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AP reverses call in U.S. House race for Bishop

The Associated Press

ATLANTA -- The Associated Press erroneously called Georgia's 2nd District House race for the Republican challenger after underestimating the outstanding vote count in two key counties where U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop later won by big margins.

The AP declared Mike Keown the winner at 10:55 p.m. EDT Tuesday, but withdrew the call at 1:54 a.m., Wednesday, once it became apparent that Bishop's home county of Muscogee was still counting ballots and his lead in Dougherty County had widened.

At the time of the initial call, Keown was running almost 6 percentage points ahead of Bishop, and leading in more than half of the district's 31 counties. The AP projected that Bishop would not be able to erase Keown's lead when the remainder of the estimated outstanding votes were counted, but he did.

With 99 percent of the district's precincts reporting, Bishop finished with 51 percent of the vote to Keown's 49 percent, or a difference of 4,776 votes. Keown conceded the race Wednesday, and AP declared Bishop the winner at 10:38 a.m.

The AP's erroneous call was based on the actual vote count and analysis of historical and geographic voting patterns -- not on an exit poll.

"We need to understand what was missed in our data, how it was missed and learn from it," said Michelle Williams, AP bureau chief for the South Atlantic region, which includes Georgia.

The call came as Republicans were sweeping statewide races in Georgia and nationally, winning enough seats to take control of the U.S. House. In Georgia, seven Republicans were re-elected to Congress and four Democrats, including Bishop.