Why Did Some News Outlets Call the Winner in Arizona But Not Georgia and North Carolina?

President Donald Trump’s supporters have raised questions about media outlets that called the race early in Arizona but have resisted making a call in Georgia and North Carolina, where the president leads.

Trump allies have questioned Fox News’ and the Associated Press’ calls in Arizona, where Biden leads by about 68,000 votes with about 470,000 ballots still outstanding.

The Trump campaign has reportedly pressed Fox News to retract the call but Arnon Mishkin, the head of the network’s decision desk, doubled down on the call on Tuesday night, explaining that most of the votes remaining were in Democratic-friendly Maricopa County.

"The reality is that they're likely to only get about 44% of the outstanding votes that are there," Mishkin explained. "We're right now sitting on a race that is about Biden at 53%, Trump at 46%. I'm sorry, the president is not going to be able to take over and win enough votes to eliminate that seven-point lead that the former vice president has."

The Associated Press similarly explained that the remaining ballots are in areas “where Biden performed strongly” and were “not enough for Trump to catch up to the former vice president.”

It is important to note, however, that other large media outlets, including CNN and the New York Times, have kept Arizona consistently gray on their electoral maps, choosing to wait until a larger percentage of the final vote is in before making a definitive call. 

This may be due to the fact that  Arizona has traditionally been a Republican state, and also has a long history of voting by mail. Whether this will be enough to skew things in the president's favor though, as some of his supporters have suggested, remains to be seen. 

Why not Georgia?

Despite the two outlets calling Arizona, no outlet has called Georgia, where Trump leads by about 15,000 votes with more than 50,000 ballots left to count.

Most of the ballots left are mail-in votes, which generally favored Biden as Trump urged supporters to vote in person, that were cast in the Atlanta area, where Biden ran up a big lead.

“The race is too early to call because an estimated 4% of the vote remains to be counted,” the AP explained on Wednesday. “That includes mailed ballots from population-dense counties in the Atlanta metro region that lean Democratic. Biden is overperforming Hillary Clinton’s 2016 showing in those counties, including in their more upscale suburban reaches.”

The New York Times’ Nate Cohn explained that there were enough ballots in the Atlanta area that “would be enough for Mr. Biden to be a favorite.”

What about North Carolina?

No news outlet has called North Carolina, where Trump leads Biden by about 77,000 votes.

But there are still more than 200,000 ballots left to count and the state can accept mail-in ballots until November 12 as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

“When it comes to mail ballots, Biden was outperforming Trump by far,” the AP explained. “That means there’s a considerable number of ballots yet to be counted that could give Biden a lead.”

Unlike Georgia, however, it is not expected that there will be enough Biden votes to swing the state.


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