I guess it’s fitting that in a year like 2020, where everything has been turned on its head, that the presidential election would be no different. This year has been about maximum pain, and as the 2020 presidential election slowly winds towards a close, it is indeed going to be painful. In what is shaping up to be one of the closest elections in US history, the race is still too close to call and is destined to end up in front of the Supreme Court at some point, before all is said and done.

With both sides convinced the other side is trying to steal the election, tension has never been higher, and once a winner is finally announced, you can expect that there will be an eruption of violence that will sweep across the nation. Tough times are ahead for the American people, but if there was a silver lining to all of this election coverage, it’s been that sports betting, and election betting in specific, has taken center stage.

All night long on each of the major news channels, the broadcasters continually quoted the live betting odds on air. It was the first time in major election history where we got to see sportsbooks being treated as a legitimate business, not a shady backroom operation. It doesn’t get a lot more mainstream than getting quoted on CNN and Fox News, and it is easy to see that sports gambling has finally grown up in America.

A Look Back At The Odds

Before the Corona Virus swept the nation, and the world for that matter, Donald Trump seemed to be a lock to gain reelection. The economy was buzzing, unemployment was the lowest it had been in generations, the stock market was at an all-time high, and his voter base was as passionate as any we have ever seen in this nation. The betting odds reflected this, as Trump was a heavy favorite against a huge field of democratic candidates.

But then came COVID-19, and with it, the economy crashed as American’s were locked down in their homes. What started as two weeks to flatten the curve turned into months of quarantine and economic carnage.

On top of the economy tanking, the US saw a wave of social unrest that led to violence in the streets. By the time Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris officially got their parties nod as the Democratic candidates, they opened up as betting favorites over Donald Trump and VP Mike Pence. On the eve of the election, voters hit the polls with Biden as the heavy betting favorite.

Election Night Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Donald Trump +135
  • Joe Biden -165

Tracking The Action On Election Night

Once the polls started to close on the East Coast, Trump immediately started picking up steam. Within a couple of hours, Trump had tightened the line up to even money and was increasingly looking like he had a viable path to 270 electoral college votes.

The first major domino that fell for Trump was when he took Florida, early on in the night. Florida was a must-win state for Trump, and not only did he win the battleground state, he won it convincingly and by a significantly higher margin than he did in 2016. By 9:00 PM EST, this race was officially a dead heat, with Florida going red.

As the polls started to close in the Midwest, Trump had fast starts in battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Dominating in the rust belt was how Trump pulled off the upset in 2016, as his America first focus on manufacturing jobs appealed to the blue-collar workers of America’s heartland. Trump opened up sizeable, double-digit leads in several of these states, and it looked like he would again sweep through the rust belt and win a second term.

Election Night Odds 10:30 PM EST

  • Matchup Odds
  • Donald Trump -800
  • Joe Biden +600

Other states that we up for grabs, like North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas, all leaned red as well and the betting odds on Trump dropped like a rock. In less than one hour’s time, Trump went from an underdog to as high as -800 at some books. Fox News was claiming an impending victory for Trump, and CNN pundits were pleading with their viewers that the race wasn’t over yet. What once looks like a close race was quickly looking like a blowout.

Mail In Ballots

Most people went to bed early in the evening Tuesday night, as it looked like our expected long night of election tracking was all but over, as a Trump win seemed inevitable. But when the world woke up on Wednesday morning to see that the odds had completely flipped, and Biden was now a heavy favorite, a firestorm of finger-pointing started, and nobody knew what was going on.

If you listen to the Democrats, they will tell you that Biden’s miraculous comeback in several key swing states, most notably Michigan, Georgia, and Wisconsin was a function of the mail-in ballots. Some states decided to count the mail-in ballots first. Others decided to wait. Biden and Harris pushed hard to get their supporters to mail in their ballots rather than showing up on election day, and in states where these mail-in ballots were being counted after the fact, we saw a huge surge in Biden votes.

