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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

I'm Alex Chadwick. Coming up, how's the voting going in the three critical swing states, Ohio, Indiana, and Colorado? We'll find out just ahead.

BRAND: When will we find out who the next president is? It could be as early as 8 p.m. Eastern. That's because polls close in key states by then, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Florida. If Barack Obama wins any of those states, or at least two of them, it will be very difficult for John McCain to win.

So what does that mean for media organizations? Will they hold off until, say, we Californians get a chance to vote? The polls close here at 8 - 11 Eastern. Not likely. David Plotz is editor of slate.com. He says his online magazine will call the race early. David's here now, and, David, why? What's your thinking on this?

Mr. DAVID PLOTZ (Editor, Slate.com): Sorry, Madeleine. I'm sorry to disappoint the Californians who are listening. I think it's unfortunate when people assume their readers or their listeners or their viewers are stupid, and our readers are smart. And they know that if certain races go towards Obama early in the evening, that is a very, very, very, very, very, very, very strong signal that McCain cannot win the presidency.

It's unrealistic to assume that McCain can capture California or pretend that McCain is going to capture California and somehow steal a victory after Obama has swept some of these eastern swing states. So I think it's our obligation to our readers to be upfront and say, you know, everything indicates if Obama has won Virginia, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, this is over.

BRAND: But what if we have some tight races, close races where it's really, really, really almost too close to call? What are you going to do there?

Mr. PLOTZ: We would not call it at that point. At that point, you don't know. But I think it's - the circumstances under which we would call it and I think other news organizations would call it is if there's a very heavy Obama victory in, you know, Virginia and Pennsylvania and maybe one other state, but I think maybe just Virginia and Pennsylvania. If Obama has a strong lead in those states, you know, at 8:30 or nine p.m., assuming the returns come in promptly, then I think it's safe to call it.

BRAND: Now, Slate, along with other media organizations, was burned four years ago in 2004, when exit polling data showed that John Kerry was going to win, and, of course, we all know, he didn't. So are you a little cautious about using exit polling data?

Mr. PLOTZ: Well, we don't subscribe to any of the exit polls. So the only exit polls we get are kind of leaked to us by our friends. Maybe you guys have something you'll send over to us.

BRAND: Maybe.

Mr. PLOTZ: But that is not what we would rely on. We would rely on sort of returns from these early states.

BRAND: All right. You can check out the results at slate.com and also at BPR. David Plotz is the editor of slate.com. Thanks, David.

Mr. PLOTZ: Thank you.

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