VPR 2020 Election Night Live Updates


Jacob Hale and Isabella Randle

VPR will be updating this article throughout the evening of Nov. 3 as results with commentary on the results so far, as well as exploring potential paths to victory in the presidential contest. For live vote counts, the New York Times updates the results as they come in.

Jacob, 11:04 a.m.: Joe Biden has won the presidency. Thank you for following along.

Jacob, 4:32 p.m.: At the risk of becoming an armchair quarterback, I strongly believe news outlets could call the election right now. The former VP is speaking later tonight; stay tuned for that. As expected, the Trump campaign’s false allegations of “fraud” are disintegrating almost immediately. Many in Trump’s base, however, continue to act in an increasingly irrational manner, such as staging a protest in Rhode Island and recruiting Republicans to make fraud claims in Minnesota. Neither of these states are in play, and there is no substantive evidence of fraud in either location. More embarrassingly, the campaign trotted out a Nevada woman who claimed her vote had not been counted (and Fox News televised her speech), only for her claims to be debunked within hours. Eventually, there are no more straws at which one can grasp. Please note that Jared Kushner has been looking for a credible individual, a James Baker-type individual, to lead the president’s desperate legal efforts; it still appears that Rudy Giuliani and Pam Bondi are running the show. Although Giuliani was a respected national figure in the aftermath of 9/11, that reputation has been burned to a crisp in recent years (for good reason, as Giuliani claimed that Joe Biden voted five thousand times in Pennsylvania, a state in which he does not live). Pam Bondi is the former Attorney General of Florida but is mainly recognized from Fox News appearances.

Jacob, 11:50 a.m.: This election is essentially a wrap. Joe Biden will address the nation later today, presumably to celebrate his inevitable victory. It is unclear when exactly the president’s base will give up on the “fraud” allegations, but they are almost certain to result in more complaining on television than serious legal challenges.

Jacob, 9:58 a.m.: Joe Biden has the lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia. I cannot envision a scenario in which Joe Biden is not the forty-sixth President of the United States. For what it’s worth, it looks like Biden’s final lead in Pennsylvania will be substantial, meaning that he handily won the election. Can you imagine an alternative universe in which Pennsylvania counted its ballots the same way Ohio did? We would have known the winner of this race by Wednesday afternoon at the latest.

Jacob, 10:21 p.m.: Joe Biden is expected to surpass President Trump’s votes count in Pennsylvania the wee hours of the night. When Americans wake up tomorrow morning, Joe Biden should be leading in Pennsylvania. It is unclear whether or not the race will be called at that point, but that is certainly a possibility. On a related note, Biden is looking to overtake Trump in Georgia. This is a terrifying sight for the president’s campaign, but there so many votes remaining in Cobb County and Gwinnett County that it is very likely.

Also, it is important to address the “fraud” allegations currently peddled by the president and his allies. The legal briefs submitted by the campaign include virtually no evidence of fraud, “voter fraud” claims in statewide election are pretty much universally false, and the results we are seeing invalidate these arguments from a common sense standpoint. Pennsylvania Democrats suffered brutal losses in the state legislature; if they “rigged” the election, one would expect them to remember to “rig” their own election as well. Ohio Republican John Husted, while serving as Secretary of State, investigated the state’s ballots from 2012, 2014, and 2016. Across these elections, he found 820 “voting irregularities” and referred 336 cases for prosecution. In these three cycles, over 14 million ballots were cast in the Buckeye State. Voter fraud is a non-issue (even when you look for it, which is the Trump campaign’s only gameplan from here on out).

Jacob, 7:58 p.m.: It would be irresponsible for me to call the race for Biden before the Associated Press has done so. That’s all I’m going to say here.

Jacob, 7:04 p.m.: The incumbent lied repeatedly in a press conference from the White House earlier this evening, reflecting the desperate situation his campaign is in. Vice President Biden has narrowed Trump’s lead to around 3,000 votes in Georgia. A slim Biden lead there seems likely… and Pennsylvania is still looking strong for the Democrat. Joe Biden’s campaign should feel very good right now. It is very difficult, but not yet impossible, to envision a path to victory for Trump.

Jacob, 1:01 p.m.: We will probably know the winner of Pennsylvania today, according to the Secretary of State. This state should push Joe Biden over the top, if the math is anywhere close to correct.

