Hello – and welcome to TLE’s rolling coverage of the 2020 US presidential election. My name’s Henry Goodwin, and I’ll be keeping you updated into the witching hour and beyond as America goes to the polls.
We’ll be keeping you posted with the latest polling and results as they come in. We’ll keep an eye on key races up and down the ballot, hopefully giving you a little clarity as to what’s going on stateside and cutting through some of the noise.
If you want to get in touch and keep me company as I sit bleary-eyed trying to explain why Pennsylvania is so damn important at 3am, then please don’t hesitate to send an email to email@example.com or tweet me @HenGoodwin.
15:21 Biden campaign official has told reporters: “Joe Biden is on track to win this election and he will be the next President of the United States.”
15:20 Trump awakes, and tweets.
Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the “pollsters” got it completely & historically wrong!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2020
How come every time they count Mail-In ballot dumps they are so devastating in their percentage and power of destruction?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2020
13.01 Meanwhile, you’ll never guess who saw Trump’s antics this morning coming. That’s right, Bernie Sanders – he nailed it, almost to the letter.
12.55 Afternoon all. I’ve been asleep, I won’t lie to you. But here’s where we’re at.
Joe Biden is sitting on 227 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 213. He’s edged into the lead in the key Rust Belt battleground of Wisconsin – with nearly all votes counted – and is tied in Michigan, where the absentee votes still to be tallied are expected to favour him.
He’s behind by 700,000 or so votes in Pennsylvania, but there is 25 per cent of the vote still to be counted (around 1.4 million). According to PA’s secretary of state, Biden is winning absentee ballots by close to 80 per cent. If anything like that margin continues – as pundits expect it to – the Democrats will have successfully rebuilt their ‘blue wall’, and will take back the White House.
Meanwhile, Georgia is still a toss-up – with thousands of votes from Atlanta still to be counted. Nevada is not expected to declare its results until tomorrow.
For the first time in what seems like hours, this now looks like Joe Biden’s race to lose.
08:55 Joe Biden wins Arizona.
Joe Biden is the first Democrat in 24 years to win Arizona. I’d like to imagine it as John McCain getting the last laugh.— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) November 4, 2020
This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2012
07:37 Donald Trump has claimed there is a “fraud on the American nation” and that “we did win this election” and said he will go to the Supreme Court to get vote counting stopped.
Trump: “This is a major fraud on our nation. We want all counting to stop.”— Chris York (@ChrisDYork) November 4, 2020
This is going to be a nightmare few days.
This is unbelievable.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 4, 2020
Trump has claimed victory, branded the election a ‘major fraud on the American public’ & demanded no more votes be counted.
06:46 What are the chances of a 269-269 tie?
There are certainly scenarios in play (if Biden loses Pennsylvania but wins Arizona) where we wind up with a 269-269 tie.— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) November 4, 2020
In that case, Biden would need to carry either Nebraska or Maine’s second congressional district to win. https://t.co/7xLGN1jSuI
06:08 Twitter has censored Trump!
Election night 2020, and Twitter has to censor the President: pic.twitter.com/celbGPH79t— The London Economic (@LondonEconomic) November 4, 2020
05:41 Trump projected to win Florida by 51.2 per cent – a bigger margin than in 2016 – with 96 per cent of the votes in.
05:32 Rumours that Fox News has retracted its call of Arizona for Biden untrue.
05.18 Biden wins Minnesota. He’s also set to give a statement at 12.30am EST. Heaps of votes left to count
05.15 States we’re not going to get results from tonight: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and – probably – Georgia.
04.50 Fox has called Ohio for Trump, puncturing some early Democrat enthusiasm there. CNN now has Biden winning Virginia, which was causing some fingernail-chewing after a big delay in counting in the blue stronghold of Fairfax County.
And the Trump campaign is fighting back at Fox’s early call of Arizona for Biden – and they’ve got some support.
04.42 Some more Biden permutations after the Arizona result here. It makes it easier for him.
In other news, don’t sleep on Georgia and North Carolina yet. Huge numbers of votes remain uncounted. As it stands there is only one state (if the Arizona call holds) that has flipped.
04.23 ARIZONA TURNS BLUE. BIG WIN FOR BIDEN. Fox projects that Arizona has plumped for Biden – if true, that’s the first state to flip in this year’s election. It gives Biden some much needed breathing room.
