Swing State Tracker: On the Off Chance You’re Not Feeling Anxious, Let’s Talk About an Electoral College Tie

But Donald Trump would have to plug six or seven other holes first.

Joe Biden boards his plane to Nevada, October 9, 2020.
Joe Biden boards his plane to Nevada, October 9, 2020. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images

Three weeks, reader. It took three weeks of this feature for the numbers to align in an aggravating tie scenario that required updates to our graphic design template and forced our hand on including the two single-electoral-vote swing districts. Why do the numbers have to be like this? We’ve got enough smart-alecks to deal with already, the last thing we need is numbers acting fresh.

So what is this tie scenario? Relative to Trump’s 2016 result (306 electoral votes), it would involve him ceding Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), and Nebraska’s 2nd District (1) and holding everything else. That would leave the race at a 269-269 tie and toss the decision to the House of Representatives. We would say this is an unlikely result, but it’s 2020 and there’s no chance in Hell we’re tempting fate like that.


The good news for Biden is Trump “holding everything else” will require a lot of work from Donald Trump. In Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa, Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin—all states that Trump won in 2016—Biden is leading, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics polling averages. Some of the best polling news this week came for Biden in Florida and Pennsylvania. A Biden win in the former, which will count its mail-in votes more quickly than many of the competitive northern states, could be an election-night dagger for Trump. And though our snapshot of polling averages right now shows Pennsylvania as safer than Michigan and Wisconsin, it’s still the state that operatives are treating as the critical tipping-point state. The polls this week showed Biden building a buffer in each.


Trump, who was hospitalized at this time four days ago, is performing poorly in the election and is encouraging his attorney general to indict Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

There are 25 days until Election Day.

Source: RealClearPolitics polling averages, 10/9/20
Source: RealClearPolitics polling averages, 10/9/20 Slate