Jacob, 12:25 p.m.: There is no path to victory for President Trump in Nevada. Joe Biden needs one of the following three states to win the presidency: Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. He is heavily favored in Pennsylvania.

Jacob, 12:16 p.m.: Based on what’s coming out of Nevada, it’s looking extremely unlikely that Trump can mount a comeback. The first batch of votes from Clark County (Las Vegas) extended the Biden lead to around 12,000, and the rural counties that have been updated only made a dent of a few hundred votes each. Look for Nevada to be called as early as today. The Democrats still believe they are sitting pretty in Pennsylvania, with the state party projecting a six-figure margin of victory for the Scranton native. The math lines up with this estimate.

Jacob, 10:35 a.m.: Keep an eye out for Nevada’s results in the next few hours; most experts believe that Joe Biden is in a strong position to win that state. Those six electoral votes would push him to 270, but only in counts that already called Arizona in his favor. I believe Arizona is coming down to the wire, so the Biden campaign should not bring out the champagne when Nevada is called. Again, I want to remind you that the former vice president’s most obvious, most conventional, and most likely path to the presidency runs through Pennsylvania. He has been outperforming what he needs to do to surpass Donald Trump there.

Jacob, 11:22 p.m.: We should see some results from Arizona soon, but it likely won’t be enough to call that state one way or another. Democrats are hoping that a significant amount of the remaining votes are mail-in ballots that were handed in (as progressive organizations encouraged voters to do in the days leading up to the election). Trump faces an uphill battle in this state, but could definitely come out ahead. According to Dave Wasserman and other experts, Biden’s situation in Pennsylvania still looks promising. Assuming Nevada goes blue, as most do, either of these states would secure a Biden victory in the Electoral College.

Jacob, 9:52 p.m.: As pro-Trump crowds yell contradictory chants across the nation (those in Arizona wanting votes to be counted while those in Michigan argue the count should be stopped), we have a possible idea as to which state will lead to the race being called by the Associated Press and other media. It appears that Pennsylvania, which looks very promising for Vice President Biden, will be the state that pushes the Democrat across the finish line. Of course, there is still an outside shot that Trump holds onto the Electoral College, but he would have to run the table in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia. For what it’s worth, Trump is expected to make a further dent in Biden’s Arizona lead, but Biden is performing at or above his necessary margins in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

Jacob, 7:37 p.m.: Most experts are forecasting essentially a tie in Georgia, which would be a legal mess almost guaranteed to head for a recount. Democrats have largely avoided overconfidence this entire election cycle, but at this point, they should feel good about Pennsylvania. It would be irresponsible to call this election prematurely, but I would much rather be Joe Biden right now than Donald Trump. I think the Trump campaign has this view as well; their strategy seems to be focused on halting vote-counting, pursuing recounts, and launching vague unfeasible lawsuits. That is not the message of a campaign that is in a strong position to win.

Jacob, 7:06 p.m.: The outlook is grim for the president’s reelection prospects. Based on which votes are outstanding, my best guess is that Biden should be favored in both Pennsylvania and Georgia, either of which would put the election away.

Bella, 4:35 p.m.: With mail-in votes still being counted in Pennsylvania, a Trump win in the Keystone state is not certain.  Democrats are hoping that these mail-in ballots will allow Biden to surpass Trump, which would put Biden just past the 270 electoral votes he needs to win.  Officials expect all votes to be counted by Friday.

