The Electoral College is the process by which the states and District of Columbia elect the president of the United States. Each state is represented by a number of electors equal to the size of its congressional delegation. There are 538 electors in total. To win the Electoral College, a candidate must receive a majority—at least 270—electoral votes.
In each state, a presidential candidate has a slate of electors that is typically selected by the state party through conventions or a committee vote. When a candidate wins the statewide popular vote in a state, his or her slate of electors is chosen to represent that state in the Electoral College.
The only exceptions are Maine and Nebraska, which assign two at-large electors to the statewide winner and one elector to the winner from each congressional district.
This year, electors from each state will separately meet on Dec. 14 to cast their votes for president and vice president. Although there is no constitutional provision or federal law requiring electors to vote in accordance with the election results in their state, electors typically vote for their pledged candidates.
The electors from each state then sign and seal six certificates of the vote. By Dec. 23, these documents must be delivered to the president of the Senate, state secretary of state (two copies), to the archivist of the United States (two copies), and the judge of the U.S. district court in the district where they met.
Congress will count the electoral votes in a joint session and declare a winner—subject to any objections to an individual state’s electoral votes—on Jan. 6.
Fourteen states have provisions permitting the disqualification and replacement of faithless electors whose vote deviates from the state’s popular vote.
In 2016, votes for president and vice president were cast by seven faithless electors: five Democratic and two Republican.
During the 2020 election cycle, Ballotpedia tracked candidate endorsements from five noteworthy influencers: President Donald Trump (R), President-elect Joe Biden (D), former President Barack Obama (D), Vice President Mike Pence (R), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I).
Obama issued the most endorsements in 2020 elections at 232, according to Ballotpedia’s count. Of these 232 endorsed candidates, 82 won, 115 lost, and 35 races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 42% of Obama-endorsed candidates won their races.
We counted 181 endorsements that Trump issued during the 2020 elections, the third-highest among our tracked influencers. Of these candidates, 136 won, 40 lost, and five races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 77% of Trump-endorsed candidates won their races.
Biden issued 50 endorsements in 2020. Twelve of these candidates won, 29 were defeated, and nine races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 29% of Biden-endorsed candidates were elected to office.
We counted 202 endorsements that Sanders issued during the 2020 elections, the second-highest among our tracked influencers. Of these candidates, 125 won, 62 lost, and 15 races were uncalled as of December 2nd. Not including uncalled races, 67% of Sanders endorsed candidates won their elections.
At 10 endorsements issued in 2020 by Ballotpedia’s count, Pence endorsed the fewest candidates in 2020 among our tracked influencers. Seven of these candidates won and three were defeated, meaning Pence-endorsed candidates won 70% of the time.
Following the 2016 presidential election, there were 206 Pivot Counties that voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 before voting for Donald Trump (R) in 2016.
Based on unofficial 2020 results, there were 22 Boomerang Pivot Counties, which flipped to Joe Biden (D), and 174 Retained Pivot Counties, which voted for Trump again.
In 2016, Trump’s average margin of victory in what are now the 22 Boomerang Pivot Counties counties was 1.97 percentage points, 9.45 points fewer than his average across all Pivot Counties. By contrast, Obama overperformed in these counties, relative to his overall averages, in 2012 and 2008.
On the other hand, compared to 2016, Trump’s average margin of victory in the 174 Retained Pivot Counties increased by 2.15 percentage points. Trump had overperformed in the Retained Pivot Counties in 2016, exceeding his overall average margin of victory by 1.06 percentage points. Obama underperformed in these counties in 2008 and 2012.
Three states voted for presidential and gubernatorial candidates of different parties this year, while at least two voted for presidential candidates of a different party than the state’s trifecta status.
A state government trifecta occurs when one party holds a state’s governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Heading into the 2020 elections, Republicans held 21 state government trifectas and Democrats held 15. The 14 remaining states had divided government, where neither party holds a trifecta. Republicans gained at least two trifectas in states with divided governments this year, picking up trifectas in Montana and New Hampshire. As of Nov. 16, Alaska’s final trifecta status remained too close to call, leaving the possibility of a third trifecta pickup for Republicans. No other states’ trifecta statuses changed as a result of the election.
Joe Biden (D) won all 15 states with Democratic trifectas as well as Arizona, which has a Republican trifecta, and New Hampshire, which gained one. As of Nov. 16, the results of the presidential election in Georgia, a Republican trifecta, remained too close to call. Four of the five outlets Ballotpedia tracks had called the state for Joe Biden.
