Every so often, in a democratic country, there are elections
. (Unless it's that kind of democracy
.) Therefore there must be election results.
An exit poll will be made and there will be intense discussion about it until the results start to trickle in.
Features of UK
- The Swingometer: an arrow that swings left or right depending on whether voters have swung left or right. Operated by Peter Snow until 2005.
- Other silly computer graphics are also common, including holograms in the 2010 coverage.
- Especially when Jeremy Vine imitates a cowboy (2008 local elections).
- Live declarations of important seat results (such as ministers in marginal seats, a possible minor party win, or seats that are considered essential for a party to win).
- The General Elections (not local or European elections) will most likely have Rick Wakeman's "Arthur" as its theme. (omitted in the 2001 & 2010 elections when more generic music was used).
- David Dimbleby. It's theorised that he lives in cryogenic storage and only comes out to do elections and Question Time.
- Sir Robin Day (until 1992)
Features of US
- Dan Rather's weird comments on CBS (until 2004)
- Live declarations of Congressional seat results, especially your regional ones as the broadcast networks set aside around 10 minutes per half-hour for the local affiliates' coverage.
- The "Red State/Blue State" map, where states won by Republicans are colored red, and states won by Democrats are colored blue. This color scheme did not become standard until after the 2000 election. Color schemes before then had varied. Not by much, but some news agencies used to use red for Democrats and blue for Republicans, and to this day "polls still open" "too close to call", "independent/third-party" and so on are not at all standardized (although where they have to be included, the Greens have a pretty solid hold on green).
- Results coming in waves at the top of the hour (and occasionally just after the half-hour marks) between 7 PM and midnight Eastern time, as the country is spread across five time zones and each state sets its own time for when the polls close.
- Presidential election years only: Wild Math Guessing as the results come in and pundits try to figure out how each candidate can get to 270 electoral votes with what they have and the remaining states. If they talk about a candidate having "flip" Texas or California to win, it's basically already over.
- In recent midterm years: Full election coverage on PBS and cable news channels only while the commercial broadcast TV networks show regularly scheduled entertainment programming with news breaks only when new results are available.
- For stations which haven't upgraded their graphics for a long time, all shows are aired in in Squash-O-Vision to display election results and let viewers know moment by moment the newest results of that critical East Sioux Falls school board race.
- Graphics one-upmanship between networks. CNN had a hologram. A freaking hologram, not to mention the Magic Wall map.
- This is subverted by the late Tim Russert of NBC who achieved awesomeness by having a dry-erase board and a marker. Most famously, he wrote "Florida! Florida! Florida!" on it when the 2000 election came down to the controversial Florida vote.
- How about the fact that NBC literally uses Rockefeller Center for its coverage; placing the electoral map on the ice rink, and using the main GE building for the electoral count.
- Parodied by Saturday Night Live during the 2008 election. See here (occurs at the 1:25 mark).
- For Presidential elections: intense and breathless monitoring of the "swing" states, i.e. states that aren't reliably Republican or Democrat and therefore the results actually are up in the air. (Massachusetts, for instance, is going to go to the Democratic candidate, period. Ditto, say, Georgia for the Republicans.) These are the states that actually decide elections. The usual suspect for all this wild speculation is Ohio, where the returns are tracked obsessively and to the minute.
- Florida being too close to call for days after Election Day itself. Has been a running joke since 2000.
Features of Canadian
- Rick Mercer.
- Parliamentary districts are known as "ridings".
- Western blackouts. Western Canadians have to wait until their polls close before they can find out the results in other provinces. It's the law.
- This means all streaming of radio and television in Canada comes to a screeching halt. The election authorities got really touchy in the April 2011 election about Eastern poll results being mentioned at all on Twitter and Facebook before closing, though they didn't actually charge anyone with committing a crime.
- Similar to the US, party colour maps are applied. As of 2011, 5 different colours have been applied (Liberal red, Conservative blue, New Democrat orange, Bloc Quebecois light blue, and Green).
Features of Australian
- The population being reminded of the more bizarre Parliament seat names, such as "Mayo" and "Batman".
- Antony Green.
- A frontbencher from each part playing a game of civility chicken.
- Boneheads trying to get on camera in the background behind the broadcasters, especially on Channel 7.
- A comedy group getting just as many, if not more viewers than the major channels as they cover the election their way.
- Both candidates saying the other candidate winning will be the end of the world, and then conceding that it's not in a civil manner after their loss.
Features of New Zealand
- Breaking live crosses to the Prime Minister's house every time his wife goes out the garage to get more beer, or a car clearly marked "Pizza Hut" pulls in the front gate.
- Running commentary on the Epsom electorate vote results as they come in.