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How Twitter Can Blow An Election Call

A single tweet from the CAP Action Fund set off the news that Elizabeth Warren had won an hour before the official call. "A rogue retweet."

Posted on November 7, 2012, at 4:34 a.m. ET

Elizabeth Warren pulled off a win in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race Tuesday night, but a "rogue tweet" falsely claimed NBC News had called the race about an hour before the official projection was made at 9:45 p.m.

At 8:51 p.m. Tuesday night, a tweet from the Center for American Progress Action Fund — a sister organization to the Center for American Progress — read, "NBC news is calling #MA Senate race for Elizabeth Warren (D)." The tweet, now deleted, spread from there.

The original tweet from CAP Action Fund

The tweet was then picked up by several users

RT @CAPcongress: NBC news is calling #MA Senate race for Elizabeth Warren (D). / YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! #p2

RT @CAPcongress: NBC news is calling #MA Senate race for Elizabeth Warren (D). / YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! #p2-- LilMissSocial

Massive. RT @CAPcongress: NBC news is calling #MA Senate race for Elizabeth Warren (D).

Massive. RT @CAPcongress: NBC news is calling #MA Senate race for Elizabeth Warren (D).-- Christopher Wensley

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AAAHHHHHH RT @sarahljaffe: !!!!! RT @CAPcongress: NBC news is calling #MA Senate race for Elizabeth Warren (D).

AAAHHHHHH RT @sarahljaffe: !!!!! RT @CAPcongress: NBC news is calling #MA Senate race for Elizabeth Warren (D).-- Andrea Grimes

Woot! RT @CAPcongress NBC news is calling #MA Senate race for Elizabeth Warren (D).

Woot! RT @CAPcongress NBC news is calling #MA Senate race for Elizabeth Warren (D).-- trianglman

ThinkProgress, with over 185,000 followers, then also tweeted that Warren had won

RT @thinkprogress NBC calls Massachusetts for Elizabeth Warren (D). She replaces Sen. Scott Brown (R).

RT @thinkprogress NBC calls Massachusetts for Elizabeth Warren (D). She replaces Sen. Scott Brown (R).-- Politicolnews

The tweet spread from there, but some noted NBC seemed to be the only network to make the call

Crowd here unaware of any calls being made in Warren's favor. It's just NBC right now, right?

Crowd here unaware of any calls being made in Warren's favor. It's just NBC right now, right?-- Rosie Gray

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But the Warren campaign apparently believed the conventional wisdom on Twitter. They released a "Thank You" picture on Warren's Facbeook page at 9:08, before an official call

News organizations picked it up, too

A Mother Jones article claiming Warren had won at 9:06 p.m.
5.mshcdn.com

A Mother Jones article claiming Warren had won at 9:06 p.m.

NBC Anchor Brian Williams then took to Twitter to dispel what he called the "rogue retweet"

"There's a rogue retweet going around that we have somehow called the Massachusetts Senate race.. we have not"-@bwilliams #NBCPolitics

"There's a rogue retweet going around that we have somehow called the Massachusetts Senate race.. we have not"-@bwilliams #NBCPolitics-- NBC News

But by 9:42, NBC was ready to call the race in Warren's favor anyway

NBC News declares Elizabeth Warren the the projected winner of the Senate race in Massachusetts. #NBCPolitics

NBC News declares Elizabeth Warren the the projected winner of the Senate race in Massachusetts. #NBCPolitics-- NBC News

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