Suprisingly, only a few of my friends were following the 2020 election data closely. One of them was my friend Li, and me being as impatient as I am and Li being as good at spreadsheets as he is, we set up some incredibly simple modeling on the remaining states to see if we could predict who would win. All we did was copy and paste the NYT data, determine the current margin of Trump to Biden votes for each county, and then figure out how many more votes would go to Biden or Trump (assuming of course the margin held; although at times we allowed for some skew for mail in votes, because those tend to be more blue). While everyone was freaking out on election night about Nevada and Pennsylvania, we were freaking out about Georgia because it looked like it was going to flip blue for the first time since 1992.

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I was keeping my entire family up to date with our analysis because I knew they were very nervous about the outcome, and all the networks do is talk about the current vote margins, not the ratios of votes that are coming in and are remaining by county, let alone modeling out a prediction based on those ratios. We called the election for Biden in the evening of November 5th, CNN didn't call it until the morning of November 7th. Here's the full conversation up until the election officially got called.

When we originally ran the analysis at 8:16pm on election night, we predicted that Biden would win by a 25,571 vote margin. In the end, Biden won by a 11,779 vote margin. I teared up when our prediction came true:

And here it is. 4:32am, November 6th. 1.824 votes were just added. 87% of them went to Biden. Biden is now 🎉WINNING🎂 Georgia by a margin of 917 votes. I think Biden's margin will grow throughout the day. And just like that, Trump is toast. Even if he manages to win every other state: Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Alaska, the last delegate from Maine, and North Carolina, an exceedingly unlikely scenario, he will only get to 269 votes. If they both tie at 269, the president I believe is determined by the house and the vice president by the senate. The last time Georgia went for a democrat was 1992.

And in a beautiful moment: "the community flipping the switch from red to blue in Georgia was represented by the man who spent his life fighting for the right to vote. Rep John Lewis spent 34 years serving #ClaytonCoGA in Congress."

Full text:
November 4, 2020, 3:43 AM

Joe: Georgia is going to be the first
deciding factor, then after that
Pennsylvania might be a factor,
but we'll almost certainly know
Georgia before Pennsylvania.
Seems like there will be a nice
blue skew for Georgia, so that
honestly could be what makes
it all over. I think Georgia is
what's going to call this
election. If Biden doesn't win
Georgia, it'll be up to

Joe: If Biden loses both, then the
election is over and Trump has won.

Joe: Looking at the counties in
Georgia, it's looking decently
good for Biden. The ones that
have the least counted by far
are the Atlanta area, which
skew 70-80 Biden.

November 4, 2020, 5:50 AM

Joe: Honestly, I don't think the
forecasts were that far off.
Because right now it's an 82%
chance of Biden winning. down
from 88% according to Five
Thirty Eight's forecast before
the election began. So even
thought it might feel
despairing, I think this is
exactly what they warned
about which was it's going to
feel like one candidate is
winning but over time the other
pulls ahead.

Joe: it's 6am, and unlike 4 years
ago, I'm feeling better and
better as the night goes on.
The odds are looking good for

Joe: some other good stuff, like
more marijuana legalization,
also Oregon legalizing medical
mushrooms (very big for
mental health), and Mississippi
is changing their flag so it
doesn't have a confederate
flag inside it.

Auntie Toni: Thank you for the good news!
I was feeling despair. have to
leave for work soon and I'm
feeling more hopeful. Thank
Medical mushrooms wow, I
missed that whole thing. Who needs a news source
when I have you!

Joe: Not everyone has called it yet,
but Biden winning Arizona is
probably the biggest help to
winning so far.

Joe: meh I don't really know what
I'm talking about, but I do
understand statistics!

November 4, 2020, 9:04 AM

Cousin John: Thanks Joe. We're all just
holding on tight, but I'm far
from losing hope. I have faith

Cousin John: Bring this home North
Carolina. And keep the blue
wall standing!!!!!

November 4, 2020, 2:06 PM

Joe: I think the path from NC is
highly unlikely. Although many
ballots have yet to be counted
from Wake and Mecklenberg
county (Raleigh and Charlotte),
the margin might not be made
up. I think Georgia is more of
the state you should look at,
they also have committed to
counting the ballots sooner
than NC, plus in NC ballots can
actually arrive from the mail
and be counted until ~Nov
10th, so they may be one of
the latest ones to be called.

