Fox News Channel's "You Decide 2006" was properly slow going in the early evening, because as anchor Brit Hume kept pointing out, there was not much to report. Like the others networks, I presume, none of the panel of smart guys on the Fox analysis panel, nor Hume, wanted to stick their necks out. As Hume noted at around 6:45 p.m. ET, at about that time in 2004, many political analysts and exit poll experts were saying John Kerry was on his way to the White House.
Just before 7:30 Fox's Bill Hemmer, positioned in Cleveland, gave some significant indications that Ohio, which greatly helped re-elect George Bush in 2004, seemed to be swinging way over to the Democrats. Chris Wallace amplified that a few minutes later.
This year, Hume and others pointed out, new computer voting equipment being used in some states was going to make predicting races based on "key" precincts harder to do this year, because the votes would be counted in a different way. But given the confusion of past elections, Hume observed, the delay, if there turns out to be one, is something "I think the American people can well stand."
Funniest early observation: Conservative Bill Kristol, an editor of the Weekly Standard, noted that there is a tendency for Democratic voters to participate in exit polling than Republicans. Why? Well Kristol speculated Republicans are just "too surly" to participate.
Kristol also noted later that blogs and the Internet generally has gotten the American electorate revved up. Indeed, Fox said the voter turn out in Montana and perhaps Virginia may surpass the 2004 totals.
It's going to be an interesting night, and it's just starting.
By P.J. Bednarski