At 9:33 PM, Fox News projected that Democrats would take the majority in the House of Representatives in a call that chief political anchor Bret Baier deemed “one of the biggest calls of the night.” However, Fox News was far and away the earliest network to make that call and was alone in that projection (that the others would ultimately make) by about fifty minutes.
Fox News gave the credit to its new Fox News Voter Analysis system that took the place of the National Election Pool, a consortium of the major TV networks plus the Associated Press that shares exit polling. “We’ve had concerns with Election Day exit polling for many years, and this year once again proved that they are problematic,” then-executive vice president of news Jay Wallace said at the time. “Our plan is to explore and find a more modern measurement of voter sentiment on Election Day.”
That resulted in the FNVA. Instead of exit polling (conducted at select sites as voters leave their polling places), the FNVA uses a combination of surveys conducted by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center and the Associated Press’s election results data. The NORC conducted thousands of phone and online interviews across the country and tried to match the demographics of those surveyed to the state.
Fox News tested the system in the Alabama Senate special election and Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections last year.
While the New York Times’s needle struggled to launch and FiveThirtyEight’s live model had to be restrained, Fox News seemed pleased with its new system. As political editor Chris Stirewalt stated, “All I know is the Fox News Voter Analysis is humming like it’s just a Testarossa Ferrari.”