The mail-in votes put Biden over the top in Wisconsin and Michigan, two states that seemed like locks for Trump, just a few hours before. Trump’s leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia both disappeared, and in the Southwest, Arizona and Nevada, two states that many people had expected to be red, were looking very blue. Trump went from several viable paths to reelection to almost none, and Biden went from a +450 underdog to where he stands now as a massive -600 favorite.

Controversy

The Democrats will tell you the middle of the night swings were due to the mail-in ballots finally being counted. The Republican supporters saw a more sinister situation, as they think that the Democrats use the shield of night to defraud the votes and steal the election. Several states started communicating about counting errors, skewed data, and irregularities in reporting. Typos in Arizona and Michigan were announced, and each state’s credibility took a big hit.

This was when all hell broke loose. Trump’s legal teamed jumped into action, and lawsuits started getting filed all over the country. Suits were filed in Pennsylvania and Georgia, and soon thereafter in Nevada, Arizona, and Wisconsin. Some states refused to stop counting and allow the Republicans oversight, which they claim is afforded to them by law, whereas other states, like Nevada, just decided to inexplicitly stop counting votes altogether with no real reason given as to why.

That is where we stand now, with Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania too close to call, and Wisconsin and Michigan’s results both being heavily scrutinized. Some states are still plugging away counting and validating votes, and other states are triggering mandatory recounts. It looks like we aren’t going to have an answer on a winner for some time, and Trump is already tweeting that the Supreme Court will be getting involved sooner rather than later.

Current Election Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Donald Trump +400
  • Joe Biden -600

In order to give a sharp opinion on the current betting line and advise on which side you should take, we are going to take a detailed look at each of these states and how they are likely to close out. The race to 270 is stuck right now, with Biden holding on to 253 electoral votes and Trump having 214 in his war chest. Those numbers are being disputed and could change, but for now, we are going to focus mostly on the five states that have yet to be officially awarded by the Associated Press.

Georgia

Early in the night, Georgia seemed like it would stay red, as Trump had a sizeable lead. The state was never called officially, but most projections had it safely in the Trump column. But the issue in Georgia was that the final county to be counted was a densely populated county where Atlanta is, that has a strong contingent of African Americans, a group that comes out heavily in support of Joe Biden.

As those votes started to get counted, the Trump lead in Georgia slowly evaporated. But even as this race is tightening up by the minute, it would seem that Trump is going to hang on and keep the state red. The current vote total, shown below, has Trump with a razor-thin lead, with 98% of the votes counted.

Georgia Vote Count

  • Matchup Odds
  • Donald Trump 2,434,354 (49.5%)
  • Joe Biden 2,419,589 (49.2%)

With so few votes left to tally, the remaining votes would have to be nearly all for Biden to see him flip this state at the 11th hour. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen though. At this point in a race this close, anything could happen, but I still see Georgia landing in the Trump column. Georgia has 16 electoral votes up for grabs, and if Trump can’t hold on here, the race is all but over.

Trump has filed suit in Georgia, alleging that some of the mail-in ballots that have skewed heavily towards Biden were accepted late, and should be thrown out. He may not need the lawsuit if he can hold on to the lead with the official count, but it does give Trump a second way to win the state if the final vote total doesn’t go his way. This one is just a gut check call, but I’m going to give the peach state to Trump.

Pennsylvania

I’m just going to come right out and say it, Pennsylvania is a mess. The mail-in and absentee voting in the keystone state was not handled well, and they are still accepting ballots well into next week. Trump has led in Pennsylvania wire to wire at this point and still enjoys a sizeable lead, but as more and more of these late entry ballots are coming in and being counted, Biden is closing the gap quickly. A lead that was once over 400K votes with a substantial percentage of the votes being counted, has now shrunk to less than a 100K lead, and Trump and the Republicans are starting to get nervous.

