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Election Update: The State Of The Presidential Race


The presidential contest has narrowed. Vice President Joe Biden is currently ahead with recent wins in the blue wall states of Michigan and Wisconsin. And meanwhile, officials in Pennsylvania say they may - may - be able to announce a winner tonight. But it is not over yet. President Trump still has a path to reelection. And to talk through that, let's bring in NPR's election expert, Domenico Montanaro.

Hey, Domenico.


KELLY: I want to go to the latest vote counts with you in just a sec. But first, the president spoke this evening. He appeared at the White House. He made a lot of false claims about how voting and vote counting have gone. What did you make of it?

MONTANARO: You know, you really can't say stunning anymore because this has become all too typical. So it was an assault on democracy and just not what's reflective of what's actually going on in the country currently. I mean, you have a lot of workers in these states, Republicans and Democrats, who are working, putting in long hours, who are trying to get an accurate vote count. And that's what everyone in this country should want. It should be done diligently. And frankly, it's what's made the United States, you know, a model for democracy and what separates the U.S. from corrupt countries around the world. And for the president of the United States to do that just undermines that completely.

KELLY: OK. Tell us where things actually stand tonight. We're still watching several key states, and they're still counting ballots. What's the latest?

MONTANARO: They are. And we are watching as the vote count tightens in Pennsylvania and in Georgia and in Arizona, by the way, where they continue to count votes. And guess what? President Trump is picking up votes there. So in Pennsylvania right now, boy, the margin is super-tight. We are talking 63,700 votes now. Another little batch just came in to make it that - make it so. You know, if Joe Biden - Joe Biden's been winning about 78% of the ballots in Pennsylvania today. If he were to continue at that pace - but let's say - put it a little lower, about 70% of what's remaining, about a quarter million ballots, he would wind up with about a 36,000-vote lead when all is said and done. That is mighty close. And I don't think that we're going to see any kind of a call there this evening on that unless things speed up rapidly (laughter).

Nevada, still close, obviously. We're not seeing much there coming in. It's 11,000 vote difference. We're probably not going to find out a lot more until tomorrow. Arizona, though, 58,900 votes, that has been steadily going in President Trump's direction increasingly. The AP has called Arizona, but keeping an eye on it.

KELLY: Yeah, so mighty close in a number of states. And just to tease out what you just said about Arizona because there's some confusion over this, the AP has called Arizona. We at NPR follow the AP's calls. And so we have said Joe Biden has won Arizona. Not every news organization is doing that. There are still questions about that state.

MONTANARO: Right. And, you know, we're just going to watch it. And the AP says they have no reason to pull back their call at this point. But if they do, then that would bring Joe Biden's total down to 253, making Pennsylvania all the more important because if he were to hold his leads, Biden, in Arizona and Nevada, then he would get to 270 without needing Pennsylvania. But if not, then Pennsylvania is where it comes down to. And by the way, Georgia, we have to watch - just 3,500 votes now separating the two candidates.

KELLY: It's so close. I know. I know. I can't keep my eyes off Georgia.

MONTANARO: Yeah. And that is really - you know, there's a lot of electoral votes there. And I think it really does encompass the demographic shift that we've seen in the country in - across the Sunbelt states. Georgia was such a hotly contested place. And Stacey Abrams in 2018 came up just short and put in so much work and effort to get people to go and vote, and they've done so again. And, you know, I mean, it really could be, you know, a state where, again, we see perhaps a recount, and Biden could potentially take a lead there.

KELLY: Alrighty, lots to watch for tonight, sounds like still tomorrow...

MONTANARO: Definitely.

KELLY: ....Including - as both candidates try to get these 270 votes somehow under their belt. That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro.

Thank you.

MONTANARO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.