Why it will be a while before we know who won
While the Biden camp is confident in national polls giving their candidate the edge, and Trump's people are touting internal figures pointing to a big win for the president, Australians shouldn't expect to see a result out of the US any time soon.
That's because while the Biden camp is indicating it will not concede defeat, a growing push is on to deny Trump the ability to declare victory without a long and protracted court fight.
On Election Day eve, online news outlet Axios published an unsourced report - quickly picked up in the American press - stating that "President Trump has told confidants he'll declare victory on Tuesday night if it looks like he's 'ahead,' according to three sources familiar with his private comments".
While there was no proof to the unsourced claims, they were amplified by Democrats seeking to make any Trump win seem illegitimate.
Joe Biden said in response, "He's not going to steal this election".
But, at the same time, American TV news networks are said to be under increasing pressure to not hand any win to Trump, should he do well, too early in the night.
And in September, Hillary Clinton said that "under no circumstances" should Joe Biden concede the election.
In other words, neither side is prepared to back down.
Much will likely hinge on Pennsylvania, whose 20 votes in the electoral college are considered make-or-break for Trump as he seeks to win re-endorsement from middle America.
Republicans are concerned that a ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which gives the state three extra days to count mail-in ballots, does not require them to be postmarked, and does not require their signature to match those of the voter on record, is an open invitation to, if not outright fraud, weeks and weeks of court challenges to the state's final results.
These worries were compounded by a tweet sent by the state's Attorney-General Josh Shapiro essentially declaring the state already lost to the Democrats, reading, "If all the votes are added up in PA, Trump is going to lose. That's why he's working overtime to subtract as many votes as possible from this process."
If all the votes are added up in PA, Trump is going to lose. That’s why he’s working overtime to subtract as many votes as possible from this process.— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) October 31, 2020
For the record, he’s 0-6 against us in court. We’ve protected voting rights. Now, ignore the noise—vote!https://t.co/mN8t6TDud7
But the Trump campaign is pushing back hard, saying that the Republican vote they expect to come in on the day will overwhelm absentee and mail-in ballots already cast - and that Democrats should not try to create a false impression of a victory that is not theirs.
"Election day is going to look like a Trump rally," Nick Trainer, the campaign's director of battleground strategy told a media call on Election Day eve.
According to Trainer, Democrats will suggest that any Trump victory on the night is a "red mirage" (red being the Republicans' unofficial colour, like Liberal blue in Australia) that will be undone by overwhelming pre-poll votes.
He added that there are potentially "millions of voters left" who have not yet voted who will overwhelm the "high-propensity voters" the Democrats "have banked".
All this suggests that America could be in for a repeat of 2000's "hanging chads" fiasco, which saw the presidential results delayed for weeks and ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.
Originally published as Why it will be a while before we know who won