No matter what the final outcome is, this wasn’t a wave election. Key states are close. Votes are still being counted, and either candidate could still eke out a win. There are multiple ways either camp could get to 270 electoral votes.
President Donald Trump has successfully defended large states like Texas and Florida that carry large electoral vote counts and that former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign hoped would turn blue. That didn’t happen. Trump also held onto Iowa and Ohio where Biden had tried to tip the balance in recent months. The Trump campaign had tried to draw New Hampshire and Minnesota over to the GOP, but those states are both projected for Biden.
All of that has left the map looking similar to 2016, with a couple notable exceptions. Georgia, a longtime red state, is still not decided. Also, Biden managed to flip Arizona into his column, according to AP’s projection, which means that Biden could afford to lose Pennsylvania, as long as he holds on to Nevada, a state that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and brings Michigan and Wisconsin back to the Democratic ledger, two longtime Democratic states that helped hand Trump the White House.
That means the contest comes down to what happens in six states: Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Trump probably has to win Pennsylvania, a state he flipped red in 2016, to stay in the White House. If he does that, he will need three of the other remaining battleground states to win. Without Pennsylvania, he’d need to bring in all five remaining states.
Biden held narrow leads early Wednesday morning in Wisconsin and Nevada and would likely need those states in order to win. If those two do go to Biden, he could pick off one win in either Georgia, Pennsylvania or Michigan to take the contest. With an Arizona win, Biden could lose Pennsylvania and still win the presidency, as long as he nabs one of the northern states, Michigan or Wisconsin.
The winner will be determined by millions of absentee and mail in ballots that are still being counted.