“Arnon Mishkin, the director of Fox News’ election decision desk, prematurely called Arizona for Joe Biden before hundreds of thousands of ballots had been counted,” the campaign said. “Even left-leaning election analysts like Nate Silver have criticized the decision, but Mishkin is standing by his terrible decision despite and refusing to retract his unjustified call.”
The network is sticking by the call, made at 11:20 PM ET, even as a new batch of ballots from Maricopa County showed a tightening of the race in an update on Wednesday night.
“Fox News has already called Arizona,” Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace said on air on Thursday. “That’s caused a lot of heartburn in the Republican party but I did check in with our Decision Desk earlier today and they are not wavering. They say our call in Arizona was right, which puts them at 264.”
Although was a report that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, got in touch with Rupert Murdoch about the Arizona call, Trump did not contact the media titan personally. Murdoch said in an email to The Washington Post that “if he had, I would not have interfered or changed our call.”
Mishkin and the Decision Desk have a record of making accurate calls, including Trump’s victory in 2016 and the Democrats’ retaking of the House in 2018.
Network projections are powerful moments as election results trickle in, but they are obviously not the official word. That comes after elections officials tabulate the ballots and the results are certified.
The Trump campaign attacked Mishkin by noting that he is a registered Democrat who voted for Hillary Clinton. The reason the campaign knows that is Mishkin disclosed his vote to The New York Times. On Fox News on Thursday, he said that those who work on the Decision Desk “basically check our politics at the door and focus our statistical or political analysis on the computer and what the numbers show.”
“Essentially, everyone on our team is very interested politically, and so they all vote. I don’t ask them specifically how they vote,” he said. “I do know that many of them have professional experience that’s Republican, others of them have professional experience that’s Democratic.”
The Decision Desk is set up to operate independently, but also has a powerful check on its calls — the actual results.
Asked on Wednesday by Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum about the Trump campaign’s claim that recent result updates show he’s on target to win the state, Mishkin said, “If a frog had wings.”