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What each of the TV networks are planning for election night

The long-running television drama known as Campaign 2016 reaches its conclusion tonight, and tens of millions of Americans will be following the results on their television screens.

The record election night audience of 71.5 million viewers came on the night of Barack Obama’s first victory in 2008 (it was 66.8 million in 2012).

Given the consistent level of interest throughout the 2016 campaign, it’s not hard to imagine that record being broken.

Besides following on TV, many of those viewers will have second or third screens at hand to dive deeper into results.

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of network plans:


NBC is the defending election night ratings champion and that’s a major point of pride for a television news division.

With Brian Williams now exiled to MSNBC, the main network is taking the team approach with Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd as headliners for its coverage.

Tom Brokaw is a comforting presence as an analyst: He’s been involved in every NBC election night since 1968.

As in the past, NBC is dressing up New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, with the front of its headquarters lighting up in red and blue to mark the electoral progress of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and a map of the United States superimposed on the famed skating rink.

Todd will be NBC’s guru of exit polls and the electoral map.

Andrea Mitchell will report live from the Clinton campaign headquarters, with Katy Tur doing the same at Trump’s.

Each of the three top broadcasters will air elections coverage from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET.


The current and two former anchors of ABC’s flagship “World News Tonight” broadcast will be on the set election night, but George Stephanopoulos will lead the coverage.

Stephanopoulos is ABC’s top man in politics, and it will be his first election night as the chief anchor.

Election night is all hands on deck, however, and Charles Gibson is coming out of retirement to be on the set. Diane Sawyer, who anchored ABC’s coverage four years ago, will also participate, along with current “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir.

ABC’s coverage will originate from Times Square, and Michael Strahan of “Good Morning America” will be outside to get public reaction.

ABC is stationing Robin Roberts at Hillary Clinton’s headquarters and Amy Robach at Donald Trump’s.

ABC News also has the closely watched prognosticator, Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight website, giving state-by-state analysis.

ABC will also air a special edition of “Nightline” from 2 to 4 a.m. ET.


CBS is stressing the ensemble approach for its coverage and showcasing its entire morning show team.

Rather than declare Scott Pelley as its chief anchor, CBS News is giving equal billing to seven different personalities: Besides Pelley, they are the morning show team of Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, the network political director John Dickerson, correspondent Elaine Quijano and semi-retired anchor Bob Schieffer.

Rose will showcase his interviewing and also lead a panel of experts for analysis.

Anthony Mason is CBS’ man at the maps.

Major Garrett will cover Trump headquarters and Nancy Cordes will be with Clinton.

The CBSN streaming service, which celebrates its second birthday this weekend, will also stream a continuous news report Election Day and night.


Election night coverage on CNN begins before any of the polls close, at 4 p.m. ET, with Wolf Blitzer, Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper and Dana Bash tag-teaming it.

Actually, Election Day coverage begins 16 hours earlier, with CNN appealing to insomniacs with a live overnight political show hosted by Poppy Harlow.

The network is stationing 25 correspondents to report from polling sites at swing states across the country.

John King is back in front of CNN’s Magic Wall of data, David Chalian will cover exit polls and Mark Preston is stationed at the network’s decision desk. Gloria Borger, David Axelrod, Nia-Malika Henderson and Michael Smerconish are at the analysts’ desk.

For overseas viewers, CNN International will simulcast the main network’s elections coverage all over the world.


No longer on the main network, Williams will anchor MSNBC’s coverage as part of a team with Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews.

MSNBC’s coverage starts at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than NBC, and will draw on the same bench of experts used by the main network.


Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill will anchor PBS’ election night coverage, which begins at 8 p.m. ET on the public broadcasting network.

John Yang will be at Clinton headquarters in New York and Jeffrey Brown will be following Trump.

PBS’ list of analysts include David Brooks of The New York Times, Amy Walter from the Cook Political Report, veteran broadcaster Jeff Greenfield, Mitt Romney’s former campaign chief Stuart Stevens and former Obama pollster Cornell Belcher.


If you tire of television analysts, C-SPAN offers an alternative.

The network will dart around the country to hear victory and concession speeches by candidates running for various races.

The network will also take viewer calls and sample comments from social media throughout the night, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Election 2012: Counting the votes

At about 11:20 p.m., major media outlets projected that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden had won re-election with the addition of Ohio in the Democratic column.

An email from the president to supporters shortly before 11:30 p.m. said, “I’m about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.

“I want you to know that this wasn’t fate, and it wasn’t an accident. You made this happen.

“You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn’t easy, you pressed forward.

“I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.

“But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.

“Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.

“There’s a lot more work to do.

“But for right now: Thank you.”

Obama and Biden are celebrating at McCormick Place on Chicago’s South Side. The Romney-Ryan campaign is observing the election returns at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston.

On Election Day…

Popular vote

• Obama-Biden: 58,855,477 (early results)

• Romney-Ryan: 56,549,432 (early results)

Electoral vote:

• Obama-Biden: 303 of 270 needed to win (early results)

• Romney-Ryan: 206 of 270 needed to win (early results)

With Obama-Biden projected to return to the White House for four more years, LGBT leaders celebrated.

Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign said, “As millions of Americans celebrate President Obama’s reelection tonight, the LGBT community is particularly elated to send the most pro-equality president ever back to the White House for a second term.  There is no doubt that we will continue to see tremendous progress toward full equality like we’ve made during his first four years.

“While some pundits predicted the president’s support for marriage equality would hinder his campaign, we know the opposite is true. President Obama’s historic and heartfelt declaration that all loving and committed couples should be able to marry further rallied millions of voters and sparked conversations that advanced marriage campaigns around the country.  His reelection after expressing support for marriage equality is further proof that the momentum is on the side of marriage for all families.

“With our Ally-in-Chief back in the White House, we look forward to working with him on a host of issues including addressing workplace non-discrimination and expanding federal benefits to same-sex couples.”

Allyson Robinson of Outserve-SLDN, a nonprofit representing LGBTs in the Armed Forces, reacted to the win: “It’s clear from tonight’s results that Americans have no desire to turn the clock back on our drive to full equality. The president knows that the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was not the end, but just the beginning. Now is the time to step on the gas to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and ensure that all servicemembers and their families are treated equally by our military. And now is the time to say once and for all that any qualified American who wants to serve our country in uniform should not face discrimination or harassment because of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Said Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Equality Council: “Americans have voted to re-elect a President who fully supports marriage equality and who has worked tirelessly to ensure LGBT parents and their children have a fair shot at the American dream. In casting their ballot for the President they voted in favor of fairness and freedom for all American families.”

Voter vows on marriage

• In Maine, Maryland and Washington, voters were deciding whether to legalize gay marriage.


For gay marriage: 53.3 percent with 75.5 percent precincts reporting

Against gay marriage: 46.7 percent with 75.5 percent precincts reporting

With a marriage equality victory projected in Maine, Matt McTighe, manager of Yes on 1:Mainers United for Marriage, said, “Tonight, here in Maine, we proved that voters can change their hearts and minds if we tell our stories and give our fellow citizens a personal connection to the countless families whose lives are impacted by this debate.

“The victory belongs to the thousands of marriage supporters in Maine and across the country who have worked tirelessly for nearly three years to make it possible for all loving, committed couples in Maine to obtain a marriage license.”

Griffin, of HRC, said, “This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people. Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage.”


For gay marriage: 52 percent with 97.5 percent precincts reporting

Against gay marriage: 48 percent with 97.5 percent precincts reporting


For gay marriage: 51.8 percent with 51.3 percent precincts reporting

Against gay marriage: 48.2 percent with 51.3 percent precincts reporting

• In Minnesota, voters were deciding whether to amend the state constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Gay marriage already is banned in the state.

For the anti-gay amendment: 47.6 percent with 98.6 percent precincts reporting

Against the anti-gay amendment: 51.3 percent with 98.6 percent precincts reporting

Out for elected office

This could be a record-setting election for LGBT candidates, with at least 170 out candidates running for office.

• In Wisconsin, out state Rep. Mark Pocan, D, defeated Republican Chad Lee. Out U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D, defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson for the U.S. Senate.

For Congress

Mark Pocan: 68 percent with 100 percent precincts reporting

Chad Lee: 32 percent with 100 percent precincts reporting

With Pocan projected the winner, Chuck Wolfe of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund said, “Mark is an outstanding public servant and he will be a fantastic member of Congress. Nobody is better suited to follow in Tammy Baldwin’s footsteps in the House.  He’s a fighter, and he’ll be a strong voice for LGBT equality.”

Jerame Davis of the National Stonewall Democrats said, “Congratulations to Congressman-Elect Mark Pocan on his election to Congress. Mark reached out to us early and we were very proud to endorse him for his run for the seat being vacated by Tammy Baldwin. Madison voters should be proud of their choice tonight.”

For Senate

Tammy Baldwin: 51.5 percent with 99.5 percent precincts reporting

Tommy Thompson: 45.9 percent with 99.5 percent precincts reporting

With Baldwin declared the winner, Wolfe said, “This is a historic victory not only for the people of Wisconsin, but for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans across the country who have finally gained an authentic and powerful voice in Congress’ upper chamber. Tonight Tammy shattered a glass ceiling that has existed for more than two centuries.

“As Tammy said earlier this morning when she stopped to vote in Madison, ‘The people who had faith that this was possible made it possible.’ Thank you for keeping the faith. Thank you for sticking with us and believing this community can achieve great things. We can, and we did.”

Davis said, “Tammy Baldwin has always been an exceptional leader; tonight, she can add another distinction to her long list of accomplishments: first openly gay US Senator. National Stonewall Democrats has been proud to support Tammy Baldwin since her first run for Congress in 1998. The LGBT community can be proud of the progressive record Tammy has created for herself as an advocate for women, working families, LGBT Americans, and other under-represented constituencies.

