Joe Biden Path To Victory: How Can The Democratic Nominee Win The 2020 Presidential Election?

Joe Biden celebrates with his supporters after declaring victory at an election-night rally at the University of South Carolina Volleyball Center on February 29, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

After months of campaigning, Election Day has arrived, and America will decide whether it is Donald Trump or Joe Biden who spends the next four years in the White House. While it has been almost 30 years since an incumbent has been defeated and prevented from serving a second term, the former vice president will like his chances. Polls currently show him as the close but clear favorite, as reported by The Washington Post. However, if a few toss-up states swing to Trump, Biden could be looking at a long night, one that could stretch well beyond Election Day.


Biden Has Multiple Paths To Victory

Joe Biden gestures during a campaign stop outside Johnstown Train Station September 30, 2020 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
  Alex Wong / Getty Images

While Trump’s path to reelection is the same narrow route that requires holding onto slim margins in swing states, Biden has several options. If results follow the current polling, Biden will reverse the losses suffered by Hillary Clinton in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, achieving a narrow victory. Trump could win two of the traditional swing state prizes of Florida and Ohio, but if he is unable to repeat his romp through the Midwest, Biden would secure a straightforward victory.

That’s not to say things can’t get interesting. Polls in those states are generally close, with Pennsylvania in particular within the margin of error. Florida and Ohio are even closer. A small swing in the numbers could secure a blowout victory for the former Delaware senator or put the president on track for another upset victory.

Of the states polling closely, Florida and its 29 electoral votes remain the ultimate prize. A Biden win there would effectively end the contest, as he would need to win only one of the close contests in Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin to secure victory.


Biden Could Steal Some Former Republican Strongholds

Joe Biden speaks during a campaign kickoff rally, May 18, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  Drew Angerer / Getty Images

If Biden manages to outperform the polls that currently have him winning, he could be looking at a historic night that will impact presidential elections for years to come. Three southern states with large populations are trending toward Florida-style voter diversity: Arizona and its 11 electoral votes, Georgia and its 16 electoral votes and Texas and its 38 electoral votes. Biden currently holds a lead in Arizona, as does Trump in Texas, but both are within the margin of error. Georgia is effectively tied. While Arizona and Georgia both went blue during the Clinton administration, Texas hasn’t voted for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1976. A win there would signal a significant cultural shift in the formerly deep red state, while moving it into the premier battleground arena in future presidential elections.

A breakthrough for Biden in Georgia could also send a positive signal to its southeastern neighbor North Carolina. The same could be said of Arizona and its southwestern neighbor Nevada. If things trend well, the Democrat could grab wins across formerly red regions, turning the swing state battles of 2016 into afterthoughts. However, while it’s possible, Trump is still favored to win those states. The path through the Great Lakes region and giving Democrats their traditional strongholds back remains Biden’s most viable option. Still, Election Night can be unpredictable, and Americans should be ready for anything once polls close.