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Economists at Danske Bank take a closer look at the timeline of the election night, the vote counting process and when the election outcome could be known. With mail ballot being the big X-factor in the 2020 election, the election result could be delayed depending on how close the presidential race is. 

Key quotes

“We expect that we will know who the next president is on the morning of 4 November in the event of a blowout scenario, where the outcome can be decided solely on ‘fast counting’ swing states such as Florida, Nevada, Texas, North Carolina and Arizona.”

“In a tight race scenario, we could experience a similar situation as in 2000 with recounting, where Al Gore conceded over a month after Election Day. Generally, the time and potential delay of the announcement of the winner is much more uncertain with a close race. The remaining considerations are more relevant in the case of a tight race. Remember that all election disputes must be resolved no later than 8 December, according to US law.”

“Apart from the slow counting in the key swing states, the main reason for a delayed announcement lies in the fact that almost half of the states merely require mail-in ballots to be postmarked, rather than received, by Election Day.”

“Overall, the state polls and the overall probability favour Biden. But, if we were to experience a similar difference between the polls and the actual election results as in 2016, it would mean that Trump would win the 2020 election. Ranking the election outcomes based on likelihood, we believe that the most likely scenario is 1) Democratic clean sweep 2) Biden with a divided congress 3) Trump with a divided congress 4) Republican clean sweep.”