I wrote earlier that it’s been network policy not to call elections before the polls close. But there’s calling and then there’s calling. Interesting exchange just now between Chris Matthews and Chuck Todd on Hardball:
TODD: … [about Virginia] Let’s say, if the Virginia polls are correct, OK, Chris, and Obama has this five, six, seven point lead in the state and we see that and it comes in and that’s what it is, Virginia, they count their votes very quickly. It’s a very efficient state. They count them very fast. Northern Virginia will come in, we’ll know pretty quickly what’s going on, particularly here in Hampton Roads, in Richmond… When we start getting those samples and we’re able to call [Virginia] by 8:00, well, then, you and I are going to be focusing on three states: North Carolina, Florida and Ohio. OK, because if Obama wins just one more of those, it’s pretty much checkmate.
MATTHEWS: Are you gonna say that tomorrow night? Are you gonna be that blunt?
TODD: I, I think we have to be honest. You know, I’ll, I’ll, there’s an honesty to it—look, that doesn’t mean you can’t sit here and—could John McCain pull an upset in Oregon? You know, could you sit here and say—but the bottom line is, the McCain campaign will tell you, if they can’t win two of four states: Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, they don’t know how to get to 270.
Conversely, Todd says: “If at 8:05 we’re not calling Pennsylvania, John McCain’s going to be feeling pretty good.”
Mind you, this is not a prediction. Who knows how close things will be? It’s all to say that there are other ways of calling an election besides calling the election. And the last couple have been so close that we haven’t even had to think about this sort of thing.