Jacob, 3:02 p.m.: The Associated Press has called Wisconsin for Joe Biden. This state was an absolute necessity for the former VP. The Trump campaign has pledged to request a recount, but Biden’s margin of possibly greater than 20,000 votes is insurmountable for a recount. I am unaware of any recount in U.S. history that has had a net effect close to this number. Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) made the same point on Twitter earlier this afternoon. The Trump campaign has also announced legal challenges to stop vote counting in Michigan, a state that looks very promising for Biden as of right now. This authoritarian tactic is unlikely to make a difference, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on. With the Biden campaign feeling confident about two-thirds of the crucial “Blue Wall” states, most media attention is turning to Pennsylvania, where the president’s lead has dwindled from over 600,000 votes to under 400,000 with over a million mail-in ballots expected to be in play. Note that Pennsylvania is accepting mail-in votes up to three days after Election Day. While those late-arriving mail-in ballots may help Biden, numbers from elsewhere in the country suggest that Republicans as a whole were more likely to send in their ballots later. Consequently, VP Biden would prefer to take the lead in Pennsylvania after the votes received by Election Day are tallied. However, I would like to call your attention to Georgia, where the former vice president has a significant chance of winning. Earlier this morning, I expected Biden’s late gains in the Atlanta area to essentially tie the state, but then the rural areas deliver Trump a slight victory. However, based on a very small sample size, it appears that the smaller rural counties’ mail-in votes are significantly more pro-Biden than the votes that were already counted in these same counties. If Biden can tie or even beat Trump in the rural counties’ outstanding votes, it looks like the Atlanta votes would be enough for the Democrat to carry Georgia. For a similar reason, I will advise you to keep an eye on Arizona. Although it has been called in Biden’s favor by the Associated Press and Fox News, Trump is expected to make a dent in Biden’s lead in the remaining vote, which is about 14 percent of the state. This state looks blue at the moment but is not out of reach for Trump, whose campaign is claiming he will win by over 30,000 votes. What does all of this mean? Well, Trump needs all three of these states (Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona) to win reelection, assuming Biden’s lead in Nevada holds or expands (which is the general consensus as of Wednesday afternoon, but we will almost assuredly know by midday tomorrow).

Jacob, 8:06 a.m.: Vice President Joe Biden has taken the lead in Michigan, a crucial state that is likely blue at this juncture. Biden also maintains a razor-thin lead in Nevada; per CNN, this state is entirely finished with counting same-day votes (this is great news to the Biden campaign). Once again, Trump needs to win at least one of the following four states to have a chance at reelection: Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Michigan. VP Biden currently holds a lead in all four. To use a baseball analogy, it’s too early bring the champagne into the locker room, but the Democrats are four outs away from winning the White House.

Jacob, 6:55 a.m.: Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe just said on CNN that “Joe Biden is going to be the next President of the United States of America” and predicted that the former VP will end up with the most votes of any candidate in any American election ever. McAuliffe is undoubtedly a partisan cheerleader, but this assessment seems grounded in some of the results we are seeing from Wisconsin and Michigan. There’s still a long way to go; stay tuned.

Jacob, 6:46 a.m.: Vice President Joe Biden’s clearest potential path to victory, or at least a victory anytime soon, runs through Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It is still very early in Michigan, so I will not be providing a prediction. However, the Biden campaign should feel more confident in their candidate’s chances than it did several hours ago. Michigan could report tallies from almost all of its jurisdictions by the end of today; stay tuned.

Jacob, 5:44 a.m.: Good morning, Nashville! We’ve got a crazy day of returns ahead of us. Biden has taken the lead in Wisconsin, one of the “Blue Wall” states crucial to his path to the White House. Nevada and her six electoral votes are much closer than Democrats hoped earlier in the night, but Vice President Biden is ahead at the moment. Although some news organizations and pundits have been reluctant to call Arizona in Biden’s favor, the Associated Press and Fox News have made that determination. Assuming Biden holds his leads in Nevada and Arizona (and President Trump holds North Carolina), he needs to win two of the following four states in order to arrive at the crucial 270 electoral votes: Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. We do not have enough information about Michigan and Pennsylvania to make any kind of a fair assessment at this point, but it is important to note that, across the board, remaining mail-in ballots are disproportionately Democratic.

Bella, 12:51 a.m.: This is crazy close!  And as Jacob said, we’re going to have to wait until tomorrow evening at the earliest for some preliminary results.  The race has come down entirely to Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and North Carolina.  If Biden wins Hawaii, Maine, and Nevada, he will be at 234 electoral points–only 36 away from victory.  Fox News has called Arizona a Biden win, putting him at 245 points–just 25 points away from victory.  Biden has seen momentum in Georgia, and the delays in counting mail ballots could help him out in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania (these states did not start processing ballots until last night or this morning).  Biden needs just two of these five battleground states to secure a victory.  A Biden win is feasible, but it’s going to be very close and nothing is certain yet.  Cross your fingers.  That’s it from me tonight–thanks for tuning in!