This really changes Biden’s pathway to 270 votes. Will it change the narrative of the race, too? For the past few hours it’s been filled with doom-and-gloom for Democrats.
04.20 My advice? Get some sleep. This is going to go on for days. Remember – we’re likely to see more votes cast for Trump on election day in the Midwest, but heavily Dem-leaning mail-in ballots and early voting should swing states like Pennsylvania back Biden’s way.
Whatever happens, this is a remarkable result. If Biden does win, it’s likely to be by a narrow margin. He has failed to win over Latino voters in the same way Clinton did. Donald Trump remains extremely popular across the country, and trusted to run the economy. As for the pollsters? Your boys took one hell of a beating.
04.00 We’re still going! Polls have just closed out west. California, Oregon and Washington State are headed to Joe Biden – putting him out to a big lead in the electoral college.
That’s going to narrow, though. All eyes now on Arizona and the Midwest. This is helpful to bear in mind when you’re thinking about Pennsylvania.
03.41 It looks like it might come down to Pennsylvania, which has a huge stack of mail-in ballots to count. Here’s the kicker – they might not get those all totted up before Friday. So we’ve got a ways to go yet.
It raises the spectre of Trump declaring victory in a few hours, despite the count being nowhere near finished. This could turn into a really ugly week in Washington.
It could also, very plausibly, end up in a 269-269 tie. I’m going for a cigarette.
03.20 In what feels like the first piece of decent news for Joe Biden in hours, the early returns in Arizona look promising for the Dem challenger.
He has a ten point lead in Maricopa County, which includes the city of Phoenix, which Trump carried comfortably in 2016.
With three-quarters of the vote counted there, the president will struggle to overcome Biden if that margin holds.
03.07 It’s starting to feel a lot like 2016 all over again. Trump has pulled ahead in Ohio and North Carolina, and is feeling confident in Georgia. There’s a long old way to go, but it’s looking like it might come down to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. This is going to last a few days.
Trump has won Kansas.
02.33 Biden wins Colorado. This is going to be very close.
02.11 Everyone is looking at Ohio. So why not listen to Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young while you look at Ohio.
02.06 Trump has won Nebraska, Louisiana, Wyoming and South Dakota, per AP. Biden takes New Mexico.
02.00 The Trump Campaign has declared victory in Florida, and Joe Biden has won New York (shock horror). Biden up 59-42 in the electoral college, per CNN.
01.56 Biden is leading by over 300,000 votes in Ohio at the moment, powered by an early voting surge. He’s doing well in Youngstown, so any excuse…
01.33 Trump wins Arkansas, another given.
Biden is ahead, with over half the vote counted, in Texas, North Carolina and Ohio. There’s a long way to go.
01.30 This John King chap on CNN has completely eradicated any fears I had that I wouldn’t be able to stay up all night. So much data, so many words in so few minutes. He’s like an auctioneer with a big interactive board. Jamie Carragher goes to Sotheby’s.
Anyway, it looks like Joe Biden is turning out voters in the Midwest – Ohio, North Carolina – better than Clinton. If he wins there, Florida doesn’t matter.
Again – beware the blue mirage!
01.12 A slew of race calls from AP.
Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut to Biden.
Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama to Trump.
01.07 CNN projects Joe Biden will win his home state of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Massachusetts. Trump wins Oklahoma.
They’ve got Biden on 30 electoral votes, Trump on 26. This is changing quickly folks. Keep an eye on Ohio.
01.05 It looks almost certain that Donald Trump is going to win Florida – despite the race still being shown on CNN as tied. The remaining votes – from the Panhandle – will be overwhelmingly Republican.
That keeps Trump’s hopes of a second term alive – he had to win Florida, and it looks like he will.
01.01 Victory for Donald Trump in South Carolina, AP says.
00.47 Apparently results in Georgia – a state that Democrats have been making bedroom eyes at all week – will be delayed because a water pipe burst in a room containing ballots in Fulton County, where Atlanta is.
2020, eh? Brilliant.
00.40 AP has called Virginia for Joe Biden, and West Virginia for Donald Trump.
00.29 Huge news from Florida, with Trump racking up big numbers in the Democratic stronghold of Miami-Dade. Clinton won it with 64% of the vote in 2016, Biden is currently running significantly behind that.
The pollsters seem to think this has swung Florida, a key state, decisively towards Trump.
