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Politics Podcast: How The Media Projects The Winner Of An Election

As we head toward Election Day, one of the big questions this year is not just who will win, but when we will know who the winner is. States have changed their voting rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and more people are voting by mail than ever before. Counting all those mail ballots will be a new task for many states, and that could take time.

Unlike in past elections — when we expected to know the results by the end of election night — Americans are being cautioned that it could take days or longer to get results this year.

In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Galen Druke speaks with the executive director of elections at ABC News, Dan Merkle, who oversees the network’s Decision Desk. Merkle explains how ABC News will go about projecting the winner of individual states and the overall presidential race, as well as when we might be able to expect those projections.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Galen Druke is FiveThirtyEight’s podcast producer and reporter.