Jacob, 12:19 a.m.: We will not have a winner in the presidential contest tonight under any circumstances. The outlook for the Biden campaign was trending poorly a handful of hours ago, but he has picked up a Fox News projection in Arizona (about which the Trump campaign is livid, allegedly). Also, keep an eye on Georgia. Some of the larger counties in the Atlanta area, which are heavily going for Vice President Biden, have significant portions of the vote outstanding. Some in the Trump campaign are worried about this state, almost a must-have for the president’s reelection prospects. Biden still seems up against the ropes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (although Wisconsin and Michigan are more likely to flip blue than Pennsylvania). Bear with me, folks. This is going to be a long election. Also of note: President Trump has deleted a false Tweet about potential election theft by the Democratic Party. To my knowledge, this does not occur often. My understanding is that the result in Wisconsin could be clear in the early hours of the business day on Nov. 4, and that Michigan’s totals could be essentially done later in the day. As for Pennsylvania, the state both parties considered the most important going into Tuesday? We should get an unofficial result late on Wednesday and an official count on Friday.

Jacob, 11:45 p.m.: URGENT! To a crowd of Delaware supporters honking from vehicles, Vice President Joe Biden just announced that he believes he is “on track” to win the presidency. Wow. This is a crucial moment in the course of this campaign. At the risk of violating VPR‘s style guidelines, this is insane.

Jacob, 11:21 p.m.: Once again, it is important to reiterate that this election will be decided by Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. However, it is important to note that the NYT’s “Needle” is projecting a 0.5% Biden victory in Georgia. This would be highly surprising, at least compared to what the state’s outlook was a couple of hours ago.

Jacob, 10:21 p.m.: It looks like this election is coming down to Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. If Vice President Biden wins three of these states, he will win the presidency (or at least tie, depending on the swing congressional districts in Nebraska and Maine).

Bella, 10:10 p.m.: Polls just closed in California, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.  At 11, polls will close in Hawaii, and at midnight, polls will close in Alaska.  These states probably won’t swing the election–Biden needs to rebuild the Blue Wall and snag Arizona for a 2020 win.  There are still a lot of mail-in ballots to be counted, which should lean towards Biden.

Jacob, 9:34 p.m.: Most of the attention so far has been focused on Trump’s success in Florida, as well as the tight races in North Carolina and Ohio. However, it is worth noting that the trends throughout the country mirror the 2018 midterm elections closer than they do the 2016 presidential contest.

Bella: 9:03: Polls just closed in Iowa, Montana, Nevada and Utah.  So far, this race has been closer than a lot of us would have liked.  Remember there are a lot more votes left to be counted, even in states where polls have been closed for hours.

Bella, 8:45 p.m.: The race in Texas is tight! The gap between Republicans and Democrats has been closing in recent elections, as evidenced by the enormous momentum Beto O’Rourke gained in the 2018 midterms and his narrow loss to Ted Cruz. The changing demographics of Texas and the increase in Democrats showing up to vote has made Texas surprisingly competitive, but it’s too close to tell if the Lone Star State will turn blue.

Jacob, 8:34 p.m.: Ohio and North Carolina are still unclear. It looks like Biden is holding all of the Clinton ‘16 states, so Trump must win both of these states. Important reminder: Biden’s most conventional path to victory runs through Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State will not be declaring a winner tonight under any circumstances.

Jacob, 8:09 p.m.: Ohio and North Carolina appear to be coming down to the wire. Biden has a substantial lead, but most networks are calling the Buckeye State “too early to call.” If Biden can hold on in either of these states, he will be in a strong position to win the election. Of course, Pennsylvania is still widely considered to be the “tipping-point state,” but it will be later tonight when we receive any meaningful results from there.

Bella, 8:00 p.m.: Polls closed in Arizona (11), Colorado (9), Kansas (6), Louisiana (8), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), Nebraska (5), New Mexico (5), New York (29), South Dakota (3), Texas (38), Wisconsin (10), Wyoming (3), and some parts of North Dakota (3).

Bella, 7:19 p.m.: The New York Times predicts Trump wins in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and South Carolina, and Biden wins in Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont.  This would put Biden at 85 electoral votes, and Trump at 55, but I think it’s best to sit back and wait for more votes to come in.

Republicans Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, and Republican Bill Hagerty in Tennessee have won seats to the U.S. Senate.  Democratic Senator Ed Markey has won re-election in Massachusetts.

