The first and last name of the next president of the United States depended this Thursday on the counting of a handful of votes and a legal battle. Joe Biden and his campaign looked on with optimism
the evolution of scrutiny in the five states that remained to be defined: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina. Donald Trump and his campaign, for their part, faced with a recount trend that was leading them in the direction of defeat, tried to bog down the recount with lawsuits, challenges, demands that the scrutiny stop and accusations of fraud without evidence support . But Trump, despite this, still had options to keep the White House.
Any result was possible, but with more roads to victory open for Biden, who this Thursday followed the evolution of the results from his residence in Wilmington (Delaware). After having confirmed his triumph in Michigan and Wisconsin the day before, a victory in Arizona and Nevada was enough for the Democratic candidate to reach the 270 voters (the delegates who distribute the states and who elect the president) necessary to get the presidency .
Arizona was, for some, a decided battle early Wednesday morning. The electoral measurement teams of large media with different editorial lines – the AP agency, Fox News, ‘The Wall Street Journal’, ‘Politico’ – gave Biden the winner in this state, after the Democratic candidate took an advantage of more than 120,000 votes with 80% of the scrutiny. But as the recount progressed at a snail’s pace in this state, Trump narrowed the gap considerably: As of early Friday, the gap with 90% of the votes counted was just 56,000 votes for Biden. Democrats have been optimistic that what remains to be told is in their favor, but the Trump campaign believes it can still come back.
The victory in Arizona was enough for the Democratic nomination provided that another western state that remains to be decided, Nevada, also falls on their side. It’s a state that Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama won for Democrats in the previous three elections, but that Trump has managed to bring into play. In the final days of his campaign, in the frenzied blitz with visits from up to five states a day, went through here to win support. As of Thursday night, the difference in favor of Biden had increased slightly to nearly 11,000 votes, but an estimated 150,000 still remained to be counted. Of those, Trump would have to win between 52% and 54% to turn the tables. It will not be easy, because much of what remains to be counted is voting by mail, according to the local authorities yesterday, who also pointed out that the count would not end until this weekend.
None of this mattered if a favorable outcome for Biden came from across the country. In Pennsylvania an endless but decisive count continued. Here Trump had advantages of more than half a million votes. It was known that with the vote-by-mail count – 2.5 million Pennsylvanians chose the postal route – which was counted at the end, the forces would be equalized. In the early hours of Friday, with 95% counted, Trump had 49.5% of the vote, compared to 49.2% for Biden, a difference of just over 18,000 ballots. Many of them included the Philadelphia Convention Center, a huge complex that was flooded with hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots cast in the largest city in the state. On the outskirts there have been demonstrations from both sides, with leftist groups demanding that the last vote be counted and Trump supporters repeating the president’s accusations of fraud.
Trump couldn’t afford a defeat in this state. No combination allowed him to win the election if Biden won here. But advancing the scrutiny made it progressively more difficult.
More options for Biden
The Democratic candidate had other open options, in the case of not being able to overcome in Pennsylvania or that Arizona ends up falling on the Republican side. One of them was in a southern state, Georgia, where this Thursday was almost all the vote counted, with 98% of the vote. The difference in favor of Trump was negligible, just over 1,200 votes and what was left to count could benefit Biden. But maybe not with enough margin to come back.
Also in dispute was North Carolina, where the difference in favor of Trump is wider –about 77,000 votes with 95% counting– but state authorities warned that the count will not be finalized until next Thursday, November 12.
Outside of North Carolina, the arithmetic for Trump was straightforward. He needed to keep his advantage in Pennsylvania and win in Georgia and Arizona or Georgia and Nevada. If Georgia lost, even if they won Nevada and Arizona, the result would not be enough. Neither for him nor for Biden, since in that last combination the candidates would tie 269 voters. The decision, in that case, would correspond to the House of Representatives, which will continue to be dominated by the Democrats, who have lost weight in the lower house in this election despite retaining the majority. But it is not elected by the majority of its members, rather each delegation from each state has one vote. In that scenario, the Republicans would have the advantage.