play for incumbent Republican President Donald Trump, whose road to re-election grew narrow this morning with the coveted Rust Belt states of Wisconsin and Michigan trending for Biden when counting resumed.
“This gives some credence to the Trump camp’s argument in a call with reporters that it expects to pull ahead in Arizona,” National Journal editor-in-chief Jeff Dufour wrote in a Twitter post.
“Most of the outstanding vote is in Trump-friendly territory.”
A majority of establishment media outlets have refrained from calling Arizona either way, leaving the possibility of a Trump victory up for debate.
Fox News, however, was not so hesitant, calling the race for Biden early in the night Tuesday. The Associated Press followed suit in the wee hours Wednesday morning.
The move resulted in no shortage of controversy, prompting backlash from conservative commentators and right-leaning moderates on social media. A number of political actors were quick to suggest the early calling of states like Virginia and Arizona for Biden was proof of media bias, with calls for Trump in Florida, Texas and Ohio lagging behind despite clear results favoring the president.
Even Fox News’ most popular commentator, Tucker Carlson, questioned the network political director Chris Stirewalt‘s call in Arizona, casting doubt on the decision during live coverage Tuesday night.
“I’m not privy to the math. I’m not certain how, even after the explanation from Chris Stirewalt, how that decision was made,” Carlson said.
“I think our viewers trust us, but people are concerned.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, 86 percent of precincts had been reported their polling results in Arizona.
Biden led the race by a nearly 3 percentage-point margin, up almost 100,000 votes on the president.
An early morning report from The Arizona Republic also revealed as many as 400,000 ballots were likely still outstanding.
Many of those votes were cast in more Democratic metropolitan areas like Maricopa County.
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