Biden AdministrationUkraine InvasionInflationEnergyCybersecurity

The Biden campaign lays out its path to victory, expecting to reach 270 today

November 4, 2020, 5:56 PM UTC

Our mission to help you navigate the new normal is fueled by subscribers. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.

Americans across the country woke up Wednesday morning with no idea of who had won the presidential election. Around 2:30 a.m. ET, President Donald Trump falsely called an early victory. A number of pivotal states are still up in the air, and his path to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure a second term is windy if not precarious. In short: The election is too close to call and may be for days. 

The Biden campaign, however, believes that they could be able to secure the votes they need to rightfully declare themselves the winners of the race by Wednesday afternoon. In a 30-minute video press conference, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon and campaign adviser Bob Bauer outlined what they think is the clearest way forward. 

“We believe we are on a clear path to victory. By this afternoon, we expect that the Vice President will have leads in states that will put him over 270 electoral votes,” said Dillon. Today, she added, Biden will garner more votes than any presidential nominee in history. Over 135 million votes have been counted so far, and Biden has received more than 69 million of those. 

Currently, said Dillon, Biden is on track to win in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania by more than President Trump did in 2016. 

So how exactly does the Biden campaign think they’ll win? Here’s what they think is the way forward: 

Wisconsin 

“We believe that we have already won Wisconsin,” said Dillon. Biden is currently winning the state by just under one point with 97% of votes reported. Only two counties, Pierce and Richland, are outstanding, and they account for about 4,000 votes. The President would need four times that many votes to overtake Biden’s lead in the state.

“We believe that this state can be called,” said Dillon.

In 2016, Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win Wisconsin in more than 30 years. He beat Hillary Clinton by just under 30,000 votes. Democrats have since seen Wisconsin as a weak point that they would need to win back in order to secure their “blue wall” in the Midwest. Before COVID-19 made large gatherings dangerous, they had even planned to hold their convention there. 

Nevada

Biden currently leads in Nevada by about 8,000 votes with 86% of estimated votes reported. There are no outstanding votes “that lead us to believe we won’t continue to add to our margin,” said Dillon, as ballots outstanding are vote-by-mail, a method that has favored Democratic candidates this election cycle. 

Votes in Nevada, however, will not be officially counted until Thursday morning. President Trump narrowly lost the state in 2016. 

Michigan 

Biden is currently leading in Michigan by nearly 35,000 votes with 92% of all estimated votes reported. The outstanding votes are coming from typically heavily Democratic areas and from absentee ballots, making prospects look good for the former Vice President. 

“We expect the final results to be today, and we expect to win this state,” said Dillon.

Pennsylvania 

As it stands on Wednesday morning, Trump is currently ahead in Pennsylvania by more than eight points with 79% of estimated votes reported. 

Still, said Dillon, “we expect to win Pennsylvania.” There are 1.4 million outstanding ballots that will be counted over the next few days—the majority of which are coming from Democratic areas and through mail-in votes. Those votes, claim the Biden campaign, will likely overcome the nearly 500,000 vote margin the President is currently carrying in the state. They expect the total counts to be completed by Thursday afternoon or evening at the latest. 

The bottom line

If Biden wins Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada, he would hit 270 electoral votes exactly. This is where faithless electors could play a role, and the campaign would feel more comfortable adding Pennsylvania to the win column.

There are also two states still in play that will likely go to Trump, but it’s not impossible for Biden to win Georgia and North Carolina.

Georgia 

Georgia has long been a Republican stronghold, and Trump is currently leading by about two points with 92% of estimated votes reported. Many of the outstanding ballots, however, are in the Atlanta-metro area which heavily favors Biden. Counting is underway this morning, and those ballots are expected to be reported today. 

Democrats haven’t won a presidential election in Georgia since 1992, but what was once a strong win for Republicans has become a toss-up, with Biden presenting a strong challenge. 

If Biden wins Georgia, along with the expected wins in Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin, he would cross the 270 mark even with a loss in Pennsylvania. Nevada and Pennsylvania will likely be the last states to report, so this could go down to the wire.

North Carolina

The state is critical to Trump’s reelection strategy, but Biden has presented a strong challenge. Biden currently trails by less than two points with 95% of all estimated votes reported. “We think the state is probably leaning towards Trump right now,” said Dillon. “But we also think that it’s going to go down to the wire and that we may have to wait several days to know the outcome of this race, depending on how quickly the state counts the remaining ballots.”

The President, meanwhile, spoke out against the counting of official votes cast by Americans on Wednesday morning. “They are finding Biden votes all over the place—in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our Country!” he wrote on Twitter. The votes had been sent in through legal and standard mail-in ballots, which have been used in the United States since the Civil War.