It is indeed, but it’s certainly not the post-Election Day spin a campaign aspires to promulgate. With Republicans from Donald Trump on down claiming that vote fraud is responsible for eroding leads in Michigan and underperformances in Nevada and Arizona, we’re all heading into “recount territory.”
Either that, or “denial territory”:
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien predictions on outstanding vote counts:
WI = “tight race” & “recount territory”
MI = “confident in pathway that includes” the state
NV = claiming victory possible by 5500 votes
GA/PA = projecting “optimism” about both at this hour as well
— Monica Alba (@albamonica) November 4, 2020
I mentioned recounts before mainly because they are a necessary step to the kind of ballot challenges that Trump and his team want. As of this moment, Trump’s down about 21,000 votes in Wisconsin. Recounts don’t normally reverse those kinds of gaps; Michigan actually looks slightly more promising for a recount, with a gap of slightly under 11,000 votes. Team Trump will likely demand both, and then move on to challenges, since the election rests mainly on those two states.
What about Arizona? It has 11 Electoral College votes, and at the moment seems out of reach. However, Trump campaign advisor believes that Arizona is still in reach for both Trump and Martha McSally just on the regular count itself:
Thorough breakdown, we believe @realDonaldTrump’s win margin in AZ will be closer to 30K votes, probably just under that.
Keep in mind we’re now counting Election Day voters. https://t.co/mm3qRcb4b5
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) November 4, 2020
Maybe, but that’s a bit of a stretch. It might get close enough for a recount to matter, though, and that could lead to a challenge of some ballots afterward. Nevada’s already close enough, but as Jazz has already pointed out, they won’t update results again until tomorrow, which is very weird.
Let’s say Trump wins Nevada and Arizona. How does that change the election? It’s pretty obvious why they’re focusing on those two states at the moment:
If Trump can take Nevada and hold Arizona, it then makes up for the loss of Michigan and Wisconsin, barely. That still assumes Trump will hold Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia after late ballot-counting, but it’s at least a doable scenario. That’s why Team Trump is focusing its hopes on the interior West, and more broadly on challenges to ballot procedures in PA and NC.
They’re not in denial territory yet, but they’re turning the corner towards Wishful Thinkingville. Perhaps by tomorrow afternoon, we’ll get a better idea of the maps — in the Electoral College, and in Team Trump’s collective head.