Live election coverage

By Sam Portillo, Will Jones and Sam Feierabend

Tuesday 3rd November

10:30pm: – Hello! Welcome to the R3trospect live blog for the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The three of us will be with you all night providing live updates as the events unfold. It’s set to be a very interesting one. Get comfortable, grab your popcorn, strap yourselves in and enjoy our official coverage. Thank you for choosing to support us.

10:45pm: – Americans like to do things differently, and politics is no exception. President Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden are aiming for 270 electoral votes, with the winner of the popular vote in each state taking all the points. The first results are expected from Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky at midnight GMT. We’ll be providing context and insight into each result as they happen, explaining what they mean for the overall election. Stay tuned.

10:55pm: – Get involved in the conversation using #R3trospectElection on Twitter. If you have any questions, send us a message! We’ve got a huge document at hand created by our very own Sam Portillo. It has all the information we need… and beyond. We’ll do our best to answer your queries.

11:00pm: – Hardly half an hour into the night and we’ve already got an exciting development! The New York Times have projected a 67% voter turnout across the country, which would make it the highest since 1900 when William McKinley won the presidency. Not bad for a pandemic election!

11:45pm: – Polls close in Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky in fifteen minutes. Georgia is the one to watch: it has voted for the Republican presidential candidate since 1996, including for Trump in 2016, but the Biden campaign has been highly competitive in this election cycle. Polling shows less than 1% of the vote separating the two.

11:55pm: – Exit polls by polling company Edison Research find that 36% of voters feel the economy is the most important issue in this election, 21% racial equality, and 18% coronavirus. The importance of these issues in voters’ minds is likely to determine how they cast their ballots, with the Republicans generally favoured on the economy and the Democrats presenting themselves as the party of racial justice.

Wednesday 4th November

12:05am: – Six states have now closed polling, including Democratic stronghold Vermont, Republican safe state South Carolina and battleground Georgia. Indiana, home state for Vice President Mike Pence, has been projected for the Republicans, giving us our first result of the night.

12:25am: – Three states closing polls at half past: Ohio, West Virginia and North Carolina. Ohio is considered a bellwether state – one that helps to forecast the final result – having voted for the overall winner of the election every time since 1964. Trump won by 8 percent in 2016, but polling suggests a very tight race this time around. Early results could favour Biden, with early votes – largely coming from coronavirus-wary Democrats – being counted first.

12:45am: – Still waiting on results from a handful of states. Counting has started in Florida. Joe Biden took an initial lead, as expected, because mail-in ballots are allowed to be counted before election day. As today’s votes are counted, Trump will come into touching distance, and may pass his rival to claim first place.

12:50am: – A swathe of Eastern Seaboard and Deep South states will close polls at 1am, including battleground Pennsylvania, which is worth a healthy 20 electoral college votes.

12:55am: – Biden has his first win. Vermont, a typically Democrat state, once again votes blue – with a 25% margin as it stands. It’s worth 3 points in the electoral college. Biden is off the mark.

01:10am: – Trump takes Oklahoma – mirroring his 2016 landslide there. They have voted Republican since 1968. That’s 7 electoral college votes to team red.

01:10am: – New Jersey is taken by Biden. They have voted Democrat since 1992. The state is worth 14 electoral college points.

Biden also wins in Massachusetts. This is not a happy hunting ground for Republicans with the state voting Democrat in every presidential election since 1988. It is worth 11 electoral college points.

01:15am: – Kentucky goes to Trump. They have voted Republican since 2000 and once again give the incumbent president another 8 electoral college votes.

01:20am: – Maryland goes to Biden. That’s 10 electoral college votes to the Democrats.

01:25am: – Biden has taken a number of states on the Eastern Seaboard, including the state of Delaware which he represented in the Senate for three decades. Urban states with sizeable populations offer big prizes in the electoral college, with New Jersey giving Biden the biggest electoral college of the night so far, with 14.

01:35am: – West Virginia votes in favour of Trump. He has gained another 5 electoral college votes.

Tennessee is also taken by Trump. That’s another 11 electoral college votes for the Republican Party. The state has voted red since 1980.

