AP

EXPLAINER: How can the AP call races right as polls close?

Nov 2, 2022, 10:38 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 3:16 pm

FILE - "I Voted" stickers are displayed at a polling place in Cheyenne, Wyo. on Aug. 16, 2022. The ...

FILE - "I Voted" stickers are displayed at a polling place in Cheyenne, Wyo. on Aug. 16, 2022. The instant polls close across the country when Tuesday’s Nov. 8, 2022, midterm election ends the Associated Press could declare winners in some races. On election night, the The Associated Press counts the nation’s votes, tallying millions of ballots and determining which candidates have won. It’s been done like that since 1848, when the AP declared the election of Zachary Taylor as president. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert, File)

(AP Photo/Thomas Peipert, File)

The instant polls close across the country Tuesday, The Associated Press could declare winners in some races in this year’s midterm elections.

How is that possible, before any results are released? Let’s take a look at how the AP can declare a winner before the first ballots are counted.

First, a quick refresher on why and how the AP does this work: The country’s founders didn’t set up a national agency for counting the vote. Each state does it a little differently.

On election night, the AP counts the nation’s votes, tallying the results of millions of ballots as reported by local election officials to come up with the overall total for thousands of races up and down the ballot. It’s been done like that since 1848, when the AP counted the vote that ended with the election of Zachary Taylor as president.

How the tally is counted includes tons of preparation, journalists in all 50 states and a network of roughly 4,000 stringers, or temporary freelancers.

So, what about those race calls that land as the moment polls close — before any votes have officially been counted?

Some are in uncontested races, or those with only one candidate on the ballot. And then there are races with multiple candidates, but in which a party or candidate has a past history of consistent and convincing wins.

In these states, the AP can use results from AP VoteCast, a survey of the American electorate aimed at determining why voters voted how they did, to confirm a candidate’s victory.

“The results from the poll — along with our analysis of early voting and other statistics — confirm our expectation that longstanding political trends in these states will hold,” said David Scott, a senior editor who helps oversee AP’s coverage of elections.

Still, the AP won’t call the winner of a race before the last polls close in a jurisdiction, including in states where the polls don’t all close at once.

The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. Even if one candidate has claimed victory and others have conceded, Scott said, noting that declarations of victory can be premature and concessions can be withdrawn.

“It’s only when we determine that the trailing candidates no longer have a path to victory that we call a race and send the APNewsAlert declaring that a candidate has won,” Scott said. “In a small number of cases, that can happen as soon as all polls are closed.”

___

Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.

Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

3 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

4 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

4 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

4 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

4 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, Thu...

Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim, Lisa Mascaro and Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Biden says during news conference he’s going to ‘complete the job’ despite calls to bow out

Biden used his highly anticipated news conference to deliver a defense of his policies and batted away questions about his ability to serve.

7 days ago

EXPLAINER: How can the AP call races right as polls close?