AUSTIN (KXAN) — You’ve seen the networks project winners as election night results come in. KXAN does it, too, for local and state races, and it takes months of planning and preparation.

While the major news outlets tend to use a combination of exit polling and vote counts, KXAN leans entirely on the math.

“We use formulas,” said Christopher Adams, KXAN’s digital data reporter. “Essentially, we look at how many people have voted in total, and we compare that, as the results start coming in, to how many votes have been reported so far.”

“So, the candidate in second place, if there’s not enough votes left for them to make up that gap, then we know they’re not going to be able to win,” Adams continued. “And so, we’ll make that projection.”

KXAN Digital Data Reporter Christopher Adams
KXAN Digital Data Reporter Christopher Adams

For this election, Adams is tracking roughly 240 races across 15 counties.

On election night, his data goes before a results team made up of six KXAN newsroom staff members and managers. The team double-checks the math and together, makes the decision whether to declare a winner in a race.

“If we feel something is too close to call, we’re going to wait until we know for sure,” Adams said. “It’s a lot of work that goes into it. But it lets us stand apart from the others on election night, because we can make our own projections using this data.”