If you’ve found yourself caring much more about tonight’s election than in midterms past, you aren’t alone.
Lester Holt, host of NBC Nightly News, attributes this to the ways that politics have changed in the past few years.
“[President Donald Trump] has said that he thinks that these results are about him and about his presidency,” Holt, 59, tells PEOPLE. “I think for a lot of the voters, it’s going to be a chance to weigh in on his presidency. I think from that standpoint, it has the feel of a presidential election, and the excitement level is nearing that. Certainly as a network we’re covering it on the same scale that we would a presidential election.”
Chuck Todd, who hosts NBC’s Meet the Press, says that this level of political engagement is a positive thing no matter your ideology — and that this is how “you refresh a democracy.”
“This is a first sign to me that we’re in a new era of civic engagement” says Todd, 46. “It’s a first time I can ever remember ever, within an election cycle professionally, where I’m not going to use the ‘A’ word. Apathy.”
In Tuesday night’s coverage of the results, Holt and Todd seek an unbiased perspective.
“One of our commitments is going to be as many results as we can, and tell you why these results are important and put it into perspective,” Holt says. “As journalists, we just like a good story. If Democrats take the house, and maybe the senate, it’s a huge story, and it’s what we’re going to feed off of for a long time. But at the same time, if Republicans manage to hold the Democrats in one or both, that’s a huge story too and we’ll run with that.”
Lester Holt and Chuck Todd are anchoring NBC’s election coverage tonight at 8p.m. ET.