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Biden has learned the lessons from the 2000 recount, Trump hasn't

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the Queen venue in Wilmington, Del., on Nov. 5, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — With Joe Biden on the cusp of 270 electoral votes — for yet another day — it’s become clear that the Biden camp learned the lessons from the Florida recount from 2000.

And Trump and his campaign didn’t.

Lesson #1: Pick a message and stick with it: In 2000, the Gore team said “count every vote,” while the Bush team said “the election is over,” our colleague Matt Rivera reminds us.

Well right now, Biden and his campaign have stayed with a consistent message. “We have to count the votes,” Biden said Thursday.

But Trump has been all over the place. First, the president said, “Frankly, we did win this election.” (Which isn’t true.) And then he tweeted, “STOP THE COUNT!”

Lesson #2: Project confidence in your win: We’ve seen that from Biden & Co. “We continue to feel very good about where things stand,” Biden also said yesterday.

But for Trump & Co.? The lawsuits and the unsubstantiated allegations of fraud haven’t projected much confidence.

Lesson #3: Never fall behind (or look like you will fall behind): Biden has now taken a slim lead in Georgia and (as of publication time) is closing the gap in Pennsylvania.

Trump, meanwhile, is behind in Arizona and Nevada.

The major uncalled presidential states as of publication time

  • Arizona: Biden is ahead by 47,052 votes, 50 percent to 49 percent (90% in).
  • Georgia: Biden is ahead by 1,096 votes, 49 percent to 49 percent (99% in).
  • Nevada: Biden is ahead by 11,438 votes, 49 percent to 49 percent (89% in).
  • North Carolina: Trump is ahead by 76,737 votes, 50 percent to 49 percent (95% in).
  • Pennsylvania: Biden is ahead by 5,597 votes, 49 percent to 49 percent (95% in).
  • Alaska: Trump is ahead by 51,382 votes, 63 percent to 33 percent (56% in).

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

4,082,774 million: Joe Biden’s lead in the popular vote at the time of publication

About 75,000: The number of outstanding ballots in Maricopa County, where elections officials say they will give an update at 11a.m. ET.

147,669: The estimated remaining vote in Nevada, where Joe Biden narrowly leads.

About 35,000 and 23,000: The outstanding votes in Allegheny County and Philadelphia, Penn., at publication time.

9,688,731: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 120,625 more than yesterday morning.)

236,669: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,370 more than yesterday morning.)

152.51 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

53,332: The number of people currently hospitalized for Covid-19 in the U.S., per the Covid Tracking Project.

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: It’s looking like a double Senate runoff in Georgia

Early this morning, Joe Biden took the lead in Georgia, but it’s probably going to take weeks before we ultimately know who won the state in the presidential election.

Yet just as importantly, it looks like we’re headed to a double Senate runoff in the state in January, with control of the chamber at stake.

With the latest batch of votes in Georgia, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., is now below the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff.

If that continues to hold — NBC News has not officially called it — then there would be two Senate runoffs, giving Democrats control if they won both.

Of course, that’s a big “if,” given recent Democratic performance in statewide Georgia runoffs. (See the secretary of state runoff just two years ago.)

But Democrats have never before had an African-American candidate in one of these January runoffs, and the question is if Raphael Warnock can change the racial composition of a lower-turnout race.

Senate Democrats had a disappointing Election Night, but can they have better success on Jan. 5?

Divided Democrats

House Democrats are in disagreement over why they had a disappointing Election Night, and those grievances were on full display during a caucus call on Thursday.

Here’s the report from our Hill team: Moderate Democrats expressed frustration and anger over the Democrats’ strategy where at least seven incumbents have lost their seats and several more likely to as the results are finalized. And several members complained that movements like “defund the police” and some members embracing socialism hurt their races.

One of those members was Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., who won her race by a thin margin in a conservative-leaning district. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the election was still good for Democrats because they held onto the House. One lawmaker told our team, “That’s B.S.”.

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., refused to give any details about what was transpiring on the call but, clearly frustrated about Democratic performance, said, “My dad used to tell me, ‘You gotta turn chicken sh** into chicken salad.’ And that’s exactly what I intend to work towards.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s our lede-all to follow all of the developments in the vote count.

The president’s remarks yesterday were riddled with falsehoods about the election.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, long at odds with the president, has prepared his resignation letter.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has showed up in Arizona.

Legal experts are confused by the president’s strategy to namecheck the Supreme Court, but the president’s legal blitz continues nonetheless.

Some Republicans are starting to (mostly cautiously) speak out against the president’s rhetoric.

The Latino Republican vote shouldn’t be a surprise.

Statehouse wins mean that Republicans are well-positioned for redistricting.

Could a recount make a difference? It’s possible – but history is probably not on the president’s side.