TORONTO — CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge has covered some rather unpredictable U.S. elections.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan beat incumbent Jimmy Carter to many pundits’ surprise. In 2000, it took a recount in Florida and a Supreme Court decision to declare George W. Bush had defeated Al Gore. And in 2004, it seemed John Kerry was going to win, right up until polls closed, but Bush emerged victorious.
But the current battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which culminates in Tuesday night’s vote, is unlike any Mansbridge has ever seen.
“Everybody says the same thing,” says Mansbridge, the CBC’s chief correspondent and anchor of “The National,” noting he was in New York last week speaking with friends at other networks.
“Some of these people I’ve talked to have been covering U.S. elections for 40 years and it all comes down to Trump.
“His campaign is so unconventional, it’s all about him, he defies the old rules, does things differently and as a result, everybody counted him out early and they kept counting them out. Now suddenly he seems to be back in the game.”
The unprecedented nature of the election is, in part, why CBC News is “going to go wall-to-wall” with its coverage on Tuesday, says Mansbridge.
Mansbridge will host “CBC News: America Votes,” starting at 8 p.m. ET on CBC News Network and 9 p.m. ET on CBC.
CBC contributors will be based in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Washington, at the Trump and Clinton headquarters, and at some U.S. polling stations.
“U.S. election nights have been a spectator sport for those of us in Canada and elsewhere in the world,” says Mansbridge.
“This one is different because I think everybody feels some ownership of the story. They can’t have an impact on the result but the result can certainly have an impact on them in ways that I’m not sure we’ve seen before.
“Obviously there’s a lot of feeling about what happens if Trump wins, but either way there’s a lot at stake on this election that’s going to affect a lot of people and not just Americans.”
CTV News Channel also promises “wall-to-wall” coverage, including live reports from several key U.S. cities and the candidates’ camps. Beverly Thomson and Todd van der Heyden will co-host “America’s Choice 2016” starting at 7 p.m. ET. Live coverage will also be included in “CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme” at 11 p.m. ET.
On Global, anchor Dawna Friesen will lead the coverage from the U.S. capital. It streams online beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The coverage will also be featured in all Global News local evening newscasts.
Mansbridge predicts Canadians will watch homegrown networks in “good numbers” on Tuesday night, noting “Canadians watch Canadian networks on nights like that in numbers that might surprise you.”
“We had a great run through the Canadian election a year ago but this now, on all stations, all networks, I can’t think of a year that compares to this and most of it because of the kind of guy Trump is,” says Mansbridge.
“But it’s not just the spectacle, it’s the impact of what happens on Tuesday can affect everybody.”