Donald Trump (R) won the other 20 Republican trifecta states. Of the 12 states with divided government after the election (including Alaska), five voted for Donald Trump and seven for Joe Biden.
Eleven states elected a governor this year, including seven with Republican governors at the time of the election and four with Democratic governors. Three states split their presidential and gubernatorial votes. New Hampshire and Vermont re-elected the Republican governors first elected in 2016 while voting for Joe Biden for president. North Carolina re-elected the Democratic governor first elected in 2016, while voting a second time for Donald Trump.
All 11 states also held gubernatorial elections in 2016. That year, five states split their presidential and gubernatorial votes. Montana, North Carolina, and West Virginia elected Democratic governors while also voting for Donald Trump (R). New Hampshire and Vermont elected Republican governors while also voting for Hillary Clinton (D).
Both Montana and West Virginia voted for Donald Trump a second time while also electing a Republican as governor. In Montana, Greg Gianforte (R) was elected governor after losing to incumbent Steve Bullock (D) in the 2016 election. In West Virginia, Jim Justice (R) was re-elected. Justice was first elected as a Democrat in 2016 and joined the Republican Party the following year.
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) is the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election, according to a consensus call from ABC News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News, and The New York Times. Projected to win Pennsylvania, Biden has won at least 273 electoral votes, putting him over the threshold of 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. President Donald Trump (R) won at least 213 electoral votes.
Biden will be the oldest president to take office on January 20, 2021, at 78 years old. His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), will be the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent to serve as vice president.
George H.W. Bush (R) was the last president to lose his re-election campaign in 1992.
Races remain too close to call in four battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina. Biden currently leads in the first three states, totaling 33 electoral votes. Trump leads in North Carolina, which has 15 electoral votes.
As of Nov. 4, former Vice President Joe Biden (D) is the projected winner of the presidential election in Wisconsin. As of 4:00 p.m. E.T., 99% of the popular vote had been tabulated in the state, with Biden receiving 49.4% of the vote and former President Donald Trump (R) receiving 48.8% of the vote. Wisconsin is worth 10 electoral votes.
In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin with 47.2% of the vote, beating Hillary Clinton (D) by a margin of .7%.
Wisconsin favored Democratic presidential candidates in the four elections between 2000 and 2012, then voted for Republican Donald Trump in 2016. Between 1900 and 2016, Wisconsin supported Republicans candidates in 50 percent of presidential elections and Democratic candidates in 47 percent.
There were 23 counties in Wisconsin that voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. These counties accounted for 17.35% of Wisconsin’s population.
This week we discuss early voting, the Supreme Court’s ruling on ballot deadlines, and compare the candidates’ stances on Social Security.
Share the latest from the campaign trail.
Presidential Race Ratings
Inside Elections updated its race ratings on October 28, 2020:
Texas moved from Tilt Republican to Toss Up.
Georgia and North Carolina moved from Toss Up to Tilt Democratic.
The Cook Political Report updated its race ratings on October 28, 2020:
Texas moved from Leans Republican to Toss Up.
Notable Quotes of the Week
“For Mr. Biden, an all-in strategy could carry risks.
Mrs. Clinton was criticized for not visiting Wisconsin in the general election, even as she campaigned during the final days of the race in Arizona, which Mr. Trump ended up winning. Some of her former aides later acknowledged they put too many resources in states that wound up not being competitive.
Mr. Trump’s team during the current campaign has frequently pointed to polling in 2016 that showed Mrs. Clinton leading in the final weeks and has noted that Mr. Trump was significantly outspent.”
“But I would argue that Trump and his campaign will make the same mistake they made in 2018 if they focus on an issue that is of limited interest to voters outside the two parties’ bases. On the Friday before the midterm election two years ago, Republicans got a gift when the monthly jobs report announced that 250,000 jobs had been created, in what was then a 49-year low. Even a former economic adviser to Biden called it ‘pretty much everything you could want in a monthly jobs report.’
But rather than playing their strongest card — Trump’s historic record of job creation versus the Obama-Biden weak economic recovery — Republicans spent the weekend before the election talking about immigration and the caravans heading toward the border. Immigration is important, but in the big scheme of things, the economy and Trump’s record-setting progress were more important to more voters. But that’s not what they heard.”
Trump on the campaign trail • On Monday, Trump held three rallies in Pennsylvania.• On Tuesday, Trump campaigned in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.• On Wednesday, Trump held two rallies in Arizona.• On Thursday, Trump held a rally in Tampa.• On Friday, Trump is campaigning in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Biden on the campaign trail • On Monday, Biden visited Pennsylvania.• On Tuesday, Biden campaigned in Atlanta and Warm Springs, Georgia.• On Thursday, Biden held rallies in Broward County and Tampa in Florida.• On Friday, Biden is campaigning in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
More than 84 million ballots cast early in the general election
As of Friday afternoon, 84.7 million early votes had been cast in the general election, according to the United States Election Project.
