The 2013 general election is now long over, and the declared winners of each race have each taken office and started leaving their official marks on the Virginia political scene. The Off on a Tangent election coverage went on through the evening of November 5, and then continued [as time permitted] until the final race concluded more than a month later on December 18. Overall, I am satisfied with my performance—both in my predictions and in my live coverage—but there was, as always, room for improvement. This post serves as a [very belated] look at what went well, and what didn’t, in Off on a Tangent’s 2013 election coverage.
Making the Calls: Successes and a Debacle
I am never afraid to make a call when the data supports making one (even when the major media outlets haven’t yet), but I am also very careful and will not make a call if the data doesn’t support it (even when the major media outlets already have). In 2004, I called the race for President George W. Bush (R) long before anybody in the media had the guts to. They were still overly gun-shy after the botched Florida call in 2000. However, in the 2012 presidential election, I refused to call North Dakota for former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA)—even though most major media outlets already had—because the polls there were not even closed.
On this election night, many major media outlets called the race for now-Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) around 10:00 p.m. I was reluctant to do so at that time for a number of reasons. The reported numbers coming from the Virginia State Board of Elections showed a nearly-even race between McAuliffe and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA), and the yet-unreported precincts were split three-ways between those that tend strongly Republican, those that tend strongly Democratic, and those that are true ‘toss-ups.’ There were strong indications that McAuliffe was going to win, and I said as much in my live update at 10:05 p.m., but I didn’t have enough confidence to make a formal call. continued… →