New York, Nov.4 : At least one broadcast network and one Web site have said that they may announce the winner of the 2008 presidential elections before the voting process is completed.
A senior vice president of CBS News, Paul Friedman, said the prospects for Barack Obama or John McCain meeting the minimum threshold of electoral votes could be clear as soon as 8 p.m. - before polls in even New York and Rhode Island close, let alone those in Texas and California.
"We could know Virginia at 7," he said. "We could know Indiana before 8. We could know Florida at 8. We could know Pennsylvania at 8. We could know the whole story of the election with those results. We can't be in this position of hiding our heads in the sand when the story is obvious," the New York Post quoted Friedman, as saying.
Similarly, the editor of the Web site Slate, David Plotz, said in an e-mail message that "if Obama is winning heavily," he could see calling the race "sometime between 8 and 9."
"Our readers are not stupid, and we shouldn't engage in a weird Kabuki drama that pretends McCain could win California and thus the presidency," Plotz wrote.
All the networks (and other news organizations with their own Web sites) were engaging in similar debates on Monday about striking the following balance: not relying too much on early exit poll data - which had suggested, at least early on Election Day in 2004, that Senator John Kerry might be on track to defeat President Bush - while not being so cautious as to be beaten to the punch by a competitor who announces an emerging result first.