AP State News Reports: Calling a total of 4,653 races

Nov. 14, 2012
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David Pace, seated, confers with a group of senior editors at AP's Washington bureau on election night.
In this memo to AP staff, Managing Editor for State News, Financial News and Global Training Kristin Gazlay singles out the veteran Washington staffer who crunches the numbers and deciphers the data to help lead AP on election night in accurately calling the presidential race and thousands of others:

AP has a well-earned reputation of being the gold standard for election calls, and that held true again this time around – an extremely close year with numerous tight races across the board, including high-profile Senate contests and narrow margins in many battleground states in the fight for the presidency.

The result? AP director of race calls David Pace and his team of 37 callers and 11 election analysts called a total of 4,653 races on election night and the next day, with a remarkable accuracy rate of 99.9 percent.

Pace began pulling together his team more than a year ago, with training beginning in earnest before the primary races and escalating through the late summer and fall. This year held many extra challenges, including a large number of first-time callers and less-detailed exit polling information in some states. Race callers and analysts must do in-depth reporting and research, making sure they know their races, plus the state's voting history, laws and elections personnel. The job combines exhaustive research with the need to be able to analyze numbers on deadline and to be decisive. And nobody does it better than the AP.

No wonder major customers such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times explicitly chose to go with our calls. AP calls were credited on many newspaper websites and on TV, and the Journal sent a memo to staff ahead of time saying it would depend on AP’s expertise.

AP race calls form the basis of all of our journalism on election night, from TV to text to photos to interactives. One example: An interactive election night map created by Michelle Minkoff, Nathan Griffiths, Seth Rasmussen and Troy Thibodeaux flawlessly reported results throughout the night for the presidential, Senate, House and gubernatorial contests, as well as key ballot initiatives. The product, a separate service for premium clients, logged more than 14 million visitors: http://apne.ws/THsJoF

"Calling races, from the presidential level to state legislatures, is a vital function the AP provides to members and customers on election night,” says Washington Chief of Bureau Sally Buzbee. “Being able to accurately and quickly call those statewide and state-level races is critical to our members and customers' ability to provide strong election night coverage."

For underscoring the AP’s essential nature by leading an operation that accurately called scores of races in all 50 states, David Pace wins this week’s $300 Best of the States prize.

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Paul Colford
Director of AP Media Relations

Erin Madigan White
AP Media Relations Manager

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