Uncle Ken: MI and WI a must then as is
Nevada I think. PA would lock it
up just not sure what is going
on there and if he can close
that gap. Surprised senate
didn't swing. I hate being in the

Joe: He could lock it up with just
Georgia, Wisconsin (called),
and Nevada.

Joe: Michigan and Georgia are
equally valuable, 16 votes.

Uncle Ken: Yep. Just feeling like he's got a
better shot at Ml. Time will tell

Joe: Either way, there are a lot of
paths, and it's looking good.

Joe: Yeah, you're right, only taking
a look at Michigan now, and it
does look promising. Many of
the uncounted ballots in the
urban areas.

Joe: Which skew 66% Biden

Uncle Ken: That is my thinking.

Joe: But the main thing I'm
interested in isn't so much
which one is more likely, but
which one will tell us sooner

Uncle Ken: Agreed.

Cousin John: We have faith

Cousin John: Pennsylvania, and if what
you're saying about North
Carolina is true, probably won't
be called super soon, unless
someone pulls away

Joe: I'd look to Georgia and Nevada.
Winning just those two will win
him the election. Maybe
Michigan instead of Georgia,
but it really depends on who is
counting faster and I need to
look more into who is likely to
do it sooner.

Uncle Ken: They filed suit in MI to stop the
counting until the republicans have "meaningful access".

Joe: this is one reason I'd watch
Georgia today.

Joe: We should have a good update
on Georgia by 9pm tonight
(not necessarily a full count).
That race is going to be pretty
damn close, but it seems
pretty promising for Biden.

Joe: Trump currently leads in
Georgia by 79,509 votes, and
the secretary of state said
during an 11:30 a.m. press
conference that there were still
200,000 mail-in votes and
50,000 early votes to count,
mostly in Democratic-leaning
counties like Fulton and

Mom: I really appreciate your
updates. I haven't looked at
anything since this morning.

Joe: thanks mom

Joe: There is some concern about
Arizona now not being so
confidently for Biden, but we'll
know a lot more at 9pm. Both
Arizona and Georgia are giving
a bia update at 9pm.

Joe: Although Arizona is a small "if"
assuming Arizona holds, Biden
only needs to win one more
state to get to 270: Nevada,
Georgia, Pennsylvania, or
North Carolina. I've put those
in the order most likely for him
to win (soon), although
Pennsylvania might be more
likely for him to win in the long

Joe: Really just waiting until 9pm,
unless something unexpected
happens like Nevada counts
their ballots really fast or

Auntie Susan: Thanks for the update joe.
Glad to hear about Michigan.

Auntie Susan: Do I have this right that if
Michigan and Nevada go to
Biden he has the 270?

Joe: Michigan is pretty safely called
for Biden alreadv.

Joe: Like I said, he only needs one
more state to win. The only
concern is that he actually
could_ lose Arizona, but it's
not super likely. That one was
called a bit early (last night), by
Fox news of all places.

Auntie Susan: So has those electoral votes
already part of his current total
of 248.

Joe: He has very safely secured
253 votes. With Arizona he's at

Joe: The only remaining states
would put him at the mark.
Even if he just won Nevada,
with its 6 electoral votes.

Auntie Susan: Thanks joe.

Joe: (the others on the table are
NC, highly unlikely, Georgia
tossup, or Pennsylvania,
probably tossup but too early
to tell).

Joe: Nevada might not give us a
major update until tomorrow,
Thursday. So we can really
only expect to hear about
Georgia and Arizona tonight. If
Arizona holds for Biden and
Georgia is secured, then it'll all
end tonight at 9pm or
Otherwise, we'll have to wait
until at least tomorrow to hear
about Nevada.

Joe: So this is Georgia.
argin = differential, where
differential needs to be >=
57,266 for Biden to be able to
take the state. With this, the
margin comes to be 18.5%, so
Biden needs to winning the
remaining outstanding votes
by a margin of 18.5%, or
68.5% of the votes. This is
feasible, but it'll be close at
best. The most outstanding
ballots are in counties like

Joe: I would definitely say Georgia
is still a tossup, but it's the
earliest hope we have to
finding out the final results
tonight. My guess though is
that it'll be close enough to
warrant a recount either way.

