What Happens After November 3

There’s a lot of concern about what happens after the polls close on November 3rd. Here’s the BB view: mainstream media “exit” polls will show that Joe Biden won the popular vote by more than ten percentage points. Before midnight, on the West Coast, enough California results will be published to confirm this —  Biden will gather two-thirds of the Golden State early vote. Then the nation will wait on the electoral-college results.

The Popular Vote:  For the past month, according to the 538 website, Biden’s lead over Trump has stayed between 7 and 8 percentage points.  (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/polls/president-general/national/)  It’s unlikely that Trump can narrow this gap, but he can make it widen.  For example, Trump’s continuing harangue against mail-in ballots will hurt him with senior Republican voters — who traditionally vote using mail-in ballots.  (https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/9/7/1975717/-Rep-Kevin-McCarthy-We-re-Screwed?)

Trump is likely to lose badly in the debates.  And, he is running out of money.  Ergo, the popular vote margin won’t be close.

Exit Polls:  There’s a lot of concern that Americans won’t know what’s happening, at the end of election day, because the traditional exit polls won’t work — most voters (estimated 75 percent) won’t go to actual polling places, they will instead vote by mail.  But that scenario assumes that pollsters won’t do the obvious: call up registered voters and ask, “Did you vote?  (If yes) How did you vote? Who did you vote for?”  But pollsters will adapt and the new “exit” polls will be available.

Therefore, on the evening of November 3rd, we will have exit polls projections for the national popular vote and for individual states — so we will have a preliminary electoral vote count.  And then we will wait for the actual votes to be counted.  (The deadline is December 14.)

Electoral College:  The current Cook Report electoral projections shows Biden with 290 electoral votes, Trump with 187, and 61 as tossups.  I’ll focus on eight of the Cook-designated swing states and consider how their votes will be processed and what we should expect on November 3.

Arizona:  (11 electoral votes, Cook rates lean Democrat.)  Real Clear Politics shows Biden leading by 5 percent; Biden has been leading for several months.  (Trump has pulled his TV ads in Arizona (https://www.abc15.com/news/election-2020/president-trump-campaign-goes-dark-on-local-tv-but-for-how-long ).)

Arizona relies heavily on mail-in ballots.  (They have a permanent mail-in ballot option.)  Roughly 80 percent will vote by mail.  Ballot tallying can begin 14 days before Election Day but results cannot be released until polls close.

Prediction: Biden will win.  We’ll have most results within 24 hours and final results within 72.

Florida: (29 electoral votes, Cook rates tossup.)  Real Clear Politics shows Biden leading by 1.6 percent; race is too close to call.

Florida makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot.  (In 2018, 31 percent voted by mail.)  Ballot tallying can begin 22 days before election day but the results cannot be released until polls close.  Unfortunately, voting in Florida has been subject to a variety of obstacles — and lawsuits.

Prediction: toss up.  We’ll have most results within 24 hours and final results within 72.

Georgia: (16 electoral votes, Cook rates tossup.)  Real Clear Politics shows Trump leading by 1.3 percent; race is too close to call.

Georgia makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot.  (Nonetheless, in 2018, only 6 percent voted by mail.)  While signature verification can occur when ballots are received, actual ballot counting does not occur until November 3rd.  Georgia is another state where voting has been subject to a variety of impediments.

Prediction: toss up.  Results won’t be known for more than a week.

Michigan: (16 electoral votes, Cook rates lean Democrat.)  Real Clear Politics shows Biden leading by 4.8 percent; Biden has been leading for several months.  (Trump has pulled his TV ads in Michigan (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-14/trump-campaign-slashes-ad-spending-in-key-states-in-cash-crunch ).)

Michigan makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot.  (in 2018, 24 percent voted by mail.)  Actual ballot counting does not occur until November 3rd.

Prediction: Biden will win.  Definitive results will take a week.

North Carolina: (15 electoral votes, Cook rates tossup.)  Real Clear Politics shows Biden up by 0.9 percent.

North Carolina makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot. (In 2020, the election director expects that 80 percent will vote by mail.)  Ballot counting can occur two weeks prior to Election Day — but results cannot be announced before November 3rd.

Prediction: Biden will win.  We’ll have most results within 24 hours and final results within 72.

Pennsylvania: (20 electoral votes, Cook rates lean Democrat.)  Real Clear Politics shows Biden up by 4.3 percent; Biden has been leading for several months.  (Trump has pulled his TV ads in Pennsylvania.)

Pennsylvania makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot.  Actual ballot counting does not occur until November 3rd.  (There’s legislation pending to speed this up.)

Prediction: Biden will win. Definitive results will take a week.

Texas: (38 electoral votes, Cook rates lean Republican.)  Real Clear Politics shows Trump up by 3.5 points.

Texas make it difficult for anyone but seniors to cast a mail-in ballot.  Actual ballot counting happens on election day.  Another state where Republicans have tried to impede voting.

Prediction: Trump will win. Results won’t be known for more than a week.

Wisconsin: (10 electoral votes, Cook rates lean Democrat.)  Real Clear Politics  shows Biden up by 6.7 points.

Wisconsin makes it relatively easy to cast a mail-in ballot.  Actual ballot counting does not occur until November 3rd.

Prediction: Biden will win. Definitive results will take a week.

Summary: Biden will win the electoral vote but it will take at least a week to confirm this.  (Georgia and Texas will be a mess.)

Take a deep breath.