We may not know the presidential winner until at least Friday

Biden and Trump signs.
(Image credit: SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images)

If President Trump had lost Florida, the 2020 presidential race would essentially be over. But Trump appears to have won Florida, and now the electoral map is a patchwork of hanging swing states. And it looks like we may not know who won the decisive states — especially Pennsylvania — for a few days.

"As you plan your sleep schedule for the rest of the week," Nathaniel Rakich writes at FiveThirtyEight: "We should have near-complete unofficial results from Wisconsin early tomorrow morning, as Milwaukee is expected to finish counting around 6 a.m. Eastern. Michigan originally said it would take until Friday to count all of its votes, but officials have revised that estimate to say they’ll be done tomorrow as well. Finally, Pennsylvania results probably won't be known until Friday." Georgia's largest county, Fulton, also called it a night and won't continue counting until Wednesday morning.

So we could know at least the projected winner of every key state except for Pennsylvania by sometime Wednesday morning, but Pennsylvania may also end up being the determinative 20 Electoral College votes. And President Trump and his Republican allies have promised legal challenges attempting to throw out mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania if they arrive Wednesday or later.

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At the same time, "just speaking hypothetically," FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver notes, Biden doesn't absolutely need to win Pennsylvania. "If Trump wins Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, but Biden wins Arizona, Biden is an 85 percent favorite in our scenario generator," he notes. "There’s a 6 percent chance of an Electoral College tie, though." Before Election Day, FiveThirtyEight had Trump's chances of winning the Electoral College at 10 percent. So sleep well, everyone.

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