Here's where the election stands as of Wednesday noon ET: We still don't have a presidential winner, although Joe Biden has the upper hand after flipping Arizona blue for the first time in more than two decades.

All eyes are now on Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — three states that represent the difference between Trump's reelection and a one-term presidency. If they fall in line for Joe Biden, then he'll win the White House. Biden has pulled into the lead in Wisconsin and Michigan, but final counts are still hours, or even days, away.

We're also still waiting for results in Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Alaska.

(Check the latest live numbers at politico.com/results as they continue to roll in. You can also plug in your predictions for the remaining competitive states or play with different combinations to see how they would affect the path to victory for Biden and Trump. For example, if Biden holds on to Nevada and takes two of those three Rust Belt states, he’ll get to 270.)

Ask us anything about the 2020 presidential race.

More about us:

Zach Montellaro is a POLITICO campaign reporter and the author of our daily campaigns newsletter, Morning Score. He covers campaign finance, the actual processing of voting and more.

Scott Bland helps run POLITICO’s 2020 campaign coverage as one of our politics editors. He focuses on elections, campaign finance and polling; he also hosts our Nerdcast podcast. He was spotted leaving our newsroom way too late this morning after helming our election night alerts.

Amber McReynolds runs the National Vote At Home Institute and is a leading expert on election administration and policy. She’s also the co-author of the book “When Women Vote” and is the former Director of Elections for Denver, Colorado.

Justin Levitt is an expert on constitutional law and the law of democracy and a professor at LMU Loyola Law School. He served from 2015-17 as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, helping to lead the Civil Rights Division’s work on redistricting, voting rights, and employment discrimination, and supported activity on more than 120 cases (including 20 in the U.S. Supreme Court). Before entering academia, Levitt worked at several nonpartisan nonprofits and served several presidential campaigns, including as the National Voter Protection Counsel in 2008, helping to ensure that tens of millions of eligible citizens could vote and have those votes counted. He has advised, represented, and sued officials of both major political parties and neither, and those whose partisan preference he does not know.

(Proof.)

Edit: Signing off, but thanks for the questions y'all! Also, an update that Wisconsin got called for Biden after we went live with this.

Comments: 310 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

noodle539103 karma

The Trump campaign seems to think they can flip back Arizona. What is it about the remaining 14% off the vote that makes them think that?

politico102 karma

Hello! So to start off: neither the AP has not retracted its call nor Fox News has retracted its call in the state. (POLITICO does not independently call races, we rely on either the AP to do so, or three TV networks.)

The Arizona Republic has a good breakdown of what's outstanding so far: It is at least 600,000 as of this morning. Most of those are in Maricopa County, which is the swing county in the state. Biden has led there -- but I'd image that the Trump campaign's hope is that they perform better in Maricopa with those late ballots, and run up the score in the rural areas. (But again neither Fox News nor the AP has backed off their call.) -- Zach

AdorableWrongdoerr65 karma

Trump has floated the idea of SCOTUS coming in to "halt the vote" and to essentially invalidate mail in ballots. If Biden does actually get to 270, does his case have any legs?

politico151 karma

Whether Biden gets to 270 or not: not really. Or, at least, not yet. It's always possible that some issue shows up in the course of the count. But there's been _nothing_ in that zone so far.

Just going into court to stop a count isn't a thing. The count happens under state law, and there's a very definite procedure for how it all happens. Most states keep counting up until the certification in 2-3 weeks. Just going into court screaming "FRAUD!!" in all caps isn't a thing that any court is going to pay attention to.

- Justin

politico33 karma

Every state has post-election processes that include counting all eligible ballots that have been legally cast. So the laws and regulations in each state require election officials to finish the process as specified by law. So, first the counting process needs to finish and then recount requests (also that vary by state) can be requested.

AM

tmarrs161 karma

What kind of scenario results in these election results being sent to the Supreme Court?

politico218 karma

If the results are 537 votes close (the tiny, tiny, tiny percentage in Bush v. Gore) at the end of a full count, then almost any tiny little quirk could get litigated and matter.

But if the results aren't that close, there aren't really legal claims that get much of anywhere, much less to SCOTUS. In order to have a legal claim go anywhere, you've got to have facts that show a statutory or constitutional violation. And nobody thinks there are any of those that have cropped up so far affecting any significant number of ballots.