“I am ecstatic to say the words ‘Senator Tammy Baldwin’ out loud. This is a big win for LGBT Americans and a solid victory for the citizens of Wisconsin.”

Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign cheered: “Tammy Baldwin has always been a trailblazer, but with her victory tonight Senator-elect Baldwin has again earned her spot in the history books. As the first openly gay person elected to the United States Senate, Tammy Baldwin is a role model for LGBT youth and all young women across the country.

“With a relentless focus on the issues that matter most to Wisconsin voters — economic security, access to healthcare, and fairness and inclusion for all. As a result, she’s earned the respect of all her constituents, gay and straight. It was HRC’s privilege to be part of the broad coalition that helped ensure her victory, and we can’t wait to work with her and her team as she takes on this new role.”

• In Massachusetts, out Republican Richard Tisei ran against incumbent Democrat John F. Tierney for Congressional District 6.

Richard Tisei: 47.3 percent with 91.4 percent precincts reporting

John Tierney: 48.3 percent with 91.4 percent precincts reporting

• In Arizona’s District 9, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema ran against Republican Vernon Parker and hopes to become the first openly bisexual candidate elected to Congress.

Krysten Sinema: 47.5 percent with 100 percent precincts reporting

Vernon Parker: 46.2 percent with 100 percent precincts reporting

• In California, Democrat Mark Takano is an out candidate who ranagainst Republican John F. Tavaglione for Congressional District 41.

Mark Takano: 56.5 percent with 54.3 percent precincts reporting

John Tavaglione: 43.5 percent with 54.3 percent precincts reporting

• In Colorado, out U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D, ran for re-election in District 2 against Kevin Lundberg.

Jared Polis: 55.6 percent with 90 percent precincts reporting

Lundberg: 39.1 percent with 90 percent precincts reporting

• In Rhode Island, out U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D, is running for re-election in District 1 against Republican Brendan P. Doherty.

David Cicilline: 53.1 percent with 97 percent precincts reporting

Brendan P. Doherty: 40.7 percent with 97 percent precincts reporting

With Cicilline projected as the winner, NSD’ Davis said, “Congratulations to Congressman David Cicilline on his re-election to Congress. In 2010, National Stonewall Democrats supported David’s first campaign and sent paid staff to Rhode Island. We’re proud to have David return to Washington for another term as the Representative from Rhode Island’s first congressional district.”

• In New York, out Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney ran for Congressional District 18 against Nan Hayworth.

Sean Patrick Maloney: 51.7 percent with 96.7 percent precincts reporting

Nan Hayworth: 48.3 percent with 98.7 precincts reporting

• In Idaho, out Democrat Nicole Lefavour ran against incumbent Republican Mike Simpson for the Congressional District 2.

Nicole Lefavour: 32.8 percent with 82.7 precincts reporting

Mike Simpson: 67.2 percent with 82.7 precincts reporting

Major battle for majority

There were a couple dozen tossups in the battle for the majority in the U.S. House but Republicans held on to the balance. A race of real interest:

Michele Bachmann’s re-election bid against Jim Graves in Minnesota’s District 6 was tight – her reckless and failed bid for the presidential nomination remained an issue for moderates.

Michele Bachmann: 50.4 percent with 98.2 percent precincts reporting

Jim Graves: 49.2 percent with 98.2 percent precincts reporting

The battle for the U.S. Senate was much closer than the House, but Democrats kept the majority. Some key races:

• Incumbent Republican Scott Brown versus Democrat Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. Warren was up 4.7 points in the last poll.

Elizabeth Warren: 53.9 percent with 95.2 percent precincts reporting

Scott Brown: 46.1 percent with 95.2 percent precincts reporting

Projecting a Warren victory, HRC’s Griffin issued a statement, “Senator-elect Warren’s victory tonight is nothing short of inspiring. As she prepares to fill the seat once held by the late Senator Edward Kennedy, I have no doubt that Senator-elect Warren will be an equally dogged leader for LGBT Americans and our families.”

• Incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill versus Republican Todd Akin in Missouri. McCaskill was up 5 points in the last poll.

Claire McCaskill: 54.7 percent with 99.8 percent precincts reporting

Todd Akin: 39.2 percent with 99.8 percent precincts reporting

• Republican Richard Mourdock versus Democrat Joe Donnelly in Indiana.

Richard Mourdock: 44.4 percent with 99.9 percent precincts reporting

Joe Donnelly: 49.9 percent with 99.9 percent precincts reporting

• Republican Linda McMahon versus Democrat Chris Murphy in Connecticut. Murphy was up 3 points in the last poll.

Linda McMahon: 43 percent with 88.4 percent precincts reporting

Chris Murphy: 55.3 percent with 88.4 percent precincts reporting

Griffin commented on Murphy’s apparent win: “Over his three terms in the House of Representatives, Chris Murphy made his mark as a committed advocate for fair treatment and equal protection for all. As he prepares to continue this work in the United States Senate, the HRC family offers both our congratulations as well as our optimism for future collaboration.”

* Results are unofficial.

* To be updated.