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blog nov 5

PoliticsNovember 5, 2020

Live updates, November 5: US election – Biden closes gap in Georgia; Trump tries to stop vote count

blog nov 5

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 5, covering all the latest from the US election along with New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. See the latest results on an interactive US map here. Reach me on

6.30pm: The day in sum

The US election remained on a knife-edge, with Joe Biden’s position improving as early votes continued to be counted.

The US withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation, a year to the day since the Trump administration gave a formal notice of its intention to do so. Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin should he be elected president.

Two new cases of Covid-19 were announced, both in managed isolation facilities.

The wage subsidy and small business loan schemes will be extended over Christmas, the government announced.

Voters declining to party vote National is preventing the party from having a more diverse caucus, leader Judith Collins claimed in a radio interview.

5.55pm: Judith Collins blames voters for National’s lack of diversity, praises Trump

Voters prevented National from having a more diverse caucus, leader Judith Collins claimed in a radio interview this afternoon. “One of the smart things people can do is party vote National if they want a more diverse National, because if they don’t do so, National ends up with a bigger proportion of people who have very solid National seats rather than having a diverse lift as well,” she said in response to a question from Newstalk ZB’s Jamie Mackay. “So if people want a more diverse party, how about voting for us?”

Collins also told Mackay she was enjoying watching the US election controversy unfold – “I found it infinitely more fun to watch than I thought ours was” – and didn’t believe a victory for Joe Biden would necessarily be better for global harmony.

“Despite his entirely different and undiplomatic style, he [Trump] has been able to bring about or certainly been influential in bringing about some peace deals in the Middle East, so I don’t know whether or not a Joe Biden presidency would be better for world peace.”

It’s a repeat of a comment from the second leaders’ debate in September, which political editor Justin Giovannetti unpicked here. Giovannetti said the deal Collins referenced, between Israel and two Arab states, “isn’t so much about avoiding war, as building a coalition to wage one on Iran if necessary”.

Collins agreed with Mackay that Trump would have been a “shoo-in” if it hadn’t been for Covid-19, saying that on her visit to the States last year, “people in Washington DC said they thought he’d be a shoo-in, the economy was doing so well.“

The Covid response, if it seems to have gone well in a country, will certainly help secure an election for a leader… so the fact that he’s been doing so well [in the election] shows that some Americans would’ve thought well, the economy was more important.”

5.35pm: The latest on the count in Georgia

The race in Georgia continues to tighten. Around 95% of the vote has now been counted, and the votes still left to count are from heavily Democratic counties like Fulton, which encompasses most of the Atlanta metro area. Joe Biden needs to win around 64% of these votes to overtake Trump – and if Fulton is any indication, he’s on track to do so:

3.45pm: Some important correspondence

We always love to hear from our readers at The Spinoff. Today, we’ve received a couple of excellent emails providing in-depth insight into the US election.

As always, if you have anything to say – get in touch! 

3.30pm: Biden closing in on Trump in Georgia

Donald Trump’s lead in the state of Georgia – worth 16 electoral college votes – is being eaten away by challenger Joe Biden.

Despite the state being called for Trump, Biden now only trails by 0.8%, or approximately 40,000 votes. As CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said: “that lead was in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands and now it is at 39,000.”

It’s one to watch, folks.

An update on the numbers – Biden extends lead

It’s still unlikely we’ll get a definitive result today, but a preliminary count could come later this evening.

As of 3pm, the Associated Press has projected 264 electoral college votes for Joe Biden – just six short of the magic 270. Donald Trump is trailing behind on 214.

We’re still awaiting the results of key states such as Georgia and Pennsylvania which could ultimately decide the outcome of the 2020 election.

Check out our live election counter here

(Image : AP)

2.45pm: US formally leaves Paris Agreement, Biden pledges to rejoin

The Trump administration has formally withdrawn the US from the Paris Agreement. It’s three years after President Trump announced he would remove the US from the international climate change forum.

In a tweet, Democratic challenge Joe Biden said that the US will rejoin the agreement, under his leadership, in 77 days.

