US election updates, November 4: Election Day is here

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Welcome to The Spinoff’s US election live blog: election news, analysis and reaction, updated throughout the day. Reach me on

4am: Today’s election – the basics

US presidential elections are decided through a system known as the electoral college. Each state gets a certain number of electoral votes depending on its population size: at the low end, 3 votes for small states like Delaware, South Dakota and Alaska; at the other end of the scale, the most populous state, California, gets a whopping 55. Win a majority in a state, and you get all that state’s electoral votes. With a total of 538 electoral votes across all states, a candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. You can see an interactive map of the states with their respective electoral votes (and play around to see how individual wins or losses could affect the final result) here.

Thirty-five Senate seats are also being contested today, with Democrats hoping to win enough races to overturn the Republicans’ current 53-47 majority.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives – usually referred to as just “the House” – are also being conteste. Democrats currently control the House by a sizable margin.

3am: Welcome to the Spinoff’s US election live blog

Deputy editor Catherine McGregor writes: Four years ago, I was sitting at my desk in The Spinoff’s old Britomart office as the results of the US presidential election came in. Like many of you, I remember scrolling Twitter, first optimistically and then with increasing despair, as it became clear that Donald Trump would be the 45th president of the United States. I also remember walking home that night after the election had been called, and thinking about how a four year term was a really long time – but also that, like all things in life (I was feeling pretty emo, I’ll be honest), it would one day be over.

And now here we are. Today is election day in the United States, and by late afternoon there’s a good chance we’ll know whether Trump has been re-elected for a second term or if former vice-president Joe Biden will return to Washington DC, this time as president. Today isn’t just the culmination of a four year saga of presidential malpractice, mismanagement and scandal heaped upon scandal; it’s also the answer to a question with global significance, including to those of us living here in New Zealand. That’s why we’re devoting today’s live blog to the election results – though if a big local news story does happen, we’ll break in to cover that too.

Your usual live updates editor is off today to take part in a long-delayed university graduation ceremony (congratulations Stewart!) and has handed the reins to me, The Spinoff’s resident US politics obsessive. And here I’ll lay my cards on the table. While The Spinoff considers itself nonpartisan here in New Zealand, as an organisation we are unambiguously partisan in regard to this election, and the existential threat to democracy that Donald Trump represents. Along with the rest of my colleagues, I desperately want Joe Biden to be president, and for Democrats to win as many house and senate races as possible, and today’s coverage will reflect that view. With that duly stipulated, we’re off to the races. May the best man win.

2am: Yesterday’s headlines

There were five new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation, and another case in the Christchurch community linked to the Sudima managed isolation facility.

In response to the Christchurch case, Otago University Covid-19 expert Nick Wilson harshly criticised the managed isolation system and called for an urgent review

Joe Biden and Donald Trump crisscrossed the US on the final day of campaigning for the 2020 presidential election.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield was nominated for TV Personality of the Year 2020 in the NZ TV Awards.

Read yesterday’s updates

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