On Saturday, November 7, Joe Biden gained the necessary number of Electoral College votes to be the 46th president of the United States. But some Congressional races have not yet declared a victor. In fact, a few key races still haven’t been decided. Here, Election Central takes a closer look at how things shifted during the four days that the American people waited to learn who would be the next president, as well as important races that are still in flux.
The key states watched during the days after November 3rd were Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada. As Election Night came to a close on Tuesday, it seemed as if Donald Trump had a chance for reelection. However, as the days progressed, the counted ballots shifted more and more in Joe Biden’s favor. As the vote totals in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada were being tallied, the margin made these races too close to call. Finally, Friday morning, Georgia, a Republican presidential stronghold for over twenty years, announced that Democrat Joe Biden was pulling ahead in the state. Biden’s lead continued to widen in Pennsylvania as well. This was important because Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes would give Biden the 270 Electoral College votes he needed to win. On Saturday afternoon, the news media finally called the election for Joe Biden.
What caused the long delays in the count? This election was unusual for many reasons. The coronavirus pandemic caused a record number of people to vote by mail. In some states, mail-in ballots are accepted if they postmarked by Election Day. This meant that they could not be counted until after Election Day had passed. This also explains the gradual shift in some states from a Trump lead to a Biden lead: Democrats promoted early voting and the use of mail-in ballots, while Republicans did not. As a result, Biden’s vote tally steadily crept up on, and then passed, Trump’s initial Election Day lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Georgia wasn’t just important to the U.S. presidential contest. No Senate candidates in Georgia received more than 50 percent of the vote, so both Senate seats will now be decided by a special run-off election, which will take place on January 5, 2021. These are critical seats because they might determine which party has a majority in the Senate.
Right now, both political parties have won 48 seats nationally. There are two other Senate races that haven’t been decided yet–one in Alaska, and one in North Carolina. Both of those races are expected to be won by Republican candidates. So if a Republican wins one or both of Georgia’s seats, the Senate will tip 52-48 Republican. However, if Democratic candidates win both Senate runoff races in Georgia, the Senate will be tied at fifty seats apiece. Democratic Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serves as tiebreaker for votes.
In the House of Representatives, the Republican Party gained six new seats. This narrows the gap that the Democratic Party previously help in the House. Though there are 19 House races not yet officially called, the Democrats currently hold a 215 to 201 lead on the GOP. The races not yet official include Arizona’s 1st district—which may hold as a Democrat seat; two California seats, an Iowa seat, and four New York seats that could all go either way; and a seat in Alaska, plus one more in New York that seem likely to be counted as Republican wins. No matter how these outstanding results conclude, the Democratic Party control in the House is less than it was before November 3rd election.