01:35am: Possibly slipping under the radar, it’s worth noting Biden has taken the capital of Washington D.C. The staunchly Democrat district is only worth 3 electoral college votes but it nonetheless takes Biden closer to that magic 270.

02:00am: – Arkansas goes Trump’s way. They have voted for a Republican candidate since 2000. Polling suggested a 18% margin and it looks as though the data has come into fruition. That is 6 further electoral college points to Trump.

02:05am: – Biden takes New York. They have voted for a Democrat candidate in every election since 1988. This is a big one for Joe Biden, even if the result was expected – a whopping 29 electoral college votes for him.

02:15am: – Connecticut votes in favour of Biden. They have voted Democrat since 1992. That’s a further 7 electoral college votes for the blue camp.

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02:15am: – South Dakota goes the way of Trump – this is unsurprising given his 17% lead in pre-election polling. Despite their small population, this is a real stronghold for the Republican Party who have held this state since 1968. Trump gains a further 3 electoral college votes.

02:20am: – Another interesting statistic for you. There has been a reported 4% increase in African-American citizens voting for Trump. The incumbent president stated that he’s “done more” for the Black population than any other U.S. leader with the “possible exception” of Abraham Lincoln. There are signs then that the African-American population perhaps agree with him.

02:25am: – Biden takes Colorado. Whilst traditionally a more conservative state, they have shifted towards pro-Democrat in recent years, voting blue since 2008. Biden gains another 9 electoral college votes.

02:35am: – Trump takes South Carolina. The state is worth 9 electoral college votes, 6 less than its northern neighbour. They have voted Republican since 1980.

Alabama also votes in favour of Donald Trump. The Republican candidate snaps up another 9 electoral college points. The state has voted red since 1980.

02:55am: – Not a lot happening at the moment but we all know that this is just a fleeting break. It feels like the calm before the storm.

03:00am: – Florida’s 29 electoral votes could be key to winning this election. It has a high proportion of Latino and Hispanic voters who tend to support the Democrats, and a high number of voters without college degrees who lean Republican. This makes for a highly unpredictable and indeed consequential race: the last six election winners have taken Florida.

03:20am: – Biden wins New Mexico. They have voted for the Democrat candidate in every election since 2008, making it a relatively new blue state. Joe Biden gains another 5 electoral college votes.

03:30am: – Donald Trump takes Louisiana. The Deep South state has voted Republican since 2000. It is worth 8 electoral college points which solidifies Trump’s control over the southern states.

03:35am: – Biden wins in New Hampshire and adds another Eastern Seaboard state to his blue wall. They have voted for the Democrat candidate in every election since 2004. Joe Biden gains a further 4 electoral college votes.

Rhode Island is also blue. Biden takes the state that has voted Democrat since 1988, which is worth another 4 electoral college votes.

03:45am: – We are now shifting the majority of our coverage to our live show in collaboration with Cardiff Union TV. You can watch at from 4:00am onwards. Thank you for joining us on the live blog feed tonight.

04:35am: – Trump adds 10 electoral votes to his tally with the state of Missouri: one deep South state that never looked like turning blue. With 78% of the vote reported, the Republican candidate holds an advantage of 17%.

04:45am: – Biden will win Illinois. Its urban population have voted for the Democrat presidential candidate for the eighth successive time. Nothing spectacular, but 20 electoral votes that will help to ease the nerves in the Democrat camp.

04:50am: – Kansas and Wyoming vote Trump. That’s 9 electoral votes altogether.

04:55am: – The state of glitz, glamour and Hollywood votes for the less flashy candidate. With just over half the vote counted, Joe Biden leads the president by around 50%. That’s 55 electoral votes for the Democratic ticket, bringing them much closer to the finish line. The outcome of this election lies in the battleground states, however, which are yet to be called.

05:05am: – More detailed reports from Edison Research show Biden leading Trump among just about every voter demographic apart from over-65s. The most glaring preference for Biden can be found among African American voters, with 87% favouring Biden and only 11% Trump. Crucially, he seems to (narrowly) beat Trump among male voters and voters without a college degree – demographics which lifted the president to the White House in 2016.

