Election office workers process ballots as counting continues from the general election at the Allegheny County elections returns warehouse in Pittsburgh, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Bangor Daily News was one of the first media outlets to publish a story saying former Vice President Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States.

It led to lots of good questions from readers about why the same news was not up at The New York Times or the Associated Press. This is because we partner with Decision Desk HQ. We provide Maine results that we gather in exchange for race projections — known as “calls.”


Decision Desk and the AP, the latter of which is a major source of media calls, are competitors and have differed throughout this election. Decision Desk called the race for Biden at 8:50 a.m. and it was also the first to call President Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

It also called every Maine race before the AP this year. The AP and Fox News have called Arizona for Biden; Decision Desk has not. It called the race after Biden clinched Pennsylvania, giving him 20 Electoral College votes, vaulting him from 253 past the 270 required to 273.

The call came after Biden overtook Trump behind supermajorities in newly counted ballots around Philadelphia. More are being counted there and around Pittsburgh, so Biden should pad his lead further, said Drew McCoy, Decision Desk’s president. The company has noted Biden’s overperformance in other parts of the state was a major factor.


“So the numbers are going to grow for Biden, it’s going to get beyond the recount range, and there’s just simply nowhere where the Trump campaign has sufficient numbers to come back,” McCoy said.

Trump has no path to victory barring successful legal action, which is not factored into calls. On Friday, judges in two states threw out campaign lawsuits over the counts. The same day, he made baseless accusations of voter fraud as votes were being counted in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina. Biden led in all but North Carolina.

Decision Desk has only retracted one general election call in the last two cycles — a California race that the AP got wrong as well. McCoy said his company has not intentionally called this or any other race to be first and there is “not a chance” that this big call will prove wrong.

“It’s an exercise in data and when the data says you make a call, you make a call,” McCoy said.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...