The US election explained in maps and charts

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Mélanie Meloche-Holubowski (access the author's page)

The battle between Joe Biden and Donald Trump dominated the headlines this week, but while some results are still unclear and in some cases contested, observations can be made about this historic election. Here are some maps and graphics to understand.

Historic participation rate

More than 66% of eligible voters voted on Tuesday, a turnout not seen in 120 years. The turnout has also increased by more than 6% since the last election.

According to the US Election Project, 158.9 million Americans voted on Tuesday. About 239 million Americans could exercise the right to vote.

You have to go back to 1904 to have a rate of over 65%. In this election, Theodore Roosevelt was re-elected for a second term.

Between 1840 and 1900, the participation rate exceeded 70%. In 1996, when Bill Clinton was re-elected, the rate fell to 51.6%. Since then, the participation rate has continued to increase.

Voter turnout exceeded 70% in twenty-two states, including four (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Wyoming and New Hampshire) where more than 80% of voters voted.

In five states (Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Hawaii) less than 60% of voters exercised their right to vote.

A postal election

More than 101 million Americans voted before election day, including 36 million by mail, a record. In 2016, approximately 33 million Americans voted by mail.

Several states have changed their laws to allow more voters to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this influx of mail-in votes has slowed the counting process in some states.

Popular vote

So far, Joe Biden appears to have won the popular vote, with just over 50% of the vote. Donald Trump is not far behind, with around 48% of the popular vote.

In the last election, despite Donald Trump’s presidential victory, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by just 2.1 percentage points.

There were a total of five elections in which the president-elect failed to win the popular vote, namely in 1824 (John Quincy Adams), in 1876 (Rutherford B. Hayes), in 1888 (Benjamin Harrison), in 2000 (George W. Bush) and in 2016 (Donald Trump).

Since 2000, the popular vote has been relatively close between Republicans and Democrats.

Which states have changed hands?

As of Friday, only two states had passed from Republicans to Democrats. Republicans failed to recapture any state the Democrats won in 2016.

This week, Joe Biden won Wisconsin and Michigan, two states that were won by Donald Trump in 2016.

It is clear, both with the results for 2016 and 2020, that these two states are divided.

In 2016, Donald Trump won Wisconsin by 22,748 votes, 0.77% more than his Democratic rival. As of November 6, 2020, Joe Biden has a lead of about 20,000 votes over Donald Trump in that state.

In 2016, Trump won Michigan by just 10,000 votes. Yesterday, Joe Biden had a lead of over 100,000 votes.

According to the latest results, Nevada, which was won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 (with 47.92% of the vote), should not be taken over by Donald Trump. But the latter could retain North Carolina, a state he won in 2016 with 49.83% of the vote.

At the start of the day on Saturday, Joe Biden managed to turn Pennsylvania and Arizona from red to blue. It seems likely that Joe Biden will also win Georgia. If so, Democrats will have taken over five states in this election.

By 2016, Republicans had taken six states from Democrats (Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida). In contrast, the Democrats had failed to win Republican statehood.

* Note: This text and graphic above was changed on November 7 to reflect the fact that Joe Biden won other States on Saturday.


What is the portrait of the supporters of Trump and Biden?

For its VoteCast survey, the Associated Press polled more than 110,000 voters after they left the polling station. The numbers give a glimpse of who voted for Joe Biden or for Donald Trump.

More women voted for Joe Biden (55%) than Donald Trump (44%).

Black voters voted 90% for Joe Biden. Latinos and Hispanics were a bit more divided; 63% of voters polled say they voted for Joe Biden, 35% for Donald Trump.

About 55% of voters living in urban areas voted Democrats, while 65% of Americans living in rural areas say they voted for Republicans.

The more a voter gets older, the more likely they are to vote for Donald Trump. For example, only 36% of young people aged 18 to 29 say they voted for Donald Trump, compared to 51% of those 65 and over.


Magic mushrooms, Uber and abortion: the other questions of the ballot

Voters in 32 states voted on more than 120 referendum questions. California alone had 12 questions; Colorado 11.

In particular, several states have asked voters questions about marijuana use and drug possession. For example, voters in South Dakota, Arizona, Montana and New Jersey voted in favor of legalizing marijuana. Washington goes even further; his constituents voted in favor of the use of psychedelic mushrooms to treat mental illness.

In Puerto Rico, voters were asked if they wanted their state to become the 51st state in the United States. Only 23% of voters took part in this referendum and just over 52% of them said yes.

The change of status will not be automatic, since it requires the approval of the US Congress. This is the fifth referendum on the issue.

Puerto Ricans are US citizens, but they are not allowed to vote in presidential elections.


How much does an American election cost?

$ 14 billion: in 2020, the cost of presidential elections shattered all records. This is without counting the astronomical sums spent by lobbies, businesses and wealthy individuals who wish to influence the outcome of the election.

By comparison, Canadian parties spent $ 508 million in the last federal election in Canada.


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