Election night in the US is on the verge of turning into election week. Here’s what the candidates need to happen in order to win the White House.
Polls before election day suggested possible outcomes ranging from a comfortable win for Joe Biden, to a narrow Donald Trump victory where he loses the national popular vote but once again carries enough battleground states to win in the electoral college.
After a vote count that has stretched from the evening into the early morning hours, a Biden landslide is off the table. The victory will be narrow. It’s just a matter of who and how – and how long until we know.
Donald Trump has already declared victory and accused his opponents of committing electoral fraud. This is, however, simply not the case at this point. There are still millions of legally cast ballots in the process of being counted.
A national race is boiling down to just a handful of states: Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Who will win the battleground states?
Arizona appears to be trending toward Biden, which means the Democrat would have to win two of the three so-called 2016 “blue wall” states – Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – to secure victory.
Biden trails in all three, but the remaining votes to be counted will favour the Democrat – perhaps by enough to pull him ahead.
There are more than 1.4 million vote-by-mail ballots left to count in Pennsylvania, and it could take days to tabulate them all. The big cities in Michigan (Detroit) and Wisconsin (Milwaukee) are also yet to fully report, and they will heavily tilt toward the Democrats.
Meanwhile, Georgia is a wildcard. What seemed heading towards a comfortable Trump win earlier on Tuesday has ended up in a dead heat. Results from Biden-friendly Atlanta was, improbably enough, delayed by a broken water pipe in a vote-counting location.
A Democratic win in Georgia would mean Biden only has to carry one of those Midwest states.
A legal showdown looms
What was once a nightmare scenario is taking shape, with Biden claiming he is on a path to victory and Trump lobbing unfounded accusations of voter fraud and electoral theft.
It’s a recipe for acrimony and a protracted court battle, which ends with supporters on the losing side feeling angry and cheated.
Although the final results aren’t yet known, what is clear on election night is that the US continues to be a sharply divided nation. The American voters did not repudiate Trump in any meaningful way. Nor did they give him the kind of ringing endorsement that the president had hoped for.
Instead, the battle lines are drawn – and the political warfare will continue no matter who prevails in this particular election.