Who will win the 2020 election? Here are Joe Biden and Donald Trump's paths to victory

ByAlix Martichoux KTRK logo
Thursday, November 5, 2020
Paths to victory: How Biden, Trump could win election
ABC News Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas breaks down the paths to victory for President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

WASHINGTON -- The 2020 presidential election is still too close to call Thursday and political nerds are crunching the numbers, trying to figure out who will reach 270 electoral college votes first and win the presidency.

As of 8:30 a.m. ET, both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have paths to victory, depending on how the remaining battleground states are called.

The pivotal states that are still too close to call are Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

ABC News called Michigan as a victory for Biden on Wednesday. With 100% of precincts reporting, ABC News can report that former Vice President Joe Biden has a lead of about a half a percentage point over President Donald Trump in Wisconsin. Because the vote is very close and has not yet been certified, ABC News is not projecting a winner, but is characterizing Biden as the apparent winner.

Ways Biden can win

With Biden as Michigan's projected winner and the apparent winner in Wisconsin, he's at 253 electoral votes. He needs to reach 270 to win, and he has a few ways to get there.

If Biden wins Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, then he's over the top then and there. As of Thursday, Trump is leading in Pennsylvania, so that's far from a sure bet for Biden.

He could also make up the missing 17 electoral votes with a combination of any two other outstanding states, like Arizona and Nevada (where he's leading), or one of those plus North Carolina (15 electoral votes), or Georgia (16 electoral votes).

Ways Trump can win

Trump's paths to victory grew more challenging Wednesday afternoon with Biden's projected win in Michigan and his apparent win in Wisconsin. Even if he wins in the outstanding southern states, Georgia and North Carolina, that still puts him about 23 electoral votes shy of victory.

As of 8:30 p.m. ET, Trump has a lead in Georgia, North Carolina and also Pennsylvania. Still, winning all of those puts him just shy of 270, so he'd need to win one more key undecided state to secure reelection, like Arizona or Nevada. That means Trump would need to win nearly all of the still undecided states to clinch the presidency.

When will we know who wins?

It's too soon to say when one candidate will have a decisive victory over the other, but this outcome was expected by political analysts. With a record number of mail-in votes cast, this election was expected to take longer to count than years past.

The most outstanding votes that still need to be counted, as of Thursday, are in Pennsylvania.

See All National Results

Stay with ABC News for the latest updates.

A look at election results in key battleground states:

Arizona: Biden stays ahead of Trump

Joe Biden is holding his lead in Arizona in an effort to flip the state President Donald Trump won in 2016.

Georgia: Trump holds narrow lead

Joe Biden is working to flip the state of Georgia blue for the first time since 1992.

Pennsylvania: At least 115,000 uncounted votes as Trump leads

The latest on the ballot count in Pennsylvania.

Nevada: Biden's lead narrow

Joe Biden holds a narrow lead in Nevada, now a key state in the 2020 presidential election.