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AAP/AP/Andrew Harnik

Joe Biden wins US presidential election as mail-in votes turn key states around

Pennsylvania and Nevada were today called for Joe Biden, taking him to 279 Electoral Votes, nine more than the 270 required to win. Biden is now the US president-elect, defeating an incumbent president for the first time since 1992.

Donald Trump has won 214 electoral votes. He is very likely to win North Carolina and Alaska. In Georgia, Biden leads by over 9,000 votes or 0.2%, with virtually all votes counted. In Arizona, Biden leads by under 19,000 votes or 0.6%.

If Biden holds his current leads in Georgia and Arizona, he will win the Electoral College by a 306 to 232 margin. That’s the exact margin by which Trump won the 2016 election, ignoring “faithless” electors.

On election night, Trump was well ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia. This occurred because election day votes were strongly Republican, and much of the mail-in votes in those states had not been counted. With the inclusion of mail-ins, Biden won Wisconsin by 0.6% and Michigan by 2.6%.

Pennsylvania took longer to process its mail, but Biden’s lead there will expand from its current 37,000 or 0.6%. Virtually all votes needed to be counted in Georgia for Biden to move ahead.

The late counting trend has been different in Arizona, in which Biden’s large lead on election night induced Fox News and the AP to prematurely call for him. In Arizona, the early mail, which was counted on election night, was good for Biden, but the later mail has been good for Trump. This pattern has normally been reversed in Arizona.

Cook Political Report analyst Dave Wasserman has a graphic tracking the national popular vote. Biden currently leads Trump by 50.7% to 47.6%, and that margin will expand further owing to there being far more vote remaining to be counted in Democratic strongholds like California and New York. The total number of votes cast is already up over 9% from 2016.

While the polls were biased against Trump both nationally and in key states, there was a large gap between the popular vote and the Electoral College “tipping-point” state, as they predicted. Wisconsin, which Biden won by just 0.6%, is likely to be the tipping-point state, with Biden’s lead likely to grow in Pennsylvania but drop in Arizona.

If Biden wins the national popular vote by four to five points, Wisconsin would be 3.5 to 4.5 points better for Trump than the overall popular vote.

While Trump outperformed his polls, the cause was unlikely to be shy Trump voters, as Trump under-performed Republican candidates for the House and Senate. CNN analyst Harry Enten says Republican House candidates are leading overall in Pennsylvania by two points. The small portion of the electorate that voted for Biden but Republicans in Congress made the difference.

The final FiveThirtyEight forecast gave Trump a 10% chance to win. Analyst Nate Silver wrote that in 2016, Trump was just a “normal polling error” from winning, but he needed a bigger error in 2020. In the end, Biden’s polling lead was large enough to survive the errors that occurred.

In the Senate, Republicans are tied 48-48 with Democrats in called races, but Republicans are very likely to win the final two uncalled races in Alaska and North Carolina. Democrats would need to win both Georgia Senate runoffs on January 5 to tie it 50-50, and allow Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to break the tie.

In the House, Democrats lead Republicans by 215 to 196 with 24 races uncalled. Republicans have so far made a five-seat net gain from the 2018 results.

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