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As millions of Americans headed to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes in the presidential election, the campaign manager for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden issued a statement that appeared to possibly foreshadow trouble for the front-runner.
What are the details?
According to Time senior correspondent Charlotte Alter, Biden campaign manager Jennifer O’Malley Dillon said on a campaign call, “We continue to have multiple pathways to 270 electoral votes (without winning the states of Pennsylvania and Florida).”
While it is certainly possible that Dillon wanted to project the campaign’s confidence regarding their chances across the electoral map, the statement could also be interpreted as a lowering of expectations for the campaign’s chances in the two pivotal battleground states.
It is true, after all, that Biden could lose Florida and Pennsylvania and still garner more than enough 270 Electoral College votes to unseat President Donald Trump.
But if Biden were to lose the two states it likely wouldn’t happen in a vacuum. In both states, Biden was ahead in the polls coming into Election Day — by 1.2% in Pennsylvania and 0.9% in Florida, according to RealClearPolitics polling averages. Should he lose both or even one it could be a sign that polls underrepresented Trump supporters in several additional battleground states.
Though Trump has a much narrower path to 270 Electoral College votes, he is close in a number of states. If his support has been undervalued in a state like Pennsylvania, it could also be true for other key swing states in the Midwest such as Michigan and Wisconsin.
These two factors are partly why election forecasters at FiveThirtyEight and Decision Desk HQ have pinpointed Pennsylvania as the likeliest state to provide either Trump or Biden the victory.
Alleged Biden campaign estimates about their early vote leads appear to show Trump well within reach in several battleground states. Supporters of the president are largely expected to win the Election Day vote. The question is will Trump rally enough support on Election Day to cover his early vote deficits.
McClatchy correspondent Dave Catanese posted the estimates on Twitter Tuesday morning, saying the Biden campaign thinks Trump would have to claim 59% of the Election Day vote to win Pennsylvania and 56% of the Election Day vote to win Florida.
Of course, it should be noted that numbers like these are just estimates, and they are probably estimates based on party representation of votes at that. The estimates likely do not account for individuals who vote across party lines nor do they account for voters unaffiliated with a major party. Those voters could very well sway the election either way.