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Why AP hasn’t called the Minnesota governor’s race, and why CNN is premature

There were some high-fives among local lefties when a blunt CNN headline declared: “Democrat Dayton wins Minnesota Gov. recount.”

Although the state Canvassing Board should officially determine that next week, the math seemingly makes it a foregone conclusion, given an Emmer deficit greater than his challenges. But I suppose there’s an infinitesimal chance of a “December surprise” that could upend things at the Canvassing Board level.

But — given the numbers — if you’re waiting for the Associated Press to “call” the race for Dayton, you’ll be waiting for eternity.

Douglas Glass, news editor for the local bureau, explains, “AP doesn’t call races when they go into a recount. We report the winner once one has been determined.”

By the way, CNN’s lead sentence — “Democrat Mark Dayton has won his bid to become Minnesota’s next governor, defeating Republican state legislator Tom Emmer after a recount” — is also premature (although, again, highly likely). That pesky matter of a contest complicates the issue.

Here’s Minnesota statute 204.C40:

No certificate of election shall be issued until seven days after the canvassing board has declared the result of the election. In case of a contest, an election certificate shall not be issued until a court of proper jurisdiction has finally determined the contest.

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/06/2010 - 01:06 pm.

    “until a court of proper jurisdiction has finally determined the contest.”

    Could be months…………

  2. Submitted by Hal Davis on 12/06/2010 - 01:08 pm.

    ==Douglas Glass, news editor for the local bureau, explains, “AP doesn’t call races when they go into a recount. We report the winner once one has been determined.”==

    So what happened in Alaska? That race is still officially undetermined.

    This was 3 hours ago:

    == Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D) has just issued a press release asking Joe Miller (R) to quit his legal challenge against Lisa Murkowski’s (R-write-in) apparent victory.==

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 12/06/2010 - 01:39 pm.

    Right. CNN clearly should have reported that “barring the MN GOP and/or Emmer campaign manufacturing a controversy or conjuring 9000 Emmer ballots from the ether, Democrat Mark Dayton has won the MN Governor’s race.”

  4. Submitted by Roger Smith on 12/06/2010 - 06:43 pm.


    This is a pretty academic observation. The recount is almost over, and no independent observer of the gubernatorial election can imagine a scenario in which Tom Emmer overcomes Mark Dayton’s lead, with or without an election contest.

    Prevaricating over this only adds to the illusion (lie?) that the outcome of this is in question. You should know better.

  5. Submitted by David Brauer on 12/07/2010 - 06:41 am.

    Roger – I disagree with your point, but agree with your second sentence “the recount is *almost* over.” CNN is claims-jumping – assuming absolutely nothing will happen to derail Dayton’s election. We shouldn’t assume – we just don’t know – and CNN is.

    That said, it would be wrong to write something akin to “it’s not over and who knows who will win?” That’s not what I’m doing. I note repeatedly the odds are overwhelmingly against Emmer, and it’s simple to make it clear Dayton has a commanding lead barring extraordinary recount events.

    But we haven’t hit the tape yet, and CNN is telling readers we have. It’s misleading.

  6. Submitted by Roger Smith on 12/07/2010 - 09:14 am.


    The implication of your post is that the race cannot be called by the media until after both the recount, and any election contest have concluded.

    Your assertion that “we just don’t know” isn’t appropriate here. We know who won this election; as I mentioned, we have no independent voices scrutinizing this election saying that the outcome is in doubt.

    Hedging your bets with a “highly unlikely” is just trying to find a balance in the CNN story that doesn’t exist, and doesn’t need to exist.

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