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Election Results 2020: What needs to happen for Trump or Biden to win?

Published Nov 4th, 2020 9:02AM EST
Election Results 2020
Image: Kevin Dietsch - Pool via CNP/MEGA
  • The presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden remains undecided as the final votes are counted in the battleground states of America.
  • As it stands, Joe Biden has 227 electoral votes and Donald Trump has 213 votes.
  • Below, we’ll explain what needs to happen for either candidate to win.

By the end of the day on November 8th, 2016, it was all but certain that Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States. On the morning of November 4th, 2020, there is far less certainty when it comes to the presidential contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, with eight states that still remain uncalled: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maine’s 2nd congressional district.

As of 8:00 a.m. ET, Biden has 227 confirmed electoral votes to Trump’s 213 votes. As soon as one candidate reaches 270 electoral votes, they will win the election, but we still don’t know when the uncalled states will be able to provide a final tally. What we do know is how each candidate needs the electoral map to look in order to win.

Donald Trump has technically already claimed victory, but in addition to being behind Biden in the current electoral vote count, his path to 270 electoral votes appears to be more difficult than Biden’s. In order for Donald Trump to win reelection, he almost certainly needs to take Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes). According to the current count, Trump is leading by more than 600,000 votes in the Keystone State, but a significant percentage of the ballots that have yet to be counted are from overwhelmingly Democratic areas, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Biden has plenty of ground to make up, and if he can’t, Trump’s chances of retaking the White House grow substantially.

The problem for Trump is that if the hundreds of thousands of outstanding votes are lopsidedly in favor of Biden and he loses Pennsylvania, his path becomes incredibly narrow. He is expected to take Alaska handily, but he would need to take Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina, which will be a challenge.

Joe Biden has more paths to 270 electoral votes than Trump does, but his margins of victory are shaping up to be far tighter than the polls had suggested they might be. Arizona (11 electoral votes) has already been called for Biden by a number of sources, including Fox News and the Associated Press. There are enough votes left uncounted that Trump could stage a comeback, but it seems unlikely that those votes are going to heavily favor Trump.

Assuming Biden has taken Arizona, he would be sitting at 238 electoral votes and would need 32 more. At the time of writing, more than 97% of the vote has been counted in Wisconsin (10 electoral votes) and Biden has a 20,000+ vote lead. Trump’s lead in Michigan (16 electoral votes) has been shrinking rapidly as mail-in ballots from the Detroit area are added to the count. And while Nevada (6 electoral votes) will be close, all of the outstanding votes are mail-in, which have heavily favored Biden in the state and across the country.

If Biden can win these states, he would jump to 270, and would win the election, even without Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina, despite the fact that all three remain in play as of Wednesday morning. Now we just have to wait and see how long it will take to get all of these final results in from the uncalled states.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.