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 processLikely 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.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    I was just thinking that the Republican cowards in the Senate will now be rid of Trump after not standing up to him for so long and, rather than paying a price for their lack of backbone, they’re actually being rewarded by keeping control of the Senate…indeed, I’ll bet there are a lot of Republican politicians who will be quite happy to be rid of this blowhard…

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    If Nevada and Arizona hold for Biden he’s already won 270. If Pennsylvania comes in for Biden he’s got 290. Te Dems seem very confident about PA. Carville was just on TV predicting it wouldn’t even be close, that Biden would take PA by 175,000 votes.

    Biden’s counting votes, Trump is filing bogus lawsuits. That tells you where both campaigns think this is going.

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  3. Kylopod says:

    When all is said and done, the process looks to be a lot smoother than many feared. It’s not going to be dragged out for several weeks; I’m predicting most networks are going to call the race for Biden by tomorrow. Trump will never concede, but as has been mentioned many times, there’s no legal requirement that a candidate concede in order for the other guy to be certified as the winner.

    It’s also becoming increasingly clear that other Republicans aren’t going along with Trump’s efforts to interfere. They don’t see any point in a quixotic attempt to get the courts to overturn the results. The GOP steals elections–but it tries to do it in an underhanded way to give it at least a fig leaf of legitimacy. Their usual gambit is to suppress the vote preemptively, not to throw election results away after the fact. The people who stayed up day and night to count votes quickly and efficiently during a pandemic are national heroes, as far as I’m concerned.

    None of this changes the fact that the GOP did attempt a coup. I don’t trust the count that we have. DeJoy and his goons interfered with the mail in a deliberate effort to suppress the Democratic vote, and they may have partially succeeded. Either way, DeJoy is a criminal traitor who should be thrown in prison.

    I also think the election has exposed the fact that we have a very weak democracy in this country, even if it hasn’t been blatantly transformed into an authoritarian state as would have happened if Trump had his way. Thank God Trump is just so goddamn stupid.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @An Interested Party: indeed, I’ll bet there are a lot of Republican politicians who will be quite happy to be rid of this blowhard…

    And not a single one of them will thank us die hard Blue voters for alleviating them of this burden.

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  5. Paine says:

    Quite certain establishment Repubs are happy to show Trump the door. They got three SCOTUS judges and now they can do what they do best: obstruct. Trump’s too dumb to realize he’s been used all along and “his” party has no use for him anymore.

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  6. Kathy says:

    I still think Pennsylvania is the clincher, the sine qua non for securing victory.

    I’ll admit, too, that as much as I had hoped for a resounding repudiation of Trump*, and for the Democrats to take the Senate, above all I want Trump the Moron gone, G-O-N-E gone.

    Arguably he is the worst president ever, because as terrible as regards deaths, cruelty even, and suffering inflicted by the likes of, say Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, and Bush the younger, none before deliberately turned on the foundations of American democracy, nor of overall democracy.

    And I don’t think any other is directly responsible for as many easily preventable deaths of American citizens.

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  7. ptfe says:

    @Paine: The party might not think they need him anymore, but nobody is going to go RAnon for Mitch McConnell. The party platform even explicitly just said they would support Trump’s America First agenda!

    The loons who showed up en masse to vote for a racist, self-absorbed grifter are probably already looking for new ways to follow him. If the party abandons Trump, they’ll lose most of that baseline 38% almost immediately. (It doesn’t help that there are now a half dozen outright QAnon crazies in the House.)

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  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Paine:

    Trump’s too dumb to realize he’s been used all along and “his” party has no use for him anymore.

    Yeah. This is the lay of the land now. Refusing to legislate with a Biden Presidency, not needing to legislate with a Trump Presidency? Same-o, same-o.

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  9. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Its looking like Biden will win Pennsylvania AND Georgia. Georgia? Blue? But Florida went Red–I love my home state but damn its alot of yokels and geezers living here.