Current Pennsylvania Vote Count

  • Matchup Odds
  • Donald Trump 3,227,988 (50.3%)
  • Joe Biden 3,111,764 (48.5%)

Trump filed suit in Pennsylvania, and similar to Georgia, he did it as a precautionary move, as he does still have a very good chance of closing out the state and winning it without the help of the courts. Some quick and dirty math shows me that Biden would need to win the final 8% of the uncounted votes by a wide margin to close the gap with so few votes left to be counted.

The Trump lawsuit alleges that precincts did not allow his party the proper viewing access to count and verify the mail-in ballots, despite their demanding it at the polls. By law, each party is allowed to observe the counting of absentee and mail-in votes in Pennsylvania, and due to COVID-19 social distancing, these observers were placed as far as 30-feet from the actual vote counting area. The Republicans claim that from this distance, they were unable to verify that the votes were valid, and they are trying to get them thrown out.

This lawsuit seems to have some teeth on it, as the poll workers aren’t denying the lack of access. The issue here is going to be how you interpret the word observe and if the polls allowed proper observation rights to the Republicans or not. At the end of the day, with Pennsylvania not even stopping ballots being delivered until the 13th and a lawsuit that seems destined to head to the nation’s highest court, Pennsylvania will likely decide this election, but not for some time.

There are 20 electoral votes riding on the state, and my gut tells me that Trump will end up with them. His lead now is still sizable, and there aren’t a lot of votes still to be counted. It will be very close, and his lead could get to under 10K before they are done counting, but I see Trump securing Pennsylvania. Again, if Trump can’t hold on to this state, he can’t win the presidency.

Arizona

There are a lot of varying opinions on Arizona right now. Fox News actually called Arizona for Biden very early in the night, and other media outlets already have Arizona in the bag for Biden as well. But 538 and the AP, both organizations that are trusted as being politically neutral, say the state is too close to call. If you put Arizona in the Biden column, he only needs to win one of these four other states to get to 270. If you flip it over to Trump, all of the sudden, Trump is now looking like he is in the driver’s seat.

Arizona Vote Count

  • Matchup Odds
  • Donald Trump 1,400,951 (48.1%)
  • Joe Biden 1,469,341 (50.5%)

The Arizona race doesn’t look all that close, but similar to what we have seen in Pennsylvania, what is left to be counted seems to be leaning heavily towards one side. But unlike Pennsylvania, it is Trump that is making a big comeback in this race. There was a typo in the reporting that made it seem like nearly all of the votes had been counted, leading media outlets to call the race, but the state has corrected that error, and they claim to still have 14% of the vote left to be tallied.

That leaves plenty of votes left on the table for Trump to close this gap. Fox News is standing behind their early call, but Nate Silver of 538, the election and polling guru, has said that he can see Trump winning the state, and all he needs to do it, is to see the rest of these votes that are coming in to keep coming in at the same rate as they have been. This isn’t nearly as farfetched as it might look, as Arizona has some deep red counties that are capable of coming in at 80% or higher for Trump.

In my opinion, this one is a complete coin flip. Neither guy has to have this state, and the 11 votes that come with it, to get to 270. They both want it, of course, but both sides have paths to 270 without locking it in. The election could come down to the southwest, though, as whoever losses Arizona has to win Nevada, or they are out. If Biden wins Arizona and Nevada and losses all of the other states still up for grabs, he still lands on exactly 270, and wins the election.

Nevada

Nevada is my home state, so I am a bit protective of our reputation, but I have no clue what is going on right now. Nevada governor Steve Sisolak is staunchly anti-Trump and made the unprecedented decision to halt all vote counting on election night.

Not only did Sisolak stop counting votes on Tuesday night, he decided they wouldn’t be counting any on Wednesday either. After mounting pressure on Wednesday, he reversed course and announced that they would go ahead and start counting votes in the silver state again, but that they would not be releasing any results until Thursday morning. Huh?