00.15 That thing I said earlier about Kentucky being too early to call? Forget it. It’s gone to Donald Trump.
00.08 And Joe Biden is off the mark, taking Vermont – the home state of Bernie Sanders – and its three electoral votes.
CNN – where everyone is talking very excitedly at a million miles-per-hour – is suggesting that Trump is not putting up the huge numbers he posted to win Florida in 2016, which could be good news for Democrats. But again, it is ludicrously early and most stuff at this stage is utterly meaningless.
00.01 Welcome to Wednesday. CNN has called its first state of the 2020 election. It’s Indiana, and it’s 11 electoral college votes – unsurprisingly – have gone to Donald Trump. Others – including Kentucky – remain too early to call.
23.31 Some votes are coming in! Actual votes! They’re from Kentucky and Indiana, home state of Mike Pence and they’re overwhelmingly in Donald Trump’s favour. No surprises there.
But in suburban Kentucky spot Harris County, Joe Biden has pulled into a surprise early lead, outperforming Hillary Clinton significantly. One to watch? Probably not. Beware the ‘blue mirage’.
23.29 Donald Trump, cocooned in the East Wing of the White House, has taken to Twitter to sound off on his chances tonight.
The lady doth protest too much methinks.
22.49 YouGov’s MRP survey – which has nailed it in the UK’s last two general elections – has Biden winning Florida, Texas, Georgia and North Carolina. That would be massive.
And here’s some more good news for Dems.
Here’s the latest from Joe Biden.
22.41 Just joining us? Well, settle in – we’ll be here for some time. The first polls don’t close for thirty minutes (23.00 GMT) and we might get some results from fast-counting swing states like Florida soon after that.
But it’s set to be a long wait for a final result – with vital states like Pennsylvania not expected to declare their final tallies before Friday.
The pandemic has made this election cycle unlike any other. From campaigning via Zoom and plexiglass barriers at debates to quarantining candidates, coronavirus has undoubtedly made the 2020 race for the White House unique.
But the area where Covid-19 has arguably had the biggest impact is on people’s voting habits. The reluctance of voters to head to the polls in person has led to a huge spike in mail voting, while the number of Americans casting their ballots early – ostensibly to avoid the polling day rush – has skyrocketed to record levels.
How will this impact election night? Well, experts caution that it’s best not to think of it as ‘election night’ at all – which is bad news for us hardy folk who have stocked up on coffee and snacks to get us through till morning.
More on the long wait ahead here.
21.46 Money talks, and nowhere is its voice louder than in US politics.
In January 2010, the Supreme Court announced its 5-4 decision in the Citizens United case, upturning and erasing 100 years of restrictions and regulations that banned corporations and unions from spending as much as they wanted to elect candidates.
So long as businesses and unions didn’t give their money directly to candidates – which would be corrupt, the court said – but instead gave it to outside groups that were supporting candidates but technically independent of the campaigns, there was no limit on the money that could be spent.
Citizens United, the New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin (who himself has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons of late) said at the time, gave rich people more or less free rein to spend as much as they want in support of their favoured candidates”.
While the watershed verdict over a decade ago was to a large extent the result of years of lobbying by shadowy right-wing figures like the billionaire Koch brothers – as Jane Mayer reveals in her essential book ‘Dark Money’ – nobody’s hands are clean.
The 2020 campaign is the most expensive ever campaign – with the total cost of the races for the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives expected to hit close to $14 billion. The presidential race is projected to cost $6.6 billion alone – more than was spent on the 2016 race and every single congressional campaign that year combined.
Where does the money go? TV, mostly. Ad-tracing firm Advertising Analytics reports that close to $2 billion has gone on presidential ads this calendar year alone.
Who’s spending the most? Democrats. Up and down the ballot, Democratic candidates and affiliates have spent $5.5 billion this election cycle – compared with the $3.8 billion spent by Republicans. This is the largest advantage in spending ever, the Centre for Responsive Politics said – and that is without counting the money spent by billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer in their self-funded, failed bids for the Democratic nomination, which topped out at over $1.3 billion.
By contrast, the Conservative party spent a little over £16 million to achieve its 80-seat majority last December. Pocket change, really.
21.11 Kanye West has voted… for himself. In a video posted on Twitter, it doesn’t look like he’s voted for any down-ballot candidate. Apt for a man who once described himself as “this generation’s closest thing to Einstein”.