    I went out to practice my golf game earlier and all I could hear were conversations about cheating and socialism–The stupid is strong down south–how in the hell is the party of the rich and upper middle class–ALSO the party of socialism? Floriduuuuuuhhhh

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  10. An Interested Party says:

    It’s looking like Trump is vastly underperforming compared to many Republican Senate candidates…ticket splitting is still alive and well…

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  11. Paine says:

    Saw this on Twitter. The FAA is carving out some airspace over Delaware… leading to speculation that the Secret Service is putting president-elect protocols in place for Biden.

    https://twitter.com/NeuSummits/status/1324162500242407424

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  12. Kylopod says:

    @Jim Brown 32: You know how you were discussing the rural/metro strategy of Dems that has come back to bite them in some ways? If Biden wins GA, it won’t be by winning back the yokels, as Carter and Clinton once did. It’ll run through the Atlanta area, including the burbs. That’s the way Dems compete in the South at this point.

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  13. Kathy says:

    Given this latest poll fiasco, I’m giving up optimism until Trump is out of office.

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  14. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kylopod: True–A win is a win however you get it. However, as a long-term strategy–I wouldn’t bank on racking up 80-20% margins in a handful of metro areas in GA. Especially with Republican candidates who aren’t a 10/10 on the asshole meter like Trump is.

    As much as hate for Hillary was–Trump generated a similar amount of hate in the black community. Looks like Black Folks in Detroit and Atlanta (maybe Philly as well) are going to spare this Country 4 more years of Trump. [Fingers still crossed]

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  15. Matt says:

    @Jim Brown 32: The same way all liberals are latte sipping limousine riding hippies with no job who are communists that hate America while being reliant on welfare that the real Americans (red states) pay for… The talking points used to slander liberals/Democrats have been self contradictory for decades now. I have had people say in one sentence that liberals are out of touch rich people and then in the next sentence say all liberals are poor hippies with no jobs that mooch off welfare… It’s disturbing…

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  16. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Matt: Marketing works and Republicans are the best at it the Political arena. The Lincoln Project hands down did the greatest damage to Trump. Democrats better buy some expertise for the day when those guys and those like them are on the opposite team again.

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  17. Gustopher says:

    I predict the election is going to come down to 7 absentee ballots in Georgia, where people died of Covid after voting, but before polls closed on Election Day.

    Also, Stacy Abrams’ romance books will top the best-sellers lists (she writes under the name Selena Montgomery)

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  18. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Biden’s counting votes, Trump is filing bogus lawsuits. That tells you where both campaigns think this is going.</blockquote

    After saying early Wednesday morning that the Dems will go to court when they realize they can't win, "that he called it." They GOP has already been in court and preparing for this moment.

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  19. Lounsbury says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Yes. Lincoln project likely helped save the day by going Centre and going for the emotional knifing.

    The Democrats rather need to lose their Identity Politics Leftism angle and silly dreaming and work on looking at bread and butter service to the working class – of which majority white working class but service broadly. Pro small business and working class might be populist non-job destroying combo.

    Else the results of this show the culturally conservative white working class will continue to slide into radical neo-fascist reaction while the US Left plays Corbynist Don Quixote on Left identarian and idiot self-harming labels like democratic socialist…

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  20. Gustopher says:

    @Lounsbury:

    The Democrats rather need to lose their Identity Politics Leftism angle and silly dreaming

    All politics is identity politics.

    Basically no one actually thoughtfully considers issues and candidate qualifications. And everyone has a number of identities that they identify with — the Trumpist Republicans have been very good at feeding the Revanchist Christian and White Nationalist identities, and calling them Patriotism.

    Look at what Trump ran on in 2016 — economic populism, friend of the gays, immigration, scary Muslims, scary Mexicans. Look at what he has done and how he ran in 2020 — the Muslims are still scary, but everything else has changed. He even dropped the racist Latino rhetoric in the past few months. And he let countless Americans die. And his poll numbers have been amazingly consistent. That’s identity politics. The Trump brand — overcooked steak with catsup, bravado with no balls, etc — is what carries the voters along.

