Fact Check

Premature 2012 Election Results

Did two news stations air 2012 election 'results' early?

Published Nov 5, 2012

Claim:   Two television stations aired 2012 election "results" early.


Origins:   The effort to keep apace with the modern 24/7 news cycle can at times cause news outlets to goof. Such was the case with a couple of news stations that in mid-October 2012 inadvertently publicly broadcast graphics they believed they were merely testing in-house.

Normally, such mistakes are merely chuckled over before being dismissed in favor of the real news of the day. However, the nature of what was broadcast by each of those two stations made at least a few people wonder if the fix wasn't in for a particular candidate because each displayed results for the 2012 presidential election, an event then over two weeks away.

Election results

The first to do so was KPHO, the CBS affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona. On 19 October 2012, those watching The People's Court saw for 17 seconds a graphic at the bottom of the screen which stated President Barack Obama had been re-elected, winning 43% of the vote nationwide to Govenor Mitt Romney's 40%. (The graphic did not account for the other 17%.)

Ed Munson, KPHO's General Manager, said of the occurrence:

On Friday, Oct. 19, during a test of KPHO CBS 5's election returns software, we inadvertently aired a test graphic for about 15 seconds in an episode of Peoples Court. The mistake was caught quickly and taken off the screen. With the election about two weeks away, the TV station routinely tests its equipment to ensure our viewers have the very latest results on election night. We regret the error and apologize to any viewer who was confused by the mistake.

The second station to err in similar fashion was WCPO, the ABC affiliate in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also on 19 October 2012, it mistakenly aired a graphic intended for in-house testing, one that announced President Obama had won in Ohio by a 46% to 39% margin. (The Indiana graphic was an exact copy of the Ohio one, save for the name of the state.)

Ohio election results

As with KPHO, WCPO didn't have the inside track on whom the voters will favor, let alone by how much. Both instances were attributable to station error.

Even so, it will be interesting to compare the "results" broadcast over two weeks earlier with the actual 2012 returns.

Barbara "interesting Times" Mikkelson

Last updated:   5 November 2012


    Schortgen, Kenneth Jr.

  "Television Stations in Ohio and Arizona Announce Obama Victory Before Election."

    Examiner.com.   22 October 2012.

    The Daily Caller.

  "CBS News Affiliate Calls 2012 Presidential Race For Obama Weeks Ahead of Election."

    21 October 2012.

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