When all votes are counted, Vice President Biden will win more votes than President Trump. Will he win the electoral college? There are many paths and pundits, but here is all you need to know in a nutshell.
An excellent summary of the workings of the American electoral college and the 2016 Presidential election results is here. The electoral college has a total of 538 delegates, distributed unevenly among its states and territories. Except Maine and Nebraska, every state allocates all its delegates to the winner of the popular vote in that state. The winner needs to secure 270 delegates.
Trump 2016. Trump won just about 300 delegates in 2016. To reach 270 in 2020, he needs to win only one of Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin — three midwestern battleground states he won in 2016 — assuming he also wins the other states he won in 2016. Trump’s many rallies, enthusiasm for the Senate seat challenger from his party in Michigan, and legal avenues in Pennsylvania give him a path.
Biden 2020. Two states that Trump won in 2016 that are finely poised in this cycle are Arizona and North Carolina. Both have tight Senate races where the challengers from Biden’s party are running strong. If Biden benefits and flips one, he can offset a Trump win in the Midwest and close the door. It is a Biden tsunami if states such as Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and Texas realign. But many of Biden’s leads in polls are within the margin of error for the polls.
Election Night Cliffhanger. Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, unlike most states, start counting ballots only the day of the election. There is a chance neither candidate would have secured 270 delegates on election night. In one scenario, Trump would be ahead by 260 to 258 delegates, assuming he wins Nevada and Biden wins Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska district 2.
Pennsylvania. The state has 20 delegates. Since in-person votes are counted faster than absentee ballots, Trump may have a lead in the vote count on election night. The Supreme Court has let stand a ruling that ballots postmarked on election day that arrive later can be counted. With a lead in delegate count and a lead in vote count in Pennsylvania on election night, Trump might stake a claim for Presidency, and ask the Court and its new Justice Amy Barrett: How long and which ballots will Pennsylvania count?
A bit about Vijay Violet’s writings
In June, Vijay Violet asked colleges to imagine students returning to campus but taking classes online. At many colleges, students are doing just that. He asked Biden to pick a Black woman for VP and Biden delivered. No college football, no reelection, he said, and Trump has helped college football along.