A California poll worker sanitizes a voting booth following its use at a Voter Assistance Center during the 2020 General Election.

A California poll worker sanitizes a voting booth following its use at a Voter Assistance Center during the 2020 General Election. Credit: Owen Yancher/Wikimedia Commons

The 2020 Election Timeline

Read Ryan’s breakdown of the events from the 2020 election.

5:00 am, November 3rd, 2020: Polls open. 

As the polls opened, nearly 100 million Americans had already voted both early, and by mail. This was putting us on track for the largest voter turnout in over a century. The two campaigns had been vigorously holding rallies all across the country, specifically in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania, which Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight projected to be the “tipping point” state. Also, thanks to a series of lawsuits overnight, Harris County voters in Texas had woken up to most of their polling stations being closed. This was especially noteworthy considering the Democrats viewed Texas as a possible state they could win. There was also a debate in Michigan over whether or not people should’ve been allowed to carry firearms into polling stations. Democrats said this is voter intimidation, Republicans said it’s their right.

5:00 pm: The very first exit polls are released. 

While these were NOT any official election results, they did provide a very good look at what issues were most important to voters, and who might’ve ended up winning the election. The exit polls at that point in time showed that the voters care most about the economy, with 34% saying it’s most important. However, 52% said that containing the coronavirus is more important than fixing the economy. 51% said that efforts to contain the virus are going badly. 68% said that wearing a mask is a public health responsibility, while only 30% said it is a personal choice.

5:07pm: North Carolina’s results had been announced to be delayed, due to voting times being extended.

5:49pm: More exit poll results come in.

These showed that 73% of people cared more about policy over the candidate’s personality. 53% thought Obamacare should not be overturned. 61% said that Supreme Court appointments were an important factor in their vote. 66% said climate change is a serious problem. 58% were dissatisfied/angry with the current federal government. These numbers looked to be worrying for Trump, but to be fair, there was a long, long, night to come.

6:07pm: More exit poll results come in.

These found that 53% of voters were women. 65% of voters were white. For comparison, that number was 71% in 2016. 45% were college graduates, up from 40% in 2016. 38% of voters were democrats, and 35% are republicans. These numbers were all favoring a Biden victory.

6:16pm: Trump was leading comfortably in both Kentucky, and Indiana.

6:26pm: Biden flipped Anderson County blue in Kentucky.

6:33pm: An error in Wisconsin caused many ballots to have to be rewritten, so results would likely not come in until the following morning.

6:34pm: More exit polls come in.

More Biden voters cared about the candidate’s personal qualities than Trump voters. 62% of Trump voters thought that the economy is the top issue. A plurality (38%) of Biden voters thought that racial inequality is the top issue.

6:37pm: Biden took the lead in Kentucky. This was bad news for Trump, and very bad news for Mitch McConnell’s chances of re-election. To be clear, Kentucky would likely go red at the end of the day.

6:53pm: More exit polls come in.

52% of Georgia voters thought that containing the virus was more important than the economy. This was a sign that Joe Biden may have had a chance at winning this state. The numbers were roughly the same in Virginia.

6:56pm: Trump had taken back the lead in Kentucky.

7:00pm: Trump had won Indiana. It was too early to call Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Vermont.

7:03pm: Trump was currently in the lead in Florida, though he was underperforming his numbers from 2016.

7:14pm: Biden had now taken the lead in Florida, with 22% of the vote in. However, he was underperforming Clinton’s 2016 numbers.

7:19pm: Biden was in the lead in Florida, New Hampshire, Vermont. Trump is ahead in Virginia, and South Carolina.

7:22pm: Trump had taken the lead in Florida by 0.6%. This was undoubtedly going to be incredibly close.

7:28pm: Biden was leading in Georgia, and was outperforming Clinton’s numbers from 2016.

7:29pm: Biden had taken back the lead in Florida.

7:30pm: It was too early to call in Ohio, West Virginia, and North Carolina.

7:31pm: Trump had taken back the lead in Florida.

7:33pm: Biden had taken back the lead in Florida.

7:50pm: Biden had won Vermont.

7:52pm: Biden was leading in Ohio especially in the suburbs, which was becoming a trend throughout the map, also Trump was ahead in Georgia. 

7:56pm: Trump had taken the lead in Florida.

7:58pm: Biden was back in the lead in Florida.

8:00pm: Biden had won Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. Trump had won Oklahoma. Many other states were categorized as too early to call.

8:02pm: Biden was back in the lead in Georgia. Trump had taken back the lead in Florida. 

8:03pm: Biden had taken the lead in Texas, and South Carolina.

8:06pm: Trump had won Kentucky.

8:07pm: Biden was winning in Pennsylvania, and Trump was back in the lead in Georgia.

8:19pm: Trump had won Tennessee.

8:20pm: Biden was leading in Michigan, and North Carolina.

8:31pm: Trump had won West Virginia, and Arkansas was too early to call.

8:32pm: Biden was maintaining a strong lead in Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

8:34pm: Trump was ahead in Michigan, and Rhode Island.

8:35pm: Biden was ahead in Kansas, and Mississippi.

8:45pm: Biden was up in Illinois, and Missouri.

8:50pm: Biden’s lead was narrowing in Texas.

8:54pm: Biden was still outperforming Clinton’s performance in Ohio.

9:00pm: Biden won New York, while many other states were too early to call.

