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Weather, graphic, ID issues plague TV Election Night coverage

I miss the days that former Erie County Democratic chairman Joe Crangle used to go on WIVB-TV (Channel 4) television and give a good indication or predict who would win key races after looking at which localities the turnout was coming from.

That thought came to mind while watching former Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan and former Republican Deputy County Executive Carl Calabrese on Channel 4 Tuesday night discussing the tight races for sheriff and county clerk.

They pretty much agreed on the safe assessment that the winners would be determined by whether the missing votes came from the city of Buffalo, Cheektowaga or areas dominated by Democratic voters or suburban areas dominated by Republicans.

If memory serves me, that's something Crangle usually knew or could figure out.

Here are some more thoughts about Tuesday's election coverage, primarily by watching the 11 o'clock news.

Ratings: The Election Night results were similar to what usually happens at 11 p.m. on weekdays. Channel 4 won the 11 p.m. news competition that was focused on the election with a 7.9 rating. Channel 2 was second with a 6.5 and Channel 7 third with a 3.8.

The Winner is … Channel 4's Dave Greber, who has been filling in for the ailing Don Postles on the station's newscasts. He continued to do a solid job in the veteran's place.

Graphic Issues: The results in the sheriff's race changed so fast that the graphics couldn't keep up. At the start of the 11 p.m. newscast, Greber said challenger Bernie Tolbert was ahead of incumbent Tim Howard by a 53-47 margin when the station's graphic confusingly had Howard ahead by the same margin.

Sheriff Howard claims victory with slim lead; GOP wins clerk, comptroller offices

A Choice, Not an Echo: WKBW-TV (Channel 7) opened its 11 p.m. newscast by focusing for a minute on the wintry weather about to arrive in a few days rather than the election results. The station was following the timeless script that it is never too early to scare people about the weather. If the weather was going to be bad Wednesday that might have made more sense.

Breaking News: About a minute into its newscast, Channel 2 interrupted its election coverage for a story about charges possibly being filed against Dr. Eugene Gosy.

Who Are They? Channel 2's Steve Brown assumed viewers knew who the experts were that he was interviewing about election results and what their affiliations were. I know Buffalo blogger Alan Bedenko. I wasn't familiar with the woman he was with, but learned later it was Andrea Bozek, former communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Bedenko did a fine job downplaying her excitement over Mychajliw possibly running for county executive by noting his margin of victory Tuesday over an opponent, Vanessa Glushefski, with little name recognition wasn’t really that impressive. Bedenko was impressive for a guy who doesn't do a lot of television.

[Read: Results from the 2017 elections in Erie County]

Double Duty: Channel 7 enlisted Kevin Hardwick, the Republican who easily retained his seat in the County Legislature, to address the other key legislature races and the chances the majority would flip from Republican to Democrat (it did). In the old days, Hardwick used to get paid for analysis like that.

Good Night and Good Luck Finding Out Who Won: All three local network affiliates left the political beat when the network late-night programs started at 11:35 p.m. Channel 7 was the only station that showed election results in graphics on the side of the screen during its late-night program, "Jimmy Kimmel Live." That might have annoyed as many Kimmel fans as it was appreciated by those interested in the tight elections.

A Vote for Spectrum News: The cable-news operation, which is available to about half of Western New York homes, was a viable option for those interested in the election past 11:35 p.m. Its coverage continued.

However, some cynical viewers who watched an extended Mychajliw victory speech in which he cracked old jokes and talked about the importance of his family may have immediately headed to the monologues of Kimmel, Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Fallon.


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