Powerful Rep. John Dingell has fired off letters to seven key broadcast executives urging them to take it easy with any proclamations of victory 11/4/08. That means holding off until 11PM Eastern to accommodate later poll closing times in the Pacific time zone. It’s not just about the presidential race – suppressed turnout could be a factor down ticket.
“[I]t is critical that television coverage of the election results does not serve to depress voter turnout,” he said. “We are all too familiar with the voter confusion caused by the erroneous early calls by various cable and television networks in the 2000 presidential election. And many, myself included, believe that when television stations call elections based on the results of a few Eastern states, voter turnout elsewhere in the nation could potentially be lower than it would otherwise have been. This can affect the results of the presidential election, and have a dramatic impact on other contests for elected office as well.”
The letter went to Les Moonves at CBS, Jim Walton at CNN, Anne Sweeney at Disney/ABC, Peter Chernin at Fox Entertainment, Roger Ailes at Fox News Channel, Phil Griffin at MSNBC and Jeff Zucker at NBC/Universal.
RBR/TVBR observation: As we’ve noted before, at our house we will likely pick a channel and stick with it all night. Therefore there is no horserace to be first to make the call. We will not even be aware of what’s happening at other channels. And even if we were aware, the networks are sorely mistaken if they think we will give a rat’s patootie who gets their call in their a few seconds ahead of whom. We’d rather they just get it right.