9:05pm: Biden won New Jersey, and Trump won Arkansas.

9:15pm: Biden won Connecticut, and Trump had won South Dakota.

9:25pm: Biden was maintaining a lead in North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and he was in the lead again in Texas.

9:27pm: Trump maintained his lead in Virginia, Florida, Michigan, and Georgia. He was also in the lead in Wisconsin.

9:30pm: Biden won Colorado, and Trump won North Dakota.

9:37pm: Biden was now in the lead in Wisconsin.

9:43pm: Ohio had narrowed up very much.

9:49pm: Trump had won South Carolina, and Alabama.

9:50pm: Biden maintained his Ohio lead, along with North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Also, Biden was leading in Minnesota.

9:52pm: Trump was leading in Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and Texas.

10:00pm: Iowa, Nevada, Utah, and Montana were all too early to call. 

10:01pm: Trump was now winning Ohio, Biden was still leading in North Carolina and Minnesota. Trump was winning Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Virginia. I’m going to be honest, things looked very bad for Biden. It was still early, but Trump was currently in the lead.

10:06pm: North Carolina was now tied, and Biden was winning Arizona by a very large margin.

10:15pm: Trump was now winning in North Carolina. 

10:28pm: Biden had an impressive lead in Arizona, and maintained his New Hampshire lead. Trump was leading in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia.

10:29pm: Biden had won New Mexico.

10:40pm: Biden won New Hampshire, and Trump has won Louisiana, Kansas, Utah, and Nebraska. 

10:41pm: Trump maintained his lead in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia. Biden was leading in Arizona, Iowa, and Minnesota.

10:49pm: Biden won Illinois, and Trump had won Missouri.

10:51pm: Trump’s lead in Wisconsin was narrowing, and Biden retained Arizona, Minnesota, and Iowa.

11:00pm: Biden had won California, Washington, Oregon, and Trump had won Wyoming. Idaho was too early to call.

11:01pm: Trump was leading in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Biden was leading in Arizona.

Almost every safe state had been called, and the toss-ups were all leaning Trump for the most part. I was still confident that Biden would increase his numbers as the mail-in votes came in, but I had no idea who would win this election.

12:30am, November 4th, 2020: Trump prematurely declared victory, though the irresponsible move had not gotten much press coverage. He also made claims of voter fraud and rigging, an argument very much criticized by the Democrats.

6:00am: Biden won Arizona, while Trump won Ohio, Texas, and Florida. Biden is now leading in Wisconsin, but he still needed one more state to win.

9:14am: Biden was now leading in Michigan. If he hung onto the current states he was in the lead in, we would soon see Joe Biden as our next President. It was also estimated that he would soon take the lead in Pennsylvania, though I was doubtful.

2:30pm: The Trump campaign had sued to stop the vote counts in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Also, the Trump campaign had claimed victory in Pennsylvania, even though the AP had not called it yet.

5:45pm: Biden won Michigan. He now only needed Nevada to win the presidency. Also, a recount had begun in Wisconsin.

8:55pm: Trump had filed another lawsuit after Georgia announced they still had over 150,000 votes to count.  

9:10pm: It was reported that the Georgia lawsuit was over 53 late mail in ballots that were not rejected. While they shouldn’t have been accepted, this lawsuit was purely symbolic.

10:45pm: With Georgia and Pennsylvania narrowing, Biden was in a much better position than Trump. However, I didn’t think there would be a winner declared that night.

6:30am, November 5th, 2020: Nothing notable had happened in the night, however Biden was only 0.4% away from flipping Georgia. No new states had been called since the previous afternoon.

8:14am: It was revealed that the Trump campaign’s lawsuit against Michigan was also demanding that the vote counting be halted statewide. Also, Trump was suing Clark County Nevada, challenging their process for vote counting. 

8:19am: It was being revealed that Trump’s Pennsylvania lawsuit is going to the Supreme Court.

9:41am: Peaceful protests had sprung up in Philadelphia.

11:47am: Counting had paused in Allegheny County Pennsylvania, until the next day.

5:00pm: No new states had been called and none had flipped, but Georgia, and Pennsylvania were narrowing. If Joe Biden was able to win Pennsylvania or Georgia, he would need no more states to win.

6:45pm: Trump had given a speech, where he casted doubt on the validity of results. He claimed that there was widespread fraud, but attempted to give a message of unity near the end of his speech. Also, Pennsylvania was now within 1 point, and Georgia was nearly a complete tie. I was expecting to know who is the winner by tomorrow.

8:35pm: Pennsylvania’s margin had shrunk to smaller than Arizona’s margin. This was very, very bad for Trump, and I expected Joe Biden to pass 270 within 24 hours.

10:05pm: Biden was on the verge of flipping Georgia. If he did, and it was called for him, Joe Biden would be the next President of the United States.

4:55am, November 6th, 2020: Biden had taken the lead in Georgia. If he won this state, he would pass 270.

9:08am: Biden had taken the lead in Pennsylvania.

12:01pm: A recount would be taking place in Georgia.

8:15pm: The Supreme Court ordered Pennsylvania to set aside any votes received after Election Day.

11:45am, November 7th, 2020: Joe Biden won Pennsylvania, making him the President-Elect of the United States. I am not sure if Trump will have a formal concession speech or not, but regardless, unless there is a major legal revelation, Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States.

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