What Will Happen in Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia & More: See Latest Swing State Results

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America's electoral system is one that almost inevitably hinges on a handful of battleground states. Roughly a dozen of them are labeled "swing states" in the 2020 general election, due to the repeatedly close contests they've seen in recent presidential races.

In other words, there's a lot riding on the results to come from Tuesday's election in states including Arizona, Florida, Georgia Texas, Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Polls in the contest between Joe Biden and Donald Trump began to close in some of the swing states at 7 p.m. Eastern.

To track reliable, real-time results, PEOPLE is using the data collected by the team at The Associated Press, which emphasizes precision and caution in gathering vote totals across the country.

The AP uses this data to declare winners in thousands of down-ticket races along with the races for president, U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and various statewide offices. 

Return to this page as more results come in and winners are projected.

What You Need to Know

The battlegrounds are nothing new but complicating the vote tallies this year is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has led to a historic influx of mail and early ballots.

While the majority of states allow advance processing for early ballots, some — including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — do not begin counting early votes until the morning of Election Day, leading to potential delays that stretch past Tuesday. Two recent Supreme Court decisions mean that absentee votes in some states will even be accepted after Election Day as long as they were postmarked by then, adding yet another wrinkle in counting results.

"I think Florida and North Carolina are going to count their ballots quickly and efficiently," says Nathan Gonzalez, publisher and editor of Inside Elections, which provides nonpartisan analysis of political campaigns. "In comparison, Pennsylvania is a very critical state and I think they’re going to take a very long time to count the votes."

Not only are Florida and North Carolina likely to report their results fairly quickly, but those results will could indicate whether Republican incumbent Trump or Democratic nominee Biden is ultimately elected president.

"If Biden wins either — or both — then he’s probably getting elected president of the United States, even if we don’t know the results in those other key battlegrounds," Gonzalez tells PEOPLE. "If Trump wins Florida and North Carolina, it won't necessarily mean he's elected again, but it will indicate a much closer electoral fight."

Changing demographics have helped to reshape the map across the country. In Texas, for instance, a combination of changes and population growth has led to swaths of blue around urban and suburban areas such as Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin.

How those demographics impact the outcome of this election could signify shifts for years to come.

"The question, even beyond Texas, is: How much of a shift in the suburbs, or the shift among women voters, is due to Trump?" Gonzalez says. "Is it a backlash to Trump, or is a trend toward the Democratic party that was just accelerated by President Trump? Until we get beyond the Trump presidency and have an election where he is no longer the focal point, we’ll not know the answer to that question."

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