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Highlights and analysis from Election Day 2020

Presidential election results as ballots are counted in key swing states for President Trump and Joe Biden. Get live coverage and electoral vote updates.
Watch NBC News special election coverage
Watch NBC News special election coverage

Election Day is over, with polls having closed across the country and officials processing both in-person and mail-in ballots.

As Tuesday bled into Wednesday, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden were running a tight race. Trump was projected to win some key battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Texas, while Biden was projected to win New Hampshire and Minnesota. Meanwhile, election officials in three other key states, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona, still have millions of ballots to count.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from November 4, 2020.

Read live updates below:

NBC News Exit Poll: Our methodology, and how we're counting early voters

The NBC News Exit Poll was conducted with voters as they left polling places across the United States on Election Day. To account for the high number of early and absentee voters and ensure a sample that accurately represents the ways all Americans cast their ballots nationwide, the exit poll also includes extensive interviews with in-person early voters, as well as telephone surveys.

The exit poll was conducted at early in-person voting centers in eight states, an innovation that began in 2018 in only two states. The exit poll has always included telephone polls of absentee voters in a handful of states, but for the first time this year, telephone polls were conducted in all 24 states that were polled, as well as in the national exit poll.

By the end of Election Day, approximately 100,000 total interviews will be conducted.  

In 2018, methodological changes were made to the exit poll to better reflect the age and education composition of the electorate. Those improvements continue to be incorporated in the 2020 methodology. To make direct comparisons to 2016, the poll is using trend-adjusted numbers for the 2016 figures. For that reason, the 2016 top-line numbers you see reported for questions including age, education and income will not reflect the publicly available data. 

The National Election Pool has continued to adopt best practices and refine the exit poll.

'Just another Tuesday': Election Day appears free of widespread voting chaos

Anxieties that Election Day would be marred by widespread voting problems, hacking or intimidation at the polls grew muted by Tuesday afternoon as the lessons of 2016 have so far helped to avoid the disarray of elections past, election officials and voter groups say.

While there have been routine issues during this Election Day, including malfunctioning machines at polling sites and the spreading of misinformation to confuse voters, fixes like more counties having contingency plans in the event of technical troubles seem to be working.

"At this point, this just looks like any other Election Day, and even just another Tuesday," a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency told reporters.

In the swing state of Pennsylvania, the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Election Protection Coalition said volunteers were documenting any potential threats toward voters at the polls, but "there have been no reports of intimidation."

"So far, we've seen mostly the typical minor problems that we see on every Election Day," Sara Mullen, advocacy and policy director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in a statement.

Read more here.

Here are some key counties to watch tonight

Election observers are paying attention to the same set of critical states — Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Arizona, etc. Within those, there are a handful of important counties to watch.

Erie County, Pennsylvania

This Northwest Pennsylvania county on the shores of Lake Erie is the quintessential Obama-to-Trump county; Obama won here in 2012 by nearly 20,000 votes, while Trump had a 2,000-vote lead here in 2016. Located in the middle of Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, Erie got more attention from Democrats in the 2020 cycle, and they hope to flip it back after an encouraging Senate result 2018.

Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

This county, which borders Biden's former hometown of Scranton, marked another big flip from Obama to Trump in 2016. It went from one Obama won by 6,000 votes in 2012 to a more than 26,000 vote Trump victory that year, when the state as a whole was decided by fewer than 50,000 votes.

The county was also a focal point of Trump's efforts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the mail-in vote.

Pinellas County, Florida

Home to St. Petersburg, Pinellas County marked a major flip from Obama to Trump in Florida. A return to Biden could signal a promising development for the campaign in the Sunshine State, while if Trump can maintain his margin here, it could bode well for him. In 2012, Obama won this county by more than 25,000 votes. Last cycle, Trump won by about 6,000.

Wayne County, Michigan and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

In these counties, it all comes down to turnout. Trump won Wisconsin and Michigan by razor-thin margins in 2016, and he was boosted in part by a much lower than expected turnout in these counties, home to Detroit and Milwaukee.

In 2012, Obama won more than 595,000 votes in Wayne County and about 328,000 in Milwaukee County, topping Romney by more than 380,000 and 170,000 in each, respectively. In 2016, Clinton won just about 520,000 votes in Wayne County and 288,000 in Milwaukee County, topping Trump by 290,000 and 160,000 respectively. Boosting turnout to Obama-levels would have netted Clinton victory in both states.

Candidates and milk, anyone?

Presidential candidate cookies at Oakmont Bakery in Oakmont, Pa. on Election Day. The bakery has been printing candidates' faces on cookies for the past four elections. It has stopped keeping count of who's leading the cookie poll this year after divisiveness in the community and on social media. Michael Swensen / for NBC News

Harris supporters held Hindu ceremony for good luck in her ancestral village in India

CHENNAI/NEW DELHI — Supporters of U.S. vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris held prayers near her ancestral village in India ahead of Tuesday's U.S. election, while a Hindu fringe group sought divine blessings for her rival Donald Trump.