Cousin John: Damn. That's really crazy. It's
to be so close. I would still
rather not find out if Biden won
tonight and Biden end up
winning than Biden not winning
at all, you know.

Joe: Going county by county for
these big ones, the remaining
ballots are 40,837 in Cobb,
39,032 in DeKalb, 16,417 in
Clayton, 4,752 in Douglas. All
estimates derived from the
NYT and ABC data. https://
UnDh58qUaE/edit? The mail in bump
is really a guess, but no matter
what, I think Georgia is going
to be so close a recount could
be called.

Cousin John: Wow. This is insane

Cousin John: I believe

Joe: Ok, news is getting even better
for Biden in Atlanta. Fulton
county just said they have a lot
more ballots to count, whereas
we thought they were done.
They go 72% democrat so far.
This county alone could be
responsible for breaking what
would have been a very close
race in Georgia.

Joe: We may get a trickle of results
coming in from Fulton from
now until midnight, when they
expect to finish. That
combined with the 9pm update
from other Atlanta, Georgia
counties could be enough to
not only decide Georgia
tonight, but the entire election
(again, assuming Arizona

Joe: Li and I are actively updating
the voting estimates in the
remaining Georgia counties. But it'd definitely be within
recount territory.

Joe: Li and I are now just doing a
projection based on the NYT
data, very simple, just playing
out the current spread. We're
being as conservative as
possible and Georgia still
comes out to Biden.

November 4, 2020, 9:55 PM

Joe: Georgia counties are not
keeping up with when they
said they'd have things
counted, so we're still waiting.
Still waiting.

Joe: Arizona is looking more and
more of a tossup, probably
should not have been called by
Fox for Biden yesterday. This is
nail-biting news.

Joe: On the bright side,
Pennsylvania might be a savior,
but it'Il be a while before we
know for sure.

Joe: But Georgia is still looking
good, the results that are
coming in make sense, the
margins are holding in these
counties, and Li and my
projections have that if this
continues, Biden will win the
state with at least 10,000
votes. Again, as long as
Arizona doesn't fall, that's the

Joe: Georgia is especially
interesting, because we could
end up with at least one,
maybe two runoff elections in
the senate there, which would
be enough for tie in the senate.
Everyone's attention should be
on Georgia right now.

Cousin John: Wow Georgia really doing it
right now

Joe: Big update from Dougherty
county, they just finished
counting. According to the
NYT data.

Cousin John: NBC has them at a 0.6%
difference. Is that Arizona or Georgia?

Joe: Georgia. added 773 votes for Trump,
2.325 for Biden. 

Joe: That's 25% for Trump, 75% for
Biden. That's significant
because these late votes had
that spread, whereas their
earlier votes were 35% for
trump and 65% for Biden.

Joe: That means that the mail in
votes exaggerated the dems
lead. Li and I have been
assuming a 0% mail in vote
exaggeration, but at least in
this county, we saw a 10% mail
in vote exaggeration.

Cousin John: Damn this is insane. It is so
close. Mad respect for these models
Joe. I hope they are accurate
like you say

Joe: it is for now, but I don't think
it's going to be. I think Biden
will win Georgia by at least
10,000 votes.

Joe: lol it's so easy, it's just taking
the existing margins and
assuming they hold for the
remaining vote counts.

Joe: We could go farther and start
modeling out the mail in bump,
but honestly I don't think we'll
need to.

Cousin John: Knock on fucking wood bro

Cousin John: Knock on fucking wood

November 5, 2020, 12:34 AM

Joe: Li and my projection is
showing a growing margin for
Georgia as more counties
come out

Joe: This is due to an additional
4,344 out of DeKalb county.
Now the spread here for all of
their 367,359 votes has been
83.5% for Biden, but these
4344 votes that they actually
added was only 82.5% for
Biden. Not a big deal, but
interesting that this didn't see
the same mail-in bump that
we've seen at least one other
county see.

