Global Cooperation

The U.S. election explained in 10 numbers

United States President presidential election Biden Trump votes statistics numbers

Joe Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States. Image: REUTERS/Jim Bourg - HP1EGB80830ME

Jason Lange
Writer, Reuters
Brad Heath
Writer, Reuters
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United States

  • Joe Biden is set to become the 46th President of the United States, following his victory over incumbent Donald Trump..
  • 65 million people chose to vote using mail-in ballots.

Democrat Joe Biden captured the U.S. presidency on Saturday, emerging the victor over Republican President Donald Trump in a tight election that was not decided until polls closed days later.

United States President presidential election Biden Trump votes statistics numbers
The net gain of each party from 2016 to 2020. Image: Reuters Graphics

(For a graphic on how Biden won the election, see tmsnrt.rs/358vXPG)

Here are 10 numbers that help explain an historic U.S. election that was conducted in the middle of both a worldwide pandemic and global economic recession. The data is derived from voting figures available through Saturday afternoon:

* 65 million

The coronavirus crisis made voting by mail the go-to option for some 65 million Americans, close to half of those who voted. The mail-in ballot surge, tracked by the U.S. Elections Project, also overwhelmed election workers in many states, with the slow pace of counting keeping the world on edge for days.

* 18%

From the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt, Biden won more votes than Trump in suburbs and other areas that skew towards affluence. Turnout in suburban counties was on track to rise about 18% as college-educated voters repudiated Trump. Turnout rose less in largely rural counties, where the Republican incumbent had broad support.

* 4 million

Americans refreshed their screens religiously for three days to track an extremely close race in the Electoral College, the body that ultimately determines a winner in the unique U.S. election system. But the popular vote was a lot less close, with Biden’s margin of victory at more than 4 million votes and rising.

* 58%

That’s the percentage of white male voters who supported Trump this year, but the president had less pull with this key slice of his political base than in 2016, according to an Edison Research exit poll that showed his support was 4 percentage points lower this year.

* 2 million

Compared with four years ago, Trump gained more than 2 million votes in the counties most ravaged by the coronavirus. That was fewer than Biden picked up relative to his party’s take in 2016, but still an increase. While the epidemic was a top concern among voters, Trump’s share of the vote was about steady in the counties with more than 70 deaths per 100,000 residents.

* 42-7

That might look like an American football score, but it’s a key measure of how the political landscape changed from 2016.

Biden was on track to win 42 counties that were won by Trump four years ago. In the battleground state of Michigan, Biden won Kent County, an affluent, long-time Republican stronghold where Trump held his final 2016 and 2020 campaign rallies. Trump, meanwhile, was on track to flip just seven counties that voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.

* 7

Trump lost Florida’s Miami-Dade County, a Democratic stronghold, by a mere 7 percentage points, compared to the 29-point loss he suffered there in 2016. The president won the state again this year in part because he got more support from Latino voters, especially around Miami where the president’s anti-socialism message was aimed at Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American voters.

* 92/70

Those represent the biggest victory margins in a state or the District of Columbia for Biden and Trump, respectively. Biden’s came in the Democratic bastion of Washington, D.C., while Trump’s made his mark in Wyoming, which has not sided with a Democratic presidential nominee since 1964. The blowout wins, while impressive, netted just three electoral votes for each.

* 2

Trump’s ranking as the all-time vote getter in one election, right behind Biden. And right behind Trump? Biden’s old boss, former President Barack Obama.

Two is also the number of times Trump lost the popular vote.

* 0

The number of times Trump has conceded a presidential election. His lawyers are currently mounting legal challenges to Biden’s victory.

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