As the votes in the 2020 presidential election continue to be tabulated, all eyes are on the three swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. With neither incumbent Donald Trump nor Joe Biden at the 270 electoral votes required for victory, the winner will be determined in the Great Lakes region.
While all three states are currently too close to call, as of publishing Joe Biden is holding a small lead in Michigan and Wisconsin, while Trump has the edge in Pennsylvania, according to The New York Times. Currently, 97 percent of votes have been counted in Wisconsin, 90 percent in Michigan and 75 percent in Pennsylvania. Four other states have yet to be called for either candidate: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina.
When Will A Winner Be Decided?
The delay in returns from Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin is the result of a policy in the states that prevents absentee ballots from being processed until Election Day, as reported by The New York Times. With the use of mail-in ballots reaching record highs amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the counting process has become much longer than in previous elections.
The state expecting to face the longest wait is Pennsylvania, where Trump's current lead may not be as strong as it appears. In Philadelphia, only 76,000 absentee ballots out of more than 350,000 have been processed so far, with election officials indicating that the count could extend into Thursday. Counties in the suburbs of Philadelphia (Chester, Montgomery and Delaware) and Pittsburgh's Allegheny County -- areas considered solidly blue -- still have thousands more votes to count.
The story is similar in Michigan, where Trump holds a smaller lead. His advantage based primarily on Election Day votes continues to diminish as the state's population centers submit their results. Detroit has so far counted about 125,000 votes, roughly half of their expected final total. Biden is expected to win there by as much as 90 percent. The state's second largest county, Oakland, is seeing Biden trend toward a victory beyond Hillary Clinton's eight-point margin in 2016.
Milwaukee -- Wisconsin's largest population center -- pushed Biden into the lead as results began to be processed from the city early Wednesday. Democrat hopes for a victory are buoyed by reports of high voter turnout in their strongholds, with as much as 80 percent voting in Madison.
What Does Each Candidate Need?
With results official in 43 states, Trump is still capable of attaining the narrow path to victory he achieved in 2016. While Biden can't get the blowout some were predicting, results in two Sun Belt states could take massive pressure off of the Great Lakes region states and give him a relatively comfortable victory, as reported by The New York Times.
Biden's victory in Arizona is all but confirmed, with The New York Times reporting he has 51 percent of the vote with 98 percent reported. This is the first state of the election to switch parties from 2016 and the first time Arizona has gone for a Democrat since 1992. In Georgia, Trump holds a minor lead with 92 percent of the vote reporting, but the trend of late voting returns based on absentee ballots and large population centers could see Biden pull off another upset. Biden could pull off a similar but more unlikely maneuver in North Carolina, while he is expected to carry Nevada.
Of the five states most in play (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin), Biden will have to win at least three to ensure his victory. While there is still a small chance he can turn things around in the western states, Trump's most likely path to victory relies on him holding on to the south while winning two of the three up north. Things are trending toward a loss for the incumbent, but there may yet be more twists in this election like none before.