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Democrats upset at media for early projection of GOP House takeover

November 2, 2010 | 10:50 pm

Some Democrats protested Tuesday night as the television networks and cable TV outlets said  Republicans would take control of the House of Representatives — projections made well before polls closed in California and the West.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called it “a mistake” to make the calls so early. Democratic operative James Carville listened to his fellow CNN commentators talking about the coming months of Republican control and complained: “I’m kind of curious what’s going to happen the next couple of hours.”

The early calls that the GOP would gain 50 seats or more in the House may have irked Democrats. But calls for the media to suppress early East Coast results were more muted than in presidential election years, when the entire country is voting on one common contest.

In 2008, for example, U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) wrote a letter to TV executives asking them not to project a winner in the presidential race “before all polls have closed nationwide.”

Despite such admonitions, the Associated Press called the election for Barack Obama just before the polls closed in California and while voting continued in Alaska and Hawaii.

There seems little likelihood, with the fierce competition to report election news first, that media outlets will agree any time soon to keep projections secret.

-- James Rainey


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