Your Handy Guide to the 2020 American Presidential Election v2.0
Election Night has come and gone, and two days later we still do not have a clear winner for the United States’ Presidency. It has been a roller coaster few days, with waves of votes coming into different counties and shifting the electoral map significantly. As of now, Joe Biden is a heavy favorite to become the 46th President of the United States. I will explain what has been happening over the past few days, and what you can expect over the next few weeks before (hopefully) Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are inaugurated in January.
Interestingly, I built a model that forecasted each of the states and electoral districts in the US, and if the below results takes place, my model will have correctly predicted 52 of 55 possible states and electoral votes. Here is hoping!
I will also be posting updates on my Instagram page if you are looking to follow the results over the next few days (username is @surajkgupta).
What is Happening Now?
Most states have reported the vast majority of their results, and we have declared winners in 44 of 50 states. Currently, Joe Biden has 253 Electoral Votes, and President Trump has 213. The first candidate to hit 270 electoral votes wins. So far, only two states have flipped from the 2016 election, and those states were Michigan and Wisconsin. These have given Biden his current lead.
Here are the states we are awaiting results from, and where each candidate currently stands.
Nevada – 6 electoral votes – Biden has a small lead
Arizona – 11 electoral votes – Biden has a medium lead
Pennsylvania – 20 electoral votes – Trump with a medium lead
Georgia – 16 electoral votes – Trump with a small lead
Alaska – 3 electoral votes – Trump with a large lead (this is not expected to change)
North Carolina – 15 electoral votes – Trump with a large lead (this is not expected to change)
Maine Electoral District – 1 vote – Trump is expected to take one of Maine’s four Electoral Votes (not expected to change).
This election has had record turnout numbers, with 67% of the eligible voting population in the US having voted. This is nothing short of incredible and is the highest voter turnout since the year 1900 (when the US elected Vice President Teddy Roosevelt, who became President the next year).
There is a real possibility where Joe Biden wins this election 270-268, or even where the election is tied 269-269. In this situation, each state's House members pick a Presidential candidate, and each state's Senate members pick a VP candidate. There are more Republican states, and therefore likely Republican votes, which means a tie could lead to a Trump-Pence White House again. This just goes to show you how much every single vote matters and the importance of voting in elections in your country!
Why is This Taking So Long?!
In every election, most counties and states do not complete all their ballot tabulation on election night. However, media outlets are usually able to forecast a winner from how the processed ballots have voted.
This year is very different, as there are three types of ballots to process, and they tend to skew towards different parties:
1) In-Person ballots – traditional election night votes, these tended to be more Republican
2) Early ballots – people who dropped off their election night vote early, mostly bi-partisan
3) Mail-in ballots – ballots that were mailed in over the past several months, these tended to heavily skew Democrat
Every state has different rules on ballot counting. Certain states (like Florida and Arizona) already have a history and streamlined process for tabulating mail-in ballots. Other states (like Pennsylvania and Georgia) are dealing with mountains of mail-in ballots for the first time, so it is taking several days to sort through them correctly. It is important to remember that it is a very good thing that this process is taking time. The state offices are not rushing the process and are ensuring every vote is counted and counted correctly. This is what we want from a democracy.
If you read my first Election Guide, you will remember that I cautioned readers not to be alarmed if the rust belt states (Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania) looked highly Republican on Election Night, as these states were not planning to count mail-in votes until after in-person ballots. If you were a Democrat on Election Night, things could have looked very grim, with all three of the above states having huge Republican leads. Since then, Michigan and Wisconsin have flipped and Pennsylvania is on track to do the same as mail-in ballots are being processed, which is what I expected to happen and am very happy to see.
How Can Joe Biden Win?
I will get into the state by state breakdown in the Final Results section, but assuming Alaska and North Carolina stay Red, there are four states that will decide the presidency – Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Joe Biden has many possible paths to victory. If Biden wins Pennsylvania, he wins the presidency. Also, if Biden wins any two of Arizona, Nevada, or Georgia, he also will win the presidency.
How Can Donald Trump Win?
Trump needs many things to break his way for him to retain his presidency. Firstly, he absolutely must win Pennsylvania. Then, he can only afford to lose one of Arizona, Nevada, or Georgia. If he manages to do this, he will stay President.
What Will The Final Results Be?
I believe that the final results will give Joe Biden the White House. Interesting note, nearly all the remaining votes to be counted are mail-in votes from big cities (Phoenix in Arizona, Las Vegas in Nevada, Atlanta and Savannah in Georgia, and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania). Urban centers tend to vote Democrat. I will break this down state by state.
This is Republican territory, and that will not change in this election. Expect these 3 votes to go to Trump. Electoral Count – Biden 253, Trump 216.
This is also Republican territory. Biden put up a great fight here, but both parties have conceded they do not expect this current count to change much. Electoral Count – Biden 253, Trump 231
Maine Electoral Vote
Maine is a state that splits its four Electoral Votes. Trump is expected to win one of these. Electoral Count – Biden 253, Trump 232.
