Fox News Made a Big Call in Arizona, Buoying Biden and Angering Trump

In the 2018 midterms, early results from Florida suggested that an anticipated “blue wave” might have been over before it began. That year, Van Jones on CNN called the early results “heartbreaking,” and George Stephanopoulos mused on ABC that Democrats were having a “disappointing night.”

But Mr. Mishkin’s team abruptly called the House for the Democrats roughly an hour before other major news outlets did so. (Some Democrats were so shocked that Fox News had made a call in their favor that they speculated about a conspiracy.)

In 2012, Mr. Mishkin made another election night cameo, telling viewers why he had projected a win in Ohio for Barack Obama despite the doubts of a star Fox News analyst, Karl Rove. (Mr. Obama ultimately won the state.) It might not have been a household-name-making moment — a subsequent summary of the telecast by The Atlantic described Mr. Mishkin merely as “Nerd 1” — but it underscored his behind-the-scenes importance at a network whose polling operation has won the respect of rivals.

On Wednesday, Mr. Mishkin once again faced skepticism from conservative colleagues. The pundit Katie Pavlich, an Arizonan, told viewers she was doubtful that her home state had gone for Mr. Biden, and the host Tucker Carlson told viewers that Trump officials were skeptical about a Biden win in the state.

At 2:51 a.m. Eastern — about three and a half hours after Fox News had made its call — The Associated Press made its own projection in Arizona: Mr. Biden would win.

As Mr. Baier wrapped up his Wednesday interview with Mr. Mishkin, before The A.P.’s call, he had a couple of follow-ups for his colleague. Was he “100 percent” sure?

“Yes,” Mr. Mishkin replied.

“All this pushback, you’re going to say we made the right call when we made it?” Mr. Baier pressed.

“We made the correct call,” Mr. Mishkin replied, “and that’s why we made the correct call when we made it.” He added, a bit sheepishly, “I’m sorry.”

Annie Karni contributed reporting.

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