This Tuesday, Americans across the world head to the polls in an election that pits incumbent President Donald Trump against former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden is a Democratic nominee while Trump is a Republican nominee, who won the US elections in 2016 and is seeking a second term.
Here, we look at all the key issues that will shape the eventual outcome of Tuesday’s election.
What Does it Take to Win the Election?
The constitution says that the president and the vice president are elected as such: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.”
Each state has a different number of electors: California has 55, but North Carolina has 15. When you add all up the states and their electors, the total equals 538 electors in all—but how many of their votes do you need for the election?
The answer: It takes 270 or more electoral votes to win a presidential election.
Record Breaking Early Votes
Whatever the outcome, the 2020 election is already one for the history books, with an astonishing 97.6 million ballots already submitted through in-person early voting and by mail — more than two-thirds of the number of votes cast in the entire 2016 election.
As of Monday afternoon, hours before Election Day, with some states still holding early voting, 35.5 million people had voted in person and 62.1 million had cast ballots by mail, according to the U.S. Elections Project, a nonpartisan website run by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who tracks county-level data.
Biden Leads in Final Opinion Polls
The final polls before the election, released on Monday, continued to show Joe Biden ahead in enough swing states to win. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads President Trump in the battleground states of Florida and Ohio and comes out 11 points ahead nationally, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Monday.
The survey found Biden ahead 47 percent to Trump’s 42 percent in Florida. It also found Biden with a net positive approval rating compared to underwater approvals for Trump, consistent with national polling trends. Respondents have a 48 percent to 43 percent favorable view of Biden, compared to a 50 percent to 42 percent view of Trump.
The key for either party to win the presidential election is to target specific swing states, also known as battleground or purple states.
These battleground states are areas which have unclear party loyalties, and have historically swung between voting for Republican and Democrat candidates in past elections. They hold the key to winning the US 2020 election. In 2020, observers have identified six states that could make the difference for Joe Biden and Donald Trump: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona. The influence these states are expected to have relates to how the Electoral College shapes the arithmetic of the race.