05:10am: – Trump takes Ohio, Idaho and Montana. Forecasts had shown less than 1% separating the candidates in Ohio, but the current difference of 9% suggests that pollsters could have underestimated Trump’s popularity nationally – again. Déjà vu. Furthermore, the winner of Ohio in the last fourteen presidential races has gone on to win the election.

05:20am: – Biden takes Virginia, a burgeoning Democratic stronghold that swung to Barack Obama in 2008 and hasn’t swung back. Another 13 votes for Biden.

06:00am: – The result we have been waiting for: Donald Trump has taken Florida. After helping to elect Biden and Obama twice, voters in the Sunshine State have chosen to do the same for Trump. Biden looks to have improved on Clinton’s performance in 2016, but Trump too has improved, picking up an extra 2% of the vote. 29 votes to the Republicans.

06:10am: – Words from the president and president-hopeful. Appearing at a car rally in Wilmington, Delaware, the former Vice President said “I’m here to tell you tonight we believe we’re on track to win this election. I’m optimistic about this outcome”. Optimistic, but by no means certain. Trump meanwhile has tweeted (of course) “we are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election”. Both campaigns have made it clear they intend to fight to the brutal end, and not concede until absolutely necessary.

06:30am: – Three words that will bring relief to Republicans and gloom to the Dems: Trump takes Texas. There had been murmurs of a “blue wave”, consisting of ethnic minority voters who had emigrated from northern states to more affordable living costs down south. The 38 electoral college votes will take Trump’s tally to 210. For another four years, at least, Texas is red.

06:35am: – Montana’s 3 votes go to Trump. Another safe Republican state that has preferred the GOP candidate for president in all but one election since 1968.

06:50am: – It looks unlikely that a winner will be declared any time soon. Each candidate has perhaps won their expected states, with little evidence of movement. Despite the optimism about a “blue wave”, Trump has held Texas and Florida. The result is a tight, almost evenly-split race, in which neither candidate has been able to pull away.

07:05am: – So, what now? We are still waiting for ten states to declare, including swing states Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and North Carolina. It seems the region of deindustrialised states known as the Rust Belt – Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – will decide the winner of the election. A combined 79,000 votes in these three states took Trump to the White House in 2020. Usually voting Democrat, enough voters were swooned by Trump’s charm to turn the states red in 2016. After four years of scandal, controversy and an ongoing public health crisis, will they fall for him again?

07:10am: – We’re signing off for now. But the election is not over yet. Several battleground states still have mail-in votes to count, which may give Joe Biden and the Democrats an advantage in the coming days. This election was expected to be a landslide – for Biden, anti-Trump. Instead, the supposedly unpopular president has matched the Democrats stride for stride, resisting any blue wave and proving unexpectedly competitive in battleground states. Nothing is certain, apart from this: by 20th January 2021, a new presidential term must begin.

1:30pm: – Biden looks set to take Maine, Wisconsin and Arizona, the latter two being states that Trump won in 2016. Trump meanwhile is poised to retain southern states Georgia and North Carolina. Biden’s path to victory still looks slightly more favourable, but the incumbent president has surpassed the expectations of most pollsters and political pundits. It is too early to call Nevada, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

1:35pm: – In a cheerful announcement at the White House, Trump has pre-emptively declared himself the winner. “Frankly, we did win the election,” he said. “We want all voting to stop.” There are 87 electoral votes still to be confirmed.

1:50pm: – Pennsylvania could see a blue shift in the coming hours and days as mail votes continue to be counted. There is also reason for hope for Biden in North Carolina, where there is a margin of less than 100,000 votes.

2:10pm: – Biden is on the verge of passing 70 million votes, and in doing so, beating Barack Obama’s popular vote record set in 2008. Trump has also surpassed his popular vote in 2016 but still trails. This will be remembered as a high turnout election.

2:45pm: – Trump threatens to take the issue of late ballots to the Supreme Court. In fact, the acceptance of mail votes received after polls close is perfectly legal in many states, including North Carolina and Pennsylvania, which Trump must hold onto if he has any chance of re-election. It seems his concern is borne out of desperation to win, rather than concern for the legitimacy of the election.

