Joe Biden has taken the lead in the Electoral College and is on track to win the 2020 election. President Trump no longer has any incentive to stop counting the votes, because Biden is currently ahead in enough states to make him president. And the composition of the uncounted votes strongly positions Biden to expand his Electoral College lead.
Biden has pulled ahead in Wisconsin and is going to overtake President Trump in Michigan. Those states in combination with others where he has solid leads would give him the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Additionally, he seems extremely likely to overtake Trump in Pennsylvania, and stands a strong chance in Georgia, though neither state would be necessary for him to win.
After the national media spent months warning everybody that a massive upsurge in voting by mail would delay the results in many states — and that, in several of them, the delay would cause Trump to appear to be winning on Election Night even if he lost — that is exactly what happened. And yet, people lost their minds anyway.
In Wisconsin, Biden took the lead overnight. Absentee ballots leaned heavily Democrat, and Democratic areas were also the last ones to report, which meant Biden gained ground quickly, turning his Tuesday night deficit into a 20,000-vote lead.
Ben Wikler, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, has said the outcome in that state is clear:
Wikler is a partisan source, but Craig Gilbert, the Washington bureau chief for Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, notes that Trump has tapped out his sources of votes:
Even Republican former governor Scott Walker, a Trump loyalist, concedes Biden’s margin in Wisconsin will withstand any recount:
The same story has held true in the other blue-wall states. In Michigan, Trump’s initially imposing vote lead disintegrated as mail ballots and large cities began reporting their totals. As of 9:00 a.m., Biden has overtaken Trump, with the largest batch of untabulated votes in overwhelmingly blue Wayne County, home to Detroit:
Again, the combination of votes being mail ballots by nature (a method used mostly by Democrats) and the areas they’re being counted in also being heavily Democratic and urban makes them extremely lopsided for Biden.
Assuming Biden holds Nevada — more on that momentarily — Michigan would put him over the top. However, Pennsylvania seems likely to provide additional insurance.
In Pennsylvania, the count is going more slowly than in the other blue-wall states. Trump amassed a 700,000-vote lead overnight, using his total to demand an end to the tabulation and steal the election. However, as Nate Cohn writes, the uncounted ballots are overwhelmingly mail ballots from big cities, making them massive troves of Biden gains. Cohn’s back-of-the-envelope calculation is that — should the pattern of in-person and mail-votes hold in Pennsylvania — Biden will end up beating Trump by around 50.3 to 48.5 percent. That would be a fairly safe margin beyond the range of a recount.
In Georgia, vote-counting halted with Trump winning by just over 100,000 votes. But outstanding ballots to be tabulated are concentrated heavily in and around Atlanta. The New York Times Upshot needle, which calculates percentages based on the composition of uncounted votes, makes Biden the slight favorite to overtake Trump.
Georgia will probably not be needed to put Biden over the top in the Electoral College. It does provide a possible backup plan in case something goes badly awry in the blue wall.
As noted before, Nevada is a source of risk. Biden finished the night with a 7,000-vote lead. Jon Ralston, the state’s most respected political reporter, observes that the uncounted votes tend to be mail ballots in Clark County, the Democratic-leaning home to Las Vegas.
Nate Cohn concurs:
Reporters are being appropriately cautious. Election results do sometimes show dramatic or unexpected changes, such as when a state realizes that it had reported erroneous totals from a county. The unusual nature of this year’s voting also creates more uncertainty.
But the basic picture as of Wednesday morning is that Biden is pulling ahead in more than enough states to win the Electoral College, and the trend lines of the count are working in his favor. Biden reassembled the blue wall and is very likely to become the 46th president of the United States.
This post has been updated.