November 4, 2020
It’s something of a misnomer to call this Nov. 3 “Election Day” when, in fact, people have been voting for months now. Instead, think of what happened on Tuesday as something of a culmination. With most (but not all) votes in, the focus shifts from “campaigning” to “counting” — a process complicated this year by President Trump’s persistent, and transparently bogus, claim that Democrats are robbing him of a sure victory. At this point, there are a number of states whose outstanding vote totals could tip the electoral scales toward Biden win, but it’s still quite unclear who won the 2020 election.
But given the complications — both practical, and politically manipulated — with counting ballots in a year with unprecedented numbers of mail-in votes, many of those states will likely not record their final tallies for days to come. And even once those totals are finally made official, the Trump campaign is still threatening to invalidate or challenge any number of ballots in an effort to place the outcome of the election in the hands of the courts, rather than the voters.
With votes still being counted, and data rolling in in fits and spurts, here’s where things stand in the seven key states that could decide who will be our next president. And keep in mind that as the day — and possibly days — go on, these numbers will be updated accordingly.
Both Fox News and the Associated Press called Arizona for Biden relatively soon after polls closed on Tuesday night — the first time the state had gone blue in nearly a quarter century. Shortly after the race was called, however, the Trump team leapt at what it called an “outlier” decision to preemptively give Biden the state’s 11 electoral votes. And while neither Fox News nor AP have rescinded their call, other outlets have refrained from declaring a Biden victory in the Copper State — particularly after New York Times editor Patrick LaForge identified a data error that made it appear as if more of the state’s overall votes had been counted than actually had. Currently, the Times‘s election tracker shows Biden ahead by just under 100,000 votes, with 86% of the state reporting.
There was a time when flipping this solidly-red state would have been unthinkable to both Democrats and Republicans alike. However, shifting demographics have made Georgia a legitimate toss-up in this year’s election. As of Wednesday, a quarter of a million votes were left uncounted, with the expectation that the full total would be finished by the end of the day. Trump maintained a slight lead of less than 100,000 votes by Wednesday afternoon, with many of the outstanding ballots left to be counted expected to come from counties in which Biden has been performing well, such as the greater Atlanta metropolitan area.
After handing Trump the narrowest electoral victory in state history in 2016, Michigan once again remains a harrowingly close race, with just 50,000 votes separating Biden from Trump, with 94% of the state reporting as of Wednesday afternoon. However, with hundreds of thousands of (largely mail-in) ballots still being counted — many from large population centers like Detroit and Flint — the state’s 16 electoral votes remain a toss-up.
After barely losing Nevada in 2016, Trump made capturing the (at least recently) reliably blue state a priority of his 2020 campaign. While votes are still being tabulated — and an accurate count of the number of mail-in ballots is complicated by the fact that the state sent absentee ballots to all eligible voters — the Trump campaign has predicted it will carry the state’s six electoral votes “by a margin of 5,500 votes.”
However, longtime dean of Nevada political forecasting Jon Ralston has cautioned that many of the outstanding votes are likely to fall into Biden’s camp, adding to his 8,000-vote lead as of Wednesday afternoon. Another tranch of votes is expected to be announced early Thursday morning, which means we may not know the final Nevada results until the end of the week.
The perennial toss-up state remains tossed up as of Wednesday, with Trump maintaining a narrow lead of just under 100,000 votes with 95% of the state reporting. Notably, North Carolina is one of the several states that will continue to accept and count ballots postmarked by Nov. 3, as long as they’re delivered to election officials by the 12th.
For much of the final few weeks of the campaign, Pennsylvania represented what was perhaps the most important swing state in the race. And true to form, Pennsylvania has become ground zero for the president’s ongoing effort to reject what he deemed “dumps” of mail-in ballots which weren’t part of the initial, in-person counts Tuesday evening.
As of late Wednesday morning, Pennsylvania’s secretary of state claimed that nearly half of the more than 3 million mail-in ballots had been counted. According to The New York Times, Trump enjoyed a lead of nearly 300,000 votes by Wednesday afternoon, with 82% of the state reporting. However, the remaining mail-in ballots are largely expected to tilt toward Biden, with the final tally believed to be finished by Friday.
Reports out of Wisconsin started to look good for Biden on Wednesday morning. By the afternoon, the state’s 10 electoral votes were awarded to the former vice president, with AP calling the race. State Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe declared that after all the ballots had been counted, Biden enjoyed just 20,000 more votes than Trump.
Trump won the state in 2016, and his campaign has responded by vowing to pursue a recount, saying in a statement that “there have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results.” However, even staunch Trump stalwart and former Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — himself no stranger to Wisconsin political shenanigans — cast cold water on the president’s recount chances, saying “20,000 [votes] is a high hurdle” for the campaign to clear.