This is a state that has skewed more Democrat over the past few elections, as Las Vegas and Reno are both heavily populated blue counties. Biden is only ahead by 8,000 votes now, but much of the remaining vote is coming from Clark County (Las Vegas), so I expect Nevada to turn slightly bluer today. Nevada’s numbers have remained unchanged since election night, and the Secretary of State said we can expect some further results today at 12:30PM EST. This is not a slam dunk, as the state is currently tied and it is hard to know what today’s results will be, but I think Nevada stays blue. Electoral Count – Biden 259, Trump 232.
This is a state that has been part of the “Blue Wall” and has delivered strong Democratic support for many years. 2016 was a surprise when Pennsylvania (alongside Michigan and Wisconsin) flipped, and Biden’s campaign knew it was integral to flip these states back to win the Presidency.
On Tuesday night, Trump had a lead of 700,000 votes, with 74% of the votes in Pennsylvania counted. The mail-in ballots had not been processed yet, but it was a scary picture.
As of this writing, Trump’s lead has shrunk to just 143,000 votes, and votes being processed have been 75% in Biden’s favour since Tuesday night. I expect this to continue, as the majority of remaining votes are coming from Philadelphia, and Philadelphia is an extremely Democratic county. You will notice in the below picture that 89% of the vote in Pennsylvania has been processed, but just 81% of Philly’s vote has been processed. I expect many more Blue votes to come in today and tomorrow, and for Pennsylvania to flip to blue. This will be enough to give Biden the presidency, but it may be a few days before it is confirmed. Electoral Count – Biden 279, Trump 232.
This is a state that has been solidly Red for many, many years. However, big cities such as Atlanta and Savannah have had increasing populations of young people, as well as people of colour, and these groups tend to vote Blue. Georgia has had fantastic turnout with both these groups of voters, and although Trump has had a large lead in Georgia since Tuesday, that lead is evaporating slowly. You will notice in the below picture that there are pockets of Blue surrounding Georgia’s big cities.
Similar to Pennsylvania, we have seen around 230,000 votes processed in Georgia since Tuesday night, and these votes have been 71% in Biden’s favour. Biden was behind by 118,000 votes on Tuesday night, and is now only down by 19,000. If voting continues in this manner, it will deliver Georgia to Biden. This is not one I expected before Election Night, but I am pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Electoral Count – Biden 295, Trump 232.
Similar to Nevada, this is a state that has become increasingly Democratic over the years. This is the first time in several decades that Arizona has the chance to stay Blue, and currently the Democrats are heavy favorites to flip this state.
What concerns me with Arizona is this. Since Election Night, the state has counted 282,000 votes, and these votes have been 62% in Trump’s favour. Many of these votes are coming from Phoenix, but you will see in the below picture that Maricopa County (where Phoenix is located) is nearly split evenly between Democrat and Republican voters. In other states that we have discussed, the urban vote tends to be much heavier in the Democrat’s favour, so it concerns me that Maricopa County’s votes are barely helping Biden while other counties are clearly very Red. This is a very contrarian pick, as many media outlets have already called Arizona for the Democrats, but I think the Republicans have a chance to hold Arizona.
Final Expected Electoral Count – Biden 295, Trump 243
Why is Trump Attempting to Challenge These Results in Court?
Who would have thought that President Trump would be a sore loser? The President has been setting the groundwork to dispute the results, especially the mail-in results, for several months. Ironically, if we stopped counting in every state right now, Biden would win 270-268. If we keep counting, I think Biden wins 295-243. Therefore, Trump has filed lawsuits to stop counting in states he is ahead, including Michigan (Biden won here before it was filed in time), Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Trump has strongly encouraged counting to continue in Arizona and Nevada (where he has a chance to come back), and he has already asked for a recount in Wisconsin (where he lost). It is unfortunate that this behaviour is not surprising for a President, but this has become the norm over the last four years. Thankfully, Biden and Harris should bring back a sense of normalcy and professionalism to the White House.
What’s Happening in the House and the Senate?
The very likely outcome is that the Democrats win the House, but lose the Senate. The governing party only needs to have the Senate be a 50-50 tie, as the Vice President becomes the deciding vote (we saw this multiple times in the past four years, as a few Republican Senators rebuked Trump, but VP Mike Pence pushed the votes in Trump’s favour). Currently, the Democrats should have 48 Senate Seats, and there are two more Georgia seats up for election. These seats will be decided in a second, run-off election in January, but they are heavily expected to go Republican.
The Senate has one third of its seats up for re-election every two years, so hopefully the Democrats can take back the Senate in 2022.
That is the current state of the election in a nutshell. There is a lot of information to process, and a lot of uncertainty hangs in the balance, but I feel very confident that Joe Biden will become President of the United States. Either way, this election shows us that the US is an extremely divided nation at the moment, and I hope that Biden and Harris can help unite the country in some form.
If you would like to keep following these results, feel free to check out my Instagram page (@surajkgupta) where I will be posting updates throughout the day on my story on this election.
Thanks for reading everyone and stay safe.
By Suraj K. Gupta
Thursday, November 5th, 2020 at 10:00AM