Hello! Very excited to be bringing this puzzle by Quiara Vasquez, who you might know from her guest spots here, here, or here. She has an incredible voice, and it definitely comes across in this puzzle. Also it helps that this is a definite feat of construction (but I won't say any more for risk of spoiling).
This is the most fun I've had talking over/setting up a puzzle on this site—it's an unconventional one, but I hope it brings some joy in a stressful time. And, many thanks for Sid Sivakumar for help with formatting/other technical matters.
And, some words from Quiara!
It's Election Day, and you know what that means: staying up til 4 in the morning and watching democracy die in real time. How will we know who won this presidential contest as the results slowly trickle in? I'll tell you how - you'll solve this puzzle, which is doing what the lamestream media FiveThirtyAin't and calling the election at 11:00 a.m. EST. Move over, Marist Poll. There's a new "poll star" in town - and all eyes are on her.
Now, some of you crossword enthusiasts in the audience might have caught wise to the "trick" of this puzzle, which, in addition to flawlessly predicting tomorrow's headline, also pays homage to a grid of yesteryear - one of my all-time favorite puzzles, actually, albeit a controversial one. To say any more would prematurely expose the technical wizardry of my creation - it's best seen for yourself.
(Minor technical note: this puzzle's brilliance was too much for the PuzzleMe applet, so you'll need to check the solution file for the full effect.)
Hope you enjoy!