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The Upshot’s Election Needle Nearly Drove Us All Insane Tonight

The New York Times Election Needle
Do not anger it.
The New York Times

The data geeks who write for the New York Times’ Upshot have found a perfect mechanism to drive their readers into the deep depths of madness on election night.

I’m talking about the needle, of course. The section’s election meter, with its jittery gauge swinging from red to blue, has become an election night fixture, delivering a real time forecast that serves as a functionally useless IV drip of moment by moment return data for political junkies. And with Alabama Democrat Doug Jones in an extremely tight race against an accused child molester, the thing drove Twitter absolutely out of its mind tonight. People practically started praying to the thing like some sort of angry deity.

Me? My muscles tensed up in fear and anticipation the second I saw it earlier this afternoon as my mind flashed back to election night 2016, when the needle careened from Clinton blue to Trump red.

Here’s just a sampling of how things unfolded for people watching the Upshot tonight:

Originally I was going to argue that the Times needs to redesign or eliminate this thing in order to cleanse our collective Trauma from 2016. But no. If you’ve got half of the political pundit class literally pleading with a piece of graphic design, you have to keep it, no matter what ill effects it might have on our mental health.

Anyway, the needle says Doug Jones won. All is forgiven.

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