US Presidential Elections 2020: How It Works & What It Means

Mike Melli , 04 Nov 2020
US Presidential Elections 2020 by kovop58 | www.shutterstock.com
US Presidential Elections 2020 by kovop58 | www.shutterstock.com

As India wakes up this morning, America is staring at their TV, computer, or phone with bated breath. To the unaware, the United States is extremely divided right now between sitting president Donald Trump, and former Vice President Joe Biden. American politics has become more tribal than ever since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, and millions of Americans on both sides of the political spectrum are praying for their candidate to win. Many were hoping that they would know the results before going to bed tonight, but those hopes were not met.

The race is extremely close right now. As of this writing, the votes are being counted. And the outcome is… uncertain.

What Is The Electoral College & How Does It Work?

In the U.S. presidential elections, the ultimate winner is decided by something called the Electoral College, not the popular vote.

The Electoral College is a weighted system that gives a certain number of votes to each of the 50 states (plus the capital district of Washington DC). You need 270, out of 538, votes to win the presidency.

This system (no matter what your opinions of it), is extremely consequential. It’s the Electoral College system that gave the presidency to George Bush in 2000 even though he lost the popular vote to Al Gore. And to Donald Trump in 2016, even though he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by more than 2 million votes.

What Are Swing States?

The American system means that each election is ultimately decided by a handful (10-12) states. These are called “swing states”, in that they swing from voting Republican to Democrat in any given election – as opposed to states like New York and California which are guaranteed to go for Joe Biden, or states like Alabama and Mississippi which are guaranteed to go for Trump. The states that will decide the 2020 election are:

Swing States called for Biden: Total – 21 votes
• Arizona (11 votes) – Called for Biden.
• Minnesota (10 votes) – Called for Biden.

Swing States called for Trump: Total – 91 votes
• Florida (29 votes) – Called for Trump.
• Iowa (6 votes) – Called for Trump.
• Ohio (18 votes) – Called for Trump.
• Texas (38 votes) – Called for Trump.

Too Close to Swing States: Total – 83 votes
• Wisconsin (10 votes) – Too close to call.
• Georgia (16 votes) – Too close to call.
• Michigan (16 votes) – Too close to call.
• Nevada (6 votes) – Too close to call.
• North Carolina (15 votes) – To close to call.
• Pennsylvania (20 votes) – Too close to call.

What It All Means 

It’s close. Closer than a lot of people thought. But, Joe Biden is still favoured to win. Even though Trump is winning more swing states so far, Arizona is a state that Trump won in 2016, and now Biden has won it. That’s big!

Now it all comes down to these remaining states, and among those, it really comes down to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. These three states now will decide the next American president. Trump needs to win 2 out of these 3 (barring any surprises) to win, otherwise, the next American president will be Joe Biden.

Seem crazy? Try being an American! 😱

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