Why do news organizations have different electoral vote counts?

You may have noticed that different news organizations have released different totals of electoral votes for Joe Biden and President Donald Trump as the vote counting continues in several states.

The reason is linked to slight differences in methodologies related to projecting the winners of specific states.

The Associated Press and Fox News have projected that Biden has won Arizona, while many other news organizations, including CBS News, have not.


So AP currently has the electoral vote count at 264 for for Biden, which includes Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. The AP has President Trump at 214.

Some organizations also have the president with 213 electoral votes, because they have not called one of Maine’s electoral votes for Trump, which the AP has. (Unlike most states, Maine divides its four electoral votes, giving one to each of its two congressional districts and two for the state overall.)

If the AP were to project that Biden wins Nevada’s six electoral votes on Thursday, that would give the Democratic nominee the 270 votes needed to win the presidency.

But it’s very likely many other news organizations would not immediately follow with that announcement, since they have not yet projected Arizona in Biden’s win column.

If the AP reports that Biden has reached the 270 electoral votes needed, WTOP plans to report that. But CBS News and others may not make that call, which is why you may not see a victory declaration elsewhere.

By the way, the AP has stories that explain why they haven’t called Pennsylvania or Georgia yet.

WTOP will continue to try to be as transparent as possible as the counting continues.

Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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