With Joe Biden’s command lead in the polls, President Donald Trump will have to win pretty much every state of disarray tonight and in the coming days to secure reelection.
It is not unprecedented. Basically, that’s what he did in 2016.
If we were to join another Trump wave, Republican pollster Frank Luntz would list four states to follow for its first signs. These states “are all coming soon” on Election Day and “Donald Trump must win all four”; to be re-elected, Luntz told Yahoo Finance.
The four states are Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio. The Georgia polls first close at 7:00 pm east time, followed by North Carolina and Ohio at 7:30 pm and Florida at 8:00 pm
Luntz said if Trump could do a clean sweep there, he would live to fight another day in places like Pennsylvania. But “if Joe Biden wins any of those four states, then Biden will win the Electoral College.”
These states were among the first to close on Tuesday but more importantly, they counted the wave of absentee voting until Americans adjusted to vote during a pandemic. Georgia began processing absentee ballots on October 19, and Florida also processed ballots for weeks.
Ohio and North Carolina are also counting early absentee ballots, but one thing is required: they accept ballots that arrive by mail after Election Day. So if the outcome is misleading, the winner can be declared quickly, but a close election could mean days of waiting for final ballots to come and count.
Luntz also said the four states have “relatively clear electoral histories.”
Some Democrats have talked about a “red illusion” where Trump supporters largely vote on Election Day and their votes are pre-counted. The effects will be those that initially seem to suggest a Trump victory will fade over time.
In his four states, Luntz appeared to be concerned about the reverse possibility when the pre-reported mail ballot, leading to the initial advantage for Biden would then fade.
Trump won all four states in 2016 at a sizable margin, but the races are much closer this time.
Based on the final wave of voting, Florida might be the best chance for Biden to end the election early. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has poured millions of dollars into the state to support the Biden campaign, and the poll’s final average score shows Biden at 47.9% in the state compared with Trump’s 47%.
‘Pennsylvania is a mess’
One state where Luntz and other observers are unlikely to buy a lot of stock on election night is Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania is a mess,” he said, pointing to state law that does not allow workers there to begin processing absentee ballots until Election Day. Pennsylvania’s top election official has promised “overwhelming” results on Friday.
Biden’s vote in Pennsylvania – while recently tightening – still benefits Democrats.
“It looks like Donald Trump won Pennsylvania tonight because of those who are voting for the day, those votes count first,” Luntz said.
Earlier on Yahoo Finance, former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci predicted that Trump would lose Florida: “I think this will end at 11 p.m. Eastern time,” prompting the withdrawal process of Pennsylvania got excited, Scaramucci said.
Luntz hopes it could take a little longer. “Take it slowly, take a pill, take a glass,” he said, before quickly adding, “not at the same time.”
Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.
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