More than 9 million ballots have been cast early in Texas, surpassing the state’s total number of votes in the 2016 presidential election. Other states at 85% or more of the 2016 turnout are Washington, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Spending in presidential election exceeds $6 billion
Advertising Analytics reported that Donald Trump, including joint spending with the Republican National Committee, had reserved $27.3 million in ad buys between Monday and November 3. Joe Bidenreserved $42.9 million over the same time period.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declined to expedite consideration of a Republican challenge to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court order that extended the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots until November 6 for ballots postmarked by November 3.
The Supreme Court also declined to intervene in a North Carolina case, leaving the deadline for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be received by November 13.
Eighth Circuit panel grants injunction in Minnesota deadline case
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appealsruled that postmarked Minnesota ballots received after Election Day but before November 10 will be separated from other ballots until a final decision is made on whether they should be counted.
Trump, Biden on the campaign trail in Rust Belt
Donald Trump is campaigning across Pennsylvania on Saturday with events in Bucks County, Reading, and Butler.
Joe Biden is campaigning in Michigan on Saturday. He will hold a joint rally with former President Barack Obama.
Welcome to the Thursday, Oct. 29, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
15 ballot measures we’re watching
Comparing stances: Presidential candidates on prescription drug costs
Explore Rhode Island elections
Explore New Hampshire elections
15 ballot measures we’re watching
On Tuesday, I wrote about 15 of the federal and state-level races we’ll be watching next week. Today I’m back with a list of the 15 ballot measures we’re tracking.
There are 120 statewide measures on the Nov. 3 ballot across 32 states. While that number is 25% fewer than the average since 2010, this year’s crop of ballot measures stands out as one of the most complex and compelling we’ve seen. Here’s what our ballot measures project director Josh Altic shared with me about what to watch for:
Alaska and Massachusetts could become the second and third states to enact ranked-choice voting for state-level elections. Alaska could also be the first state to enact a top-four primary system for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices in the U.S.
Comparing stances: Presidential candidates on prescription drug costs
In this week’s feature comparing the four noteworthy presidential candidates’ stances on key issues, we’re looking at what the candidates say about prescription drug costs. As a reminder, to be considered noteworthy in the general election, candidates must appear on enough ballots to win a majority of the Electoral College.
Our summary of the candidates’ stances on prescription drug costs will be the last in this series that has spanned the past 12 weeks. I hope you’ve enjoyed it! These summaries have come from the 40 articles our presidential election team has written featuring presidential candidate stances. In the past few weeks, we’ve briefed our Brew readers on the candidates’ stances on gun ownership and regulations, climate change, criminal justice, abortion, and China.
Joe Biden’s campaign website states Biden “will put a stop to runaway drug prices and the profiteering of the drug industry by: Repealing the outrageous exception allowing drug corporations to avoid negotiating with Medicare over drug prices. Limiting launch prices for drugs that face no competition and are being abusively priced by manufacturers. Limiting price increases for all brand, biotech, and abusively priced generic drugs to inflation. Allowing consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries. Terminating pharmaceutical corporations’ tax break for advertisement spending. Improving the supply of quality generics.”
Howie Hawkins’ campaign website states, “Predatory Big Pharma would be socialized into [his healthcare] system as a public utility operating at cost for public benefit. We would direct it to do the needed research and development of vaccines, antivirals, and antibiotics that Big Pharma has stopped doing because drugs for chronic conditions are more profitable than short-term medical treatments that prevent and cure diseases. Under community control, the public healthcare system will be more accountable, more effective at controlling costs, and more rational and just in allocating healthcare resources across all communities.”
Donald Trump’s campaign website states that “Under President Trump, The FDA has approved the largest number of generic drugs in history. Generics increase competition in the marketplace and lower the cost of prescription drugs for all Americans. In December 2018, year-end drug prices fell for the first time in nearly 50 years.”
We’re just two states away from wrapping up our 50 States in 25 Days series. On our penultimate day, we are heading to New England for a look at Rhode Island and New Hampshire. If you missed a day, here are the states we’ve highlighted so far, along with a map summarizing where we are in the series:
At the federal level, Rhode Island voters will elect four presidential electors, one U.S. Senator, and two U.S. Representatives. At the state level, 38 state Senate seats and 75 state House districts are up for election. Voters will also decide on one statewide ballot measure.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 54% to 39% in Rhode Island. Ronald Reagan was the last Republican to win Rhode Island in 1984.