Put differently: a lawsuit without provable facts of a statutory or constitutional violaton is just a Tweet with a filing fee.

- Justin

linkankit58 karma

This one is for the journalists - Based on the 2016/2020 pre-election polls, that predicted a higher probability of a Clinton/Biden win, how will you educate the voting public on interpreting those polls correctly next time?

In other words, after what the 2016/2020 polls showed, how can we ever trust the media, specifically the different polls, from media outlets ever again?

politico50 karma

This is such an important question for us. First of all, we don't totally know the degree of polling error in 2020 because we're still waiting for a lot of results to come in. But we do know generally that the levels for Biden were just off in a lot of states.

A few small things: I think it's incumbent on the media to do a better job explaining that there are other sources of error in polls besides what goes into that little "margin of error" number -- and we should internalize that and not become prisoners in our reporting to whatever the polling averages say. It goes against many of our instincts, but we have to spend more time thinking and even writing about how polls could be wrong.

We ought to report more on the polling industry and how it's adapting (or not) to measuring today's public opinion. And hopefully, pollsters can rebuild trust with news consumers over time. It's not a perfect tool by any means, but it's the best thing we've got for measuring public sentiment. -- Scott

BiggySmall248 karma

What's the math look like for Biden to win PA? From the media websites, looks like maybe 1.5MM votes uncounted and Biden has to win 2/3 of those? Seems steep?

politico76 karma

That's about right -- but when you consider the type of ballots that are still uncounted, it could definitely be doable for Biden. Most of what's left in Pennsylvania is mail ballots, and those have leaned heavily Democratic this year, especially in the biggest population centers. We won't know for sure until the votes get counted, but it's not over in Pennsylvania. -- Scott

lsburner37 karma

For the political folks: Does Biden have a meaningful path to victory in GA or is that a pipe dream?

For Prof. Levitt: which, if any, of the various lawsuits or legal actions that the Trump campaign are threatening likely to actually amount to something? (And by "amount to something," I mean not get immediately tossed for lack of standing, etc.) What about the one just announced in MI about halting counting?

politico65 karma

Regarding Georgia -- almost all of the vote still outstanding in Georgia is in heavily Democratic areas around Atlanta, and it includes a lot of mail votes, which has skewed Democratic all over the country this year. There is a path for Biden to squeak ahead based on those votes, though it would be very narrow. -- Scott

politico36 karma

I haven't actually seen the MI suit yet. (Though "stopping the counting" isn't a thing - if that's what the suit is asking for, it'll get laughed out immediately.)

There's no factual predicate for a lawsuit with any legs to change results right now. Some of the existing suits aren't crazy (I think they should lose, but it's possible that they won't), but even if those suits win, they only affect a really small number of ballots. So I haven't seen _anything_ yet that amounts to something in the sense of both chance of success and a number of ballots that could affect the election. And I'm not sure what that suit would look like -- based on what we know, there hasn't been any impropriety like that to sue over.

- Justin

elboberto36 karma

Is there anything to the situation going on with the judge that ordered USPS facilities be swept for mail-in ballots? Seems like too little too late.

politico39 karma

This is an ongoing situation. The post office put 'extraordinary measures' in place to speed up delivery and that included local postal sorting so that the ballots could go right to the local election offices and avoid having to go the general mail facility. So, part of the reason the scan data that is circulating is inconsistent could be due to the measures they put in place to speed up delivery.

AM

de34rfgt529 karma

What are the ballots being held separately in PA? Why did SCOTUS say they would rule on them "later"? And which way do you think PA will go in the end?

politico48 karma

So the ballots that the secretary of state ordered segregated (but still counted) are those postmarked by Election Day but received after close of polls. We don't really have an idea of how many ballots that'll be even, because there's still a couple days for them to come in.

The Supreme Court denied a request from Republicans to expedite a hearing on it before the election, but left open the possibility of returning to it. We still don't know if they will, but it is something we're keeping an eye on. (Here's the story I wrote with my colleague Josh Gerstein from last week.) But this case isn't for the majority of mail ballots in the state, I want to note.

And I'll leave the projections to the Associated Press for how the state will go! -- Zach

llegoz28 karma

What happens if there's a tie, 269-269??

