Update: Joe Biden is on the cusp of winning 270 electoral votes and becoming president. This afternoon, key states including Wisconsin and Michigan were called for Biden, and he now has 264 electoral votes to Trump’s 214, according to the Associated Press. “I’m not here to declare that we’ve won, but I am here to report that when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners,” Biden said in a speech this afternoon. Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia are yet to be called.
This story was originally published on November 4, 2020, at 10:50 a.m.
While all of us were hoping for a Joe Biden landslide last night, it’s not surprising that we don’t yet know who won the 2020 presidential election. In fact, election experts had warned us that this would likely happen, explaining that it would likely take longer to count absentee ballots in key swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — largely because Republicans in those state legislatures have blocked attempts to start counting ballots earlier.
As it currently stands, Joe Biden has 227 electoral votes out of the 270 he needs to win, while Trump has 216. This means there are 95 electoral votes remaining. Mathematically, here’s what this means for Biden’s remaining paths to victory:
Seven key states — Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, and Georgia — are still in play. Biden is favored to win in both Nevada (6 electoral votes) and Arizona (11). Then, he would need two of the remaining five states: Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10), Georgia (16), and North Carolina (15). Unless those two are Wisconsin and North Carolina (which could set up a 269-269 tie since Maine’s 2nd, which went for Trump in 2016, is still undecided), Biden will win.
As of right now (key words: “right now”), Trump has a lead in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia. (Georgia, however, has been a particular nail-biter. But, The New York Times’ “election needle” has it tilting toward Biden when all is said and done.) Biden has tiny leads in Michigan, thanks to new ballots being counted, and Wisconsin, thanks to Milwaukee ballots that were counted overnight.
But it’s important to take these incomplete results with a grain of salt. For one thing, some heavily blue areas, like Philadelphia and Atlanta, are still counting their ballots. Also, the “red mirage” effect seems to be very real — Democrats are much more likely to vote by mail, which means many, many of their ballots have not been counted yet. Pennsylvania absentee ballots are overwhelmingly favoring Biden, according to updates from The New York Times this morning.
It’s also important to remember that vote-counting is never actually finished on election night, even in less, uh, unusual elections than this one. The election is not over until the absentee, overseas, and provisional votes are counted, no matter how much Trump threatens to and tries to interfere with ballot counting.
Biden has received more votes than any U.S. presidential candidate in history, and is on track to receive more and quite possibly break over 270. It’s going to be a long, drawn-out battle in the coming days, with Republicans doing everything they can to stop Biden, and the will of the American majority. It’s unconscionable that the election results are this close — and that anybody is voting for Trump at all. But as of right now, Biden is in a good spot.
“Joe Biden is on track to win this election and he will be the next president of the United States,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon told reporters on Wednesday morning. “We believe we are on a clear path to victory by this afternoon.”
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