Why does everyone trust the Associated Press for calling races?

November 10, 2020

By: Katy Byron

I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the past week about what information to trust about calling the presidential race, what sources are reliable.

The most reliable information is the confirmed and official results from the government and election offices nationwide, which is a process guided by the Constitution. But that all takes about a month.

So, about a century ago, news outlets began gathering election results across the nation in an effort to get an answer for the impatient public who just didn’t want to wait that long, according to Sally Buzbee, executive editor of the Associated Press. The AP has been leading this charge and “counting the vote” since 1848.

AP has been the gold standard for calling races for decades. Many (if not most) news organizations look to them on election night and share the AP’s reporting and election calls with their audiences.

Katy Byron

Katy Byron is the editor and program manager of Poynter’s MediaWise, a non-profit project teaching millions of Americans how to sort fact from fiction online