Jacob, 7:04 p.m.: The New York Times’ “Needle” is portraying the race in Florida as almost a lock for the Trump campaign. As the president’s outlook in Florida continues to look great, he appears to be falling substantially behind in Ohio, which has sided with the eventual victor in almost every election since the turn of the twentieth century.
Bella, 7:00 p.m.:
The largest wave of polls just closed across the country: in Alabama (9), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Washington D.C. (3), Florida (29), Illinois (20), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (14), Oklahoma (7), Pennsylvania (20), Rhode Island (4), and some parts of Tennessee (11), including Vanderbilt’s very own Davidson County.  The states to watch out for  in this wave are Florida and Pennsylvania.  With 81% of precincts reporting, Biden is leading by less than a percentage point—far too close to call.

Jacob, 6:55 p.m.: Joe Biden looks to be winning back many traditionally Democratic voters in Ohio, especially the “Rust Belt” city of Youngstown. If Biden’s gains (based on very early returns) are indicative of a shift in the Upper Midwest as a whole, the Biden campaign should be happy. Still, it is far too early to make this assessment.
Bella, 6:41 p.m.
Unsurprisingly, calls have been made saying Donald Trump has won West Virginia (5), and Joe Biden has won Virginia (13).  Currently Trump has 13 electoral college points and Biden has 16.

VPR Deputy Editor-in-Chief Roshan Natarajan was at Churchwell Elementary School in Nashville today as a poll worker, and said it was packed all day.  “Basically everyone here is pro-Biden.  There were a few Trump supporters here earlier but they didn’t stick around too long,” he said.  Roshan said that other polling places in the county have also been packed with voters.

Jacob, 6:30 p.m.: Trump is outperforming his margins in Miami-Dade County, Florida. This was anticipated by both campaigns, as Latino voters, especially Cuban Americans have swung toward Trump this cycle. The question is whether Biden’s gains in the rest of Florida (including rural counties where Hillary Clinton lost in blowout fashion) will be enough to bring Florida to the Democratic column.

Bella, 6:26 p.m.: In just five minutes, polls will close in West Virginia (5 electoral votes), which we expect to go to Trump, and in Ohio (18) and North Carolina (15), swing states.

Bella, 6:04 p.m.: Donald Trump and Joe Biden have received their first electoral votes of the night from Kentucky (8 electoral college points for Trump) and Vermont (3 points for Biden).

Bella, 5:56 p.m.: Polls are about to close in Georgia (16 electoral college points), Indiana (11), Kentucky (8), South Carolina (9), Vermont (3), and Virginia (13), and in some parts of Florida (29).  Of these, Georgia and Florida are the states to watch for the Presidential Election.  Georgia hasn’t flipped blue since 1992, when they voted for Bill Clinton, and Florida is an infamous historical toss-up.  In South Carolina, closed polls mean all votes are cast for Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham and his Democrat challenger Jaime Harrison.

Managing Director Bella Randle, 5:22 p.m.: Hey everyone! Welcome to Vanderbilt’s one and only live Election 2020 coverage and commentary! Jacob and I will providing updates throughout the day/night and outlining possible electoral paths to victories for each candidate as the results come in.   I’ll be curious to see if Biden will secure enough of the early-reporting states (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, etc.) for Democrats to have a sense of security going into tomorrow morning.  Due to COVID, this election has had more mail-in and absentee ballots than ever before, which could cause delays in reporting in states that don’t count mail-in ballots prior to election day.  For more info, check out VPR Contributor Caleb Boyer’s article here.

Senior Editor Jacob Hale, 5:18 p.m.: Hello, everyone! Welcome to our VPR live election night coverage. While we wait for the polls to close in numerous key state, one point I’d like to reiterate is that Vice President Biden has many paths to the White House tonight. Assuming he holds all of the states won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, as well as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district, he only needs to capture one of the following seven states: North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Texas, and Arizona. Conversely, President Trump may easily end up in a situation where he needs to go seven-for-seven in the aforementioned states. However, it is also important to remember that state-to-state outcomes are somewhat correlated; if President Trump or Vice President Biden are outperforming the polls in several states, that trend could continue throughout the night. Lastly, I would like to warn our readers against reading too much into the early returns from the “Rust Belt” states crucial to the election: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It is unclear when exactly all of the mail-in ballots will be counted in this region, and polls show a stark partisan divide in terms of planned voting method.