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Politics & Government
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Mail Ballot Trends Suggest Biden On Path To Victory In PA

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Emma Lee
/
WHYY
Election workers scan ballots at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Officials anticipate that the task of scanning mail and absentee ballots will be completed Thursday.

Joe Biden’s odds of winning the White House increased Wednesday, even without winning Pennsylvania, as the Associated Press called Wisconsin and Michigan for the former vice president.

Pennsylvania remains at the center of the electoral fight, though, as several key states remain too early to call, including Georgia and Nevada.

Definitive results aren’t expected until at least Thursday in Pennsylvania, but strong trends in mail ballot results are giving Biden’s campaign reason to hope for a victory in the commonwealth.

Pennsylvania’s mail ballots have so far skewed heavily toward Democrats, and its in-person votes skewed Republican. That lopsidedness had been predicted for months: More than 1.6 million Pennsylvanians who returned mail ballots were Democrats, and less than 600,000 were Republicans.

In-person votes were tallied more quickly and, as expected, President Donald Trump took an early lead in the commonwealth. By 5 a.m. Wednesday, he led Biden by 700,000 votes. But, also as expected, those margins steadily shrank as more mail ballots were tabulated. As of 7 p.m. Wednesday evening, Trump led by 249,263 votes.

So far, with about 1.9 million of 2.6 million expected mail ballots counted, Biden has won the vast majority. The exact percentage has varied throughout the day, but on average about 78% of mail ballots have been going to the former vice president, while Trump has been getting about 21%.

If that trend holds, Trump will pick up about 146,323 more of the still-uncounted mail ballots and Biden will win around 543,487 — enough for the vice president to wipe out Trump’s edge.

Of course, that isn’t guaranteed.

Chris Borick, a pollster and political science professor at Muhlenberg College, said that while pre-race polling showed an extremely similar partisan split between mail ballot and in-person voters, Biden’s advantage will vary by county.

“It’s hard to extrapolate exactly,” Borick said. “I think certainly Biden’s going to pick up substantial ground as these ballots are counted. I think there is a significant likelihood it puts him into the lead in Pennsylvania. It’s not guaranteed, but … there’s a clear path forward for him."