    The Democrats may need to rework their identity politics, but the only thing that wins elections is identity politics.

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  21. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    The Democrats may need to rework their identity politics, but the only thing that wins elections is identity politics.

    …even if you set aside the fact that the underlying justice issues cannot, must not be ignored. The Dems may need to rebrand their efforts to get police to stop murdering young black men (or to at least be held accountable for it) and to get courts to treat blacks and whites equally, but dropping the issues is not an option. Especially not at a time when the country has had its white supremacist tendencies encouraged and coddled by a sitting President.

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  22. Northerner says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think that’s basically correct. The Democrats should re-introduce economic class as a focus identity — they seem to have put it aside. Not that they’re still not much better than the Republicans on economic policies, but it seems to be a side-note.

    For instance, even wrt police killings, I suspect the ratio of poor being killed by the police is much higher than the ratio of blacks and indigenous being killed by police (seriously, how many well to do people are killed by police), but there’s no attention being paid to that.

    Same for affirmative action — what percentage of university students in elite schools come from poor families? I suspect they’re the least represented class.

    How about politics? How many members of your Senate and Congress came from a poor family (I know they’re all rich by the time they gain office)? When was the last time someone born into a poor family became president? Biden is middle class, and hopefully the numbers hold and he wins, but how about actual poor?

    Moreover, by helping the poor you automatically help with racial disparities, since racial minorities tend to be disproportionally poor.

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  23. Scott F. says:

    @Lounsbury:

    The Democrats rather need to lose their Identity Politics Leftism angle and silly dreaming and work on looking at bread and butter service to the working class – of which majority white working class but service broadly. Pro small business and working class might be populist non-job destroying combo.

    I think this gets the closer-than-desired result wrong. If “bread and butter service” was to win over the working class, Biden should have won in a walk. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and the scale of the economic collapse it wrought is textbook failure to meet the needs of small business and the working class, yet he was competitive almost everywhere.

    Biden (and the silly leftists) ran on a return to normalcy through competent, good governance. Trump ran a culture war campaign (against BLM and a cartoon version of socialism) and ended with a higher vote share than he had in 2016. (This despite his clear corruption, vulgarity, and ineptitude.)

    47% of the electorate wants (or is willing to bear) a culture war in a last stand against demographic trends. They’ll accept an asshole authoritarian if it will get them one. Sure, the kitchen table remains an important political battlefield and the Democrats need to do whatever they can do to advance their Main Street agenda with a Red Senate. But, it would be a mistake to unilaterally disarm themselves in the cultural war. Do that and you need to prepare yourself for a President Cotton.

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  24. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Actually, Biden did run on culture. Decency, compassion, empathy, civility. He wore masks, and integrated social distancing into his campaign–these were all cultural statements. “We are ‘these‘ type of folks. ”

    His policy appeals were very high level…even when Harris was speaking about their policies. They certainly could have thrown out technocratic catnip with percentages and nuance–but they deliberately chose not too.

    The first thing one does when targeting an audience for influence is to determine how vulnerable they are to different lines of persuasion. Technobable is not the right weapon for today’s fight–win or lose he ran a very good messaging campaign by being light on words and heavy on optics.

    I get that this is antithetical to this audience..including myself. But we dont make the rules. You play to win the game…you compete in good faith but you play to win.

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  25. Sleeping Dog says:

    Keep in mind, that if Biden wins PA, which he should and GA, which would be a huge flip, he’ll end up with 306 EV. Biden went into Tuesday as the favorite and his prospective EV total is within the expected range. Where this election is disappointing for Dems, is not gaining control of the Senate, though that was always going to be a tough slog and suffering losses in the House, particularly in suburban districts and small city districts that were captured in 2018.

    Over the summer, BLM received huge support that began to erode when largely white nihilists continued to protest and riot, when the focus should have been organizing (and it was for the BLM organization. Along with self-aggrandizing, marginal political actors, the squad, attempted to make themselves the face of the party and the R fear machine was right there to help them.

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