Edison Research, the polling firm that provides election data to CNN is in the news for yet another confusing election-day data report. During Tuesday’s California election to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom, CNN’s coverage suddenly showed a drop by 351,000 votes of those who voted “yes” to recall Newsom.
The Associated Press contributes the mistake to “Missing context. Edison Research, the polling firm that provides election data to CNN, said a data reporting error by one of its staffers caused false vote totals to briefly appear on a live CNN broadcast. The error was fixed within two minutes.”
The Associated Press reports:
Within hours of Newsom handily fending off a recall attempt from Republicans in California on Tuesday, social media users began sharing a clip of someone watching CNN election night coverage, claiming it showed real-time election manipulation.
The video, which spread widely on Gab, Telegram, Twitter and Facebook, showed a ticker on the bottom of CNN’s screen with the question, “Should Gov. Newsom be recalled?” At first, the ticker displayed about 4.5 million “no” votes and 2.2 million “yes” votes.
Moments later, the ticker’s tally of “yes” votes dropped to about 1.9 million.
“Where did they go?” says a man in the background of the video. “Four hundred thousand votes just disappeared?”
The AP states, “Republican commentators on Facebook and Twitter questioned why 351,000 votes were ‘DELETED,’ called the clip proof of ‘fraud’ and claimed it showed Newsom only kept his position because of machine ‘glitches.”
Disagreeing with the Republican commentators’ assessment, the AP concludes “In reality, the vote changes had a simple explanation: a brief reporting error by an Edison Research staffer at a county office in Santa Clara, California.”
However, Republicans have been through this before and as the old adage goes, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.” In the 2020 presidential election and the Georgia Senate runoff, a similar situation occurred with Republican Senator David Perdue.
“Similar misleading claims circulated after the 2020 presidential election and the Georgia Senate runoff election when another quickly resolved error by Edison Research caused votes for candidate David Perdue to disappear from screens” reports the AP. But at what point are we to blame for “misleading claims” when Edison continues to make alleged errors?
Edison Research’s executive vice president Rob Farbman provided zero comfort when he responded to the error by simply stating, “We enter thousands of points of data and a mistake like this can be made.”
The Associated Press goes on to explain:
The changing numbers in the viral clip are a result of the error being fixed, according to Rob Farbman, executive vice president of Edison Research.
“While the ‘No’ vote was entered correctly at 11:19ET, the ‘Yes’ vote that appeared for 2 minutes on CNN was actually the ‘total’ vote of the combined ballots for Yes/No/ Santa Clara,” Farbman said in an email. “This error was entered at 11:19pm ET and corrected 2 minutes later at 11:21pm ET when we deleted the “total vote” in for ‘Yes’ and entered the correct ‘Yes’ vote.”
The error was not limited to CNN and affected several other networks that subscribe to Edison Research polling.