Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.
We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail:
LEADING THE DAY:
It’s been nearly 48 hours since the first vote counts of the 2020 presidential election were posted, but it’s not over yet. We’re anxiously awaiting the results in five battleground states that will decide the outcome of one of the most divisive — and unusual — presidential contests in modern history.
But the counting process is slow going, and it’s not clear exactly when we’ll know the winner and loser in each. So with that being said, here’s a rundown of where things stand in the five states that we’re watching:
President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE leads by a little more than 100,000 votes, but former Vice President BidenJoe BidenGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist MORE is gaining votes fast as absentee ballots are counted.
There are believed to be about 350,000 ballots that still need to be counted, with almost half of them coming from the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia regions where Biden should do well.
Pennsylvania’s secretary of state said she expects the “overwhelming majority” of ballots to be counted by the end of the day, potentially giving us a clearer picture of what’s going on in the most important swing state that is still up for grabs.
But don’t be surprised if the count carries over until Friday. In Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, there are more than 35,000 votes that can’t be counted until tomorrow due to a court order and some technicalities.
There is also likely going to be a court battle over whether to count votes that were postmarked by Nov. 3 that are supposed to be allowed as long as they are received by Friday. The Trump campaign has challenged the state Supreme Court’s ruling on that before and may do it again.
Trump must win in Pennsylvania to have a path to 270 electoral votes. If Biden pulls ahead at some point tonight, some news outlets might move to declare him the winner based on where the votes are coming from and how they were cast.
The vote count has not moved much in Arizona, where Biden leads by just less than 70,000 votes.
There are still about 400,000 votes to be counted and it’s unclear how much of that total we’ll get tonight.
The Associated Press and Fox News have already called Arizona for Biden. The Trump campaign is furious, believing it has a path to victory once all of the votes are counted.
Trump has been gaining on Biden since the polls closed on Tuesday night. A victory in Arizona is critical to Trump’s chances.
Biden increased his lead in Nevada on Thursday to more than 11,000 votes after more ballots from Clark County, the state’s most populous county, were reported. Biden leads with 604,251 votes, while Trump is behind at 592,813 votes, according to Thursday’s count.
However, it might be a few days until we hear more updates from Clark County. The county’s registrar Joe Gloria said in a press conference on Thursday that the bulk of the county’s mail-in ballots will likely be counted by Saturday or Sunday.
It’s taken a while to get results out of Nevada, which had more than 1 million ballots cast by mail or in-person prior to Election Day, surpassing the state's total 2016 turnout.
Gloria credited the slow pace to the massive amount of mail-in ballots, that he said was still very new to the state.
Biden’s campaign remains confident in the state. Campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a call with reporters on Thursday that the campaign’s internal numbers show Biden will win a large enough share of the outstanding votes in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona or Nevada to be able to declare victory soon.
But the Trump campaign is gearing up for a legal battle no matter what the initial results are. The president’s campaign sued in the state on Thursday, alleging that votes have been cast in Nevada by deceased people and nonresidents.
Gloria said he had not seen any evidence of improper ballots being processed.
Trump took an early lead in Georgia on Tuesday, but Biden is closing the gap. Vote totals posted at around 3 p.m. today show Trump leading by fewer than 13,000 votes, and the margins are expected to tighten even more as outstanding ballots are counted.
There’s still more than 47,000 votes to count in Georgia, according to the secretary of state’s office, and most of them are believed to be from voters in bluer parts of the state, like Chatham County, where Savannah is located.
Biden’s campaign is bullish about the former vice president’s chances of capturing Georgia, believing that the remaining votes to be counted will break in his favor.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday by the Trump campaign and Georgia Republican Party alleging that Chatham County officials had illegally counted absentee ballots received after Election Day was tossed out by a judge due to a lack of evidence.
Even if Biden overtakes Trump after counting ends, a recount appears likely. Georgia state law allows candidates to request a recount if an election is decided by 0.5 percentage points or less. Trump and Biden are currently separated by a scant 0.3 percentage points.
Fewer than 77,000 votes currently separate Trump and Biden in North Carolina, with the president holding a slight advantage.
Biden’s advisers see the state leaning toward Trump but acknowledge that the race there is tight and believe it could come down to the wire. The biggest problem for Biden, however, is that it’s not clear whether there are enough outstanding votes to make up his deficit.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections announced on Thursday that it had recorded a total of 40,766 provisional ballots statewide. But those ballots still have to be evaluated to determine voter eligibility, and it’s unlikely that all of them will be considered valid. At the same time, many of those votes were cast in areas that favor Trump.
There’s also the question of how many late-arriving ballots will come in by the state’s Nov. 12 deadline (ballots received within 9 days after Election Day will be counted so long as they were postmarked on Nov. 3). But it’s unclear how many ballots will come in, and it’s unlikely that those that do will be enough to turn the tables for Biden.