One Finite Planet

OK, Election day over, who won and what now?

First Published:

Posted 2020-Nov-4 9:58am UTC

As expected Trump effectively declared victory on election night, and has stated there will now be legal action call the election at the current point. Also as expect the vote was tight, and Trump does, again as predicted, hold the lead on the basis of votes counted so far, but is unlikely to retain that lead once all votes are counted.

Trump Holds the Lead?

Taking the outcome of the 2016 election as a starting point, republicans won 306 to 232. So far:

  • Biden has won Arizona (11 votes)
  • Biden won 1 vote from Nebraska
  • Biden won 1 vote from Maine

This takes 13 votes from the Trump count, leaving the overnight tally at Trump leading: 293 to 245.

While many states are still to be declared, the key states appear to be

  • Pennsylvania (20)
  • Wisconsin (10)
  • Michigan (16)
  • North Carolina (15)
  • Georgia (16)

Note that on the current count, Trump is ahead in every one of these states. Which means, if the count tonight was to be consider final, Trump would win 293 to 245.

The election result: Who Wins?

In the five states listed, Trumps lead is as follows.

However, in each of these states, there are reasons why the votes yet to be counted could strongly favour Biden. Basically Democrats have best support among cities areas and high population density areas, and from votes cast early of by mail because of concerns relating to Covid-19. For example despite Biden being 700,000 votes behind in Pennsylvania, voting districts with less voters which strongly favor Trump are almost completely counted, yet the core district of Philadelphia where Democrat votes are already 3 to 1, has less than half the vote counted, and there are as many as 1 million postal votes. The entire state is yet to start counting postal votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The states to be considered still in doubt, ranked from most like to switch to democrats to least likely are:

  • Wisconsin (10)
  • Michigan (16)
  • Pennsylvania (20)
  • Georgia (16)
  • North Carolina (15)

If all the 77 electoral college votes for these states are subtracted, the race becomes Trump 216, Biden 245. So Biden requires 25 votes from these states, while Trump requires 54 votes. Since the smallest two allocations total 25 votes, Biden needs to win 2 of the 5 states to be president. Even the three largest states with 20+16+16 votes would only bring Trump to 268 votes. 270 votes are required to become president.

My understanding is that on balance, Biden projecting the votes still to be counted on the basis of patterns from the votes counted so far, Biden is favoured to win Wisconsin, most likely Michigan and Pennsylvania, and a good chance in Georgia. The outcome is still uncertain, so I will follow up with calculated projections.

What Trump Has Said.

Trump stated he will take legal action in the supreme court to disallow more votes. However it is somewhat vague, as Trump also seemed to say with more votes he could still win Arizona, indicating he is also still factoring in at least some counts continuing.

Any legal action must first take place in state courts as the elections are technically state elections and the supreme court can only rule on decisions already reached by state courts. So Trump must first act in the state courts, and then appeal to the supreme court if that action fails.

The legal argument would be to Republican seeking to block postal votes from late counting states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from being counted. Note that all three states applied to start counting their votes earlier due to the expect large number of postal votes this year, but the Republicans managed to block the change to allow the votes being counted earlier.

What Next In the Election?

Filibuster: Delay a count until it is too late. The Trump campaign would be able to make solid projections as to which states from the 5, if any, Trump would be expected to lose. Note: Trump does not have to actually get a decision ruling him the winner of a state vote, he just has to stop states from being able to submit their result to congress. Stall or Filibuster. If Trump can tie up four states in legal action that prevents them submitting a count by December 8, Biden does not reach 270 votes, and the election is then decided by a different process.

Can Trump at least prevent these states, or even any of them, from submitting a final verified count? That is unclear, and it is unclear what support the Republican party will provide to such a quest.

What Next For America?

Election day was admirably peaceful. There were robocalls with a mild level of intimidation and suggesting voters vote tomorrow, but it seems unlikely this had much impact. Many US cities may have braced for violence more associated with elections in less advanced countries, but so far that has not been needed. The real question is if some Trump supporters will take their own initiatives to disrupt vote counts. The main concern is not that they would succeed, but the disruption caused if they try.

There are Trump fans who are completely enamoured with Trump, and who will feel that if Trump says a great fraud is being committed against the American people, then it is one right that they do whatever they can to prevent that fraud.

The next few days could see divisions in America run even deeper.

Beyond that, the whole next term of whoever is elected could also be divisive. Trump has been divisive so far, and if Biden is president but republicans control the senate, then any legislation designed to bring America out of recession will certainly be at risk, as will the affordable care act. In a divided country, who controls what arm of government will also be divided no matter who is president.


Table of Contents


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