2.30pm: Trump launches legal challenges to vote counting

The Trump campaign has filed new lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, laying the groundwork for contesting key battleground states.

As the AP reports, the lawsuits join existing Republican legal challenges in Pennsylvania and Nevada, demanding better access for campaign observers to locations where ballots are being processed and counted, and absentee ballot concerns.

Trump’s campaign has also announced that it would ask for a recount in Wisconsin, a move criticised by Joe Biden who said the count should continue in all states. “No one’s going to take our democracy away from us — not now, not ever,” he said.

1.50pm: ‘Let it run its course’ – Ardern comments on US election

Jacinda Ardern has made her first public comments on the US election, which is still no closer to having a definitive resolution.

At this stage, Democratic challenger Joe Biden looks poised to snatch the presidency from Donald Trump, although (as 2016 showed) anything is possible.

Speaking in Auckland, prime minister Ardern refused to give her opinion on Donald Trump’s fraud calls, saying that votes were still being counted and she has faith in the democratic process of the United States.

“This is another country’s democracy and it’s time to let it run its course,” Ardern said.

“We may not have an outcome straight off the bat and that’s not new. We’ve seen that before.”

(Photo : Michael Andrew)

On whether she preferred Biden to Trump, Ardern said: “My job in this role as Prime Minister is to work with whoever is leader.” In 2016, before she was Labour Party leader, Ardern said: “I don’t feel like there’s anything hopeful to come out of [Trump’s election].”

1.35pm: Apprenticeship boost initiative a success, says PM

Business editor Michael Andrew reports:

Addressing the business community in her first policy speech since last month’s election, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said her government’s $519.8m apprenticeship boost announced earlier this year was delivering strong results, and had seen payments made to 5,219 employers to take on 11,455 apprentices.

“The thousands of New Zealanders taking up trades will help form the critical workforce needed to deliver the $42 billion earmarked for infrastructure projects over the coming years.

“In addition, since we introduced free trades training and apprenticeships on 1 July we have seen 6791 new apprentices sign up in the building and constructions sector alone, 4000 more than in the same time period last year.”

These are the policies that are delivering, Ardern said, and would help create the workforce to “help New Zealand build back better”.

1.00pm: Two new Covid-19 cases in managed isolation

There are two new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, both in managed isolation facilities.

The first case reported today arrived on October 31 from Singapore and tested positive around day three of their stay in managed isolation.

The second case was detected in managed isolation in Auckland, after being given permission to join a family member recently arrived from overseas. The family member has previously been recorded in the positive case totals, the Ministry of Health said.

Eight previously reported cases are now considered to have recovered, meaning our total number of active cases is now 67. All cases linked to the maritime company outbreak are now recovered.

The total number of confirmed cases is now 1,617. Yesterday 6,391 tests for Covid-19 were completed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,120,130.

Cases linked to managed isolation in Christchurch

Teams are undertaking detailed work to ascertain the exact source of the infection of the two workers at the managed isolation facility in Christchurch, the Ministry of Health said.

Genome sequencing from the first case reported indicated the lineage of the virus is the same as five of the international mariners at the facility. This included interviews with cases, and genome sequencing of the second case.

All contacts of the two cases have been followed up and tested. All results returned to date are negative, with a small number outstanding.

All staff who worked at the Sudima Hotel since 23 October have been tested, and all the results have so far been negative. At this stage we have not identified any further cases connected to these staff members, but we are continuing ongoing monitoring of their contacts and of other staff at the Sudima. All their close contacts remain in isolation.

The Community & Public Health team in Christchurch is also developing an exit plan for the international mariners, which will involve a risk assessment for their release, including any testing requirements.

12.45pm: Wage subsidy, small business loan extended over Christmas

To local politics now. Political editor Justin Giovannetti writes:

In her first policy speech since last month’s election, prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the government is pouring more money into small business loans and wage subsidies in the coming months. Citing second waves of Covid-19 across North America and Europe, $311 million in new wage funding is expected to help 40,000 unemployed workers over Christmas and could aid businesses during the quieter summer months, Ardern said today.

