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Nation's fate hangs in the balance as upper Midwest states remain too close to call

The race now looks like a best 2-out-of-3 contest for Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The United States woke up on Wednesday morning without a clear winner in the 2020 presidential election. Although a handful of states remain technically too close to call, the razor-thin presidential election increasingly seems to hinge on who can win at least two out of three crucial contests: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

As of this moment, Biden holds a narrow lead in Wisconsin, Trump holds a narrow lead in Michigan, and Trump holds a substantial lead in Pennsylvania. However, officials in Michigan and Pennsylvania in particular have cautioned that results in those states may not be ready even by Wednesday.

Although most news outlets have not officially called Georgia, North Carolina, or Arizona, Trump is considered the overwhelming favorite at this moment to win both Georgia and North Carolina, and Biden is considered the overwhelming favorite to win Arizona.

In fact, Fox News even called Arizona for Biden last night in a controversial decision that has been nonetheless strongly defended by the network's election analysts. Nevada has also not been called due to the state's inexcusably slow (but typical) counting of ballots; however, most observers predict that Biden will carry the state.

What that means, essentially, is that Biden currently sits at 240 electoral votes (with Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District) and Trump at 248, assuming that nothing unexpected changes in Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, or Nevada. Neither candidate, then, can win without winning at least two of the three remaining states that are too close to call.

In Wisconsin, Biden clings to a lead of just over 30,000 votes, with an overwhelming majority of the votes already counted. Some counties sent out misprinted ballots and will have to transfer voter information by hand onto corrected ballots before they can be fed into the scanner, a process that will likely take at least all day. However, with more mail-in ballots expected to trickle in over the next few days, former Vice President Biden would seem to be the slight favorite in that state.

Michigan and Pennsylvania, however, are complicated by the fact that, unlike most other states, they did not begin counting early and mail-in ballots until Tuesday. President Trump currently clings to a lead of about 13,000 votes in Michigan. However, a substantial number of votes remain uncounted in heavily Democratic Wayne County, which means that the race is truly too close to call at the moment.

Pennsylvania, meanwhile, currently shows President Trump with a massive lead of around 700,000 votes. However, election officials in Pennsylvania caution that there are well over one million ballots yet to be counted in the Keystone State and that these ballots are expected to break heavily in Biden's favor, both because mail-in ballots strongly favored Biden nationwide and also because a high concentration of the remaining ballots to be counted come from urban areas that are expected to be carried handily by Biden. Therefore, it is expected that Pennsylvania may not declare a winner before Friday, and potentially later, if litigation drags on.

One last thing…
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