20.12 Keeping it Pennsylvania, let’s check in with Joe Biden, who is campaigning in Philadelphia.
“We have an enormous opportunity as a country,” he told supporters. “If you elect me, I’m gonna be an American president. There’s gonna be no red or blue states. Just the United States.”
“Philly is the key,” the Democratic challenger is yelling through a loudspeaker.
20.05 Now then, this could be of interest. From NBC’s White House correspondent, reporting that GOP operatives are fearful that they’re struggling to get out the vote in Pennsylvania. Again, it’s all speculation at this stage, but that’s not going to stop us.
While we’re on the subject, do you want to watch officials counting votes in Philadelphia? Of course you do. Counters have started totting up mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania. An official result there is not expected tonight – but it’s top of the ‘ones-to-watch’ list regardless.
19.33 Joe Biden’s lead in four key swing states has disappeared, according to a RealClearPolitics aggregate.
The site claims that Donald Trump has surged into the lead in Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio. All of this, at this stage, is pretty unfounded.
Polling experts have been at pains to stress that RCP has been pretty unreliable – and skewed towards the president – throughout this cycle, including unreliable, partisan polls in its average and excluding more sound surveys.
Once more, we won’t know what’s going on for several more hours. Stand at ease.
19.00 Notwithstanding all the turmoil and uncertainty, one surprising area of stability has been the polling for the 2020 presidential election.
Joe Biden went into election day with the largest national polling lead since Bill Clinton in 1996 – and he has been consistently ahead for some time, as this aggregator from FiveThirtyEight shows.
Biden also has a clear lead in the vital battleground states that will decide the election. Current polling averages have Biden +10 in Wisconsin, +8 in Michigan and +5 in Pennsylvania – considered by many to be the tipping point state.
It begs the question – would the anti-Trump brigade be so nervous about today’s result (and so distrustful of the polls) if it weren’t for the shock we witnessed four years ago? No, probably not.
Read more about what the polls mean – and whether we could be in for another surprise – here.
18.19 Donald Trump has just addressed Republican staff in Arlington, Virginia.
“I’m not thinking about a concession or acceptance speech yet,” he said. “Winning is easy. Losing is never easy – not for me, it’s not.”
17.55 Is democracy on the ballot? You’ve probably read a lot of headlines and columns today proclaiming that democracy itself is at stake in today’s election. Indeed, one of the closing messages from Team Biden urged Americans to vote as if their lives depend on it – “because they do”.
Why the alarmism? And is it all hyperbole? Well, yes and no.
The main fear is that Donald Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power – and has told aides and crowds that he’ll declare victory on Tuesday night before all votes are counted, before sending in his lawyers to fight any contested result.
But there are other reasons why Americans are jittery. Shops in Washington have been boarded up, with fears of civil unrest abundant. Federal authorities have built a “non-scalable” fence around the White House to protect Trump. And the FBI is investigating after a convoy of Trump supporters apparently tried to run a Biden campaign bus off a Texas motorway. The National Guard reportedly stands ready to deploy thousands of troops to quell disruption.
As for Trump’s plans to declare himself the victor on election night – and cast doubt on the validity of early and mail votes – Democrats have been at pains to point out that his words mean nothing. All votes will be counted – and only then will we know the result.
Here’s more on why we might not find out a winner for days to come – and why that makes a lot of folks nervous.
17.00 A peculiarity of America’s electoral system is that the candidate who wins the most votes does not necessarily win the presidency.
Hillary Clinton won close to three million more votes than Donald Trump in 2016 – but Trump was still elected by a fairly comfortable margin. The same thing happened in 2000, when George W. Bush became president despite winning fewer votes than Al Gore.
To thank – or blame, depending on who you voted for – was the electoral college. Confused? Us too.
Read our primer, which explains all, to fill yourself in. Here’s a link.
16.29 A maskless Melania Trump has cast her vote in Palm Beach, Florida. I wonder if she was tempted to back Joe Biden?
16.17 Finally, a voice we have all been waiting for has weighed in on the 2020 election. Obama, you ask? Bush, you wonder? Clinton, you fret? Carter, you hope? No, no, no and no again.
Borat has shared his views on election day, with some especial advice for voting women. Here’s what he had to say.
15.58 Tempting fate? Here’s a shot of what Joe Biden wrote on the wall of his childhood home in Delaware this morning.
15.46 Here’s some good last-gasp polling news for Joe Biden.
In the final poll of Pinellas, a swing county in the crucial battleground of Florida, the Democratic challenger is up by nine points. Trump carried the county narrowly in 2016.
