Live Updates, November 5: US election – Biden still ahead but race far from over

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Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 5, covering all the latest from the US election along with New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. See the latest results on an interactive US map here. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

The day ahead:

Good morning readers. Firstly, I want to give a massive thank you to The Spinoff’s deputy editor Catherine who looked after the live updates yesterday so excellently. I’m not confident I can come anywhere close the level of detail and solid analysis that was provided yesterday – but I’ll try!

Today, we’ll have all the latest rolling updates from the United States as the final votes come in and things continue to get interesting. Plus, we’ll bring you any key New Zealand news, as usual, throughout the day. We’re expecting a further update on Covid-19 in Christchurch along with a speech by prime minister Jacinda Ardern laying out some of her plans for the next term of government.

As always, keep your eyes glued to this page all day. Any feedback? Hit me up on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz 

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

If you switched the US election off early last night, you’ll probably have missed one of the most remarkable moments of world history in our lifetimes. Reasonably orderly transitions of power have always been a hallmark of the admittedly deeply flawed US democracy. But late last night, the sitting president of the United States stood at a White House podium, claimed to the world that an ongoing election was being stolen from him through fraud, and that the campaign would vigorously contest the continued counting of votes in several key states through the courts.

Many of the claims made in Donald Trump’s speech were flatly wrong. It got to the point where at least one TV network simply cut away from the speech, to avoid broadcasting falsehoods. Twitter put a ‘misleading content’ statement on a Trump tweet making much the same argument – Facebook did the same. Even Fox News hosts, who are normally in the tank for Trump, gave the claims little credence. But none of that changes the fact that the comments still happened, and revealed exactly how Trump’s campaign plans to proceed from here. This sort of outcome was predicted in advance – it was known as the ‘red mirage’, in which Trump could claim a conspiracy on the basis of what the early count showed, rather than the full count. Biden’s speech, by contrast, merely involved thanking supporters, and expressing confidence that when the full results were in his campaign would win – there was a clear qualitative difference between the two candidate’s remarks.

But one thing that it did all highlight: Joe Biden’s campaign failed to decisively put it away on the night. With plenty of mail-in ballots still to be counted in key states – these tend to lean to the Democrats – he still feels like the favourite to eke out a win, provided every vote does actually get counted. And nationwide, it is looking unlikely that the Democrats will be able to retake the Senate, meaning they’ll be severely hamstrung even if Biden wins. You can go back through Catherine McGregor’s excellent live blog from the day to see how it all unfolded.

So what is the current state of play? As our live tracker shows, Biden is currently on course to win 270 Electoral College votes – just enough to win the election overall. Washington Post projections show he leads in NevadaMichigan and Wisconsin, and is seen as marginally more likely to hold those leads because of the composition of the votes still to be counted. Pennsylvania is also in play, with Trump currently holding a big lead, but more than three million votes still to be counted, many of which will lean blue. A useful New York Times article – albeit written before Arizona was locked in for Biden – outlined the potential paths to victory from here. Bear in mind, it will take days before we know the final results, and the widely respected Associated Press has declined to call a winner in the presidential race yet.

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