What you need to know about the undecided swing states

The three Rust Belt states that unexpectedly vaulted Donald Trump into the White House in 2016 — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — now represent the difference between his reelection and a one-term presidency.

Together, they represent 46 electoral votes. If they were to fall in line for Joe Biden — as the trio did for the Democratic presidential nominee in seven consecutive elections before 2016 — they would make him the 46th president.

It’s that calculus that serves as the backdrop for Trump’s speech in the early hours of Wednesday morning, in which he claimed victory and asserted that the election would be stolen from him. Pointing to his lead in the votes cast on Election Day in the three states, he described a fanciful scenario in which he claimed to have clearly won Georgia and North Carolina — two states that remained uncalled with more than 90 percent of estimated votes reported — and winning Pennsylvania by so many votes that “it is going to be almost impossible to catch.”

Trump also suggested that the as-yet-uncounted votes would be favorable to him, a statement which seems unlikely since the bulk of them appear to be from some of the state’s bluest and most populous places — Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County, suburban Philadelphia’s Montgomery County and Philadelphia.

Recognizing Trump had just cast a shadow over the tedious mail-in ballot counting that is about to take place in Pennsylvania in the ensuing days, Gov. Tom Wolf quickly responded with a series of tweets at 2:55 AM.

“We still have over 1 million mail ballots to count in Pennsylvania,” he said. “I promised Pennsylvanians that we would count every vote and that’s what we’re going to do.”

“Let’s be clear: This is a partisan attack on Pennsylvania’s elections, our votes, and democracy.

Our counties are working tirelessly to process votes as quickly AND as accurately as possible,” Wolf said.

With six states still to be called, here is the state of play of the outstanding votes in each of them.

Wisconsin (Biden 49.3 Trump 49.0)

Wisconsin’s vote-counting is the furthest along of all the Great Lake swing states — 89 percent of the estimated total vote has been counted.

Yet results from Milwaukee, the biggest city in the state and a Democratic stronghold, continue to be counted. Through the end of the evening, only half the county’s estimated votes had been counted. But by early morning, the counting of a big tranche of votes put the count at 98 percent — and elevated Biden into the lead.

There were significant numbers of ballots still outstanding in Green Bay and in Kenosha County, which Democrats argued could help Biden widen his advantage.

“When all votes are counted, we’re confident that Joe Biden will win Wisconsin,” Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler said in a tweet.

Nonetheless, the state proved to be far more competitive than the Biden campaign — and polls— had projected. For months, Biden had steadily held a lead outside the margin of error. But with 3.2 million votes counted, Biden led by just 0.2 percent.

That’s in part due to strong turnout in the state’s rural counties. Trump barnstormed the state in the final weeks, holding four rallies in the last 10 days in addition to sending Vice President Mike Pence and Trump family members. Democrats assumed the mega rallies would backfire on Trump, given that the state was in the midst of a Covid-19 crisis and seeing its area hospitals at capacity.

Michigan (Trump 51.3 Biden 46.9)

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, projected before the election that results may not be known in the state until Friday. But late Tuesday night, Benson said ballot processing was proceeding more quickly than predicted in the state. Roughly 80 percent of the projected vote is counted.

Tabulators in the state are “putting us on track to be in a position to potentially see a full result of every tabulation out of Michigan in the next 24 hours,” she said. Benson said at least 3.26 million voters had cast a ballot via absentee ballot, with in-person turnout between 2 and 2.5 million voters.

A significant amount of the projected vote remains outstanding in Detroit’s Wayne County, a Democratic stronghold where just 48 percent of the estimated vote tally has been counted.

In southeastern Michigan, Oakland County, the second-most populous county in the state after Wayne, still had 15 percent of the estimated vote to be counted. Macomb County, another Detroit suburb and the third-most populous county, had 25 percent. Lansing’s Ingham County had 31 percent still to be counted.

Pennsylvania (Trump 55.7 Biden 43.0)

In Pennsylvania, just 74 percent of the expected vote has been tallied, with a sizable amount of the expected votes in both Philadelphia and Allegheny County (which is the home of Pittsburgh) outstanding.

Election workers in Philadelphia worked around-the-clock to count ballots. As of roughly 5:30 a.m. Eastern, a tracker from the Pennsylvania Department of State found that roughly 44 percent of mail ballots across the state have been counted and reported to the department. A press conference is scheduled at 9 a.m.

Allegheny County has paused its counting, and plans on resuming around 10 a.m.

In Pennsylvania, ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and received within three days can also be counted. A Republican Supreme Court challenge, which looks to toss ballots received after Election Day, is still pending.

Georgia (Trump 50.5 Biden 48.3)

The bulk of the expected vote has already been counted in Georgia — 92 percent. But several of the populous suburban counties around Atlanta — and Atlanta’s Fulton County itself — have a good number of votes still out there.

Some of the tallying in Fulton County was delayed after a pipe burst at a ballot processing site. Election officials said no ballots were damaged. As of 6:00 a.m., 80 percent of estimated votes were reported.

In a Tuesday evening press conference, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said results could be announced by later Wednesday morning.

North Carolina (Trump 50.1 Biden 48.7)

North Carolina is the furthest along among the uncalled states: 95 percent of the estimated vote total is already in.

Trump has a narrow lead over Biden, but many of the big Democratic areas of the county have counted the vast majority of their ballots.

If the race remains incredibly close, North Carolina could remain uncalled for over a week. Ballots in the state that are postmarked by Election Day and received by Nov. 12 can still be processed.

Nevada (Biden 49.3 Trump 48.7)

In Nevada, 86 percent of estimated votes have been reported. The Elections Division of the Nevada Secretary of State announced Wednesday election results would not be updated until 11:00 a.m. Eastern time on Nov. 5.

The office said all in person early votes, all in person Election Day votes and all mail ballots through Nov. 2 have been counted.

Mail ballots received on Election Day, mail ballots that will be received over the next week and provisional ballots remain to be counted.

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