This is from The Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman, whose Twitter feed is one to keep an eye on tonight as the results come in.
15.27 A brilliant POLITICO poll found that British voters, if given the chance, would dump Donald Trump in a heartbeat – and elect Joe Biden in a landslide.
The survey found that the Democratic candidate would win every single UK constituency – from Blyth to Brighton – if given the choice that Americans face today.
The two most pro-Biden places are both in Scotland. East Dunbartonshire are more than 85 per cent supportive of the former vice-president, with Edinburgh South not far behind.
Beyond that, liberal strongholds such as Dulwich and West Norbury, Brighton and Hornsey and Wood Green would also be Biden bankers.
I suppose it’s not the most surprising poll. Remember the Trump baby balloon?
15.04 Of course, you’ll be tuning into TLE’s unbeatable election coverage to keep track of the results. Why wouldn’t you? It’s going to be brilliant.
But should you wish to watch along live, there are a few options for our British readers. Your first port of call is BBC One, who will be on air from 11.30pm until 1pm on Wednesday. Andrew Neil – love him or loathe him, he’s still one of the nation’s best broadcasters – and Katty Kay will be holding down the fort throughout the night – until 9am – with the likes of Jon Sopel, Clive Myrie, Emily Maitlis and Nick Bryant dotted around the various campaigns and key states.
ITV have a similar offering, but its official coverage ends at 6am – when Piers Morgan and Good Morning Britain will take over. Could Piers be the man to announce a Trump defeat? There would be some poetic justice to that.
Sky are on air from 9pm with an hour-long show examining the impact of the Trump presidency, and will keep going until Kay Burley takes over at 7am. Expect all the usual bells and whistles. CNN, believe it or not, are already on air. Mental.
If thinking about nine-and-a-half hours of Andrew Neil gives you a headache – or worse – then you could do the sensible thing and watch Bake Off on Channel 4 at 8pm. I wouldn’t blame you.
14.03 Trump, as we mentioned earlier, has appeared on Fox & Friends this morning – where he claimed that he expected to win at least 306 electoral votes – the figure he won last time.
He also repeated his misleading claim that the US was “rounding the corner” in dealing with coronavirus. Remember – the US recorded nearly 94,000 cases yesterday.
Trump also took aim at Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick. “If she became the first woman president, I think it would be a terrible thing for our country. I think it would be a terrible thing for women,” he said. “I look forward to the first woman president. But I wouldn’t look forward to her being that person.”
Here’s a good thread highlighting the president’s remarks.
13.50 More than 100 million Americans had already voted in the 2020 election before polls opened on election day, an historic figure that points to a record-shattering turnout.
As of Tuesday morning – UK time – 100,573,905 had already cast their ballots, either in person or via mail, according to the US Elections Project. That is more than two-thirds of the number of votes cast in the entire 2016 election.
2016 set a record for turnout in a presidential election, when just over 137 million people voted. That record will surely be smashed today, with experts predicting that close to 160 million Americans will cast their vote.
Beyond today, it could mark a huge shift in the US electoral system away from on-the-day voting. Why spend hours queuing at the polling booth on a miserable November day when you can pop your ballot in the post, or nip to the empty polling station when you’re doing your Halloween shopping?
Find out more about the early voting surge here.
In other news, Joe Biden and wife Jill – after visiting their local church in Wilmington, Delaware this morning – has visited the grave of his son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015. Beau’s death is reportedly why Biden decided against running in 2016.
12.33 Voting has begun! Americans are streaming to the polls, as the US elects its next president.
Polling stations on the east coast opened at 8am EST – with many reporting queues snaking round the street from as early as 4 or 5 in the morning.
The candidates are up too. Joe Biden is reportedly beginning the day with a trip to a church in Brandywine, whereas Donald Trump is heading to Fox & Friends. Sums it up nicely, doesn’t it.
Biden has been on Twitter, too. Here’s what he had to say.
Trump, on the other hand, has been silent for the past four hours. But boy, his last intervention was one to remember. You might think this video was put out by Biden or his affiliates – but no, this video was shared by the Trump campaign and amplified by the president himself. The man’s got rhythm.
Stay tuned – we’ll keep this page updated with everything you need to know throughout the day, and long into the night.