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Election Day 2020: If the polls are right, here’s one scenario for how tonight will play out

Election Day 2020
  • Election Day 2020 is upon us, and heading into it there’s been more uncertainty than ever thanks largely to changes stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Aides to former Vice President Joe Biden have said he plans to address the nation tonight — and will do so as president-elect if it appears that he’s on his way to clinching a win.
  • Biden’s attempt to control the narrative, aides stress, will proceed regardless of anything President Trump tries to do in response to the election.

One reason there’s been such a question mark hanging over Election Day 2020 has to do with the voting changes around the country in response to the coronavirus pandemic. No one can say for certain, in other words, how the impact of people wanting to vote early and avoid crowds on Election Day because of the pandemic will affect the final outcome. Did enough people vote early that it actually won’t take long ago to finish counting the Election Day votes and declare a winner? Will too-close-to-call outcomes in battleground states leave us all hanging for a day or two? Will Trump concede if Biden is declared the winner, or will he seize upon perceived irregularities and try to hold up or cast doubt on the outcome?

We won’t have to wait much longer to see how some, or all of that plays out. Meanwhile, preparations are being made regardless of the uncertainty. For example, if you believe most all of the major polls, former Vice President Joe Biden is likely to win the election — and his aides are already suggesting that he plans to address the nation tonight as president-elect, in the event that he is successful.

That would be an effort to get out in front of another potential Bush vs. Gore debacle from 2000, when George W. Bush acted like the winner early and was more successful than former Vice President Al Gore in controlling the narrative.

According to Axios, sources have told the digital outlet that if news organizations end up declaring Biden the winner tonight — or the presumptive winner, with a caveat along the lines of the outcome not yet being official but Trump having no mathematical path forward — Biden plans to address the nation as soon as tonight, as president-elect. Even if President Trump refuses to concede and makes it clear he’s going to challenge today’s results.

Biden’s official schedule for today, in fact, already makes this clear. It includes this item, that he “will address the nation on Election Night in Wilmington, Delaware.”

Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon told Axios: “We’re not really concerned about what Donald Trump says … We’re going to use our data, our understanding of where this is headed, and make sure that the vice president is addressing the American people.”

Aides say Biden’s address will strike a “healing tone” and talk about a way forward in bringing the coronavirus pandemic to an end.

Andy Meek profile photo

Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.