How to Watch the Election Day Results, From Broadcast News Coverage to Free Livestreams

  In 1904, Alfred Ochs, then the owner of the New York Times, wanted to broadcast the presidential election results in a faster, flashier, way. Sure, people could read the headlines of his paper the next morning—but this was the White House we were talking about. The public wanted to know the outcome right away, and the competition to deliver the news first was fierce. So Ochs installed a spotlight atop the second-tallest building in Times Square. If the spotlight pointed west, it meant that Republican Theodore Roosevelt had won. If it pointed east, the victor was Democrat Alton B. Parker.

  This went on until 1961, when radio, and later television, delivered the news instantly. Fast-forward sixty years, and election coverage is now abundant—and way more technologically advanced. The question isn’t necessarily how to watch the election, but what’s the best and most accurate way to do so—especially as the ghosts of elections past haunt our collective consciousness. In 2000, several broadcast networks erroneously reported the Florida results, and in 2016, the New York Times’s election probability needle flopped dramatically from a sure-fire Democratic blue to a certain Republican red.

  Below, the best ways to keep up on election night—whether you have cable or only an internet connection. Plus, an in-depth look at the data methods each outlet is using to declare a winner, and how internet platforms are combating disinformation and unverified reports.

  ’Round-the-Clock Cable News Networks

  All the major cable news networks—CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News—will be doing around-the-clock coverage on November 3.

  CNN: CNN’s coverage will be led by Dana Bash, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Abby Phillip, and Jake Tapper. They’ll be joined by a slew of experts and analysts: Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins are reporting from the Trump campaign headquarters, whereas Arlette Saenz and Jeff Zeleny will cover Biden. Also rounding out its coverage? Chief national correspondent John King and Chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

  They’ll receive exit poll data from the National Election Pool and Edison Research. NEP and Edison have been interviewing early voters, over the phone and in person, since October 13. The latter method is new for this presidential election; Edison only started talking to early voters face-to-face in 2016. Now, it will be doing so in eight swing states with the hope of getting a more accurate result. (You can find a full breakdown of CNN’s methodology here.)