Error in data used by news outlets wrongly said 98% of ballots counted in Arizona

An error in data used by a consortium of major news outlets wrongly said Wednesday that 98 percent of ballots had been counted in Arizona, despite the fact that an estimated 14 percent or more remained to be tallied.

The incorrect figure distributed by Edison Research to TV outlets, news wire Reuters and print outlets such as The Post made President Trump’s fate seem sealed in the state, where he trails to Democrat Joe Biden by more than 3 percentage points.

Fox News and the Associated Press — both of which don’t use the Edison data — called Arizona’s 11 electoral votes for Biden, but Trump’s campaign maintains that it will win the state by 30,000 votes.

Arizona is the first Trump-won state from 2016 that news outlets declared for Biden. Losing there would be a severe blow to Trump, forcing him to win Midwest battlegrounds that are trending against him with counting of absentee ballots.

The error in data circulated by Edison Research was pointed out by New York Times breaking news editor Patrick LaForge on Twitter.

Corrected data from Edison estimates that 14 percent of Arizona ballots still need to be counted. The AP’s independent data indicates 16 percent of votes are outstanding.

Edison data is used by the National Election Pool of TV outlets including ABC News, CBS News, CNN and NBC News. The Post uses the data via Reuters for an election results map.

In a defiant morning call with reporters, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien insisted that in Arizona, “based on the math that we have been seeing as these late arriving ballots are counted, anywhere from two-thirds to 70 percent of these votes are coming to the president, that math adds up to a margin of around 30,000 in the president’s favor.”

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