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What’s on TV for election night, from news to comedian commentators

Marathon coverage will be on the networks and cable news, but Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show also have plans for election night specials.
In this Nov. 8, 2016, photo, staff members of The Associated Press Television Network work in master control at the Washington bureau of The Associated Press in Washington, as returns come in during election night. The Associated Press says it plans to peel back the curtain and let people know how its experts declare winners and losers on election night. Given high interest in the presidential race, the complicating factor of strong early voting and President Donald Trump's warnings about potential fraud, television executives are making similar promises of transparency. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
In this Nov. 8, 2016, photo, staff members of The Associated Press Television Network work in master control at the Washington bureau of The Associated Press in Washington, as returns come in during election night. The Associated Press says it plans to peel back the curtain and let people know how its experts declare winners and losers on election night. Given high interest in the presidential race, the complicating factor of strong early voting and President Donald Trump's warnings about potential fraud, television executives are making similar promises of transparency. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick) [ JON ELSWICK | AP ]
Published Nov. 2, 2020
Updated Nov. 2, 2020

We’re being warned not to expect full election results on Tuesday night, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be tuned into the tube. Here’s what you will find, from both seasoned journalists and cynical comedians planning special coverage of election night in America.

As they have for nearly two decades, the big broadcast networks and CNN will share data collected by a firm called Edison Research, which conducts exit polls — via both in-person and phone surveys of people who have already voted — to anticipate the trends within this year’s electorate. They will not be allowed to report their first findings until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Edison has announced.

The big four broadcast networks, cable news channels, PBS, C-SPAN and WGN America will offer coverage of the election all night long. PBS starts its coverage at 6 p.m. NBC is planning nine hours of election coverage starting at 7 p.m. and has said NBC News will only call a race when there is 99.5 percent statistical confidence in the result. ABC also plans to begin nationwide coverage at 7 p.m. with anchor George Stephanopoulos joined by World News Tonight anchor David Muir and ABC News Live Prime anchor Linsey Davis.

On Fox, Special Report’s Bret Baier and The Story’s Martha MacCallum will headline an eight-hour live special beginning at 6 p.m. CNBC will kick off with a special edition of The News with Shepard Smith at 7 p.m.

Stephen Colbert will do a live election night special at 11 p.m. on Showtime called "Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand: Building Back America Great Again Better 2020."
Stephen Colbert will do a live election night special at 11 p.m. on Showtime called "Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand: Building Back America Great Again Better 2020." [ Best Possible Screen Grab/CBS ]

On the lighter side, Stephen Colbert will do a live special at 11 p.m. on Showtime called Stephen Colbert’s Election Night 2020: Democracy’s Last Stand: Building Back America Great Again Better 2020.

Also at 11 p.m. Tuesday, The Daily Show on Comedy Central is giving us Votegasm 2020: What Could Go Wrong? (Again) with Trevor Noah and his team of Daily Show correspondents.

NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which has booked comedian Dave Chappelle to host its post-election episode on Nov. 7 — just as he did after the election in 2016 — will air The 2020 SNL Election Special filled with past political sketches at 10 p.m. tonight on NBC.