FlamingBagOfPoop49 karma

It becomes a contingent election and congress decides.

politico69 karma

Yep! If there's no majority in the electoral college, the House of Representatives decides, with each _state_ having one vote. One vote to Delaware, one vote to New York, one vote to Wyoming, one vote to Texas.

BUT. Nebraska splits its electoral votes -- 2 statewide, and one for each congressional district. And the fact that most of the networks are projecting NE-2 for Biden, it's exceedingly unlikely that this election ends in a tie. Tha's a really important single electoral vote.

- Justin

Prone123 karma

Thanks for doing this. My question

The Latino vote is not a monolith voting block and in this election it seems to be more fractured than before. How do you think the parties should move forward in courting the this growing electorate? Or should they be treated similarly to white voters and speak to them in segments based on education, income, nation of origin and other factors that might more effectivly bring them in to the fold of either party?

politico28 karma

We're still figuring out exactly how the Latino vote moved in the 2020 election (and where). But generally speaking, the best way to court any community is to speak to it as individually and locally as possible. I'm a big believer in the idea that political parties build strength from the ground up. So if you want your party to be able to meaningfully appeal to, say, voters of Cuban descent or Puerto Rican descent, it helps to have voices from those communities in your party in local, state and federal government positions, to help guide your strategy and validate your party, and to speak to the issues of greatest concern to that community.

That doesn't mean every issue has to get filtered through a racial or ethnic lens. But it's important to have all kinds of different people in your party who really understand all kinds of different communities. -- Scott

palm27020 karma

Trump’s campaign just filed a suit in MI demanding that counting be halted until it can get some campaign observers to the counting locations. Are campaign observers always involved in observing vote counting, or is this something Trump’s campaign concocted?

politico28 karma

Observer and watcher rules vary by state. Here is a resource from NCSL on the laws in each state: https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/poll-watcher-qualifications.aspx

Many counties are also streaming their election operations and counting processes online. Examples include: Denver, King County, Philadelphia, Orange County, CA, Maricopa, etc.

AM

politico20 karma

I haven't seen the suit yet, so it's hard to know how concocted it may be.

The process for counting is set by state law (and different everywhere). In most states, there are procedures for letting observers watch ... but not every state. And also, in most of those states that allow watching, observers have to raise a hand ahead of time, and counting doesn't stop if they don't show up -- the statutes aren't usually set up so that someone who doesn't show gets to hang the count.

I'll confess I'm not sure about the particular structure in Wisconsin, so I can't tell you whether the particular Wisconsin suit is any good.

- Justin

ScooterArchAndVault19 karma

How long will a recount of wisconsin take?

politico19 karma

This is a great resource for all recount laws in the US: https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/automatic-recount-thresholds.aspx

The provisions, process, and rules vary by state. So, for Wisconsin, the recount information is here: https://elections.wi.gov/elections-voting/recount

AM

churchey16 karma

Does 45 have any legitimate paths to contesting the results of the election?

politico22 karma

For a contest in court, not based on anything we know so far.

It's always possible that something shows up in the count that shows something going seriously wrong. But thus far, there's really been nothing like that. At least by the exceptionally low standards we set ourselves in this country, the election was pretty smooth. Or, at least, free of legitimate issues to contest.

- Justin

JonSnowAzorAhai12 karma

A State Court has asked Postmaster general to give testimony in court regarding mail in ballots after the Post office conceded that it failed to abide by the "sweep for ballots" ruling by the Court recently.

What are the possible outcomes of this testimony for De Joy and the election laws?

politico15 karma

It will depend on the testimony provided and the data that may indicate variances in delivery times. CO as an example, has a long-standing practice of having the post office sweep the general mail facility on election night, sort all counties ballots, and then transfer them to the representatives from the Denver county office. Then, the denver office takes receipt and then transfers the ballots to all of the other counties. AM

JonSnowAzorAhai5 karma

Thanks for the response. I'm interested if it could end up changing vote counts in any state of this year's election or is it mostly about holding the Postmaster General accountable.

politico13 karma

It could, however, given that delivery challenges impact all voters regardless of party affiliation, the delays could impact both sides so that may mean that the results percentage will not change. -AM

emmacohen0912 karma

what happens if Trump refuses to concede?

politico49 karma

"Concession" isn't a thing that has any legal weight. It's not up to the candidates, it's up to us (and the people counting the votes). So if Trump loses (likely, but not definite) based on the actual count of actual votes, and he doesn't concede, then the Secret Service will escort him from the White House by 12:01pm on January 20 at the latest. They'll start politely, and then less politely. But whether he stays as President isn't up to him.

