US 2020 Election – Early Results

November 4, 2020

Election Day is now complete, with days (and possibly weeks) remaining until a winner of the presidential race can be determined. Both candidates made gains in the states they expected to secure (Biden in northeast and coastal states and President Trump in the Mountain West and South), but neither has secured the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. Watch APCO Forum for another update later today, focusing on the latest election results along with a roundup of notable state ballot initiatives. 

Key Takeaways

  • Key battleground states are still too close to call. Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin still have ballots to be counted, and the race is far from decided.
  • The United States exceeded expectations with mail-in and absentee voting, and broke recent historical records in voter engagement, as more than 160 million people have voted. Voter turnout is estimated to have to reached 66.9 percent of eligible voters, the highest rate since 1900. However, Election Day did not come without its technical mishaps, and votes in four key battleground states will still be counting votes in the days ahead.
  • While Democrats kept control of the House of Representatives, the Republicans are projected to narrowly keep their majority in the Senate. While Democrats flipped two Senate seats – John Hickenlooper in Colorado and Mark Kelly in Arizona – they lost Sen. Doug Jones’ seat in Alabama. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) also kept their senate seats. While Democrats are projected to keep control of the House, they failed to pick up seats and several Democratic incumbents are poised for defeat.
  • President Trump prematurely claimed victory and threatened to take the race to the Supreme Court. No news organizations have declared a winner, and a number of closely contested states still have millions of mail-in and absentee ballots to count.
  • Multiple states could face lawsuits concerning the nature of counting mail-in and absentee voting, ranging from transparency issues to extended deadlines to receive and count votes. In addition, a national voter suppression effort via robocalls is facing both state and federal investigation. 

Latest Election Developments

Early Results

Electoral College Count

early election results
 Source: FiveThirtyEight, Last Updated 9:06 AM EST


 Battleground States:

  • Arizona (11 electoral votes) – The state is leaning in favor of Biden, but the race has not been called. Election officials are still counting mail-in ballots. The state was an upset for Republicans, who won the state in 2016 by 3.5 percentage points.
  • Georgia (16 electoral votes) – The state is leaning Trump, but it is still too close to call. Much of the remaining vote to be counted is centered in the Atlanta metropolitan region, which could lean towards Biden.
  • Michigan (16 electoral votes) – The state appeared to lean Trump last night, but as of this morning, ballots in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing could help tilt the balance toward Biden. The race remains too close to call.
  • Nevada (6 electoral votes) – The state has not been called for any candidate, but is leaning in favor of Biden. However, the state’s election division announced that it would not release any further results until 12 PM EST on Thursday, November 5.
  • North Carolina (15 electoral votes) – The race is currently too close to call. While President Trump is leading the polls, the state has a 10-day ballot return window, which may delay reporting and skew results at this time.
  • Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) – Despite, President Trump’s claims that he was winning Pennsylvania, the state is still too close to call. The state reportedly has close to 1 million mail-in ballots left to be counted and it allows for postmarked ballots to be counted up to three days after Election Day.
  • Wisconsin (10 electoral votes) – Biden holds a razor thin lead in Wisconsin, which could be widened once votes in Green Bay, Kenosha County, and Milwaukee are fully counted. The state has yet to be called.

Election Administration

  • President Trump has called for the United States Supreme Court to stop ballot counting, and prematurely declared victory early Wednesday morning. Trump followed up by claiming that ballots currently being counted were fraudulent and an “embarrassment to our country.” Meanwhile, Biden announced it was too early to tell the victor of the election, and that he believed he was on the right track, but did not declare victory.
  • The USPS missed their court-ordered deadline to sweep for missing mail-in ballots totaling around 300,000 individuals. Justice Department attorneys intervened Tuesday afternoon on behalf of the USPS to state the agency would not abide by Justice Emmit G. Sullivan’s order to find all missing ballots. The USPS had reported that 300,523 ballots have received incoming scans, but not exit scans, leading to a lawsuit by the NAACP which prompted the search. The agency has experienced slower and slower mail turnout each consecutive day leading up to the election.
  • Four states at the center of the presidential election (Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) will delay their results due to the influx of mail-in and absentee ballot counting. Nevada and Georgia, both leaning towards Joe Biden, will resume ballot counting this morning after officials paused the count Tuesday night. Pennsylvania predicts they will not have a result on the polling until at least the end of the week. In three of the four states (Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin), elected officials were not allowed to start processing absentee ballots until on or just before Election Day.
  • Despite improvements from the 2018 midterm elections, Georgia still suffered from technical mishaps and delays, resulting in extended voting deadlines.Database errors in Spalding County, and minor delays in printing and reading ballots in others resulted in polls extending their hours Tuesday to accompany the required 12 hours of voting time.

Latest Campaign Communications

  • At 12:45am EST, Biden said he believed he was still on track to win and was not going to challenge election results, according to The New York Times.
  • Early on Wednesday around 2:30am EST, President Trump prematurely claimed victory and threatened to take the race to the Supreme Court. President Trump stated votes should stop being counted, with millions of votes left to count.
    • Biden’s campaign manager, along with a number of other political analysts, have noted the argument is distressing. However, President Trump does not have a path to go directly to the Supreme Court to claim fraud, according to The Washington Post.


  • Protests have been seen across Los Angeles, Raleigh, and Chicago. In D.C., protestors have gathered outside of the White House. It has mostly been a peaceful atmosphere, with few arrests.
  • More than 520 events have been organized nationwide by Protect the Results on Nov. 4 and beyond if President Trump refuses to accept election results.


  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Attorney’s General Office of New York are investigating robocalls linked to voter suppression efforts on Election Day. Federal and state investigators found reports of misleading robocallstelling voters to remain at home out of safety, particularly in key battleground states of North Carolina, Michigan, and Florida. At this time, it is not clear where the calls originated, or what their intended purpose was meant to be.
  • A Nevada Judge in Clark County has rejected a GOP lawsuit to halt mail in ballot counting. Trump’s campaign and the GOP want to halt the counting due to the use of artificial intelligence to analyze signatures and lack of transparency into the ballot-counting process. However, Carson City District Court Judge James Wilson denied their request, and ruled that there was no evidence of vote tampering or illegal activity warranting a halt of the process.
  • Republican candidates in Pennsylvania sued Kathy Boockvar, the Secretary of State of Pennsylvania, because the state’s policy of offering provisional ballots in the event mail-in ballots were rejected. GOP officials are claiming the offer of a provisional ballot goes against the state’s election code of disclosing results of the election, as well as defies a recent ruling disallowing corrections by mail-in voters. Boockvar has stood behind her practices, and noted that it did not appear to include an “overwhelming number of voters” in the correction process.
  • Multiple states are facing impending challenges from the GOP concerning limits to when mail-in votes can be accepted. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has ruled that mail-in ballots postmarked on or before Election Day, and received on or before November 7th would count, while North Carolina extended their deadline to November 12th. Republican efforts to invalidate votes in both states have been halted by federal courts.
  • Texas law validating votes cast in drive-through lanes faces GOP lawsuits, claiming it is not permitted under state election law. Judge Andrew Hanen denied a lawsuit after an emergency hearing Monday, and concluded GOP plaintiffs lacked sufficient evidence, but ordered Harris County to keep drive-in ballots separate in the event of further legal action.

With contributions from Prashanth Rajan, Matt Ogren, Carolina Portela-Blanco, Jackson Cherner and Anna Weckmuller and Gadi Dechter.

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