Joe: Another 10,461 votes just
came in for Fulton, Georgia.
Our conservative estimate
expected 73% of those to go
to Biden, 77% of them ended
up going to him. That's good
news, although it'd be better if
the mail-in bump were even
higher (like 10% in the case of
the other county). Biden
winning Georgia is really going
to come down to the estimates
of just how many people
actually voted, that's what could end up making this a
stalemate, or a very narrow win
one direction or another. This
is going to be such a close
state, far closer than
Wisconsin was (when
adjusting for population).

November 5, 2020, 12:45 AM

Joe: Just woke up, morning update.
Bad news from Georgia. What I
feared last night is coming
true, some very democratic
counties that the NYT was
reporting as ~85% or 90%
reported have bumped it to
93% or 95% even though no
new votes were counted.
Notably, counties like Clayton
(103,553 ballots counted so far
with a 71 point spread) which
used to be claimed at 84%
reported now have 92%
reported with no new votes
counted. This basically just
means less room to grow, so
we would hit the vote ceiling
before we can catch up. Biden
has 49.2% of all votes in
Georgia, Trump has 49.5%. Last night, our projection had
Biden winning the state by
7800 votes. With this new
data, he's losing it by 4000

Uncle Ken: PA had halted vote counting in
and around Philadelphia as
appellate judge had ordered
trump campaign in person
access to where votes are
being counted. Case is going
to PA Supreme Court but
counting halted in Philadelphia
as moment. Crazy.

Cousin John: This is insane. Really? To both. Dad. what does that mean for
the counting, will they continue

Uncle Ken: Yes. Halted temporarily. Will
resume either with order
allowing them in person to
monitor or not. Probably by
day's end

Joe: Yeah, again, why I'm banking
on Georgia to finish the count
soon. PA will be who knows
how lona. mavhe Nevada and Arizona will pull through who
knows, Georgia is taking a

Cousin John: Okay cool. That's good

Cousin John: It's. So. Close.

Uncle Ken: I think announcement
expected this afternoon from
Nevada and maybe AZ as well.
Sounds like NC has been
conceded to Trump.

Joe: Based on the newest data in
from the NYT though, we think
it's reasonable to give a mail-in
bump to Biden of about 3.5%,
which will have him winning by
about 3000 votes in Georgia,
which makes our model no
longer conservative, but
average-ish. Either way, it's
going to be incredibly close,
probably 5000 or fewer votes
will decide Georgia. Also note
that two senate run-offs in
Georgia is increasingly likely,
which, if both won by
democrats, could mean a tie in
the senate with a vice
president breaking. Georgia is
as hot as it gets right now.

Auntie Susan: Thanks joe. You're a mountain
of info.

Cousin John: Yea keep it coming Joe, this is
really awesome

Joe: Nevada is getting to the point
where it might be callable for
Biden. This will put some
networks like Fox in a very
strange position. They'Ve
already called Arizona for
Biden, and they're one of the
only networks to have done so,
so if they call Nevada for Biden
too, then they will be the first
network to call the entire
election for Biden.

Aunt Susan: Serves them right. They shell
out bullshit all the time. It's
about time they get something

November 5, 2020, 2:56 PM

Uncle Ken: If we are talking about Nevada,
I wouldn't bet on it you know?
Just sayin

Joe: Li and I have put together the
same document but for all of
the other remaining states
except NC. Looking very good
for Biden in most cases. The
Georgia 2.0 tab is especially
interesting because it shows
what percentage Biden needs
of all remaining votes in order
to win in Georgia, right now its
64%, up from 63% earlier

Uncle Ken: You selling cliff notes for these

Joe: Li and I are running the
numbers all sorts of way, we
aren't feeling great about
Georgia right now. We took a
weighted average of the
outstanding votes and their
counties, and the margin is
55%, which we could safely
expect to go up to 58.58%
with a mail-bump. He needs a
64% margin on the remaining
votes to win the state. It's not
unreasonable that he could get
a 8% or 9% bump from the
mail-in, but his lead isn't as
safe as it seemed yesterday
That said, Pennsylvania in an
amazing feat may end up
getting to a callable point
tonight, which would mean the
end of things so long as
Arizona holds.

Cousin John: Wait, if Pennsylvania goes
Biden, Arizona isn't needed,

Joe: Good point, that may be the

Joe: Biden can get 270 with just
Pennsylvania right now? Yes, that is definitely possible

Joe: I closed my electoral tab, shit.

