Behind the Scenes of Election Night Projections

Lapinski election night

John Lapinski spent Tuesday, Nov. 6, exactly as he spends every Election Day: poring over mountains of data. Lapinski is director of elections at NBC—and happens to double as the Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor of Political Science at Penn, as well as the faculty director of the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program at Penn and Penn’s Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies (PORES). 

Lapinski began working with NBC’s Elections Unit—which encompasses NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, and digital properties—during the 2000 election, taking on a more significant role shortly after. He rose through the ranks in 2008 before becoming director after the 2012 election. He works to not only call elections, but is involved with analyzing data that instructs editorial content. He considers this a “privilege” that affords him invaluable insights that come with knowing exactly how news is made. 

Ahead of this year’s midterm elections, Lapinski discussed his role at NBC, the undergraduate students at PORES who had the opportunity to be involved with the Decision Desk on election night, and what knowledge he kept in mind as results streamed in. Read the interview here.

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