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Dr Trevor McCrisken explains why the 2020 Presidential Race still hasn't been called

US politics expert Dr Trevor McCrisken explains why it feels like the 2020 US Presidential Election declaration is taking a long time:

"It’s fascinating to watch but it is also quite frustrating. One of the fears is that those frustrations will boil over in the United States and supporters of either side might end up losing their patience and things could get ugly. It needs patience to get through this. It’s a very big country with a complex electoral system, there are millions of votes being counted, but we will see a result eventually.  

"It’s actually not unusual for the election vote count to go on for several days after election day. The difference this time is that there are so many places where it is still too close to call. Usually by a couple of days into the counts you do have a clear idea of which candidate will win which states. This year it’s much more difficult to call because of the time it’s taking to get through some of these really quite substantial numbers of ballots, of postal votes especially, in some of the crucial states - so we don’t yet have either candidate at the magical 270 Electoral College votes needed for a win.  

"It could still be either Trump or Biden, but it does look as though, once all the votes – and these are legitimate votes, no matter what the president might say - have been counted, that we are going to see Biden emerge as a very narrow victor in this election.

"The Trump campaign’s legal challenges could delay some of the states declaring their final results, possibly for quite some weeks, but I think the places where he’s doing that may not end up mattering that much. Biden might not need Pennsylvania to win, for example. They’ve also called for a recount in Wisconsin but there have been recounts before in that state where the votes for one candidate or another have only moved by a few hundred as a result. It looks like Biden has won that state by 20,000 votes so it’s unlikely a recount is going to make a difference to the outcome there.

"There’s only so much the Trump Administration can do to stop or slow these votes coming through. I’m sure his legal teams will try to identify big chunks of ballots that they will claim are not legitimate, but it’s a difficult position to take effectively across so many states. Most of these votes did come in before polling day while others are postmarked up to the point of election day - they are legitimate votes and need to be counted.

"Of course the other side of this is that in places like Arizona and Nevada, where Trump is trailing, he’s actually pushing very hard for all the votes to be counted. So he wants to have it both ways - in places where it looks like he might end up losing he wants the votes not to be counted, in places where he thinks he might end up winning he wants the count to go on. That inconsistency could create problems for his challenges. 

"It’s a very tricky situation but there are processes in place, they will play out over the course of the next few days, possibly the next few weeks, but constitutionally there has to be either a second Trump term starting on Jan 20th or President Biden will come into office on that day – the processes are really very strong and I do believe that ultimately we will see this play out – one way or the other."

5 November 2020

 

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