The main swing states that remained in the presidential contest had not yet been called by 11 p.m. Eastern Wednesday. But as the count continued, there were some interesting results in some states.
Five key states are not calling from Vox’s decision desk partners: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina. The expected voting card is below. As you can see, Democratic candidate Joe Biden is 17 votes away from the 270 votes he needs to win the presidency. However, President Donald Trump is further away – he must collect 53 of the remaining votes to win.
The expected voting card from Wednesday evening. Five key states remain inappropriate. Andrew Prokop / Vox
So Biden is in a good position, but he’s not quite sure what he needs to win yet.
Two of those five unnamed states – Nevada and North Carolina – offered little new information on Wednesday. Nevada will update its vote count significantly on Thursday at 12:00 p.m. East, while North Carolina may not update it until next week once all the postal ballots there are counted.
But in the other three states – Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia – the Count had some interesting food stalls Wednesday.
Pennsylvania is all Biden needs, and the count looked fine for him
Biden’s easiest road to victory is to win Pennsylvania – his 20 votes would exaggerate him. And as the number in Keystone State has continued to rise, analysts believe things keep looking better for Biden.
As expected, Trump led Pennsylvania in the election night count. But that was just an artifact the votes of which were counted first. Democrats voted heavily by mail, and unlike many other swing states, Pennsylvania was not allowed to begin the time-consuming process of postal ballot papers until election day. Therefore, the strong Republican personal votes cast on election day itself were counted first. That’s why Trump had a big head start.
But as more votes were counted over the course of Wednesday, that lead has narrowed – and analysts believe Biden is on track to win the state pretty manageably.
Upshot’s Nate Cohn wrote Wednesday morning, “The remaining Pennsylvania vote appears to be mostly for Biden.” And the count since then has confirmed this analysis. Trump’s lead shrunk from 700,000 votes in the morning to around 167,000 votes in the evening, with hundreds of thousands of ballot papers still to be counted.
“If the postal votes for Biden continue to break as far as before – and as we have expected – Biden would win with around 2 points,” tweeted Cohn in the afternoon. “And if anything, I conservatively round down to 2,” he added.
Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, looking at the counties that closed their votes, agreed and tweeted, “At these rates, Biden should finish with a healthy lead in PA.”
And FiveThirtyEights Nate Silver tweeted that Biden won the youngest Pennsylvania vote, counted at about 50 points – and he only needs to win them by 22 points to win the state.
Trump’s allies, like his attorney Rudy Giuliani, have pretended to believe that this shift towards Biden is suspicious. But I and many others wrote that this would be done before the election. And the reason this is happening specifically in Pennsylvania is because the state’s Republican lawmakers have denied the Democrats’ request to begin processing postal ballot papers beforehand. This is the counting method the GOP chose – one that they knew very well would lead to a “red mirage” where Trump initially seemed to do better than he really is.
Arizona is not a safe bet for Biden
The opposite dynamic has now prevailed in Arizona: Biden leads, but the late-counted vote favored Trump. (The Republicans in Arizona had more of a postal voting history and tended to return their ballots later than the Democrats.) Of course, Trump is not arguing that the counting should stop here because the continued counting helps him.
Biden had an impressive looking head start in Arizona on Wednesday morning. But a release of late postal votes from Maricopa County dwindled to less than 3 percentage points, with hundreds of thousands of such ballots still to be counted in the state.
That prospect is why, even though Fox News and Associated Press Arizona called for Biden, most of the other campaign teams, including Vox’s partner Decision Desk, were more cautious. (Silver said on Twitter that those who called Arizona made a “mistake”.)
So far, the numbers in the late mail vote are simply not enough to rule out a Trump comeback. Arizona is likely to get a lot closer, and Biden can’t consider it safe.
But Georgia suddenly looks very, very close
Finally, there’s Georgia, another state where Trump appeared to be in the lead on election night. But around midnight east time, the upshot’s “needle” – which calculates based on where the remaining uncounted vote is coming from, which candidate is likely to be preferred – suddenly showed the expected result, which should come pretty close, with Biden perhaps even being a close favorite .
This is because areas that greatly favored Biden, particularly the Atlanta area, still had many votes to count. And when the count resumed Wednesday, the needle turned out to be predictive. The lead in Georgia narrowed dramatically – as of 11 p.m. east, Trump led Biden with just 0.65 percent of the vote, or around 31,000 votes.
According to the Georgian Foreign Minister, around 90,000 ballot papers remain to be counted. Biden is expected to be heavily favored in these counties. It’s not clear yet if that will be enough to put him in a very small lead – but it looks like Georgia might actually be very close. So close that a recount is possible.
If Georgia’s 16 votes were to go to Biden and the other states were not called for the time being, Biden would have 269 votes – just one under the magic number. Of course, Pennsylvania or Arizona would overdo it, but if Biden falls short in those states, he could get over 270 by winning Nevada (or North Carolina, but that seems less likely).
Here, too, the Trump victory scenario is not yet ruled out. But much should go right for the president in these five remaining states. He cannot afford to lose many of them anymore.
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