2020: A Guide to Election Night

Four years ago, political outsider Donald Trump defied the odds to defeat Hillary Clinton and become America’s 45th President.

On November 3, voters will decide whether Trump has earned a second term, or whether former Vice President Joe Biden should get a shot at the top job.

In 2016, Trump flipped Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa to win the electoral college. All these states are in play again this time around, alongside a handful of other battleground states, including Georgia and North Carolina.

But there’s plenty going on beyond the race for control of the White House.

The 2018 midterms saw Democrats comfortably regain control of the 435-member House of Representatives, but they were unable to retake the Senate, where Republicans increased their majority by two seats.

The story is different this year: whereas in 2018 Democrats faced a particularly unfavorable Senate map, the pendulum has swung the other way.

There are at least nine GOP-held Senate seats targeted by Democrats this time (more if you include Kansas, Alaska, and even Texas), and just two Democrat-held seats viewed as potential flips for Republicans.

Whether Trump or Biden is in the White House after January 20, Democratic or Republican control of the Senate will have enormous consequences for the president’s ability to push through his legislative agenda.

The election comes amid a global pandemic that has hit America particularly hard, and it will be a voting issue in more ways than one. There has been a dramatic expansion of mail-in voting across the states (already the subject of litigation), as well as record numbers of people voting early in person.

And while some states, such as Florida, allow early votes to be processed before election day, others, such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, only allow counting to begin from polling day. Both the Georgia Senate races, meanwhile, look likely to only be decided in January runoffs.

All of which means that it is quite possible – though by no means certain – that we will not know the result on the night.
Our guide tracks the polls as they close on election night, giving you detail on which races to watch, which states are most important, and comparing this year’s projections with the 2016 results. Use it to follow along as the results come in to help make sense of what is certain to be a historic night.

Click here to download the full guide (pdf).