Joe: Yes, he can. He'll be at 273.

Uncle Ken: Don't be so closed tab minded

Joe: lol

Joe: Georgia still may matter a lot
for the senate.

Uncle Ken: Biden getting 80% of votes in
Philadelphia. Difference down
to 90k. Maybe over tonight

Joe: Over the past couple hours,
6,233 votes have been
counted in Georgia. 4,736
went to Biden, which is 75%.
This is absurdly good news.
There are only 41,000
outstanding votes in Georgia.
We think it's reasonable for
Biden to take about 65-75% of
them. That puts him in the lead
in Georgia.

Joe: The difference now in Georgia
is only 9,525 votes.

Joe: And there's 41.000

Joe: And over the past couple of
hours, Biden has gotten

Joe: I hope this is hitting home.

Uncle Ken: Heard Netflix has cancelled
next season of Celebrity
President. Anyone else seeing

Cousin John: It's hitting, but I'm still
knocking on wood Joseph

Joe: A lot of that latest drop was
from Fulton county, mostly
democratic, but some were
from republican counties,
which destroyed their margins
for Trump.

Cousin John: When you say destroyed, do
you mean in a good or bad way
for Trump?

Joe: there's also a ton of Trump
counties which are now
confirming that they have now
counted all of their ballots,
removing them from the

Joe: I mean in a bad way for Trump.
Look at Morris county there.
4,000 new ballots were
counted, and due to those
ballots, Trumps margin
plummeted from 54% to 44%.
This means that even in those
highly republican counties,
there was a nice influx of
democratic votes.

Cousin John: WoW.

Joe: Between Georgia and
Pennsylvania, I'm hoping that I
can finally stop this madness
and a winner will be called

Cousin John: But if Georgia is called, it's not
necessarily a win because
Arizona technically isn't called
yet, right?

Uncle Ken: 326k left to be Counted in PA.
Biden will win PA. This race is
over. Labbate is calling it

Joe: Both the AP and Fox have
called Arizona for Biden, but
it's not unanimous.

Joe: That said, it's increasingly
likely he'll win Nevada, and
then he doesn't even need

Auntie Toni: I'm just tracking this text only source!

Joe: Works for me. I'Il accept
donations to Bernie Sanders
when it's all over.

Uncle Ken: Thought this was an unbiased

Uncle Ken: Lead in PA down to 78k. Trump
to speak at 6:30. Should be

Cousin John: Is trump speaking now?

Cousin John: Oh wait, I see. Soon I guess.

Dad: He's speaking now. MSNBC
cut away within 1 minute
because he was exploding with

Joe: I've been watching Fox.

Joe: Yeah, he's on CNN too

Uncle Ken: What happened to free press?
Can't support the censorship
no matter what lies he may be

Joe: MSNBC is hardly press.

Mom: A free press also gives them
the right NOT to give the floor
to someone who they believe
isn't being truthful.

Joe: We're down to less than a
4.000 vote differential in

Cousin John: Joe, what just happened in

Joe: We got more results in. I'm
figuring out which counties

Uncle Ken: Devil went down

Cousin John: And in Pennsylvania? I saw
Trump's lead get cut by ten

Cousin John: Let me know.

Joe: Chatham county in Georgia
was responsible for this new
jump. We're down to 23.000
votes. The new votes that just
came in, Biden one them 67%.
He needs to win the remaining
ones 62% to take the crown.

Cousin John: Okay, thanks. Crazv.

Joe: Chatham is the county that
they tried to sue about the
votes being added that were

Joe: I think the republican counties
may be running out ballots to
find, so I think these 23,000
remaining are probably in
democratic counties. I think as
the updates come in, they
might go more and more to
Biden. I wouldn't be surprised
if we see 67% or higher on
update #4

Joe: Ok, I'm calling Georgia for
Joseph R Biden!!!!

Cousin John: According to the NBC map, at
least for the counties I have
looked at, there's only one or
so counties in Georgia that are
red that have less than 99%
land the one county that I saw
had only a few thousand
votes). The ones that still have
95% or so votes counted are
the blue counties, including
the ones around Atlanta.

Cousin John: Okay Joe, start knocking on

November 5, 2020, 9:03 PM

Joe: The last drop in Georgia was
1,319 votes about 90 seconds
ago. 87.49% went to Biden. It
is looking very good.

