Trump Campaign Says Fox News Decision Desk Boss Has 'Prematurely' Called Arizona for Biden

Trump Campaign Says Fox News Decision Desk Boss Has 'Prematurely' Called Arizona for Biden
Ballots are counted by Maricopa County Elections Department staff ahead of Tuesdays election in Phoenix, Ariz. on Oct. 31, 2020. (Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen
President Donald Trump’s campaign on Nov. 5 called out Fox News for what it said was a premature call that Democratic nominee Joe Biden had definitely won the swing state of Arizona. The campaign called the director of the network’s decision desk, Arnon Mishkin, a “Clinton-voting, Biden-donating Democrat.”
Mishkin, a management consultant who runs the Fox News Channel’s decision desk, “prematurely called Arizona for Joe Biden before hundreds of thousands of ballots had been counted,” the Trump campaign said in a news release. “Even left-leaning election analysts like (538’s) Nate Silver have criticized the decision, but Mishkin is standing by his terrible decision despite and refusing to retract his unjustified call.”

Fox News, which is owned by the Murdoch family's Fox Corp, made the call for the battleground state of Arizona and its 11 electoral votes in favor of Biden at 11:20 p.m. on Nov. 3. At the time, Mishkin said “80-some” percent of the state’s votes had been counted.

After the network’s projection—which was later echoed by The Associated Press (AP)—Republicans, including Trump 2020 campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh, called on the outlets to retract their decisions, saying that a significant number of ballots in the state had yet to be counted by elections officials.

AP relies on the same polling data as Fox News, and no other major television networks have so far called a winner for Arizona as of Thursday evening.

Poll aggregator Silver, the founder of FiveThirtyEight, also said AP and Fox should retract their calls for Arizona, noting that there were about 450,000 outstanding ballots, with 23 percent Democratic, 44 percent Republican, and 33 percent independent—or other parties.

“I'm sorry, the president is not going to be able to take over and win enough votes to eliminate that seven-point lead that the former vice president has,” Mishkin said in defending his projection at around 1 a.m. on Nov. 4. “I'm sorry, but we're not wrong in this particular case.”

He doubled down on the projection later that night saying, “We're confident that the data will basically look like the data we've noticed throughout the count in Arizona.”

Trump’s campaign asserted in its release that Mishkin “has a long record of donating to Democrats, including the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign.”

Trump campaign’s rapid response operation separately shared a screenshot of Mishkin’s donation history on Twitter, showing that he donated more than $1,500 to Obama’s presidential campaign, and in May 2019, he donated $50 to the Democratic voting platform ActBlue. Public records also show that he has given political donations to Republican candidates.
Mishkin, who has run Fox’s decision desk since 2008, told the New York Times earlier this year that he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and is paid as a consultant, not as a Fox News employee. According to the NY Times, Mishkin operates independently with an eight-member team of statisticians, political scientists, pollsters, and journalists.

Fox News and the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Epoch Times.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said Thursday evening that between 400,000 to 450,000 ballots still need to be counted around the state.

As of Thursday night, Trump was behind the former vice president by around 46,000 votes with 90 percent of the vote counted. The White House has said that Arizona is a key state for Trump’s reelection.
Phoenix-based analysis firm Data Orbital told The Epoch Times that the president has a chance of winning the state.

“People are making a mistake with equating the ballots that are left that came in early [with] the early ballots that were sent back in the mail,” George Khalaf, the president of Data Orbital, said.

“Unlike in other states, it’s actually the inverse in Arizona. Democrats dominated early ballots that were mailed back earlier in the cycle, and Republicans absolutely dominated ballots that arrived between last Friday and election day,” he added. “Like how they dominated Election Day itself.”

Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.