You might have reasonably expected to have some kind of clue about the results of the US presidential election by now.
Okay, so who is going to be the next president?
We don’t know, because not enough votes have been counted yet for either Donald Trump or Joe Biden to claim victory.
In fact, because of the time it takes to count the huge number of postal votes cast during this pandemic election, it could take days.
And if there are legal challenges to the results, it might even take weeks. This could get tricky.
Not even a hint?
To become president, you don’t actually need to win the popular vote. Instead, a candidate has to win the majority in a system called the electoral college, where each state gets a certain number of votes or “electors” roughly in proportion to its population.
So if you win that state, you win its votes (except Nebraska and Maine, but that’s complicated). There are 538 of these state votes in total – the person who gets 270 will become president.
So despite a near record turnout this time, it is just a few key battleground states whose voters decide the election.
- Mr Biden and Mr Trump are projected to win the states they were comfortably expected to win
- The race is still very close in a few crucial competitive states
- In some of those tight races, officials haven’t even started counting postal votes, and those could change everything.
Let’s take a look at some of those states then.
Florida: Projected for Donald Trump, where many are pointing to Cuban-American support in Miami-Dade county.
Arizona: The state has not voted Democrat since 1996 but looks like a potential gain for Mr Biden, who went after young progressive Latinos living there.
Wisconsin and Pennsylvania: These states haven’t even started counting postal votes and that could take days.
Story of the night in one line?
Donald Trump is doing better than expected and Joe Biden has failed to win those battleground states which count votes quickly, which means more uncertainty as we wait for a few key states.
And in their own words…
Joe Biden addressed supporters saying: “We’re going to win this” but also urged patience.
Minutes later Donald Trump tweeted: “We are up BIG, but they ate trying to steal the election.” Twitter has flagged that tweet as potentially misleading – the Trump campaign said that was censorship.
Should I have stayed up?
There were some big moments, but mostly in the other elections taking place, where control of the Senate still hangs in the balance:
- Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham is projected to win over his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison in South Carolina, a race which at one point looked like he might lose.
- Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, the first open supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, has won a seat in Congress – she stood unchallenged.
- Also in the race to win control of the Senate, the Democrats lost Alabama, their most vulnerable seat, but gained Colorado from the Republicans.
- Arizona and New Jersey have voted to legalise marijuana for personal use.
- America has its highest ranking openly transgender elected official after Sarah McBride was elected to a seat in Delaware’s state legislature.
So what now?
We might not know for days. Well, this looks like the most likely scenario as this battle is going to shift to the postal votes which are yet to be counted in places like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Lawyers could get involved. Donald Trump has said previously that he would mount legal challenges if the result is close. This means it could potentially take weeks.
Will uncertainty lead to unrest? There is definitely going to be uncertainty, but although many Americans have talked about their concerns it is too early to say if there will be any significant unrest.