Joe: Pennsylvania is starting to look
very good with our model.

Joe: In the last couple hours, our
model has gone from
projecting a 50,000 vote loss
for Biden to a 9,000 loss. With
about 300,000 votes to go,
and the last drop of 17,295
votes, 72% going to Biden,
that is very strong for Biden.

Joe: New data in for Georgia. 1,902
new votes, 79.43% went to
Biden. Only 1083 votes now
separate Biden and Trump.
0.044%, still 13,775 left to
count. Biden is about to
officially win Georgia.

Cousin John: Knock. On. Wood.

Joe: Correction, it's 1902 votes that
separate them. Very close.

Cousin John: Okay, I was about to say I
didn't see that update to 1083.

Joe: It's down to 1.797 now.

Joe: As expected, it's looking
incredibly good for Biden in

November 6, 2020, 12:38 AM

Joe: If this person (Brendan Keefe) hadn't gone to
sleep, we might have known
the outcome of Georgia

Joe: Spoke too soon, trickling in
from the remaining counties
literally just now, after hours of
waiting. 144 new votes, 85%
went to Biden. 11,954 left to
come in. Margin is 1,709 votes.

Joe: Margin in Pennsylvania is
almost gone. Trump up by
18,229 votes. By the time you
read this, Biden will be ahead
in Pennsylvania.

Joe: Georgia margin is just 1,267
now. All of this is painfully slow.

Joe: That's 90.4% going for Biden.
You can see now hopefully why
I've called it for Biden.

Cousin John: This is crazy. That spread is nuts.

Joe: Makes sense given what the
existing breakdown is for

Cousin John: About twenty minutes ago, I
was looking at the NBC county
reporting percentages from
Georgia. Out of the counties
that still have significant
counts to report, only two were
in favor of trump. Those two,
compared to the four or five
Biden favoring counties (or
more, I don't remember the
exact number), had smaller
populations than the Biden
counties I am comparing them
with here (for the most part).

Cousin John: Clayton is where John Lewis
was from, wasn't it?

Joe: Didn't realize John Lewis was
from the area, he was the 5th
district, which is based in
Fulton (nearby) with parts of
Clayton though.

Cousin John: Someone being interviewed on
CNN put it as "poetic" for that
county to flip Georgia to Biden
in the year of his passing.

Cousin John: I think that would be pretty

Joe: And another one. 665
difference for Georgia. Georgia
my friends, is about to flip.

Joe: CNN is losing their mind right

November 6, 2020, 4:32 AM

Joe: And here it is. 4:32am,
November 6th. 1.824 votes
were just added.
87% of them went to Biden.
Biden is now 🎉WINNING🎂
Georgia by a margin of 917
votes. I think Biden's margin
will grow throughout the day.
And just like that, Trump is
toast. Even if he manages to
win every other state: Arizona,
Pennsylvania, Nevada, Alaska,
the last delegate from Maine,
and North Carolina, an
exceedingly unlikely scenario,
he will only get to 269 votes. If
they both tie at 269, the
president I believe is
determined by the house and
the vice president by the
The last time Georgia went for
a democrat was 1992.

Joe: And in a beautiful moment:
"the community flipping the
switch from red to blue in
Georgia was represented by
the man who spent his life
fighting for the right to vote.
Rep John Lewis spent 34 years
serving #ClaytonCoGA in

Auntie Toni: Just woke up! This is insane.

Joe: I think Biden is going to win
Georgia by about 4,000-6,000

Joe: I'm less confident about this
prediction, but I think Biden
may win 306 to 232. Trump
won in 2016 at 306 to 232.

Joe: In the next 2 hours or so, it's
also likely that Pennsylvania
will flip to Biden, but I'm going
to take a break from the
reporting now 😉

Uncle Ken: Night! Thanks for your
dedication to the craft!

November 6, 2020, 8:58 AM

Joe: The Decision Desk (the source
of all of this early data) has just
called Pennsylvania, and the
entire election, for Biden.
Congrats, we got em.

November 7, 2020, 11:29 AM

Joe: Surprising nobody, in case it
makes you guys feel better,
CNN has called it all for Biden.