Monday, November 2, 2020

When Will We Know, take 2

Only Panic a Little Bit

Most of this post takes for granted that you have already read my earlier post, "Don't Panic!"  Please read that post first.  Since last we visited the timing of November 3, 2020, we have learned a few things.  Whether you are voting for Trump or Biden, there is only a slight reason to believe that we won't know the results by Wednesday at the latest.

What has remained the same:

My earlier post determined that FL, AZ, OH, GA and NC are the key states to watch on election night. If Biden wins any one, he will most likely win the Presidency.  Clarity from this group should come early. Nevertheless, the scope and pace of mail in ballots has become more clear and will affect the timing of those states' results. We will know a lot on Tuesday night, and probably everything we need on Wednesday. 

Here is our starting point based on current polling (11/1/20):

Any ONE of the toss ups is a win for Biden.  Trump needs to win all 6 to earn a second term in office. PA is the biggest problem as far as timing.

When will we know the first five?  Here is a good guess at the order.  Again, green highlight indicates a state with extensive prior mail in experience:

State    # of mail ballots  # of returned ballots  Polling %       Start Counting  Finish Counting

GA        1.78 million        1.22 million                Tie                     Nov 3 early        Nov 3 late

AZ        3.3 million            2.3 million                Biden +2            Nov 3 early        Nov 3 very late

FL         6.0 million           4.65 million               Biden +2            Now                   Nov 4 late

OH        3.16 million        2.9 million                 Trump +2            Now                  Nov 6 early

NC         1.45 million        .94 million                 Tie                       Now                  Nov 6 early

[Math geeks: what is the probability of winning at least 1 time in 5 coin flips/50-50 chances? 

P(w¯)=1P(w)=1/2, where P(w) is the probability of winning one game.

Therefore, the probability of winning at least one state is 11/32=31/32., or 96.875%]


  • Biden is ahead or tied in polling in 4/5 of the toss up states, and only needs one to win.
  • GA will announce first. They don't accept late ballots.  We will hear from them election night.
  • AZ will announce second.  While they have nearly 3 million to count, they can start early.
  • FL should announce third. FL has a delay in Pensacola of an hour, and but has been able to "pre-process" ballots, preparing them for the scanning machines/tabulation in advance.  They do have 6 million ballots to scan, so it could take a solid 24 hours to clarify the situation.
  • North Carolina and OH accepts ballots that arrive after Nov 3., and therefore  may not have a result before Friday if they are truly close.  
  • OH already has all but 200,000 ballots back, and they can pre-process them. We should hear from OH before NC.

My Best Guesses of the Five:

If they are all toss ups, there is a 75% probability of Biden winning at least AZ or GA, and a 96.875% chance of him winning at least one of the first 5.  Biden will know right away that he is in the cat bird seat in the first 24hrs of counting, and the narrative during recounts and lawsuits will be in Biden's favor for the remainder of the certification process.

What could cause a LONG delay, or will it?

The real stickler is PA.  If President Trump does win all five (a 3.125% chance), we will need to watch PA - and it will be a mess.

Just over 3 million mail in ballots were requested in PA, and 2.4 million have been returned already. PA doesn't allow opening of the outer envelope before tomorrow morning, and they have at least 2.7 million paper ballots to process.  That will take time, but should be done by the end of the day Wednesday, IMHO.  

By a previous split vote of 4-4, the SCOTUS has allowed PA to count ballots postmarked by 11/3, and received by 11/6. However, that is against PA statutes.  Assuming that about 2.7 million will be received on time, there will be easily over 100,000 received "late" which will likely be thrown out by SCOTUS+Justice Barrett (5-4) in the lawsuits following.  That actually makes it easier to count PA earlier, as the early numbers will in time become the final numbers.  Expect that whole process to take at least a week or two as arguments are made before the court.

As I wrote in a previous post, we can expect Biden to lose a net loss of about 50,000 votes when those "late" ballots are disallowed.  If Trump is ahead, or within 50,000 votes of Biden without the postmarks in PA, he will win the election, but we won't be finally told that until the SCOTUS meets.

We will know by on Friday what the margin is in PA, and therefore be able to guess at the ultimate outcome.

The Bottom Line if they are all 50-50.

  1. Election night:    GA & AZ                                 75% chance Biden has won.
  2. Wednesday:        FL                                             87.5% chance Biden has won.  
  3. Thursday:           OH                                             93.75% chance Biden has won.
  4. Friday:                NC & PA (50k or not)               96.875% chance Biden has won.

Remember, any one for Biden, and he wins.

Personally, I won't believe FL or GA until I see it, so the +2 Biden there is not very convincing.


  1. GB writes in and corrects my simple math, that if the coin toss three or four times in a row runs heads (or tails) uniquely, it indicates that it was not a true 50/50... in other words, don't count on my 96% probability of picking off one of the 5.

  2. This post is proving exactly correct, as AZ looks to be a solid Biden win.