These five states now decide the US election

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  • The US presidential campaign is more exciting than the polls would suggest.
  • Who will be the new US President will likely be decided in five states that are currently still being counted.
  • Various scenarios are conceivable – including one in which Mike Pence will become the incumbent US President on January 21, 2021.

The battle for the US presidency has not yet been decided. Votes are still being counted in many states, both in individual constituencies and ballot papers submitted by mail. Individual states, such as Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, have announced that the count could take several more days. Yet it is already becoming apparent that the outcome of this election will depend on the count in five states: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Two other states have not yet been counted so far that a result would be known – these are Nevada (six electoral votes) and Alaska (three electoral votes). In Alaska everything looks like the expected victory for Donald Trump. In Nevada, on the other hand, the race seems closer, where Joe Biden leads by a few percentage points in the morning. However, a large portion of the missing votes come from Clark County, the most populous district in the state, which includes Las Vegas. It’s a district that all experts believe should clearly go to Joe Biden.

If you add up Alaska’s electoral votes for Donald Trump and the votes from Nevada for Joe Biden, Biden leads on Wednesday morning with 244 to 216 electoral votes. He lacks 26 electors for the presidency. For the outcome of the election, it will therefore be decisive how the result in the five contested states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin turns out. Three scenarios are conceivable:

Scenario 1: This is how Donald Trump remains US President

Donald Trump has already declared himself the winner in a speech. And according to the current status, he would also be right. In four of the contested states, the incumbent US president is ahead on Wednesday morning (our time), in Wisconsin, according to the latest figures, Joe Biden is very close. If it stayed that way, Trump would end up gaining more than the required 270 electoral votes.

Trump won in all five contested states in 2016. Both North Carolina and Georgia have traditionally been Republican strongholds. In the important Pennsylvania (20 electors) the incumbent president is already well ahead in the morning, and in Michigan he also leads with more than 5 percent of the vote. These four states would be enough for Trump for a second term as US president.

Scenario 2: This is how Joe Biden becomes US President

To turn the election round, Joe Biden must win in two of the five contested states. His best opportunities are likely in the Midwest, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In both countries, the postal voting documents are evaluated last – and it was a central strategy of the Democrats to rely on precisely these. According to CNN, in Michigan, where Trump is currently still quite clearly ahead, more people voted via postal votes than on election day in the polling stations. If Biden wins in both states, he will get exactly 270 electors – the minimum result that makes him president.

In Pennsylvania, too, the votes cast via postal votes are counted at the end, but there Trump is already twelve percentage points ahead on Wednesday morning. A lead that will be difficult to catch up. In North Carolina and Georgia the gap is much smaller, but in these two states a large part of the pre-cast votes have already been counted – so a late push for Biden is less likely.

Scenario 3: What happens in the event of a tie?

Another scenario is unlikely, but possible. Wins Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia; Joe Biden but in North Carolina and Wisconsin, then the US election ends with 269 to 269 electoral votes. In this case, the new House of Representatives will decide on the outcome of the election. However, not every member gets a vote in this vote – instead every state gets one vote and the congressmen of a state have to agree on which candidate they want to vote for. Regardless of whether a state sends an MP to Congress, like Montana, or 53, like California.

Since the election for the House of Representatives took place in parallel to the presidential election, not all results have yet been determined. According to 270towin, 26 of the 50 states are currently dominated by Republicans, which in this case would speak for a victory for Donald Trump.

Another mechanism for determining the new US president is not planned. The House of Representatives must therefore continue its deliberations until a candidate receives a majority of the votes. If this does not succeed by January 20, the Vice President becomes the incumbent President. And this is determined by the new Senate. In this, 33 seats are currently being newly allocated, which of the large parties in the new Senate will have the majority is still open on Wednesday morning. In the event of a tie in the presidential election, the incumbent US president on January 21, 2021 could be both Mike Pence and Kamala Harris.


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