If Pennsylvania ends the vote count on Thursday, it could be the deciding state in the presidential election.
With 20 votes, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to give former vice president Joe Biden a victory in the presidential election. On Thursday night, the Democratic candidate had 264 votes according to the Associated Press, only six votes less than the 270 votes needed to win.
State laws forbade the counties of Pennsylvania to begin counting ballots by election day, and officials warned that this could take days, given the large number of ballots sent through the mail. By law, the election workers have until Friday to complete the ballot count, and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told CNN on Thursday that they were “ahead of schedule. Therefore, the state’s winner could be announced “definitely” by the end of the day, she said.
The people who switched to the results on election night might have thought Trump was the clear winner in Pennsylvania, but his lead over Biden has shrunk considerably in the last two days. On Wednesday morning the President had almost 700,000 more votes than his challenger, but by Thursday afternoon that lead had shrunk to just 97,924 votes. About 86 percent of the votes had been reported, and as the postal ballots continue to be counted, Biden is expected to narrow the gap further.
Subject to pending litigation, including lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania, and possible recounts that could alter the results in other states, Biden will assume the presidency if Pennsylvania wins. This will be the case even if Arizona, which the Trump campaign found too close, ends up in favor of the president.
However, if Trump does win in Pennsylvania, it will keep him in the race for a second term and increase his vote to 234. He would still need victories in the remaining four states-North Carolina, Georgia, Nevada and Alaska-to be elected president. But if Biden takes Nevada, North Carolina or Georgia, Trump’s time is over.
It is possible that even these scenarios could change, since the president’s campaign has stated that he wants to request a recount in Wisconsin. According to state rules, a presidential candidate must be within one percentage point of the win to request a recount – at his expense – and Trump lost the state by only 0.7 points, so he is within the margin to make the request.
However, the Trump campaign cannot file a petition for a recount until Wisconsin has verified the results, and if the state brings the deadline forward, it will not do so until December 1. Depending on how the other states shake off, Wisconsin could become the deciding factor in the presidential election campaign, so it is not impossible that the Trump campaign will pursue a recount, although this move has come under heavy fire from the president’s critics, who see it as a form of voter oppression.
If there is a recount and it is in the president’s favor, it could bring Biden to 254 votes and Trump to 244 votes, provided he wins in Pennsylvania, which must happen for Wisconsin to make a difference. If Trump then wins North Carolina and Georgia, which tend in his favor, he will have the 270 votes needed for the presidency.
But that’s a lot of ifs. So the bottom line is that if Pennsylvania doesn’t go for Trump, the lights will probably go out for the Trump administration.