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Good morning. There is no presidential winner yet. Biden appears to be in a better position than Trump, and Republicans seem in better shape to hold Senate control.
Joe Biden is now the favorite to win the presidency, and Republicans are favored to keep Senate control — but both results are far from certain. And Democrats failed to win the resounding victory that pre-election polls had suggested they could.
Here’s where we stand after a topsy-turvy election night, in which the situation shifted multiple times:
The outcome is unclear in six swing states — Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and all are still counting votes. We may get some final vote counts today, while others could take a few days.
“Biden’s the favorite, even if narrowly, just about everywhere,” Nate Cohn of The Times tweeted, listing five of the six states above (all but North Carolina). Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics agreed: “Would probably rather be Biden than Trump.”
The outstanding ballots are mostly mail-in ballots, which are likely to favor Biden, because more Democrats than Republicans voted early this year. He leads in the current vote count in Nevada and Wisconsin, while Trump leads in the remaining four. “I don’t think people have fully internalized how Democratic these mail and absentee ballots will be in MI/PA/WI,” Nate wrote.
If Biden holds onto his lead in Nevada and Wisconsin, he would need to win only one of three states — Georgia, Michigan or Pennsylvania — to secure a majority of electoral votes (and could still lose North Carolina).
The counting of ballots seems likely to be slowest in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Officials in Pennsylvania have said they expect all votes to be counted by Friday.
Even with Biden’s seeming advantages at this point, the country has never experienced an election with such heavy voting by mail, which creates significant uncertainty. It is entirely possible that Trump will retain his lead in the states where he now leads and win the election.
The situation in the Senate is different — and more favorable to Republicans. They appear to be in a strong position to retain Senate control, which would give them a veto over nearly all of a President Biden’s legislative plans.
Democrats needed to win at least five of the 14 competitive Senate races and have so far won only two. Six races remain up in the air. The only incumbent Republicans to have lost are Martha McSally in Arizona and Cory Gardner in Colorado.
Biden, addressing supporters after midnight, urged patience. “We believe we’re on track to win this election,” he said. “We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying the votes is finished. And it ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.”
Trump falsely declared himself the winner around 2:30 a.m. Eastern. He said he would call on the Supreme Court to stop counting ballots in states where he led, while urging more counting in states where he was behind. He claimed “fraud” (for which there is no evidence) and he called the election an “embarrassment to the country.”
Many of the state polls were wrong and underestimated support for Republicans — again. A big question in coming days will be why: Did polls again fail to include enough working-class white voters, as was the case in 2016? Or was it something else?
Democrats’ struggled to match their 2016 margins among Hispanic voters. We’ve covered that theme in some detail in this newsletter, and it hurt Biden, especially in Florida and Texas.
You can visit The Times all day for the latest coverage.
Further down, you’ll find information on some of this year’s other races — including more detail on the Senate, as well as the latest on state ballot initiatives. First, though, I want to give you a selection of commentary on the national scene.
“The vote-counting happening now is…. exactly what we knew and reported would happen. This is legitimate vote-counting, of ballots that were returned before or on Election Day.” — Scott Detrow, NPR
“This is an extremely flammable situation and the president just threw a match into it,” Chris Wallace said on Fox News, after Trump’s remarks. “He hasn’t won these states.
“Donald Trump called it a ‘fraud’ to continue to count votes. This does not sound like a democracy.” — Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine
“What Trump did tonight is shocking, even though he’s been telegraphing this for some time. He’s primed his supporters to believe any result that doesn’t involve him winning is fraud.” — Rosie Gray, BuzzFeed News
“Trump may indeed win. But he certainly hasn’t yet. And, he doesn’t get to say that your vote shouldn’t be counted.” — S.E. Cupp, CNN
“Every single serious analysis I read of this election said that it would be long and drawn out, and that Trump would try to steal the election by trying to discount late-arriving Biden votes. And now that it’s happening…everyone seems shocked.” — Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic
“Incredible how competitive Trump is with 230K+ covid deaths and kids being locked in cages and everything else. Even if Biden wins he will have to govern in a Trump country. This is who America is.” — Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair
“In any normal presidential democracy, this would not be a close election right now. It is only close because of our strange Electoral College.” — Lee Drutman, New America think tank
“A key question moving forward is whether public opinion polling is irreparably broken or if polling is just broken in elections with Trump on the ballot.” — Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections.
“Biden POTUS with GOP Senate is a recipe for a horrifically nasty politics next year.” — Matt Glassman, Georgetown political scientist
“Democrats had hoped for a massive, unequivocal repudiation of Donald Trump for his mishandling of the pandemic, his raging White House incompetence, and his disdain for the rule of law. Instead, there was the sobering message that Trump’s support in key states like Florida was, in truth, greater than the polls had predicted.” — Walter Shapiro of The New Republic.
Democratic Senate candidates were running slightly behind Biden in several states, making it difficult for the party to retake Senate control.
Republicans flipped one seat: Tommy Tuberville beat the Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama. Gary Peters, the Democratic incumbent in Michigan, is locked in a close race with his Republican challenger, John James; it will depend on the outstanding votes.
Democrats flipped two seats: John Hickenlooper defeated Gardner in Colorado, and Mark Kelly defeated McSally in Arizona.
In Iowa, Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican, won re-election. Republicans also won races in Montana, South Carolina — where Lindsey Graham held on to his seat — and Texas.
Several other races remain too close to call, including in Maine, where Senator Susan Collins leads the Democratic nominee, Sara Gideon. In a special Senate election in Georgia, the incumbent Kelly Loeffler is headed to a January runoff against the Democrat Raphael Warnock.
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