Rhode Island’s Kent County is a Pivot County. Pivot Counties voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.
Both of Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators—Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse—are Democrats.
Democrats represent both of Rhode Island’s U.S. House districts.
Rhode Island’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are all Democrats, meaning it is one of 17 states with a Democratic triplex. It has held this status since 2015, when Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) assumed office.
Democrats have a 33-5 majority in the state Senate. In the state House, Democrats have 66 seats, Republicans have 8, and an Independent has 1. Because the governor is a Democrat, Rhode Island is one of 15 states with a Democratic trifecta. Democrats gained a trifecta when Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) assumed office in 2015.
At the federal level, New Hampshire voters will elect four presidential electors, one U.S. Senator, and two U.S. Representatives. At the state level, the governor, five Executive Council seats, 24 state Senate seats, and 400 state House districts are up for election.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 46.8% to 46.5% in New Hampshire. George W. Bush was the last Republican to win the state in a presidential election in 2000.
Three of New Hampshire’s 10 counties are Pivot Counties, accounting for 36% of the state’s population. Pivot Counties voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.
Both of New Hampshire’s Senators—Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan—are Democrats.
Democrats represent both of the state’s U.S. House districts.
New Hampshire’s governor and attorney general are Republicans, while its secretary of state is a Democrat, meaning it is one of 14 states without a state government triplex.
Democrats have a 14-10 majority in the state Senate and a 230-156 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Republican, New Hampshire is one of 14 states without a state government trifecta. With 400 members, the New Hampshire House of Representatives is the largest state house in the U.S.
Here are two battleground races taking place in New Hampshire this year:
U.S. Senate: Incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D), Bryant “Corky” Messner (R), and Justin O’Donnell (L) are running for New Hampshire’s Class II seat in the U.S. Senate. The last Republican to win election to the U.S. Senate from New Hampshire was Kelly Ayotte (R) in 2010.
Governor: Incumbent Chris Sununu (R), Dan Feltes (D), and Darryl Perry (L) are running for a two-year term as governor. Sununu was first elected in 2016 and won re-election in 2018, defeating challenger Molly Kelly 53% to 46%. New Hampshire is one of four states that voted for Hillary Clinton (D) in 2016 and has a Republican governor in 2020.
There are no statewide measures on the ballot in New Hampshire this year.
New Hampshire changed its rules in 2020 to establish concern over Covid-19 as a valid reason for voting absentee in the general election.
New Hampshire does not require witnesses or notaries to sign absentee/mail-in ballot return documents.
Voters can return their absentee/mail-in ballots in person or by mail. In both cases, ballots must be received by Election Day. Click here to check the status of your ballot.
In the 2018 general election, absentee/mail-in ballots represented 7.5% of all votes cast in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire law allows election workers to begin counting absentee/mail-in ballots after polls close on Election Day.
New Hampshire requires all voters to present photo identification at the polls. For more information about New Hampshire’s voter ID requirements, click here.
In New Hampshire, polling hours vary by municipality. Polls must open by 11 a.m. and cannot close before 7 p.m. New Hampshire is in the Eastern time zone.
Here’s the latest from the campaign trail. This week we discuss the latest presidential debate and updates on absentee ballot deadlines as well as provide you with your weekly overview of campaign ads, spending, and more.
Presidential Race Ratings
Inside Elections updated its race ratings on October 16, 2020:
Iowa and Ohio moved from Tilt Republican to Toss Up.
Wisconsin moved from Tilt Democratic to Lean Democratic
New Hampshire moved from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic.
Kansas and Missouri moved from Likely Republican to Lean Republican.
Notable Quotes of the Week“Presidential races have been tight in North Carolina over the last three cycles. No party has won the state by more than 4 points. Barack Obama won it by less than a point in 2008. Mitt Romney took it by 2 points in 2012. And Trump won it by a little less than 4 points in 2016, making it one of only six states Trump won by less than 5 points in 2016.
But unlike a lot of other important swing states, North Carolina has a history of voters casting a lot of ballots early. The state allows those early votes to be processed before Election Day, so it shouldn’t take days to count much of the vote. We’re not talking about Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, two states that are expecting a wave of absentee voters because of the coronavirus pandemic and have no real experience counting a lot of early votes. …
In other words, unless the race is really close (which it could be), North Carolina should give us a fairly good insight into both the presidential and Senate landscapes on Election Night.”
