Here are the possible outcomes tonight
- Biden big win (70%)
- Biden moderate to narrow win (20%)
- Trump narrow win (10%)
Below is the election forecast from Nate Silver’s 538 website. He helpfully produces a snake of all of the States in order of the current polling – deep red for Trump and deep blue for Biden.
The tipping point state is Pennsylvania and polls show Biden ahead not only there but in many more states than he needs to simply win. This is why the most likely outcome is a big win for Biden.
Some simplifying observations:
- For Biden to win he needs to win the Rust Belt i.e. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin
- For Trump to win he needs some of the Rust Belt but also ALL of the Sun Belt i.e. Texas, Georgia, N Carolina, Florida, Arizona
- If Biden picks up some of the Sun Belt then he is heading for a big win.
By coincidence these States also split neatly in these categories by how they are processing votes. See below for a nice summary from the FT.
We will know the results tonight from the Sun Belt but the Rust Belt may be less clear, especially if it is close.
Drawing it together:
- If Biden wins some of the Sun Belt – then we know he has won big and the delay in the Rust Belt does not matter
- If Trump wins all the Sun Belt – then the election looks closer than the polls suggested. It’s likely the Rust Belt will also be closer meaning that we will genuinely have to wait until all the Mail-in ballots are counted. Even if Biden is still the winner this will be enough for Trump to contest the election and we may have prolonged chaos and conflict.
What to watch for
Florida will release results around 8pm ET / 1am UK time. If Biden is a clear winner then I think it is all over. If Trump wins then it could be a long night/week/month.