The southern Indian region where Harris' maternal grandfather was born is rooting for the Democratic Party to win because of the family connection.

Meanwhile, a group that claims to have the support of 5 million Hindus says it wants Trump to be re-elected in order to keep India's main rivals - Pakistan and China - in check.

Hours ahead of the U.S. presidential election, people living in and around Thulasendrapuram, the village of Harris' grandfather, gathered at a temple for special prayers.

One local politician conducted an "abhishekam", a practice that involves pouring milk over a Hindu idol while religious verses are recited, in the presence of about 20 villagers, said R. Manikandan, a shopkeeper near the temple.

Read more.

Unable to vote early without an excuse, Mississippi voters show up in-person

JACKSON, Miss. — Volunteers in Mississippi handed out snacks to the line of voters that wrapped around the Eudora Welty Library precinct in downtown Jackson.

Eve Williams waited almost an hour before the doors of the polling location were visible. The 51-year-old voted for Joe Biden and Democratic Senate candidate Mike Espy.

While in line, Williams drafted a poem reflecting on the lives of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, whose deaths ignited weeks of demonstrations across the country against racial injustice.

"My vote is for George Floyd who cried out for his mother in pain," said Williams.

Two miles down the road, the University of Mississippi Medical Center is running out of ICU beds as the state struggles to slow down new infections. 

Despite the pandemic, most registered voters in Mississippi will have to cast ballots in-person. The state Supreme Court ruled against a lawsuit seeking to expand early voting in the state. Although face coverings are not required to vote in Mississippi, Williams, like the majority of voters at the precinct, wore a face covering. The threat of the pandemic, she said, was not a deterrent to voting in-person.

“I was going to come regardless,” she said. “I realize how important it is.”

Gov. DeWine says Ohio results likely to be known Tuesday night

Ohio's GOP governor, Mike DeWine, predicted that the results of the presidential race in his state are likely to be known on Tuesday night. 

“The president is certainly not going to do as well as you would have expected a Republican president did 12 years ago or so," DeWine said Tuesday in an interview with MSNBC. 

DeWine said that the first votes that will be counted will be the mail-in ballots and the early in-person votes. 

On the timing of the results, DeWine said, “We're gonna know tonight unless it's a really, really close race.”

2020 election could deliver the biggest gender gap in American history. What's driving it?

Polls suggest that this presidential election could result in the biggest gender gap the country has seen since women won the right to vote 100 years ago. Women are breaking for Biden by more than 20 percentage points in some pre-election surveys, up from 2016 when Hillary Clinton won women by 15 points, while men are largely sticking with President Donald Trump. Some men, including some Black and Hispanic men, are even supporting Trump at a slightly higher rate than in 2016.

That could put the gender gap, the difference between the percentage of men and women who vote for the winning candidate, near 30 points. It was around 20 points in the last election.

Although women as a group have voted Democratic for decades, that is mostly due to support from Black and nonwhite women. The last time white women backed a Democrat for president was in 1996 when Bill Clinton won re-election. But recent surveys show that white women, especially those with college degrees, are souring on the president. The 2020 election could be the first time in 25 years that they go for a Democrat.

Read more here.

Trump to watch returns with family and senior aides

President Trump will be briefed by his advisers on the election results throughout the day and will be watching returns tonight with family and senior aides in the residence and the Oval Office, according to a person close to the campaign.

The president’s team set up a “war room” to monitor results in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House, this person said.

"The war room needed to be in close proximity to the president, and there is no expense whatsoever to American taxpayers for the use of a room," the Trump campaign's communications director, Tim Murtaugh, said on why White House grounds are being used for campaign purposes. "Every piece of equipment, including WiFi and computers, was paid for by the campaign, and no White House staff is involved."

The White House election night event is expected to be held in the East Room, according to two sources familiar with the planning. One of the sources says approximately 300-400 people have been invited to the indoor event, where testing will be required.

ANALYSIS: Trump pulled a lot of votes from Florida's biggest counties in 2016

It's easy to think of Trump's 2016 victory in Florida as the muscle of rural and small-town voters against cities and close-in suburbs — and that's certainly part of the story. But Trump also pulled a ton of votes out of the state's 10 most populous counties. Four years ago, just a hair over 50 percent of his vote total came from those bigger counties, according to an analysis of vote data compiled by Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, while two-thirds of Hillary Clinton's did.

One interesting thing to keep an eye on is whether Trump is winning a majority of his votes from those big counties, or if that share slips because of a swing among suburban voters.

The counties include Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Orange, Pinellas, Duval, Lee, Polk and Brevard.