“Māori, Pasifika and women have been disproportionately impacted by job losses to date. My hope is the expanded flexi-wage scheme will play an important role in helping people from these groups to get quickly back into work,” Ardern said in a speech to a business audience in Auckland.

The next few months could be harder on New Zealand employers as nation-wide lockdowns across Europe could cut demand for the country’s exports. Once the border opens to more international travel, the prime minister said she plans to lead trade delegations to the US, China, UK and the European Union as part of ongoing free trade talks.

The Labour government is also planning to fast-track a number of infrastructure projects through the regulatory process over the next two months.

This could create more jobs for construction workers as well as help them build stuff the country really needs, like a new water storage project in the drought-stricken Northland.

12.30pm: TVNZ showcase reveals return of Popstars

We now take a brief break from the US election to look at something far more important – the TVNZ showcase. Sam Brooks reports:

Today, TVNZ publicly announced their 2021 slate at Auckland’s Q Theatre. The big announcements are the return of Popstars, arguably the biggest reality show in NZ history (according to both TVNZ and me), the move of rural murder juggernaut The Brokenwood Mysteries to TVNZ1 and the return of Evil Nurse Carla to Shortland Street next year. You can read their full slate here.

Beyond this, TVNZ CEO Kevin Kenrick also announced plans to work with new Mediaworks owner Discovery on measuring audiences across broadcast and digital platforms, and a bigger push towards local content. Their local content slate is reportedly their largest in over a decade, across TVNZ1, TVNZ2, Duke and TVNZ on Demand.

TVNZ also announced a new channel: Duke+1, in case you missed that episode of Family Guy.

12.15pm: How polling guru Nate Silver sees the state of the race

Nate Silver of polling analysis site FiveThirtyEight has just published his take on the races in the states still yet to be called. Here’s the tl:dr on what he thinks:

  • North CarolinaLikely Trump
  • Georgia – “toss-up, but you could force me into Lean Biden if you told me I had to make a pick”
  • PennsylvaniaLean Biden
  • NevadaLikely Biden
  • Arizona – although this state has already been called by Fox News and the AP for Biden, Silver believes there’s a chance the outstanding vote could swing it back to Trump: “I’d say this is Likely Biden, but I don’t think the state should have been called yet.”

12.10pm: AP calls Michigan for Biden

Joe Biden has won the state of Michigan and its 16 electoral votes, the Associated Press has confirmed. The call came 90 minutes after Fox News, which has been making a lot of bold early calls, projected that Biden would be the winner in the state.

11.10am: What states still need to be called?

Joe Biden is pulling ahead in the race for the White House, but it’s still too early to call a victory.

These are the states that are still yet to be called universally:

  • Alaska (trending toward Trump)
  • Arizona (called by Fox, AP for Biden, but not by CNN)
  • Georgia (trending toward Trump)
  • North Carolina (trending toward Trump)
  • Nevada (trending toward Biden)
  • Pennsylvania (trending toward Trump)

Note: AP has yet to call Michigan, although it’s being widely reported that the state will go to Biden.

10.50am: Fox News has Biden close to taking presidency

Who’d have thought that Fox News would be the first to show Joe Biden just a whisker away from becoming America’s 46th president?

The conservative news network has Biden on 264 electoral votes, just six away from the required 270. Trump, according to Fox, is trailing far behind on 214. Fox has just called Michigan and Wisconsin for Biden, with Nevada trending blue as well.

10.30am: CNN calls Michigan for Biden, taking him closer to presidency

Biden’s lead over incumbent president Trump has widened, according to CNN who have called the state of Michigan for the Democratic contender.

It pushes Biden up to 253 electoral votes, just 17 away from the winning margin of 270. Trump is trailing behind on 213.

10.15am: Joe Biden addresses Americans as vote too close to count

Joe Biden has addressed Americans as the race for the White House continues into its second day, asserting that while he has not won yet – he believed he will be the next US president.

The Democratic contender is currently ahead with 237 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 213, but key states are yet to be finalised.

