Every would-be afficionado of politics needs three things going into tonight’s election returns: an interactive electoral college map that you can manipulate; a source for polling data as of today, both nationally and in key battleground states; and a refresher on what to look for in early reporting.
As The Daily Citizen has reminded voters, the sheer numbers of mail-in and absentee ballots this year is going to skew the reporting. In those states where mail-in ballots are counted ahead of time and reported early in the evening, reports should favor Democrat candidates, with a surge of Republican votes coming as numbers come in from polling places, as may happen in Florida. The opposite is true of states that will count the in-person, day-of-vote totals first, with mail-in ballots coming later, as in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania.
And of course, don’t trust the polling data. While most everyone uses the Real Clear Politics average (RCP average) of known polls to get a general sense of where a candidate is, no one really knows if pollsters have learned their lessons from the mistakes made in the 2016 presidential election. If you’re a conservative, you may enjoy the exercise of adding the size of the 2016 polling mistakes in key states to this year’s polling average, just in case the pollsters have made the same errors this time.
For early clues, watch returns from Florida and Georgia, where polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern, and North Carolina, where polls close a half hour later. According to an analysis in The New York Times, if Joe Biden wins just one of these states, he will be tough to beat. And if Donald Trump takes all three, then both men have a meaningful shot at winning. The final RCP polling averages have Biden up by 0.9% in Florida, while Trump is up 0.2% in North Carolina and 1% in Georgia.
If Trump takes those states, all eyes will turn to states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Arizona, which all fell for Trump in 2016 but are always in play.
Texas, which went for Trump in 2016 by a solid nine percentage points, is reportedly a lot closer this election, and it would be extremely difficult for Trump to win without that state’s 36 electoral college votes. Remember, the magic number for the electoral college is 270 votes.
Here are the final RCP averages for the aforementioned key battleground states.
Pennsylvania: Biden, +1.2%
Michigan: Biden, +4.2%
Ohio: Trump, +1%
Wisconsin: Biden, +6.7%
Arizona: Biden, 0.9%
Texas: Trump, +1.3%
One final thought. We may not have a projected winner tonight, or even tomorrow, if the race for president is close. This is an unusual year, so be patient.
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