3:00pm: – Many urban votes in Michigan are still being counted, including in Detroit, suggesting a blue shift is imminent. There is a similar prospect in Pennsylvania, where Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are expected to take Biden within striking distance of Trump.

3:25pm: – More from Donald Trump on Twitter: “Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key states… then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE…”. He seems to be suggesting that mail-in ballots – which generally favour Democrats – are fraudulent. It is postal votes that will decide results in the final battleground states.

3:45pm: – Trump did well to close down many of Biden’s predicted avenues to victory, but Wednesday has brought with it a shift towards the blue camp. In the last hour or so, Biden’s campaign manager has declared that they will see “a clear path to victory by this afternoon”. The Democratic Party candidate looks set to take the key Rust Belt states of Wisconsin and Michigan whilst also scraping wins in Nevada and the typically Republican Arizona. Even if Trump takes Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, if it stays this way, he will not be able to surmount Biden. It is still achingly close in these remaining states.

5:10pm: – Michigan is a state that has been confusing political pundits all night. It turned red in 2016 as Trump appealed to the working class voters who had fallen victim to the Rust Belt’s devastating deindustrialisation. Whilst Biden looked to be 8% up in the polls, Trump is much closer than initially expected – as has been the recurring story of this election. Biden has a slim lead which is expected to grow as the votes for former-industrial hub Detroit come in. That said, the 16 electoral college points could still swing either way.

5:30pm: – In the first Rust Belt result of the night, Wisconsin has been called for Joe Biden. It makes the first swing state of the election, having voted for Trump by a margin of less than 23,000 votes in 2016. 10 electoral votes to the Democrats, and perhaps an indication of things to come in Michigan.

7:30pm: – With 80% of the vote counted, we can project Maine for Joe Biden. The state offers 2 electoral college votes to the winner of the popular vote, and 1 for the winner of each of its congressional districts. As he did in 2016, Trump has won the state’s second congressional district. Biden has taken 1 point from a congressional district in Nebraska. Every college vote now looks crucial.

7:35pm: – Biden has 237 electoral college votes. Assuming he takes Nevada and Arizona, as the vote counts currently suggest, he only needs one other battleground state to go his way – Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia or North Carolina – to win the presidency.

7:45pm: – Trump’s campaign team will file a lawsuit in an attempt to pause ballot counting in Michigan. They claim that certain polling stations have not allowed campaign officials “meaningful access”, whereby party staff are entitled to enter and observe the legitimacy of the counting process. With 94% of the vote counted, Biden leads in the state by 37,000 votes.

8:05pm: – The election comes down to six battleground states: Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Biden needs 33 votes from these six states, which he could get by holding onto Nevada and turning Arizona and Michigan blue. Trump needs 53, which would require wins in four of the six.

8:35pm: – As expected, Biden wins Hawaii. That doesn’t change the picture as we enter the climax of the election. Biden still needs 33, Trump needs 53.

9:05pm: – Fine margins separate Biden and Trump in this final selection of states: 1.2% in Michigan, 1.4% in North Carolina and 0.6% in Nevada. Although Pennsylvania shows the widest margin of the six – 5.9% – only 83% of votes have been counted, so there is still room for movement in the numbers. Mail votes are still being counted, suggesting that Biden will close the gap.

9:25pm: – Michigan is projected for Joe Biden! Another 16 electoral votes take the Democrats within touching distance of the presidency. If results in Nevada and Arizona continue as expected, Joe Biden will win the election, reaching the magic number of 270 electoral votes.

10:15pm: – Biden retains a narrow lead in Arizona and Nevada, with 86% of the vote counted in each state. If he wins both, he will be president-elect. Feeling the looming spectre of defeat, some Trump supporters in Michigan have stormed into a polling station and demanded that officials stop counting votes. Quite unprecedented.