I am not sure if this is political posturing, as the feud between Sisolak and Trump is a very highly publicized one, or if there are complications in Nevada that we don’t know about, but either way, it is turning into a circus out in the desert.

Trump filed yet another lawsuit, this time alleging that Nevada allowed out of state residents to vote. That case will likely be tied up in the courts for weeks, and if Arizona goes the way of Biden, the entire election could come down to Nevada. That puts a lot of pressure on Sisolak to get things right, and he has offered no reasoning as to why he has decided to stop counting votes or releasing information to the public.

Nevada Vote Count

  • Matchup Odds
  • Donald Trump 592,020 (48.5%)
  • Joe Biden 603,807 (49.4%)

Nevada did release a very small chunk of votes this morning, and they mostly went Biden’s way. Coming into this morning, Biden held a lead of just 8K votes and now enjoys an 11K lead. There are still roughly 12% of the votes left to be counted, and with a race this close, it’s a complete tossup. Sisolak has not been very forthcoming with any type of updates, but the rumor is the final set of ballots to be counted have come from rural Nevada and were mail-in ballots that were dropped off at the polls on election day.

Just like Arizona, the rural parts of Nevada skew very heavily Republican. Despite the mail-in ballots going mostly towards Biden nationally, these aren’t exactly mail-in ballots, as they were actually brought to the polls in person on election day. That tells me that these final ballots are going to go Trump’s way and that he has plenty of outstanding votes left to take the lead. This race is so close that a recount is almost for sure, and with the pending lawsuit and Sisolak’s failure to finalize his vote count, it could drag on for a long time.

The battle between Sisolak and Trump is going to be hard-fought, and I have no idea how it is going to shake out. If the rumors on the final balloting are true, then I will lean towards Trump. If the final votes are from liberal Las Vegas, Biden has this one in the bag. I don’t know who to trust in Nevada, and I can’t have a strong opinion on this state one way or the other right now.

North Carolina

It feels like North Carolina shouldn’t even be on this list. Trump has led in the tar heel state from the start, and while the gap is tightening, they have counted 95% of the votes, and the lead seems to still be a healthy one for the president. North Carolina went to Trump in 2016, and really it wasn’t even close, as Trump won the state by nearly 4%.

North Carolina Vote Count

  • Matchup Odds
  • Donald Trump 2,732,210 (50.0%)
  • Joe Biden 2,655,383 (48.6%)

The lead of nearly 80K votes will be extremely hard for Biden to make up with fewer than 5% of the votes left to count. It’s not impossible, but it is a bit surprising that some states that are much closer and have more votes left to be counted are already being called for one side, and North Carolina is still being looked at as too close to call.

As of yet, there isn’t a lawsuit filed here, but if this gap gets any closer, you can expect Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to get one on the books soon. I don’t think it will get to that point, though, as this lead seems secure, and with North Carolina expected to finish up their counting today, this call could be called for the incumbent at any time. It could get messy here, and an unlikely last-minute Biden flip would make it very hard for him to lose.

Other States In Question

The states above are the states the media has yet to officially call for one side or the other. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other states that are still in play. We already talked about Trump’s ability to win in the Midwest being the key to his 2016 win, and with Michigan and Wisconsin being very close and highly contested, those states could end up being overturned, despite the media already awarding them to Joe Biden.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, there are less than 20K votes separating the two candidates out of over 3 million total votes cast. With the race this tight, an automatic recount has been triggered. We normally don’t see that many votes change during a recount, but the Trump campaign is also investigating what they are calling irregularities in a couple of Trump strongholds.

In Outagamie and Calumet counties, counties that Trump carried by huge margins in 2016, 13k votes were filled out by hand and may not have been counted by the voting machines. If that ends up being validated, now you have a race that is so close that a routine recount could flip the state. Wisconsin is likely staying with Biden, but there is a back door for Trump here.

