Where the Presidential Race Stands
Why it's all over but the crying.
Nate Silver and the gang are taking a breather until more results are released at 9pm Eastern but here’s how he sees the race:
Here’s where the presidential race stands from most likely Trump win to least likely Trump win:
North Carolina. Trump leads by 1.4 points or about 77,000 votes, but mail ballots can arrive after Election Day in North Carolina, so perhaps 5 percent of the vote is still outstanding. The mail vote should be pretty blue in North Carolina, but is it enough to flip the state? Probably not, according to The Upshot’s needle, which gave Biden about a 15 percent chance in North Carolina before it was frozen. I’d call this one Likely Trump, although 15 percent chances aren’t zero, obviously!
Georgia. Trump leads by 78,000 votes without around 200,000 votes outstanding (there’s some uncertainty over the exact number). That gap seems like a tall order for Biden to close, but the remaining vote is expected to be very blue: mail votes from blue counties plus some Election Day votes from predominantly Black precincts in blue counties. The Upshot’s needle actually had Biden slightly favored to pull it off as of last night. We’ll know more soon. Let’s say Toss-up, but you could force me into Lean Biden if you told me I had to make a pick.
Pennsylvania. As expected, far more uncounted votes here than elsewhere, mostly mail votes that should be quite Democratic-leaning, though. There are too many outstanding ballots for us to be in the endgame where we can game out exact scenarios, but in counties that have completed reporting, Biden looks to be hitting the targets he needs. Even with the Trump campaign filing a number of lawsuits, the margin is tightening quickly enough that I think this belongs in Lean Biden.
Arizona. We may need to do a longer post on Arizona later. What’s left to count is mostly mail votes that were returned late in the process — on Monday or Tuesday. There’s some ambiguity about how many ballots this actually is; Edison Research seems to think around 450,000. If so, Trump would need to win those votes by 21 points to overtake Biden’s current 93,000-vote lead. They’re distributed fairly evenly throughout the state.
Wait — outstanding mail votes? Shouldn’t those be good for Biden, as they are in other states? Well, not necessarily, because Republicans have a fairly strong mail voting program in Arizona and — this is the key part — the mail ballots that were returned later in the process (the ones yet to be counted) were significantly redder than the ones that came in earlier on, as Democrats sent their votes in early. For instance, the party registration breakdown of the votes that came in Monday and Tuesday was: 23 percent Democratic, 44 percent Republican, and 33 percent independent or other parties. That is to say, a 21-point GOP edge, which would put Trump on track to tie things up.
But … here’s the bad news for Trump. Party registration may be a misleading indicator in Arizona. The state has a lot of ancestral Republicans who have now turned into swing voters. Biden also had a big lead among independents in polls. And earlier batches of mail ballots were considerably stronger for Biden than party registration alone would suggest. So probably these ballots are going to come in more for Trump than for Biden, but not as strongly as he needs.
There’s also the fact that two other news organizations, the Associated Press and Fox News, have called the state for Biden. I’d assume they’ve looked into this more than I have, so that shifts my priors a bit, but you never know and you do get incorrect calls occasionally. Overall, I’d say this is Likely Biden, but I don’t think the state should have been called yet.
Nevada. This one’s a bit more straightforward. Biden leads by only 0.6 percent, or about 7,500 votes. But what’s remaining should be pretty good for him. It’s all mail-in ballots that were either received late in the process or that are still coming in — in Nevada, mail ballots can be received by Nov. 10 provided they’re postmarked by Election Day. The mail ballots were quite blue in Nevada by party registration, much more so than in Arizona, including votes that arrived relatively late in the process. Likely Biden.
Wisconsin. No known votes left to be counted. The Trump campaign says it will seek a recount, but recounts rarely change results, and certainly not with something on the magnitude of Biden’s 20,000-vote lead. Biden is the “apparent winner,” per ABC News.
I’ve already added Wisconsin and Arizona to my win totals for Biden. Otherwise, I agree with this and, indeed, think Silver is being just a bit gunshy. I think every state in the list but North Carolina will go for Biden and think Georgia is really the only plausible “flip.”
This is nowhere near the Blue Wave I was predicting Sunday based on the polling. But it’s worth noting (as a commenter did in one of the bazillion earlier posts today) that a Biden sweep of the remaining states would give him as many Electoral Votes as Trump had in 2016 and which he declared a historic landslide.