President Donald Trump came out of Election Day with a lead greater than 600,000 votes in Pennsylvania. That lead is shrinking as counties tally more votes, however, and more than a million votes reportedly remain.
Trump’s lead had shrunk to 534,00 votes as of 11 a.m., according to election data compiled by the New York Times. The state sits at just 78% reporting, and the counties with the most votes left to count are likely to break heavily for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The question is, however, whether they will break heavily enough for Biden to make up the difference.
Good morning. In PA, here’s where Biden’s hopes hang:
He has won 77% of mail ballots counted so far.
There are 1.4m left to count.
IF – if – that pace continues, he’d net a 787k edge – and is trailing by 657k
(and since much of blue PA is left to count, poss he might exceed 77%)
— Jonathan Tamari (@JonathanTamari) November 4, 2020
Trump and many of his supporters made hay over Biden chipping away at Trump’s large lead in the state in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Trump has suggested Biden is attempting to “steal the election,” but the Biden surge is more easily explained by comparing Trump’s performance in the state on Nov. 3 against his performance in 2016.
The president vastly out-performed his 2016 tallies in counties with the least votes reported, but is hewing closer to his 2016 performance in counties with more of the vote reported. (RELATED: Here’s What The Election Looks Like, As Battleground States Remain Undecided)
He is 26 points points above his 2016 performance in Monroe County, with 59% reporting — a county former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won by just 0.8%. He is 25 points above his 2016 performance in Cumberland County, with 63% reporting. He is 26 points ahead of his 2016 performance in Beaver County, with 66% reporting. The list goes on.
While these numbers may at first appear to benefit Trump, it is more likely to be an indicator of just how much Biden stands to gain from the remaining votes. Counties with more of their votes reported would suggest that is the case.
Trump is down three points from his 2016 performance in Wyoming County, with 98% reporting. He is up two points from 2016 in Mifflin County, with 98% reporting. He is up one point from 2016 in Bedford County with 98% reporting. The list again goes on.
One potential explanation for this discrepancy is Pennsylvania’s policy for counting mail-in and absentee ballots. Two things were known before heading into Election Day: An uncommonly large portion of Americans had voted by mail, and that portion was disproportionately Democratic. Add to that recipe Pennsylvania’s policy of waiting for Election Day to begin tallying mail-in ballots, and the explanation for Trump’s shocking leads in low-reporting counties becomes more clear: The votes simply haven’t been counted yet.
This breakdown has led to some confidence among Democratic officials in the state, including Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
???? Pennsylvania: Because math.
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) November 4, 2020
While it is certain Biden will be closing on Trump’s lead as more votes are counted, it is far from certain that he will overtake Trump’s lead. Both campaigns are already squaring up for legal battles over the mail-in ballots and the question may ultimately be decided in the courts.