ROD THOMSON: Beware of the media calling states early


While the Iowa Caucus seems like a thousand years ago now, there is an essential lesson that must be learned, because it is going to happen again.

Media outlets across the board called the election just minutes after voting began, and literally only a few hundred out of 100,000 votes had been counted or cast. The calls from the AP, CNN, Fox News, the New York Times and others were based on pre-caucus days polls and entrance polls, which is particularly irresponsible in a caucus where a major point of difference from normal primaries is that voters can be persuaded to change their vote. It’s speeches, debates and then votes cast, unlike normal primaries where people walk in, vote and walk out. So when people’s phones lit up with Fox News alerts that Trump had already won, a lot of air went out of the caucuses before they even got rolling.

There has been plenty of uproar over these early calls that came in at the beginning of voting and most of the small turnout not having voted yet. The campaign of Gov. Ron DeSantis cried foul over “election interference” and the supporters of President Trump, who had rightly howled at the early Arizona call in 2020, ironically said DeSantis supporters were being whiny.

The script could hardly have played out better for the left, but not for Trump or DeSantis or Republicans over the longer term. What the Democrat media and their pollsters did gives every appearance of being a trial run. They will assuredly try the same thing in November, but then it will be against Trump.

This is essential to understand. Calling elections early suppresses voter turnout, typically for the party who loses the call (just coincidentally, always Republicans) but affecting all the races down ballot, also. That second part is absolutely key, because control of both the U.S. Senate and House will be very close, and depressing the final percentage of voters from going to the polls could have a major impact.

I was a newspaper columnist (and JP Online contributor) in 2000 in Florida during the embarrassing hanging chads portion of the Bush-Gore count and recount as legal wars raged in multiple counties. As bad as that was, and as good as it drove Florida election laws to become today, most people forget that it was probably as close as it was because of early calls from the media giving the state to Al Gore.

The networks “forgot” that about half of the very red Florida Panhandle is in the Central Time Zone and had an hour of heavy voting left. It was as those votes came in that the networks had to withdraw their call for Gore and Bush ultimately won by 537 votes. Most knowledgeable observers in Florida know that the early call sent some Panhandle voters home who were on their way or in line. There were plenty of anecdotes and historic understanding that the early call made the state closer to the benefit of Al Gore.

Even the New York Times was admitting it in a story a few days after the early Florida calls: “Christa Robinson, a CNN spokeswoman, said the network had found that some of the surveys of voters leaving the polls in a Florida county that normally voted Republican had ‘skewed heavily for Gore, and so it seemed off.’ The network, she said, withdrew the call for Mr. Gore.”

Oops. There may have been some legitimate embarrassment by media members as that Times story explains, but that was when there was still a modicum of journalism being practiced, heavily biased though it was.

Those days of journalism are gone. We now live in the journalistic era of Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won a Pulitzer for a package of anti-American propaganda stories that were so bad the Times had to re-write portions and the National Association of Scholars called on the Pulitzer committee to withdraw their prize. Nonetheless, her lie about America’s founding is part of thousands of public school’s curricula. That is today’s “journalism.”

The media is largely indifferent to trust and credibility with the American public in general, only interested in their target demo based in partisan worldviews. This works both as a business model for some while doubling as an activist organization pursuing those partisan worldviews.

So the same voter dynamic from 2000 Florida was at play in 2024 Iowa, but a different media dynamic. Note the embarrassment and hand wringing over the early 2000 Florida call compared to nothing but a defense of the early 2024 Iowa call. No regrets.

Twitter/X was filled with people tweeting out that after phones lit up with alerts of Trump’s victory, people started leaving caucus sites before voting. Even some media members, albeit mostly conservative ones, questioned the impact on the final count for second place — most materially on the delegates each candidate earned as Iowa is proportional in its delegate distribution based on the percent of votes earned.

The early calls did not change the outcome of Trump winning. Although they may have shaved a few points off DeSantis for second place, there was not likely a material change. But that apparent “harmlessness” makes it all the easier to do again when it may make a real difference.

And they will do it again.

But don’t they always wait until polls close, you ask? Sure, except when they don’t. How many norms have the left and media completely destroyed since just 2017? Anyone who thinks they will not destroy this one in a General Election, that will just happen to help the Democrat candidate or candidates down ballot, has not been living in Realsville.

It is not hard to see a close race in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin or Arizona being called too early, pushed by polling and entrance polls, to create projections that both beat the competition for clicks and furthers a narrative. And media talking heads will intone seriously about all the science behind making these early calls.

Republicans have virtually no influence on the Democrat media, so their options are few. However, they can call out the coming foul regularly and hit the media for it while also educating Republican voters to ignore early projections if they have not voted. No matter what, vote anyway. That is a pretty easy task as most Republicans distrust the media to start with. Basically, make the media calling election outcomes irrelevant.

Rod Thomson is a former daily newspaper reporter and columnist, Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator and current Founder of The Thomson Group, a Florida-based political consulting firm. He has eight children and seven grandchildren and a rapacious hunger to fight for America for them. Follow him on Twitter at @Rod_Thomson. Email him at


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