“Yesterday once again proved that democracy is the heartbeat of this nation… has been the heartbeat of this nation for two centuries,” Biden said.

“Even in the face of a pandemic more Americans voted in this election than ever more in American history. Over 150 million people cast their votes. I think that’s just extraordinary.”

Biden said power can’t be “taken or asserted” but rather it “flows from the people” and is their will that determines who will be the president of the United States.

“Now after a long night of counting it’s clear that we’re winning enough states to reach 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency,” Biden claimed.

“I’m not here to declare that we’ve won but I am here to report that when the count is finished we believe we will be the winners. With all the votes counted we have won Wisconsin by 20,000 votes, virtually the same margin that President Trump won that state four years ago.”

Here’s an extract from Biden’s speech:

“In Michigan, we lead by over 35,000 votes and it’s growing. A substantially bigger margin than President Trump won Michigan in 2016.

Michigan will complete its vote soon, maybe as early as today, and I feel very good about Pennsylvania. Virtually all the remaining ballots to be counted were cast by mail and we’ve been winning 78% of votes by mail in Pennsylvania. We’ve flipped Arizona and the second district of Nebraska.

Of special significance to me is that we’ve won with the majority of the American people and every indication is that majority will grow.

With a popular vote lead of nearly 3 million votes, and every indication is that that will grow as well, Senator Harris and I are on track to win more votes than any ticket in the history of this country that ever won the presidency and vice presidency. Over 70 million votes.

Only three presidential campaigns in the past have defeated an incumbent president. When it’s finished, god willing, we’ll be the fourth.

This is a major achievement and it’s been a long and difficult campaign but it’s been a more difficult time for our country, a hard time.

We’ve had hard campaigns before, we’ve faced hard times before, so once this election is finalised and behind us it will be time for us to do what we’ve always done as Americans, to put the harsh rhetoric of the campaign behind us, to lower the temperature, to see each other again, to listen to one another, to hear each other again and respect and care for one another.

To unite, to heal, to come together as a nation. I know this won’t be easy, I’m not naive, neither of us are. I know how deep and hard the opposing views are in our country on so many things.

But to make progress we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies. What brings us together as Americans is so much stronger than anything that can tear us about.”

An update on the numbers: Biden still ahead in close race

It’s likely we won’t have a definitive nor even a preliminary result in the presidential election today. Here’s an update on where the numbers stand as of 9.30am this morning:

Joe Biden is on 237 electoral votes, with Donald Trump trailing on 213. A result of 270 is needed to win the presidency.

However, the race is far from over – key states including Pennsylvania remain impossible to call.

All the latest results are available on our interactive map here.

9.00am: RNZ hijacked by unhinged ‘Women for Trump’ advisor

New Zealand Twitter was unified at about 8.30am this morning, as the country enjoyed an outrageous and almost comical interview with a low-level Trump backer.

Jessie Jane Duff is on the Advisory Board for Women for Trump and is the co-chair of Veterans for Trump, and launched a tirade of Trump rhetoric against host Susie Ferguson.

The interview started off with a clip of Duff scolding her children, not realising she was live on New Zealand national radio.

“I’m getting ready to do a phone interview!” could be heard. That, surprisingly, was the most sane part of the next four minutes.

Asked by Ferguson to comment on the near 250,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the US, Duff said: “If you are blaming President Trump I find that insulting, disrespectful and untrue…”

Duff said “China” needs to take responsibility for the virus, and continued to accuse Ferguson of “blaming” Trump (despite not doing that).

“You gotta listen, or you don’t have to talk to me,” Duff said, while continually refusing to answer simple questions.

The rest of the “interview” included big hitters like Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and Ferguson being accused of supporting Biden for asking a question about violence on the streets.

Listen to the full chaotic exchange here

8.15am: Wisconsin called for Biden; Trump files suit to stop Michigan vote count

Updated – AP and NBC have now also called Wisconsin for Joe Biden

CNN has called the state of Wisconsin for Joe Biden, giving him a further 10 electoral seats as the Democratic contender edges towards the all-important figure of 270.

