Vox Dwell Outcomes: Joe Biden's path to victory widens

The 2020 presidential election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is still too close, even if election day has come and gone.

Trump took early wins in Florida, Ohio and Iowa. But Biden has picked up two Midwestern states that are likely to prove crucial, Michigan and Wisconsin, and is now on the verge of getting enough votes to win overall. Pennsylvania still counts now, as do some of the sunbelt swing states.

In Wisconsin, Biden's victory was recorded by a narrow margin and the Trump campaign has announced it will require a recount (as state law allows), but recent recounts haven't changed the outcome much.

There are other positive signs for Biden: Arizona and Nevada are leaning their way, and Georgia and North Carolina are still counting votes and could land in Biden's column.

Trump falsely claimed victory Wednesday morning, saying he wanted "all voting to cease" and would take the matter to the Supreme Court. At this point, of course, the vote had been suspended for hours – and further counting of those votes is a legal and necessary part of the process. Biden, meanwhile, has maintained an optimistic tone, telling fans early Wednesday morning: "We feel good where we are."

That counting votes takes some time should come as no surprise: given the myriad of ways people have cast their ballots this year, it was expected that the counting of votes could take longer and know who won the election than in the past few years. Part of this was due to the fact that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, far more votes were cast in the mail than in previous years. But it's also because there are simply more votes to count: some estimates suggest that in 2020 voters may have had their highest turnout in 120 years.

There is no guarantee when we will know if Trump or Biden won the election, but you can follow live results here, provided by our friends at the decision desk.

Vox also has results pages for several major swing states: Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia.

And you can watch the Senate live scores here and the House live scores here. Finally, you will learn how Vox (and other media) make calls.

How long could it be before we know who won the election?

It's hard to know, but it's good to prepare for the possibility that we won't know the outcome for a while. Here's why.

There are six major battlefield states whose voters are likely to determine the election result: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina. As Andrew Prokop of Vox recently wrote, these states can be divided into two groups – states that could count the votes quickly and states that could take much longer to know the result.

Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina fall into the first category. (Florida and Arizona in particular have often voted by email in the past, and officials there are familiar with how the system works.) We already know the results from Florida, which was called relatively early for Trump on Tuesday. Postal ballots have yet to be counted in North Carolina, and the Arizona results are not yet in.

Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin are a different story. Republican lawmakers in all three states declined to allow election officials to start processing ballots early (it should be noted that this is not a partisan issue everywhere, as Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina also have Republican control of lawmakers).

Especially with more Democrats voting via email, the chances are that an early personal vote could result in Trump finding a closer race than the final totals reflect. It's good to keep in mind that it can take many hours, if not days, to count the mail-in ballots and get a full picture of who won.

Counting all votes is not a scam

On the way to the election, it was pretty clear that President Trump was willing to engage in some gimmicks to cast doubts on possible adverse outcomes for him and even falsely claim he had won. And that's what he did.

In a comment early Wednesday, Trump said he had already won in Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, although those states have not yet been called. He said the election reflected "great fraud in our nation" and proposed that the matter be brought to the Supreme Court. Twitter and Facebook eventually had to label his false claims that the election would be “stolen” and that after the polls were over, no votes could be counted.

To be clear, there is no widespread electoral fraud, nor is the election stolen from the president. States only count the votes.

That's not to say that Trump can't win the presidency or that Biden can't. Of course it would be nice to have more clarity about the result now. But we don't, so we have to wait.

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