Television: Button, Button, Who's Got the Winner?

Back in the '20s and '30s, radio made election nights social occasions. Armed with pencils and ruled-off pads, the group around the set had plenty of time for argument and suspense, listening to the votes pile up. Television took the pencil-and-paper fun out of things by substituting the tote board, accompanied by the Friendly Pundit to explain what the flicking numbers seemed to mean. Now the computer is in danger of spoiling the party altogether by announcing the winners before anyone has time to open a can of beer.

Today the trick is to be first with an authoritative prediction...

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