Joe Biden is the winner – but we don’t know how, yet

Across Twitter, armchair pundits and genuine pundits alike are a little frustrated by the lack of a call in the presidential election. No major network, nor the Associated Press, has called Georgia, Pennsylvania, or Nevada for Joe Biden. Without one of those states, Biden remains in limbo, stuck at a max of 264 electoral votes. He needs 270 to win. And he has them… somewhere.

It might be in Georgia, where Biden currently has a razor-thin lead of around 1,500 votes. Some 17,000 potential ballots remain uncounted, shrouding the state in peach-scented mystery. Will any of the provisional ballots count? Will any of the nearly 9,000 unreturned mail-in ballots make it back to election officials before the end of the day? And, if so, who are the ballots for? Many of these are unenrolled voters – voters who aren’t registered with either of the major parties – which gives us little insight into where they might fall.

It might be in Pennsylvania, where, after days of counting, Biden overtook Trump early this morning. It’s mostly Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, plus their left-leaning suburbs, where ballots remain outstanding. It seems unlikely Trump will overtake Biden here, but the margin is still uncertain: like in Georgia, more ballots remain uncounted than the difference between the two candidates.

It might be in Nevada, where Trump has tightened Biden’s early lead but keeps falling short of actually overtaking him. Nevada has been painfully slow to report and has done so in tranches like Pennsylvania but smaller ones.

It’s clear that one of these is going to hold, at minimum. Pennsylvania is probably Biden’s best bet, but all three remain too close or, in the case of Nevada, too early to call. That’s what’s holding back news outlets: call Georgia for Biden and it slides back to Trump, forcing them to take the call back only to have Pennsylvania confirmed for Biden. Or call Nevada but then it becomes more uncertain, forcing a backtrack only for Georgia to confirm that just a few hundred votes are in by tonight’s deadline and Biden is the victor there.

So here we are, three days after election day. We know that Joe Biden is the president-elect. But we don’t know how, and that’s frustrating for everyone.