I spent last night with the most dangerous man in New Hampshire.
Amid the chaos of a storm, with natives attacking, figures, towns, swears and oaths flying around the Nashua bargain hotel meeting room that served as DDHQ’s bridge, blood-crazed sharks swam under a thousand seagulls fighting a hurricane of french fries. But Brandon Finnigan remained at the wheel of Decision Desk, firmly in charge of his band of dedicated pirates.
He was a wheel of perpetual motion throwing waves of frenetic energy from his bearded frame, moving cleanly inside a minute from making a live Periscope video, screaming “where’s my f*#king checkmark?” to encouraging the troops, to shouting out results to on a hundred-person chat line. Then his cellphone rang.
In a calm professional voice, “Brandon Finnigan here, may I help you?” It was a county clerk who never caught on she was talking to Monty Python’s answer to election coverage. (Eric Idle is a genius too.)
Finnigan knew the race results to within a beard hair of the actual results, hours before the first returns rolled in. He did it using an army of volunteers, eschewing the traditional ways of viewing elections, while taking advantage of the sage wisdom of real election coverage and data. And he did it all without using the Associated Press.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARYDonald Trump ——– 35.8%
Ted Cruz ————— 15.2%
John Kasich ———– 14.9%
Marco Rubio ———- 10.7%
Jeb Bush ————— 9.6%
Chris Christie ———- 5.9%
Carly Fiorina ———– 3.8%
Ben Carson ———— 2.5%
That was the 7 p.m. official release email from Decision Desk HQ. These are current results as of this morning, with 80 percent reporting into DD and the battle over. Finnigan is flying back to his native California, having conquered New Hampshire with 300 committed volunteers.
Kasich and Bush did a bit better than DD’s exit polls, but the bones of the race were well established by 3 p.m. A man whose day job is a track dispatcher, with two years of a test concept, in his first attempt at exit polling, nailed the race. His congratulations by one of the kings of political statistics was well deserved.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) February 10, 2016
Not just the junkies were hitting the DD site. Five and a half million site views is amazing for a company with no headquarters and no real employees. Finnigan and his pirates have much about which to brag.
— John Ekdahl (@JohnEkdahl) February 10, 2016
— POLITICO (@politico) February 10, 2016
After New Hampshire, Decision Desk heads to South Carolina, hopefully to repeat its string of successes–making Brandon Finnigan the most dangerous man in election coverage. Decision Desk HQ has arrived in the big leagues.