More important, concessions are really for _us_. So if he refuses to concede, I imagine that a lot of people will stay pretty upset for a pretty long time. But that's not really about the actual results.

- Justin

the_retrosaur11 karma

Are cucumbers better pickled?

politico15 karma

Yes! C'mon, folks. Pickles are great. -- Zach

DodGamnBunofaSitch11 karma

what are the odds dejoy will see prosecution for not only the federal crime of interfering with the delivery of the mail, but also for interfering with the election?

politico15 karma

It really depends on the testimony, the evidence presented, and what the judge determines. Here is a resource from USPS as to USPS investigations. AM

https://www.uspsoig.gov/investigations/official-misconduct#:~:text=General%20crimes%20include%20Postal%20Service,on%20duty%2C%20and%20alcohol%20abuse.

hansjens4710 karma

When do you think we'll know who's been elected president for the next 4 years?

politico19 karma

This is a hot topic of conversation in our Zoom right now. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. It depends on how speedily results are reported in the remaining states. Not a fun answer, but we're all encouraging patience! -- Zach

cincyreds1810 karma

I know Politico, AP and Fox have called Arizona for Biden, but what’s with some late polls still giving Trump the state?

politico21 karma

Hello! So first off: POLITICO does not independently call races -- we call a race either when the Associated Press does, or three television networks. That being said: Not sure what polls you’re talking about! The race remains close, but notably the AP has not retracted its call. -- Zach

ScooterArchAndVault8 karma

Was the fox news projection of Arizona indeed premature? Or were they just saying what other outlets were more hesitant to?

politico13 karma

For the most part, media outlets that make race projections are all operating with the same information (with some exceptions I won't get into here). But some are more risk-averse and some are more tolerant of risk. That's why you sometimes see a network like Fox jump out in front of others on a race call. I don't think we can know if they were wrong to jump out in front of everyone in calling Arizona, and I would note they've since been joined by the AP. We'll see if the state tightens significantly when the remainder of the vote is tallied. -- Scott

Foloreille6 karma

Hello miss and misters, French redditor here, one of the things a lot of people are wondering in my country :

  • What is the legal situation for people who unfortunately died of COVID after they voted by correspondance few days/weeks ago ? Is their vote still valid ? Could that be an issue about the result being legit or not ?

  • If president Donald Trump contest the result what will happen with the Supreme Court process ?

  • Is this oustanding situation questioning the (indirect) electoral system in USA, where the winning candidate is not necessarily the candidate with the biggest amount of vote in total population ?

politico7 karma

Re: Voters who die, every state varies in terms of their rules but in most, if a voter dies after they cast their ballot, it will still be counted because they were eligible. AM

re: Contest to Supreme Court, there is a process by state for a challenge, recount, etc. This would be filed within the particular state and make it to the supreme court if necessary. AM

FlamingBagOfPoop6 karma

Any risk of faithless electors this year?

politico16 karma

Not a real risk, nope. (My first answer was "no f***ng way.")

In some states, it's not legally possible (a vote for someone other than the popular vote winner just doesn't count). In other states, it's legally possible, but not going to happen.

The electors are all chosen by the campaigns: the Trump campaign chose Trump electors, and the Biden campaign chose Biden electors. So you'd have to believe that the Trump folks chose a secret Biden voter (or a Kanye fan), or vice versa, to find a faithless elector. In most years, that's really unlikely. Given the polarization of 2020, that's really, _really_ unlikely.

