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Why has the Arizona vote led to media outlets having contrasting numbers for Joe Biden?

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Volunteers, one representing each party work in pairs to analyse ballots that have discrepancies
Volunteers, one representing each party work in pairs to analyse ballots that have discrepancies   -   Copyright  Dario Lopez-MIlls/AP Photo
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With all eyes on the US presidential election, some have noticed a discrepancy between different networks' count on electoral votes awarded to President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Some media including the NY Times and NBC News are reporting that Joe Biden has 253 electors, whereas others, including Euronews, are reporting that Biden has 264 electors.

Candidates need 270 electoral votes in order to win the presidency.

There are two entities that project elections for the media in the United States: The Associated Press and consumer research firm Edison Research which provides data to network decision desks at ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN.

The difference comes down to the state of Arizona where Biden currently leads Trump by some 47,000 votes, and 1.5 percentage points.

The Associated Press has called Arizona with its 11 electoral votes for Democrat Joe Biden while the other networks in the US have not, stating that the race is too close to call.

The Associated Press has stood by its election projection with executive editor Sally Buzbee putting out the following statement: “The Associated Press continues to watch and analyse vote count results from Arizona as they come in. We will follow the facts in all cases."

The AP called Arizona at 8:50 am CET on Wednesday because "after an analysis of ballots cast statewide concluded Trump could not catch up in the ballots left to be counted."

Most of the remaining votes in Arizona are from Maricopa County, where changing demographics have shifted the politics. The state also sent Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, to the Senate in 2018.

The AP has additionally called the Senate race in the state for Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and Democrat, meaning the state will likely send two Democrats to the Senate. Republican candidate Martha McSally, however, has yet to concede the race.

The state was formerly a Republican stronghold but some analysts said Trump's attacks on former Arizona Senator John McCain, who died of brain cancer in 2018, may have influenced a change in the state as well.

"If our race callers cannot definitively say a candidate has won, we do not engage in speculation. AP did not call the closely contested race in 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore – we stood behind our assessment that the margin in Florida made it too close to call," the AP has previously explained about their process.

When was Arizona first called?

The state was first called by Fox News, a conservative-leaning US cable network on Tuesday night.

The call reportedly angered President Trump, US media reported, and Fox News presenters questioned their Decision Desk on the air.

Fox News Decision Desk director Arnon Mishkin said he was "absolutely" sure about the call and apologised on television.

"I'm sorry, the president is not going to be able to take over and win enough votes to eliminate that seven-point lead that the former vice president has," Mishkin said, explaining that Biden was leading among mail-in votes being counted there.

Arizona's Republican governor Doug Ducey rejected the call: "With hundreds of thousands of votes still outstanding, it's important that we be patient before declaring any races up or down the ballot."

The New York Times, which analyses both The Associated Press and Edison Research survey data, said "We do not believe there’s solid enough data on the votes that remain to be counted after Election Day. The data we do have suggests that President Trump could fare well."

Biden's lead in Arizona has narrowed, but his campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon says that they expected that to occur and are still confident about the results in the state.

Trump supporters in Maricopa County, where the capital Phoenix is located, protested outside an vote counting centre.

An update on the state is expected by 5 pm CET on Friday.