On election eve, Donald Trump faked out the media by having the word spread that he was going to announce his candidacy at an Ohio rally so he could take credit for the midterms.

He told his advisers he was strongly considering it, and they told reporters, and many Republicans were upset at the notion that it could boost Democratic turnout yesterday. Trump sounds out advisers on a lot of things he doesn’t wind up doing, but it’s moot because he’s now teasing a “major announcement”–next Tuesday.

As for what both sides are billing as the most important election of our lifetimes, it was a whole lot of “too early to call” in the early hours. That’s hardly surprising, especially in the key Senate races, where the Real Clear Politics average had most of them within one percentage point, or sometimes as tight as 0.4 percent.

But the blizzard of raw vote totals was hard to follow and highly misleading, with 7 or 8 percent of precincts reporting. It all depended on which parts of which state were reporting.

MEDIA BELATEDLY ACKNOWLEDGE GOP SURGE, INCLUDING AMONG CONSERVATIVES THEY DISMISSED

Democratic PA Lt. Gov John Fetterman (left) and Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz, whose Senate race was among the most contested in the country.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

So in the crucial Georgia race, Sen. Raphael Warnock was “ahead” with 74 percent of the vote to 24 percent for Herschel Walker. Stacey Abrams, widely expected to lose for governor, was also leading incumbent Brian Kemp. So these figures were beyond meaningless.

Further complicating the coverage, with record early voting, was how and when mail-in ballots were counted. In Pennsylvania, for instance, the state is required to count mail-in ballots only after the same-day results are reported. That would mean the Democratic-leaning mail ballots will come in much later, enabling John Fetterman and others to tighten the race against Mehmet Oz. But there will be nothing suspicious about that.

It was eye-glazing at times, as the anchors and commentators kept cautioning viewers not to put much stock in the blur of numbers on their magic walls. 

While virtually everyone expected a GOP takeover of the House–even President Biden told reporters the House would be “tough”–the cable networks had to go district by district to confirm that Republicans had taken control with 218 seats.

At 8 pm eastern, it was another round of “too early to call.” Too early in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Too early to say whether New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan could hang on against Republican retired military man Don Bolduc.

Still too early to call in Georgia, where there could be a runoff if Walker or Warnock doesn’t get over 50 percent.

Only the blowout races warranted projections, including Ron DeSantis, who cruised to a landslide victory over Charlie Crist in Florida, and Marco Rubio, as well as Sarah Huckabee Sanders in Arkansas.

It was clear from some bellwether House districts that Republicans were heading for control, although no one could say that officially, and the only question would be by what margin.

The pattern continued at 9. Too early to call the race between Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly and Republican challenger Blake Masters. Same with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Too early! Too early! Too early! It was repeated like a mantra. 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul talks to reporters after visiting the Hamilton Housing Development on West 73rd Street and Broadway in the Upper West side of Manhattan, New York. The Governor is running a tight reelection campaign with her opponent Lee Zeldin inches away from taking her seat. 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul talks to reporters after visiting the Hamilton Housing Development on West 73rd Street and Broadway in the Upper West side of Manhattan, New York. The Governor is running a tight reelection campaign with her opponent Lee Zeldin inches away from taking her seat. 
(Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

I’ve never seen an election night where so much effort was spent explaining things away. This doesn’t mean anything because the same-day vote hasn’t come in. That doesn’t mean anything because these Republican strongholds haven’t come in. This doesn’t mean anything because it’s too lopsided. Don’t believe your eyes. It was like a hall of mirrors.

At 10, when the polls closed in Nevada, it was–repeat after me–too early to call. That state’s Senate race offered Republicans perhaps their best shot at a takeaway, with Republican Adam Laxalt taking on Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. In Georgia, Walker had taken the lead over Warnock, 49.6 to 48.5 percent, despite plenty of doomsaying about how he was running behind Gov. Kemp. So there were all these nail-biters, now dubbed “too close to call.”

Perhaps that’s why the New York Times published tips for people (meaning Democrats) to stay calm, such as “breathe like a baby” and “plunge your face into a bowl with ice water.” 

When NBC projected that Maggie Hassan would hold onto her Senate seat in New Hampshire, Democrats breathed a sigh of relief.

With embattled Democrats holding onto key House districts, such as Abigail Spanberger in Virginia, there was growing talk–especially on MSNBC, but on the other channels as well–that a red wave had not materialized. And yet that didn’t mean the Republicans wouldn’t wind up winning control of both houses of Congress.

By 11, even Sen. Patty Murray’s reelection bid in Washington state was deemed too early to call. Other races continued to tighten. Herschel Walker was still slightly ahead in Georgia and John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, where the counting would continue for many hours. No calls could be made about the House. But the night was young.

For what it’s worth, Fox coverage was led by journalists Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, and CNN coverage was led by journalist Jake Tapper (not Wolf Blitzer, for the first time in almost two decades). But MSNBC went with an all-liberal panel led by Rachel Maddow. 

MEDIA KEEP UP HURLING OPPO AT DESANTIS, LAKE AND WALKER, HERE’S WHY IT MAY NOT MATTER

In an interview with NewsNation, Trump said of the Republicans: “Well, I think if they win, I should get all the credit – and if they lose, I should not be blamed at all. But it’ll probably be just the opposite. When they win – I think they’re gonna do very well – I’ll probably be given very little credit even though in many cases I told people to run.” 

I want to come back to Trump, who plans to announce next week–he warned DeSantis not to run for president after his lawyer said that would be “career suicide”–and is going to draw constant coverage, as he has in his post-presidency (in part because MSNBC and CNN love the ratings boost).

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump

At the Ohio rally, Trump called Nancy Pelosi an “animal,” and he was not joking–the crowd actually cheered. He recalled a previous conversation where the House speaker asked him not to refer to illegal immigrants as animals, and then reveled in crossing that line. 

Pointing to the “fake” media, the former president said: “They’ll say, ‘What a horrible thing. He called Nancy Pelosi an animal.’” He also called her “Crazy Nancy Pelosi.”

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Does he not have a scintilla of sympathy for the fact that her husband was almost murdered in that hammer attack? Is this the time to be calling her that dehumanizing name?

In an emotional interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Pelosi tied the attack on her husband Paul to Jan. 6 and said both were “fueled by misinformation.”

She choked up while recalling how the Capitol Police banged on her door about 5 a.m. to say Paul had been attacked, and at that moment they didn’t know where he was or what his condition was.

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Her 82-year-old husband faces a long period of recovery. Asked whether she would retire if Republicans win the House, she said the attack would be a factor in her thinking–and we can all figure out what that means. 

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