Race for White House appears to be coming down to 'blue wall'

A tight race is developing across the battleground states between President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic MORE and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Biden vaccine rule sets stage for onslaught of lawsuits MORE, pointing to an excruciating few days of vote counting ahead to determine who will be the next president.

The outcome will likely once again hinge on the former “blue wall” states that Trump turned red for the first time in decades in 2016.

If Biden can rebuild the Democratic coalition in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he’ll likely be the next president.

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But Trump, who repeatedly traveled to the battleground states in the campaign's final weeks, is outperforming the polls in many of the states that he had to win to keep his pathway open to a second term.

The race is close enough at this point that election analysts are gaming out Electoral College scenarios that turn on only a handful of electoral votes breaking one way or another. The single delegates in congressional districts in Maine and Nebraska are in play, as is a 269-269 Electoral College tie.

Media outlets are being extremely cautious in calling the winners in the battleground states. As midnight approached, the only calls in the core swing states had come from Fox News, which has projected Trump to win in Florida and Biden to win in Arizona.

Adding to the murky picture are the way the results are being counted. 

The results being reported are lumpy, with some states reporting in-person Election Day votes first, and others reporting the absentee and early votes first. That dynamic has produced some wild swings in places such as Ohio, where it appeared early on that Biden might win. Trump has since opened up a comfortable lead, with CNN calling it for the president at midnight.

After beginning the night with multiple paths to the White House, Biden’s path has narrowed considerably as the night has progressed.

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With most of the vote tally in, Trump is on track to win in Florida, Ohio and Texas. The president also has a narrow lead in North Carolina. There are still a huge number of votes outstanding in Atlanta, making it too early to call the race in Georgia. Trump is in the lead although the New York Times says the race currently favors Biden, based on the outstanding votes yet to be counted.

Democrats were hopeful that Biden would win one of those states, effectively cutting off Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes early in the night. The polls showed all of those states as toss-ups, but it appears that Trump has a chance to hold serve across the board.

The Florida results are particularly dispiriting for Democrats, as Trump’s victory appears to have been powered by Latino voters in south Florida.

Still, a victory for Biden in Arizona would provide him with a little bit of cushion, although it does not close the door on Trump by any means.

Biden has opened up a substantial early lead in absentee balloting in Arizona that could be difficult for Trump to overcome.

But the outcome of the Electoral College will not be certain until votes are counted in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Results from those states are not expected tonight.

In Pennsylvania, ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 will still be counted as long as they arrive by Friday.

Trump has opened an early lead in Pennsylvania among those who voted in person on Election Day, but Biden is expected to be leading among those who voted by mail. The mail votes will be counted over the next few days.

If Biden holds on in Arizona and wins Michigan and Wisconsin, he can afford to lose Pennsylvania, so long as he wins Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. That would produce a 270-268 Electoral College victory for Biden.

Democrats had high hopes that Tuesday night would produce a wave election that would be called early with big gains for their party in the House and Senate.

That scenario is not playing out.

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Some of the Democratic Senate candidates that raised the most money — Jaime Harrison in South Carolina and Amy McGrath in Kentucky — have already been knocked out.

Republicans have picked up two House seats in Florida.

Democrat John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperManchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas moratorium It's time for US to get serious about cleaning up space junk Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor MORE has defeated Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerEx-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms MORE in Colorado and Democrats have picked up two House seats in North Carolina so far.

But Democratic dreams of turning Texas blue do not appear to be coming true in 2020 and Biden remains in a dog fight with Trump in the battle for the White House.

If Trump can hang on to Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he will win another term. And he may only need two of the three.