“For the most part, however, each man jabbed at his opponent in predictable, intermittently effective ways and revealed, yet again, personalities that have either attracted or repelled millions. Trump did nothing but scorn Biden as a do-nothing politician who somehow hid his role as the mastermind of a great corruption scheme. Biden was most comfortable talking about policies he would implement—and damning Trump for mishandling the pandemic. Any voter who learned anything new must have been on a very long hiking trip for the past year or so, without a smartphone.”
NBC News’ Kristen Welker moderated the event. The candidates discussed the coronavirus pandemic, election interference, foreign conflicts of interest, China, North Korea, healthcare, economic stimulus, immigration, race, and climate change.
The Commission on Presidential Debatesannounced on Monday that each candidate’s microphone would be muted during the other candidate’s two-minute opening remarks for each of the six debate segments. During the rest of the debate, the microphones were on for open discussion.
Trump spoke for 41.3 minutes, while Biden spoke for 37.9 minutes. Here are highlights for each candidate:
Trump said a coronavirus vaccine would be available sooner than what his officials projected. He said schools and businesses needed to reopen. Trump said Biden failed to address immigration and criminal justice reform while he was vice president. He also said that Biden and his family received money from foreign countries. Trump said his tax and regulatory policy would help rebuild the economy. He said success would unify the country.
Biden said Trump did not take responsibility for the 220,000 deaths caused by the coronavirus in the United States or have a plan to safely reopen the economy and schools. He said his healthcare plan, Bidencare, would be Obamacare with a public option. Biden said Trump’s family separation policy violated the nation’s values. Biden called climate change an existential threat. He said the country needed to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy over time.
Obama hits campaign trail for the first time for Biden
Former President Barack Obama campaigned for Joe Bidenin Philadelphia on Wednesday, marking his first time on the campaign trail for Biden. Obama is also campaigning for Biden in Miami on Friday.
Biden raises $281 million, Trump raises $81 million in September
Joe BidenoutraisedDonald Trump by $200 million in September. Both Biden and Trump increased their receipts from August to September: $212 million to $281 million for Biden and $62 million to $81 million for Trump.
As of September 30, the Biden campaign had $114 million more cash on hand than the Trump campaign ($177 million to $63 million), marking the second consecutive month that the Biden campaign has held a cash advantage over Trump.
The U.S. Supreme Courtsplit 4-4 on whether to grant a stay of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision allowing ballots received until November 6 to be counted. As a result, the state court’s decision stands.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuitruled on North Carolina’s deadline extension for absentee votes on Tuesday, holding that ballots could be received and counted up to nine days after the election if they were postmarked on or before November 3.
Jorgensen completes Ballotpedia’s Candidate Conversation series
The Candidates on the Issues: Prescription Drug Costs
Flashback: October 19-23, 2016
October 19, 2016: The third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was held in Las Vegas.
October 20, 2016: Donald Trump said during a rally, “I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.”
October 21, 2016: Hillary Clinton released an ad featuring Gold Star father Khizr Khan.
October 22, 2016: The Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project projected that Hillary Clinton had a better than 95 percent chance of winning.
October 23, 2016: The Las Vegas Review-Journal endorsed Donald Trump for president.
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) outraised President Donald Trump (R) by $200 million, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.
The Biden campaign raised $281 million in September, a percentage difference of 110% from the Trump campaign’s $81 million. Biden’s campaign spent $285 million to the Trump campaign’s $139 million.
As of Sept. 30, the Biden campaign had $114 million more in cash-on-hand than the Trump campaign ($177 million to $63 million), marking the second consecutive month that the Biden campaign has held a cash advantage over Trump. Biden also leads Trump in overall fundraising, cumulatively raising $822 million to Trump’s $557 million.
Both Biden and Trump increased their receipts from August to September: $212 million to $281 million for Biden; and $62 million to $81 million for Trump.
Biden’s $822 million in overall fundraising is the highest figure for any presidential candidate at this point in the past four election cycles. Former President Barack Obama (D) raised $792 million in inflation-adjusted funds at this point in 2008. On the other hand, Trump has more than doubled his fundraising from this point in his 2016 campaign for president: Trump had $557 million, according to Tuesday’s FEC reports, compared to $236 million in October 2016.
Biden’s cash-on-hand total also tops campaign money records. Biden’s total of $177 million is the highest of any candidate’s at this point in the election cycle, topping Obama’s $172 million inflation-adjusted total in 2008.
Biden and Trump’s combined $1.38 billion in fundraising is the highest across the four most recent election cycles. At this point in the 2008 election, the presidential campaigns of Obama and Sen. John McCain (R) had raised a combined inflation-adjusted $1.26 billion.