- Justin

yunus891156 karma

Regarding Mail in voting, how are vertical spikes in counting the ballots explained? I see images like below shared and they show vertical spikes for Biden and I want to be able to explain to people why that occurs.

https://imgur.com/a/EsvYNVr

politico14 karma

Elections are run by each state and each local jurisdiction within a state tallies the votes. Thus, as counties of different size and political majority report, you can see swings occur. So, in larger counties, it can take longer to process and count larger volumes. So, when a large county posts their results, it can sway a state's results one way or another depending on the political make-up of those votes. AM

BoomerE305 karma

How come vote count in PA has been at 64% since last night? What is happening to prevent the results from trickling in, like other states?

politico23 karma

This was Pennsylvania's first general election with no-excuse mail voting available to everyone, and a *lot* of people took advantage of the option amid the pandemic. But while Pennsylvania allowed people to vote by mail this year, state law didn't give local election officials additional time to process those mail ballots before the election, so they piled up before Election Day.

It takes longer to count mail ballots -- you have to open the envelopes, unfold the thing, do whatever verification checks are in place in your state, etc. So what's happening now in Pennsylvania is that the counties are in the middle of wading through all this mail, and it's going to take some time and come in big batches of updates in each county, instead of a precinct updating here or there. -- Scott

HellaTroi4 karma

What can Judge Emmet Sullivan do to ensure the ballots that have not been scanned as out for delivery counted for this election?

politico6 karma

Evidence and data about the status of the mail ballots and when the post office had possession of them will be really important. Additionally, requiring the post office to affirm and provide a postmark on each mail ballot in question that is determined to have been mailed by yesterday would be one way to ensure that it receives proper treatment. Additionally, depending on the state, a judicial decision should also include a directive to count the ballots in question. AM

TheFalconKid4 karma

Apparently there was a report that Gideon called Senator Collins to concede. From what you see, is it possible she jumped the gun or even with a minor party adjustment, Gideon could pull ahead? RCV is still kind of confusing to understand.

politico11 karma

RCV can be kinda confusing! But if Gideon is confident that she lost (and she indeed did concede), I'd trust that. Even if Sen. Collins slips below 50 percent (and I'm not saying she will), at this point it looks likely she'd win in the instant runoff.

Here's a good explanation of ranked choice voting from FairVote, a group that advocates for it. -- Zach

WorldlyRing3 karma

Is it trues that a large number of ballots are being discounted in Maricopa County, AZ because they were filled in using Sharpies?

politico13 karma

Short answer: no. Here's a report from a local Fox affiliate in Phoenix highlighting multiple election administrators saying as much. -- Zach

asalvare33 karma

How are the Senate elections looking in Georgia and Michigan, in particular? I know Georgia conducts runoff elections but don’t know if it’ll affect 1 or both seats, or how likely it is to occur.

politico5 karma

We will definitely have a runoff in Georgia for the special Senate election. GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler (who was appointed to the seat earlier this year) and Democrat Raphael Warnock will definitely meet for a runoff in early January.

The other Senate race in the Peach State (the regularly scheduled one) between GOP Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff is teetering on that line right now. We're going to have to wait and see until all the votes are counted to see if Perdue broke 50 percent or not. Patience!

And in Michigan, same thing: patience. It is a very close election between Democratic Sen. Gary Peters and Republican John James. Let's wait for all the votes to be counted. (But whomever wins doesn't need 50 percent, there's no runoff here.)

Patience! -- Zach

TheAnonymous1234563 karma

What is your prediction on who wins the election and why?

politico9 karma

This is a cop out, but I also think it is important one: We don't make calls! I will leave that to the professionals at the AP or the other decision desks. These folks have access to a lot more data at their fingertips than you or me, and have thought a lot more about it than me.

The New York Times has a good articleon the AP's desk. These folks are the unheralded heroes of this election. (Along with election administrators!) -- ZM

movieguy432 karma

What will prevent Trump from successfully contesting the election in the supreme court and discounting mail/absentee ballot votes?

politico24 karma

Law.

"I'd just like the election to end up different" isn't a thing. And "I'd like to not count the mail ballots" is also not a thing.

Thus far this spring, summer, and fall, courts have been behaving like courts. I've liked some decisions and been really critical about others, but pretty much across the board, judges (and Justices) have been rejecting claims that aren't based on facts plausibly alleging a legal violation. And this Court is _plenty_ conservative, but (most of) the Justices really think they're beyond individual presidents or presidencies. There's no plausible legal route at the moment for anyone to validate what amounts to a Tweet of a lawsuit. And the people in robes still think their jobs are to do legal stuff.

- Justin