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Election 2020: Key swing states remain too close or too early to call

Yahoo Finance’s Melody Hahm and Brian Cheung, Yahoo News National Reporter Marquise Francis, and Yahoo News West Coast Correspondent Andrew Romano discuss the current polls as key swing states still remain either too early or too close to call.

Video Transcript

MELODY HAHM: I want to get straight to you, Andrew. Give us a sense of what you're hearing from all of your sources around the country, just on how tight this race really is. As I understand it, a lot of the Republicans were initially very afraid that it would be a landslide victory for Vice President Biden. Clearly looking like it's not the case.

ANDREW ROMANO: Yeah, I think we can put the possibility of a landslide for Biden out of the question. The polls suggested it was "possible." In a bunch of those early states to report, the polls show that Biden was essentially tied with Trump. It does not seem to be going Biden's way. Florida was one that was put out of reach fairly early on for Biden. North Carolina, Georgia still counting the votes, still figuring it out, but Trump is slightly ahead.

It may be that we get through all of those states-- Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio-- and Biden doesn't pick up any of them.

That said, the action is all going to shift to the upper Midwest. Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, across the Rust Belt, those states that are counting their early votes a little bit more slowly. And those are going to be the states that really decide it. It's almost a redux of 2016.

One thing I want to note that has some Democrats worried. Ohio, a state where the polls showed that Joe Biden and Donald Trump were essentially tied going into the race, it looks like Trump is going to pull that out by 8 percentage points. That's the same margin he beat Hillary Clinton by there in 2016. He's beating his polls by about seven points and that has Democrats worried about how much Trump might beat his polls by in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, states that are demographically similar to Ohio.

So that's what we're going to be watching as this unfolds over the rest of the night, and probably over the rest of the week.

MELODY HAHM: Yeah, Election Week, as we're now referring to it, right?

Andrew, a quick follow on Ohio. You know, that classic cliche, "As Ohio goes, so does the nation." As I understand it, no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. And I know a lot of folks there see it as a point of pride, right, that they have a pulse of the nation.

How do you anticipate if Ohio does go the way of Trump? Is that clearly a signal that the rest of the country and the rest of the results will sort of reflect that reality?

ANDREW ROMANO: No, I don't think it necessarily will. But I do think that Trump is beating expectations in Ohio, and those expectations were set by the polling. He was ahead by about 1 percentage point, half of a percentage point in the polls. It looks like he's headed for a seven or eight-percentage point victory. That is a big gap.

And just because of the demographic similarities and the similarities to the situation in 2016, where the polls underestimated Trump in the upper Midwest, it is worrisome for Democrats in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Those states that-- that Biden needs to win, that he needs to flip in order to get to 270.

One thing I will note is that Biden is looking fairly strong in Arizona. The state hasn't been called yet by the AP, but he is ahead in the essential urban and suburban area of Maricopa County, around Phoenix. If he wins Arizona, there is a path to 270 for Biden that doesn't involve Pennsylvania. He would need to win Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and the single electoral vote from the 2nd Congressional District in Nebraska. That would get him to exactly 270.

And just the fact that we're talking about that on a night when people thought Biden could win 350 electoral votes or more just shows how expectations have been re-calibrated.

MELODY HAHM: Yeah, a sobering reality here.

Brian, I want to get to you. Of course, Andrew mentioning Pennsylvania, a really hot spot for both of these candidates. As I understand it, former Vice President Biden actually visited Pennsylvania 14 times over the course of him being nominated as the Democratic nominee. When you think about Pennsylvania, you know, that's his hometown, do you anticipate that that will sort of be in the favor of Biden? How are you thinking through perhaps Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, as we do not anticipate results to actually become clear tonight?

BRIAN CHEUNG: Well, absolutely Melody. And it's no secret that Joe Biden has been very fixated on Pennsylvania, including in the final minutes before polls closing. I believe Joe Biden did make a stop to his former hometown residents in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He's been spending a lot of time in Philadelphia in recent days.

But one thing to know about Pennsylvania is that it could indeed be the case that we won't get a true final result, or a good solid read at least, on who is going to win Pennsylvania until tomorrow. There's been some reporting from some other outlets that have said that they might not be reporting any more mail ballots, at least in the Philadelphia area. That could be hundreds of thousands of ballots that have been received that may not be counted until tomorrow morning, or even as late as Friday. So that could be something that could trip up what is going to be a really critical state, as you outlined there.

No key Senate race is going on in that state. So again, it is going to be primarily that presidential race that's going to be in view. But again, right now it seems like, with the results coming in, it's a bit too early to say who is going to win that state, but it is so critical, especially if it is indeed the case that Ohio goes to President Trump. Whether or not Pennsylvania goes to Biden really could be the deciding factor when they do ultimately tally up who gets to 270 first.

MELODY HAHM: And Marquise, thinking about the demographic picture here. We know there has been a lot of clamoring over that so-called suburban white woman vote, right? But when you think about the Latinx community, specifically looking at Florida with Miami-Dade, or parts of Texas, or, of course, here in California, which does tend to go blue, how are you getting a pulse of how different demos, how different ethnicities are really feeling about this election, as you have spoken to many of these folks, whether they're Black and brown communities, ahead of today?

MARQUISE FRANCIS: Yeah, I think, you know, the numbers that we're seeing tonight are just showing the enthusiasm, with so many groups of people for President Trump. Prior to COVID-19, I attended five President Trump rallies, two of those being in Texas and another one in Orlando, Florida, where he kicked off his 2020 re-election campaign. And I can't tell you the amount of shirts and signs that I saw "Latinos for Trump" or "Blacks for Trump."

And I think oftentimes when it comes to polling, or you're hearing anecdotes from a majority of the Black community, the Latinx immunity, you're hearing, you know, overwhelmingly Democratic. But oftentimes I think there's a lot of voters there are just often ignored.

Recently I did a piece about Black men and a lot of their affinity for Trump. And a lot of it stems from a lot of individualistic priorities, whether that be financial or just wanting to be free-spirited, or just not have government involved with so much. But I think oftentimes when you talk to people, there is an enthusiasm.

I've been watching so much cable news, similar to kind of what Brian said tonight. I'll probably watch more cable news tonight than all of this year. But you're just seeing the continued enthusiasm around the country, even on Yahoo.com. Earlier they showed the "Latinos for Trump," the Cubans down in Miami and they're just shaking their flags. They're singing their favorite songs, but they're just raising flags of "Latinos for Trump." And I think it's just indicative with the enthusiasm around the country.

And I think the real question that as we continue going into 2020 and even future elections are, what are we missing? You mentioned the white suburban women and their feelings on different things. I heard on cable news earlier the suburbs really determine what happens when it comes to these elections. Obviously, we think about a lot of these big cities-- New York City, Houston, Miami-- obviously, they're very Democratic cities. But when you go outside of them, you're looking at what really determines the race. Outside of Houston is very Republican outside of Miami is very red. Outside of even New York City, very red.

This morning I voted in my hometown of Oakland, New Jersey, and I actually ran there because mom was at work, I had no car. And I was just stunned by the amount of Trump flags I saw on my run. These are people that I grew up with, I went to school with, and, you know, it just shows their enthusiasm, even around a big metropolitan city. And I think we're just going to continue to see that, unless Democrats can figure out a way to actually tap into these suburban voters and marginalize communities who have had an affinity for Trump and figure out how to bring them along.