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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

News outlets are shying away from trying to quickly predict elections, and are instead focusing more on explaining how the races are unfolding, executives tell Axios.

What to expect: Most news executives concede that some networks won't be able to call elections with certainty for days — or longer.

What's new:

  • Fewer prediction graphics: The New York Times said Monday that its infamous election needle will only be used this year to predict race outcomes in 3 battleground states, not the full election.
  • New polling methodology: CNN's polling director Jennifer Agiesta says that Edison Research, a firm that has for years conducted exit poll data for the networks to use to call races, has changed its methodology to include more exit interviews at polling locations during early in-person voting and to include telephone interviews with those that casted early mail-in ballots.
  • Bigger focus on vote counting: The Washington Post's director of engineering told Axios last month that it wouldn't be predicting race outcomes. Instead, it has created a new tool to track expected votes.
  • Local reporting on voting issues: NBC News has placed a focus on sending reporters to battleground states to help report out any issues with voting that could delay results. Univision is partnering with ProPublica’s Electionland to monitor and report on any issues voters might have at the polls.
  • More transparency about how races are called: The AP, which is expected to call over 7,000 races, says it will be publishing articles throughout the election explaining how and why it's calling certain races.

Why it matters: News outlets are still reeling from embarrassing mistakes last cycle.

  • Aside from many showing visible shock and dismay during the 2016 election, many journalists still recall the embarrassing mistake outlets made in 2000 when trying to call the winner of Florida.

Between the lines: Practices used in previous elections, like percent of precinct reporting, are less dependable with so many mail-in ballots.

  • Instead, networks are expected to report the percentage of expected votes that have been tallied.

The bottom line: News outlets — especially wires and TV networks with major decision desks — have experience doing this.

Go deeper

Tech's election post mortem: Better than 2016, but lots of new woes

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Silicon Valley's platforms are relieved to see Election Day slip into the past and feel they did a much better job than in 2016 at deflecting foreign meddling and disinformation, even as critics continue to point out new failures and President Trump's refusal to concede has laid new challenges in their path.

Driving the news: With online polarization deepening after a close election, the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter will face hostile Senate questioning Tuesday from both sides of the aisle.

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sen. Kelly Loeffler to return to campaign trail after 2nd negative test

Sen. Kelly Loeffler addresses supporters during a rally on Thursday. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler's (R-Ga.) campaign announced Monday that she "looks forward to getting back out on the campaign trail" after testing negative for COVID-19 for a second time, following earlier conflicting results.

Why it matters: Loeffler has been campaigning at events ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff in elections that'll decide which party holds the Senate majority. Vice President Mike Pence was with her on Friday.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Key government agency says Biden transition can formally begin

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy. Photo: Alex Edelman/CNP/Getty Images

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that she has determined the transition from the Trump administration can formally begin.

Why it matters: Murphy, a Trump appointee, had come under fire for delaying the so-called "ascertainment" and withholding the funds and information needed for the transition to begin while Trump's legal challenges played out.