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The big news Friday morning was the Biden edged ahead in two key, outstanding states: Georgia and Pennsylvania. This means he now leads in 4 of the 5 key states that remain uncalled, along with Arizona and Nevada. Trump retains a lead only in North Carolina.
Here’s where the race stands.
The remaining, uncalled swing states are in yellow:
(Official results still have Alaska undecided, but it isn’t expected to be competitive when all votes are counted.)
Biden’s twin wins in Michigan and Wisconsin brought him close to the 270 electoral votes he would need to become president. He’s now at 253 electoral votes, meaning he needs 17 of the remaining 68 votes.
How Biden could win
At this point, Biden’s paths to victory are numerous, while Trump’s are evaporating. Trump would need to carry 4 of the last 5 key states to win, with Pennsylvania needing to be one of them, but he’s ahead only in North Carolina.
Biden, meanwhile, could win just by carrying Pennsylvania or by carrying only Arizona and Nevada. He could also get to 269 votes — enough for a tie — by winning only Georgia, with any other state giving him the victory.
The current counts suggest he’s likely to win more than that, but let’s run through each scenario.
One state that could very well hold the keys to the White House for Biden on the hours to come is Pennsylvania. Biden now leads there by 0.1 percent, with most of the remaining votes in pro-Biden areas. Its 20 electoral votes would mean game over. Here’s what it would look like if Biden pulled the sweep of the three Midwestern/Rust Belt states that went for Trump by less than a percentage point in 2016, by adding Pennsylvania to Michigan and Wisconsin:
Were Biden to somehow lose Pennsylvania, he would needs some combination of 2 of the 4 remaining uncalled states: Arizona (11), Georgia (16), Nevada (6) and North Carolina (15).
The easiest of those could be getting the two Western states, which would provide exactly 17 votes and get him to 270. Biden is leading by less two percentage points in Arizona and by about one in Nevada, where much of the uncounted vote is mail ballots (which have gone heavily for Democrats) in Las Vegas-based Clark County.
Here’s what it would look like if we gave Biden these states but not Pennsylvania:
How could Trump win?
Given its narrowing paths to victory, the Trump campaign has set about arguing that Nevada and Arizona aren’t done deals — despite some organizations, including the Associated Press which is generally very cautious about calling races, having called Arizona.
At that point, Trump would need to not only win at least either Arizona or Nevada, but also sweep Georgia (16), Pennsylvania (20) and North Carolina (15). This is apparently his best hope — mounting efforts to litigate results notwithstanding — and it requires a lot of pieces coming together.
Here’s what that would look like, with either Arizona or Nevada putting Trump over 270:
Beyond that, Trump could lose only Georgia and still get to 269 votes by winning the four other states. At that point, the race would be decided by the House of Representatives, with each state’s delegation casting one vote. Given Republicans will very likely hold a majority of the delegations, that would seem to suggest a tie goes to Trump, but there are many factors at-play that probably aren’t worth getting into just yet.
If Trump were to somehow pull it off, it would arguably be an even bigger assist from the electoral college than he got in 2016, when he carried three states by less than one percentage point.
But at this point, it’s Biden’s race to lose.
Kevin Uhrmacher contributed to this report.