Trump, Biden battle for 270: Key swing states still counting votes in tight race

A foreign exchange trader monitors screens as results are broadcast from the United States election, on November 4, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. After a record-breaking early voting turnout, Americans head to the polls on the last day to cast their vote for incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
A foreign exchange trader monitors screens as results are broadcast from the United States election, on November 4, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. After a record-breaking early voting turnout, Americans head to the polls on the last day to cast their vote for incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. | Carl Court/Getty Images

With more than 100 million votes counted, the 2020 presidential election remains too close to call as of early Wednesday morning, several hours after the first polls closed.

Due to the widespread use of mail-in ballots as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it could take days for a winner to be declared. Several swing states, including Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, will be accepting and counting mail-in ballots days after the election as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

For these reasons, winners have yet to be projected in several swing states. With the outcome uncertain in many of the states that will decide the election, neither candidate has accumulated the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the presidency.

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According to Decision Desk HQ, President Donald Trump has accumulated 213 electoral votes, while his Democrat challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, has accumulated 238 electoral votes. In addition to winning all of the states that he won by double digits in 2016, Trump won the states of Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Texas, which boast a combined 85 electoral votes.

With more than 99% of precincts reporting, Trump won Florida by 3.4 percentage points, an improvement from his showing in 2016, when he won by 1.2 percentage points. The president carried Iowa by 8.2 percentage points, a slight decrease from his 9.5% margin there in 2016.

In Ohio, with nearly all of the votes counted, Trump won by a margin of 8.2 percentage points, roughly matching his 2016 showing in the state. Trump won Texas by a margin of roughly 6%, a decrease from his 9% win there in 2016.  

Biden won all of the states that Hillary Clinton won by double digits in 2016, in addition to the swing states of New Hampshire, Maine and Minnesota. While Clinton won New Hampshire by less than 1% in 2016, Biden had a lead of  7.5% there as of early Wednesday morning.

Biden also had a lead of roughly 7% in Minnesota as of early Wednesday morning, a state that Clinton won by 1.5% in 2016 and that the Trump campaign had hoped to flip into the Republican column in 2020. Biden also won the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Virginia, which Clinton won by less than 10% but none of those states were widely considered swing states this election cycle.

In North Carolina, more than 99% of the vote had been counted as of early Wednesday morning. Trump was leading Biden in the early hours by a margin of 1.4%. The president was also leading by 2.2% in Georgia. Should Trump win both of those states, he would pick up 31 electoral votes.

The results in Arizona became a source of contention after Fox News called the state for Biden, who had a lead of approximately 5%. The Trump campaign criticized the network’s decision and Decision Desk HQ had yet to put Arizona’s 11 electoral votes in Biden’s column.

The three states in the rust belt that proved pivotal to Trump’s upset victory in 2016 remained uncalled well into Wednesday morning. Trump has a lead of nearly 13% in Pennsylvania, although much of the vote in Democratic strongholds has yet to be counted and Pennsylvania accepts mail-in ballots up to three days after the election if the ballot is postmarked on or before Election Day.

In Michigan, Trump was leading by a margin of 7.3% as of early Wednesday morning. Although Michigan is one of the states that requires mail-in ballots to be submitted by Election Day, much of the vote had yet to be counted.

Trump had a smaller lead of approximately 3.8% in Wisconsin, another state that does not allow mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day to be counted. Should Trump win the three aforementioned rust belt states, which he won by less than 1% in 2016, he would pick up 46 electoral votes. The former vice president was leading Trump by about 3.3% in Nevada, a state that Hillary Clinton won by 2.4% in 2016, but the race has yet to be called as of early Wednesday morning.

Two states, Maine and Nebraska, allocate their electoral votes differently than the other 48 states. While most states give all of their electoral votes to the statewide winner of the presidential race, Maine and Nebraska give two electoral votes to the statewide winner and allocate the remaining electoral votes based on the winner of each of their respective state’s congressional districts.

Decision Desk HQ called Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District for Biden, who led by 7.4% there. Trump led in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District by about 6.3% as of early Wednesday morning but the race remained too close to call. Trump and Biden won the remaining electoral votes in Nebraska and Maine, respectively.

At around 12:45 a.m. ET, Biden addressed supporters gathered at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware: “Your patience is commendable. We know this was going to go long but who knew it were going to go into maybe tomorrow morning, maybe even longer.”

“We feel good about where we are,” he said. “We believe we’re on track to win this election. We knew because of the unprecedented early vote and mail-in vote that it’s going to take a while. We’re going to have to be patient until … the hard work of tallying votes is finished and it ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.”

Biden explained to the crowd that his campaign felt good about his chances in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and expressed confidence that he would win Pennsylvania. “It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election, that’s the decision of the American people,” he added. The candidate thanked his supporters, poll workers and campaign staff before declaring “Keep the faith, guys. We’re going to win this.”

At 12:49 a.m. ET, Trump sent out a tweet asserting that, “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the polls are closed!” He gave a speech at the White House shortly after 2 a.m. ET to speak about the election results.

“I want to thank the American people for their tremendous support,” he said. “Millions and millions of people voted for us tonight and a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people and we won’t stand for it.”

The president declared victory in Georgia and North Carolina and said that his campaign had “a lot of life in Arizona.” He stressed that although he would like to win Arizona, he does not need it to reach the threshold of 270 electoral votes.

He also brought up his substantial leads in Pennsylvania and Michigan and his smaller lead in Wisconsin. “We had such a big night. You just take a look at all of these states that we’ve won tonight and then you take a look at the kind of margins that we’ve won them by.”

Trump suggested that the election was “off” because of the failure to call the states that he had accumulated leads in. He also restated his distrust of mail-in ballots (not absentee), arguing that Democrats were either “going to win or if they didn’t win, they’ll take us to court.”

“All of a sudden, everything just stopped,” Trump lamented. “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country.”

After explaining that “we were getting ready to win this election,” the president declared, “Frankly, we did win this election. ... This is a major fraud on our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner.”

“We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he promised. “We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 in the morning and add them to the list.”

“We will win this and as far as I’m concerned, we already have won it,” Trump stressed. He thanked his supporters and the people that worked for his campaign before turning it over to Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence vowed to “remain vigilant” and work to “protect the integrity of the vote.” Citing the “extraordinary margins” Trump had accumulated in the swing states, Pence predicted that “we are on the road to victory and we will make America great again, again.”

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