The year 2020 has been a mess from the start, so of course the presidential election didn’t go well, either.
Election Day turned into Election Night, then into Wednesday morning. Still, no call.
Here’s the deal (as Joe Biden would say): The Democratic candidate has more ways to victory than President Trump. The way things stand now — with Biden at 238 electoral votes to Trump’s 213, according to Politico’s tally — the Democrat has 93 ways to win while Trump has just 31.
First, though, Trump has the easiest path to get to the needed 270 electoral votes (EVs). The president leads in Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, by a hefty margin — 54.4% to 44.4%, according to Politico. Trump also leads by 2% in both North Carolina (15 EVs) and Georgia (16 EVs). If he were to win all three, he’d get to 264 EVs. With a win in Nevada (6 EVs), where he trails by just 8,000 votes out of 1.2 million cast, he’d get to the magic number of 270 electoral votes.
That’s the easy path. He wouldn’t need Michigan (16 EVs) or Wisconsin (10 EVs) at all.
But let’s say Trump hangs on to Pennsylvania and wipe the rest of the slate clean. That means Biden’s at 238 and Trump’s at 233. Now give Biden both Wisconsin and Michigan, and he leads in EVs, 264-233. Then he’d need just Nevada to reach exactly 270 and wouldn’t need to win North Carolina or Georgia.
This is where things get dicey. Biden leads Michigan by just 15,527 votes out of more than 5 million cast. And in Wisconsin, Biden leads by just 20,748 votes out of more than 3.2 million cast.
But let’s go back to Biden 238, Trump 213.
If Trump pulls out Michigan, he’d have 229 EVs. And let’s say he also wins Wisconsin: now he’s at 239. Let’s also give him North Carolina, where Trump leads by more than 75,000 votes, and Georgia, where he leads by more than 100,000 votes. That would give Trump exactly 270 EVs, which means he wouldn’t need Pennsylvania or Nevada to win re-election. But if Trump loses Pennsylvania and Michigan, he loses. And if he loses Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, then whoever wins Nevada wins the presidency.
But let’s flip everything around again, starting at same baseline: Biden 238, Trump 213. If Biden pulls out a win in Georgia and squeaks by in Wisconsin and Michigan, he’d stand at 280 EVs and wouldn’t need Pennsylvania at all.
And just one more: Let’s say Biden gets Pennsylvania in the end. That would give Biden 58 paths to victory while Trump would just have five. If Trump wins in North Carolina and Georgia, he’d still have five paths to victory but he’d trim Biden’s ways to win down to 10.
If Biden then wins Michigan, it’s over. But if Trump wins Michigan, then Biden would be just two EVs away from 270 and we’d all end up back in Nevada.
Who knew Nevada might hold the key to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election?
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