Election results – Day 3 – an early look at pivot counties

Welcome to the Friday, November 6, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Where the 2020 elections stand
  2. An early look at the results in Pivot Counties
  3. Looking at state executive races

Where the 2020 elections stand

We’ve been tracking election results all day as states continue to count remaining ballots. All results in this email are as of 11:30 p.m. EST.

Here are some links for you to bookmark:

  • A rundown of states’ official results certification dates can be found here. The first state certification date was Nov. 5 for Delaware. The next is Nov. 10 for Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia.
  • For updates throughout the day, visit our results hub page at Ballotpedia.org
  • Stay tuned for our next email update later this afternoon via our Help Desk newsletter
  • For details about how recounts and challenges work, check out the information we have compiled on our Election Help Desk.
  • Click here to learn how we decide to call an election. 

Now, let’s get into the projected results.

Who won the presidency?

Vote counting continues and media outlets hadn’t predicted a definitive winner. No new states were called for either candidate Thursday. So far, the five media outlets we’re tracking had unanimously called 44 states and Washington, D.C., in the presidential election. The six remaining uncalled states, according to Ballotpedia’s election calling policy, are Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, as well as Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

President Donald Trump (R) had won states totaling 213 electoral votes to Joe Biden’s (D) 253. 

Yesterday, both candidates made statements expressing confidence in their own victories. 

Ballotpedia tracked two more states in which the presidential election has been subject either to lawsuits or recount efforts, bringing the total number of states to four: Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Click here to learn more.

Who controls the U.S. Senate?

Control of the U.S. Senate as a result of the 2020 elections had not been determined. No new Senate races were called Thursday. Six races, all with Republican incumbents, had not been called by a consensus of media outlets. Those races are in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia’s regular and special Senate elections, Maine, and North Carolina. 

Some media outlets had called the race in Arizona for Mark Kelly (D) and in Maine for Susan Collins (R), although neither had met our race calling policy. Collins’ Democratic challenger Sara Gideon conceded the race yesterday afternoon.

The composition of the Senate excluding the six uncalled seats is 47 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. Republicans and Democrats had each flipped one seat—a Republican gain in Alabama and a Democratic one in Colorado. 

If no candidate in the Georgia U.S. Senate races receives more than 50% of the vote, the top-two finishers will advance to a general runoff election on Jan. 5, 2021. The control of the Senate may not be determined until the winner of one or both of those elections is determined.

Who controls the House of Representatives?

Control of the U.S. House as a result of the 2020 elections had not been determined, although media outlets project the Democratic Party to maintain their majority. As of 8:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 5, we had called 379 of 435 House races. Democrats had won 192, and Republicans had won 187. Democrats currently hold a 232-197 majority.

Republicans had flipped seven seats, and Democrats flipped two, according to Ballotpedia’s election calling policy.

Learn more

An early look at the results in Pivot Counties 

Pivot Counties are the 206 counties nationwide that Ballotpedia identified as having voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. These counties are sometimes referred to as swing counties by media and political observers.

More than four-fifths of Pivot Counties—174—backed President Trump (R) for re-election this year, while 20 voted for Joe Biden (D), according to our analysis of preliminary vote totals. Preliminary election returns were not available in the 12 remaining Pivot Counties.

In 2016, President Trump carried the median Pivot County by a margin of 9.4 percentage points. This year, President Trump’s median margin of victory in the 174 counties he carried was 13.8 percentage points, while Joe Biden’s median margin in the 20 counties he carried was 3.4 percentage points. The raw data for this study was provided by Dave Leip of Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections in July 2017.

Donald Trump expanded on his 2016 margins in 125 of the 174 Pivot Counties he carried by an average margin of 4.5 percentage points and lost ground in the remaining 49 by an average margin of 2.5 percentage points. The 20 counties Biden carried swung towards Democrats by an average margin of 5.6 percentage points.

The two largest swings towards President Trump were 19.2 percentage points in Woodruff County, Arkansas, and 14.5 percentage points in St. Lawrence County, New York.

The largest swing away from Trump overall was in Ziebach County, South Dakota. Joe Biden carried the county by a margin of 8.5 percentage points after Trump carried it by a 2.0 percentage point margin in 2016—a 10.5 percentage point swing. 

On average, the 174 Trump-voting Pivot Counties were smaller than the 20 Biden-supporting counties, with average populations of 66,917 and 181,325, respectively. The 20 Biden-supporting counties had a smaller average non-Hispanic White population (77.1% versus 80.1% in the Trump-supporting counties) and a smaller average Black population (5.8% versus 8.2%). They also had a higher average proportion of the population with bachelor’s degrees (26.0% versus 18.9%). The Biden-supporting counties are in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota (four counties), Montana, New Hampshire (two counties), New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington (two counties), and Wisconsin (two counties).

The results detailed above are all unofficial and exact county counts are expected to change. As more vote totals come in, we’ll be updating our analysis accordingly. As we continue to monitor the situation, follow along with us at the link below, where you can also find more details about Pivot County results.

Learn more

Looking at state executive races

Yesterday, we brought you the status of state government trifectas. Here’s the latest update: 

Republicans were projected to gain trifecta control in Montana and New Hampshire, leaving them with 22 trifectas and Democrats with 15. Eleven states had divided governments. It was too early to call the trifecta status of Alaska, which was under divided government heading into the election, and Arizona, which was a Republican trifecta.

Now, let’s dive into state executive race results.

Gubernatorial elections

In this year’s 11 gubernatorial races, incumbents won re-election in nine. 

The races in Montana and Utah were for open seats. Spencer Cox (R) won in Utah, where Gov. Gary Herbert (R) did not run for re-election. Greg Gianforte (R) won in Montana, where Gov. Steve Bullock (D) was term-limited and instead ran for U.S. Senate. Montana was the only governorship to change partisan control in 2020. 

Republicans will have 27 governorships to Democrats’ 23 as a result of the 2020 elections. Seven of this year’s elections were in states with a Republican governor, and four were in states with a Democratic governor.

The last time these offices were all up for election together was in 2016. That year, Republicans gained three governorships (in Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont), and Democrats gained one (in North Carolina). In Vermont and New Hampshire, governors are elected to two-year terms. In 2018, their respective governors Phillip Scott (R) and Chris Sununu (R) both won re-election.

Attorney general elections

Ten attorney general elections were held this year, and nine of the races had been called. Incumbents won re-election in seven of the nine called races, and no seats changed party hands.

In Indiana, incumbent Curtis Hill lost in the Republican convention to Todd Rokita, who went on to win the general election. In Montana, incumbent Tim Fox (R) did not run for re-election, and Austin Knudsen (R) won in the general election.

The last time this set of offices was up was 2016. That year, one seat changed party hands—Republican Josh Hawley won the open seat in Missouri, which was previously under Democratic control.

Secretary of state elections

Seven secretary of state elections were held this year, and four of the races have been called. Incumbents won re-election in two of the four called races, and one seat changed party hands.

In Montana, incumbent Corey Stapleton lost the Republican primary to Matt Rosendale, who went on to win the general election. In Oregon, incumbent Bev Clarno (R) did not run for re-election. Shemia Fagan (D) won the general election. 

The last time this set of offices was up was 2016. That year, five seats changed party hands, with a net gain of three seats for Republicans.

Don’t forget: We’re holding our third election results briefing later today as David Luchs from our marquee team joins me to discuss notable trends, races, and results from state-level and down-ballot races across the nation. Click here to register for this free briefing at 11 a.m. CT. And if you can’t attend live, we’ll send you a link to the video when it’s concluded so you can watch it on your schedule.

Learn more




About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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