Race for the White House: Who has the lead in the states still counting?

Not quite a race to 270, more of a crawl, as the tortoise catches the hare.

On Tuesday night Donald Trump had raced to leads in Georgia and Pennsylvania. Since then he has watched Joe Biden gradually slicing them away.

The president needs to win both states to be sure of the magic 270 Electoral College votes that would keep him in the White House.

If Joe Biden wins Georgia, then the worst he could do is tie. Win Pennsylvania and the former vice president finally gets the top job.

So what is the state of play?


There are fewer than 14,000, mainly absentee, votes to be counted in this historically Republican state. At 6:30am on Friday morning (UK time), Mr Trump’s lead was just 1,805 votes and the majority of the outstanding ballots are in two counties – Clayton which leans heavily Democratic and Gwinnett which Hillary Clinton won from the Republicans in 2016. Joe Biden needs to take around 55% of what remains to win. Should he do it then he would become the first Democratic nominee to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992, and he had some help from Ross Perot. If it remains neck and neck then the 8,800 military ballots yet to be counted could come into play.


In Pennsylvania, the avalanche of Democratic postal ballots has helped Joe Biden turn a deficit of around 700,000 votes into one of around 20,000 votes. More significantly, Mr Biden is adding between 70% and 80% of every batch counted to his vote tally. If that continues, he will not only overtake President Trump but build a sizeable lead of his own, big enough to secure the 20 Electoral College votes Pennsylvania offers and the White House. The majority of outstanding votes are in Democratic-friendly Philadelphia. One county, Allegheny, in the Pittsburgh area, will count its remaining 36,000 votes on Saturday.

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But what if Joe Biden doesn’t win Pennsylvania? Then Nevada becomes more important. His lead in the state of casinos and gambling has grown from 8,000 votes to around 11,500. Excluding provisional ballots (which need signature verification) there are approximately 60,000 mainly postal ballots that need to be counted and 90% of them in Clark County which includes Las Vegas. Clark tends to vote Democratic. The last time it supported a Republican for president was 1988. So, a betting man might put his money on Mr Biden to hold on to the six Electoral College votes on offer.


Arizona’s 11 Electoral College votes though could be slipping from Joe Biden’s grasp. The absentee and postal ballots there are breaking for Donald Trump and have steadily reduced the Democratic nominee’s lead to around 47,000. Mr Trump needs to win about 58% of the 290,000 ballots still to be counted, and he is currently taking around 56% of them. Three quarters of the outstanding votes are in Maricopa County, where Mr Biden has a narrow lead, but the Republicans have been the winners since 1948. If Joe Biden can win Arizona he will be the first Democratic Presidential nominee to do so since Bill Clinton in 1996.

Win Pennsylvania, rebuilding the blue wall, and Joe Biden puts the presidency beyond doubt. Add Nevada and he makes the victory more comfortable. With either Georgia or Arizona he makes history. All are still possible. Whereas Donald Trump’s hopes depend on Pennsylvania. Lose that and he loses his job.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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