It gives Biden a bit of a lead overall, but it’s still too early to know who will be taking control of the White House.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit calling for the halting of vote counting in Michigan, claiming it was denied access to observe opening of ballots.

8.00am: Biden campaign advisor rubbishes Wisconsin recount; claims Biden has already won

A senior advisor on the Biden campaign said the call for a recount in Wisconsin  is an attempt by the Trump team to “claw back” a defeat.

As CNN reports, Bob Bauer believed Biden has already won Wisconsin – and in fact believed the Democratic presidential hopeful has already reached the required 270 electoral votes.

“I have to note at the outset – after having declared a victory in Wisconsin last night, the President is now asking for the recount, so their messaging is a bit scrambled,” Bauer said.

“He lost in Wisconsin, he lost in Michigan, he lost in Pennsylvania, he lost in Arizona I could mention a couple other places, like the congressional district in Nebraska, which he also lost to Joe Biden, having won previously, and now all of a sudden we’re talking recount,” Bauer said.

The Wisconsin race is, however, being considered too close to call by many American media outlets.

The day ahead:

Good morning readers. Firstly, I want to give a massive thank you to The Spinoff’s deputy editor Catherine who looked after the live updates yesterday so excellently. I’m not confident I can come anywhere close the level of detail and solid analysis that was provided yesterday – but I’ll try!

Today, we’ll have all the latest rolling updates from the United States as the final votes come in and things continue to get interesting. Plus, we’ll bring you any key New Zealand news, as usual, throughout the day. We’re expecting a further update on Covid-19 in Christchurch along with a speech by prime minister Jacinda Ardern laying out some of her plans for the next term of government.

As always, keep your eyes glued to this page all day. Any feedback? Hit me up on 

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

If you switched the US election off early last night, you’ll probably have missed one of the most remarkable moments of world history in our lifetimes. Reasonably orderly transitions of power have always been a hallmark of the admittedly deeply flawed US democracy. But late last night, the sitting president of the United States stood at a White House podium, claimed to the world that an ongoing election was being stolen from him through fraud, and that the campaign would vigorously contest the continued counting of votes in several key states through the courts.

Many of the claims made in Donald Trump’s speech were flatly wrong. It got to the point where at least one TV network simply cut away from the speech, to avoid broadcasting falsehoods. Twitter put a ‘misleading content’ statement on a Trump tweet making much the same argument – Facebook did the same. Even Fox News hosts, who are normally in the tank for Trump, gave the claims little credence. But none of that changes the fact that the comments still happened, and revealed exactly how Trump’s campaign plans to proceed from here. This sort of outcome was predicted in advance – it was known as the ‘red mirage’, in which Trump could claim a conspiracy on the basis of what the early count showed, rather than the full count. Biden’s speech, by contrast, merely involved thanking supporters, and expressing confidence that when the full results were in his campaign would win – there was a clear qualitative difference between the two candidate’s remarks.

But one thing that it did all highlight: Joe Biden’s campaign failed to decisively put it away on the night. With plenty of mail-in ballots still to be counted in key states – these tend to lean to the Democrats – he still feels like the favourite to eke out a win, provided every vote does actually get counted. And nationwide, it is looking unlikely that the Democrats will be able to retake the Senate, meaning they’ll be severely hamstrung even if Biden wins. You can go back through Catherine McGregor’s excellent live blog from the day to see how it all unfolded.

So what is the current state of play? As our live tracker shows, Biden is currently on course to win 270 Electoral College votes – just enough to win the election overall. Washington Post projections show he leads in NevadaMichigan and Wisconsin, and is seen as marginally more likely to hold those leads because of the composition of the votes still to be counted. Pennsylvania is also in play, with Trump currently holding a big lead, but more than three million votes still to be counted, many of which will lean blue. A useful New York Times article – albeit written before Arizona was locked in for Biden – outlined the potential paths to victory from here. Bear in mind, it will take days before we know the final results, and the widely respected Associated Press has declined to call a winner in the presidential race yet.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

Keep going!