Wednesday, November 25

Election 2020: Biden looks poised to win

Well, it’s all over but the shoutin’. In order for President Trump to remain in the White House, he will have to pull off a miracle in the remaining states that have yet to be called by a major network, and he will need to successfully navigate a recount process in Wisconsin (and perhaps elsewhere) better than any candidate in history, overturning tens of thousands of votes in his deficit. While we may face a few days or weeks of controversy and litigation, the signs point to Joe Biden becoming the next president of the United States. 

I expect that outcome to soon become clear, but first we must address the noise coming from the Trump campaign. What form do their legal challenges take in the key battlegrounds, and what exactly is at the center of their case? Further, what is the process and timeline for resolution? Here is the breakdown1:

Pennsylvania

At this stage, we see the most viable challenge to ballots would be the case in Pennsylvania, in which the Trump campaign is attempting to invalidate mail-in ballots received after 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Election Day. Even though ballots postmarked on Election Day are eligible to be received as late as this Friday at 5:00 p.m., this has been challenged, and it is possible that the US Supreme Court could take up this case.

However, we see a few hurdles before the Supreme Court would consider taking up this case:

  1. The Supreme Court would want to make sure that Pennsylvania is determinative to who wins the presidential election. If President Trump fails to turn Arizona back into his camp or cannot hold onto Georgia, the prevailing wisdom is that the Supreme Court would be hesitant to get involved in a state election issue that is not consequential.
  2. The Supreme Court would also want to see if the counting of these contested ballots was determinative to the outcome in Pennsylvania. If Joe Biden wins Pennsylvania without the ballots in question, there would be no harm to remedy.

Absentee/ mail-in ballot deadline:

  • Nov. 3/Nov. 6

Vote counts/% reporting as of 11:30 a.m. EST on Nov. 5:

  • Trump: 3,224,422
  • Biden: 3,088,796
  • 91% reporting

Rules for triggering a recount:

  • Any three qualified electors may request a recount.
  • Or, an automatic recount takes place if the margin of victory is 0.5% or less for statewide candidates or for ballot questions.

Status of recount lawsuits:

  • Trump campaign lawsuit

Michigan

Absentee/ mail-in ballot deadline:

  • Nov. 3/Nov. 3

Vote counts/% reporting as of 11:30 a.m. EST on Nov. 5:

  • Biden: 2,788,425
  • Trump: 2,639,035
  • 98% reporting

Rules for triggering a recount:

  • A recount can be requested by a candidate in certain races. The candidate must allege that he or she is aggrieved on account of fraud or mistake in the canvass of the votes by the inspectors of election or the returns made by the inspectors of election, or by a board of county canvassers or the board of state canvassers.
  • The chairperson of a state political party may petition on behalf of a candidate when a state Senate race has a differential of 500 votes or less, or a state representative race has a differential of 200 votes or less.
  • Or, an automatic recount takes place if the margin of victory is 2,000 votes or less in a statewide primary or election

Status of recount lawsuits:

  • Trump campaign lawsuit

Wisconsin

Absentee/ mail-in ballot deadline:

  • Nov. 3/Nov. 3

Vote counts/% reporting as of 11:30 a.m. EST on Nov. 5:

  • Biden: 1,630,535
  • Trump: 1,610,001
  • 98% reporting

Rules for triggering a recount:

  • A recount can be requested by any candidate voted for at any election who is an aggrieved party, or any elector who voted upon any referendum question at any election.

Status of recount lawsuits:

  • Trump campaign to request a recount

North Carolina

Absentee/ mail-in ballot deadline:

  • Nov. 3/Nov. 12

Vote counts/% reporting as of 11:30 a.m. EST on Nov. 5:

  • Trump: 2,732,120
  • Biden: 2,655,383
  • 95% reporting

Rules for triggering a recount:

  • For statewide races, the margin of victory must be 0.5% of the votes cast in the ballot item, or 10,000 votes, whichever is less.

Status of recount lawsuits:

  • Final count expected on Nov. 12

Georgia

Absentee/ mail-in ballot deadline:

  • Nov. 3/Nov. 3

Vote counts/% reporting as of 11:30 a.m. EST on Nov. 5:

  • Trump: 2,432,928
  • Biden: 2,414,782
  • 96% reporting

Rules for triggering a recount:

  • Where paper ballots are used and it appears there is a discrepancy or error, the superintendent may order a recount, or any candidate or political party may petition for one.
  • When results are within 0.5% of total votes cast for the office, a losing candidate may request a recount.

Status of recount lawsuits:

  • Trump campaign lawsuit

Arizona

Absentee/ mail-In ballot deadline:

  • Oct. 20/Nov. 3

Vote counts/% reporting as of 11:30 a.m. EST on Nov. 5:

  • Biden: 1,469,341
  • Trump: 1,400,951
  • 86% reporting

Rules for triggering a lawsuit:

  • Can only be ordered by a county superior court.
  • Or, recounts are automatic if the margin of victory is less than or equal to the lesser of the following:
    • 0.1% of the votes cast for both candidates or measures
    • In the case of an office to be filled by state electors or a statewide initiated or referred measure: 200 votes if more than 25,000 votes were cast; 50 votes if 25,000 or fewer votes were cast; 200 votes in the case of a measure
    • In the case of a member of the state legislature: 50 votes

Status of recount lawsuits:

  • Waiting on final count

Nevada

Absentee/ mail-In ballot deadline:

  • Oct. 19/Nov. 10

Vote counts/% reporting as of 11:30 a.m. EST on Nov. 5:

  • Biden: 588,252
  • Trump: 580,605
  • 86% reporting

Rules for triggering a recount:

  • A recount can be requested by a candidate at any election, or any registered voter of the appropriate political subdivision.

Status of recount lawsuits:

  • Trump campaign joined an existing Republican lawsuit

1 Source for the vote totals: The New York Times and the National Conference of State Legislatures

Important information

Header image: Sean Locke / Stocksy

The opinions referenced above are those of the author as of Nov. 5, 2020. These comments should not be construed as recommendations, but as an illustration of broader themes. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future results. They involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions; there can be no assurance that actual results will not differ materially from expectations.

Credit: Invesco

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