10:30pm: – Arizona could give Biden the victory tonight. It is home to a growing proportion of Hispanic voters, a demographic that generally favours the Democrats. They have proven increasingly politically involved, too. That said, Trump seems to be more popular with Hispanic voters than he was in 2016, a fact that has helped him in states such as Florida. If Biden flips the Grand Canyon state, and takes Nevada as Mrs Clinton did in 2016, he becomes president-elect.

11:55pm: – Arizona has gone blue! It is the third state that has flipped from the Republicans to the Democrats in this presidential election, following Wisconsin and Michigan. That takes Joe Biden to 264 electoral votes: 6 more will make him president-elect. Securing any one of the remaining states – Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia – will conclude the election.

Thursday 5th November

11:15am: – Thursday morning now. Mr Trump faces an uphill battle to win re-election, needing to win all four of the remaining states – Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia – to pass that magic number of 270 electoral votes. He currently holds leads in three, but the gap is expected to close (possibly disappear) as mail votes continue to be counted. In Georgia, just 18,000 votes separate the two candidates with 4% of ballots remaining.

10:00pm: – Nevada officials have announced that 90% of remaining ballots come from Clark County, the urban centre of the state which contains Las Vegas and reliably votes blue in presidential elections. Biden currently leads by 11,000 votes. If he wins the state, he wins the election.

10:05pm: – With 99% of votes counted in Georgia, Trump leads by 0.3%. State rules mean that Biden can demand a recount so long as the margin is less than 1%.

10:10pm: – Trump has attempted to sue Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan –twice. No luck so far for the incumbent, who has claimed that his campaign staff were wrongfully barred from observing the ballot counting take place.

10:35pm: – Trump leads in Pennsylvania by 90,000 votes, with 326,000 left to be counted. Biden would need around 72% of the remaining vote to flip the state.

Friday 6th November

12:10am: – Trump addresses journalists and TV audiences from the White House: “if you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes – they can try to steal the election from us, if you count the votes that came in late”. The votes he is referring to, mail-in ballots which arrived after polls closed, are completely legal in many states, so long as they were sent on or before election day. The president also notes decisive victories in battleground states Florida, Ohio and Iowa, which he won by larger margins than most pre-election polling anticipated. No blue wave, perhaps, but the Commander-in-Chief finds himself resorting to legal battles to salvage any chance of reaching 270.

12:20am: – With 2% of the vote left to count in Georgia, Trump’s lead has narrowed to less than four thousand votes. The Peach State’s 16 electoral votes are absolutely crucial if the president is to win re-election – in fact, every remaining state is.

12:40am: – The pattern across battleground states has been uniform. Mail-in votes, which continue to be counted after in-person election day votes, are overwhelmingly Democrat. Trump’s advantage in Pennsylvania and Georgia is shrinking.

11:15am: – Friday morning: we can expect counting to finish in Pennsylvania and North Carolina today. It may be Georgia that announces first, however, with 99% of votes already counted. With literally 1,096 votes separating the two candidates in a state of 10 million, the loser will inevitably request a recount.

12:20pm: – Biden trails Trump by less than 20,000 votes in Pennsylvania now. The 5% of votes still to be counted are mostly coming from Democrat-friendly areas, including a large number of mail votes. A reminder that Biden needs just one of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada or North Carolina to win the election.

R3trospect result projection

2:35pm: – Biden is projected to win Pennsylvania – taking him over 270 electoral votes. He will become president-elect. The 5% of votes that remain to be counted come largely from urban Democrat areas, all but ensuring he will maintain his lead in the state. It is somewhat poetic, that after a brutal campaign and unexpectedly fierce election, it is Biden’s birth state that will give him the election. He is set to become the 46th president of the United States, the oldest ever. Kamala Harris will become the first ever woman to hold the office of vice president.

Saturday 7th November

2:10pm: – Biden pulls out in front in Pennsylvania. Major news outlets are preparing to call the result of the election in his favour. If the current voting trajectories continue, he will win Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania, taking him over 300 electoral votes.

Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election with 306 electoral college votes to Donald Trump’s 232. The Democratic ticket, pairing Biden, an experienced Senator and former Vice President, with California attorney and Senator Kamala Harris, flipped Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania from red to blue, while holding on to every state Hillary Clinton won in 2016.