Michigan

The same could be said for Michigan, as Trump had a big lead, only to see it disappear in the night, as the mail-in ballots from Detroit started to be counted. The final official count from Michigan has Biden as a fairly clear winner, but that didn’t stop Trump’s team from filing suit. The Michigan suit alleges the same as the Pennsylvania suit, that republicans were not allowed their proper rights to observe the counting.

Michigan is basically two states smashed together to make one, as the rural areas are deep red, and the urban cities like Flint and Detroit, are deep blue. It would likely only take one of those deep blue precincts to get their votes invalidated to flip the state. It is a bit of a longshot, but this is another state where the courts may have to decide a winner.

Who Wins?

There are a lots of scenarios where Joe Biden wins this election. The most likely outcome based on the current races, is to call each state for the guy that it is winning it now. That gives Trump North Carolina, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, with Biden taking Arizona and Nevada. If that scenario indeed plays out, Joe Biden is the next president of the United States of America, with a 270-268 final electoral college vote count.

Now, that is the over simplified version of events and explains why Biden is the current heavy betting favorite. Biden is the favorite, and based on the math, he deserves to be favored. But now I am going to take a look at how I think each of these five states will shake out and give you my prediction on a winner.

Who Wins?

Nevada
I see Nevada going blue. It will be close, but with so many Californians relocated to Southern Nevada in the last couple of years, and bringing their political beliefs with them, the silver state stays blue in 2020.

Arizona
I am going to buck the trend here and give Arizona to Trump. If the rumors are true, and what is left to be counted comes from Trump-supporting counties, I think he will back door the state. Arizona has long been a red state, as the last time they turned blue was 1996, and I see it staying red this cycle.

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is trending hard towards Biden, but I don’t think there are enough uncounted votes left to close the gap entirely. It will probably be one of the closest states in the nation when all the smoke clears, but I am leaning towards Trump to hold on here.

Georgia
Georgia is another state that almost always goes red, and even with his lead eroding, Trump should have enough to hold on. This will be another state where votes will be recounted, probably more than once, but I will side with history and the current data and give Trump the state. Georgia has only been blue once since 1984, and Trump carried the state by 5% points in 2016.

North Carolina
As I mentioned before, I really don’t think North Carolina is still in play. It’s close, so I understand why it hasn’t officially been called yet, but the Trump lead is too big this late in the game. I am locking up the 15 votes from North Carolina for Trump.

The Bet

I have broken down the math, counted up my final expected electoral college votes, and have come up with my pick. Donald J Trump. I have the incumbent president winning the race 279- 259. It will take a lot of sweating it out, and we may need the courts to rule in our favor to hold on to some of these leads, but that is how I see it playing out.

This election is eerily familiar to the 2000 election, where George Bush managed to defeat Al Gore, with the help of the Supreme Court. In that election, only one state was in question, Florida, and it came down to the court’s decision in the sunshine state to hand Bush the presidency. This time, we are going to see as many as half a dozen states get tied up in court battles, and with the way it is currently shaking out, Trump only needs one of those court rulings to go his way, to secure 270 votes.

The ace up Trump’s sleeve, which makes me feel confident about his chances to get a ruling that he needs, is the fact that he has a 6-3 majority in the supreme court. All of these court cases will start out at the state level but will quickly be escalated to the highest court in the land. Much was made of Trump and the Republicans pushing through a replacement for the dearly departed Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the court, and Trump and his team knew that he may need a court ruling to win this election.

You would think that these supreme court justices would rule fairly, but lately, we have seen a lot of decisions that fall on party lines. The court is packed full of conservatives, and if it falls to them to make a final decision on the election, they are going to side with President Trump.

I’ll need to run good to cash this ticket, but odds of +400 leave plenty of room for uncertainty. The sum of all these states leads me to believe that this is close to a coin flip race, with Biden as a small betting favorite at most. If I can get a coin flip at +400, I am taking it every time. Give me Donald J Trump to win the 2020 presidential election, at +400!