CNN's final 2020 Electoral College outlook: A remarkably stable race comes to an end
Posted November 2, 2020 7:47 p.m. EST
CNN — Perhaps one of the most unexpected developments in the 2020 presidential campaign is how remarkably stable the state of the race has proved to be through extraordinarily turbulent times. As the race for the White House comes to a close, the landscape looks quite similar to how it looked after the party conventions in August as the fall campaign got underway.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden seems to have a slight edge in those critical upper Midwest and industrial Great Lakes states (Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania) that Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016 and delivered him the White House. The most competitive sun belt states (Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona) remain true toss-up states that Trump needs to win again. He also needs to prevent Biden from completely rebuilding that "Blue Wall" in the Midwest.
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In our final pre-election electoral college outlook, we are moving Arizona from lean Democratic to a true toss-up battleground state. It is a state that has been at the very heart of the Democratic Party's project to expand its map over the last decade and 2020 may be the year it flips. However, the polling out of the state in the last 24 hours indicates it is a margin-of-error tossup state. Arizona has only been won by a Democratic presidential candidate once in the last 70 years and that's when Bill Clinton won the state in his 1996 reelection campaign.
The shifting demographics in the state coupled with the huge Democratic success in the suburbs during the Trump era give every reason for Democrats to be hopeful there. But Trump's poll numbers there look markedly better than they do in the other states we have leaning Democratic on the map, which likely puts this state more within his reach than those in the upper Midwest and Rust Belt.
Of course, the one move doesn't change a lot in the overall outlook heading into Election Day. Biden starts his path 270 electoral votes with a solid base of 16 states plus the District of Columbia totaling 203 electoral votes. If you then add in the seven states and that one congressional district in Nebraska currently leaning in his direction, Biden gets a total of 279 electoral votes -- enough to win the presidency.
Trump's path to 270 is dependent upon an explosive Election Day turnout to make up for the advantage Biden appears to have in the record breaking early, mail-in and absentee vote. In our final outlook, Trump has 20 states totaling 125 electoral votes solidly in his tally. If you add Texas' 38 electoral votes currently leaning his way, the President is at 163 electoral votes.
We currently have six states and one congressional district in Maine as pure toss-up battlegrounds totaling 96 electoral votes.
It is clear that Trump's path to reelection is far narrower than Biden's, but it remains a viable one. And, while 2020 is a fundamentally different political environment than 2016, he showed the ability to pave such a path just four years ago.
Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (4), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3) (125 total)
Texas (38) (38 total)
Arizona (11), Florida (29), Georgia (16), Iowa (6), Maine 2nd Congressional District (1), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18) (96 total)
Colorado (9), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), Nebraska 2nd Congressional District (1), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), Pennsylvania (20), Wisconsin (10) (76 total)
California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), DC (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maine (3), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), New York (29), Oregon (7), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Virginia (13), Washington (12) (203 total)