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Where to Watch US Election 2020 Results: An Anxious Voter’s Guide

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Where to Watch US Election 2020 Results: An Anxious Voter’s Guide

Unless you’ve found some alternative programming, odds are you will spend Tuesday sitting in front of the television and anxiously waiting for presidential election results to roll in. Odds are also good that if you’re reading Vanity Fair—a publication President Donald Trump declared “way down, big trouble, dead” back in 2016—you are hoping to see a blue wave metaphorically crash against the newly erected barriers outside the White House. If that’s the case, we thought we might give some guidance about which election night coverage option might be best suited to your specific personality.

A quick disclaimer: according to conventional wisdom, analysts and experts will be more careful about “calling” the election than usual, considering this year’s unusual circumstances (a crush of mail-in ballots and challenges presented by COVID-19). In other words, this election night’s coverage will be unlike any we’ve seen before…and hopefully will ever see again.

For Those Who Like the Direct Approach: The Networks

Back in Dan Rather’s folksy heyday, the networks were the place to get your election night news. Of course, this was before the rise of 24-hour cable news, and the media critiques levied at anchors like ABC’s George Stephanopoulos or NBC’s Chuck Todd—who have each come under fire for providing too soft of a platform for Trump spokespeople. That being said, Trump town hall hero Savannah Guthrie will be holding down the fort with Todd over on NBC. Stephanopoulos, meanwhile, will be joined by controversial FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver and Chris Christie, among others.

Over on CBS, Slate Political Gabfest cohost and CBS News senior political analyst John Dickerson will join Norah O’Donnell, Gayle King, Margaret Brennan, and Ed O’Keefe. This genuinely sounds like the network lineup least likely to offend. If a warm cup of Earl Grey tea were hosting election night coverage, it would be this crew.

For Those Who Want to Laugh Bitterly Through Their Crushing Anxiety: The Late Night Boys and Samantha Bee

Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert are both offering live election night specials, hoping to soften our stress with comedy. Noah and his Daily Show team are hosting something called “Votegasm 2020: What Could Go Wrong (Again),” which will air live on both coasts starting at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT, and will include real-time coverage of the results—whatever they may be. Noah will be joined by Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta, Desi Lydic, Dulcé Sloan, Jaboukie Young-White, and Roy Wood Jr., with special reporting from 2020 Trump rally reporting star Jordan Klepper. (This man does not miss.)

Meanwhile, Colbert will be repeating his 2016 plan of airing a special over on CBS’s sister network, Showtime, at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT. This live event, which is titled “Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand: Building Back America America Great Again Better 2020” will likely lack the shock, and awe of 2016’s “Stephen Colbert’s Live Election Night: Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going to Clean Up This Shit?,” where a shell-shocked Colbert grappled with the reality of President Trump in real time. This time, at least, Colbert is braced for the worst.

But perhaps the late-night host most prepared for any outcome is Samantha Bee, who has pre-taped three different episodes of her show to air on TBS the Wednesday after election night. There’s one version for if Biden wins, one for if Trump wins, and one for the very likely scenario in which we don’t know either way.

For Those Not in a Laughing Mood: PBS

You want sober and serious adults to carefully and calmly explain every twist and turn of the night? Then let election veteran and PBS NewsHour managing editor Judy Woodruff be your guide, along with Lisa Desjardins, Amy Walter, Yamiche Alcindor, John Yang, Stephanie Sy, William Brangham, and various other guests. You likely won’t crack a smile all night—but, let’s be honest, you weren’t likely to do that anyway.

For the Potential Conservative Meltdown: Fox News

The overly optimistic can have a little schadenfreude, as a treat. If you’re going into Tuesday convinced that things will go poorly for the Republicans (and where, exactly, did you get all that confidence?), then perhaps the Trump-friendly Fox News is the spot for you. After all, who can forget the pure joy of watching Karl Rove melt down, in real time, over the Obama/Romney results in 2012? Rove will be back at it again this Tuesday night as one of several election night experts, including one of the network’s most controversial hires: former DNC chair Donna Brazile.

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