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Professor Mike Towle Shares 2020 Guide to Election Returns

Donna Klinger

Towle guide feature

Many Mount St. Mary's University students, faculty, staff and alumni will be watching the national presidential election night coverage on November 3 with Towle's Guide to Watching Election Returns for 2020 in hand. Political Science Professor Michael Towle, Ph.D., began writing this guide for his Parties and Elections course more than 20 years ago. Over time, his readership has grown as word about his well-researched guide has spread.

towle.jfif"My goal is to educate, generate discussion about the processes of American politics and to have some fun," Towle writes. "Some years, I have done very well in my predictions. In other years (like 2016), there were outcomes that I didn't see coming."

Towle's guide includes an explanation of how the television networks and The Associated Press often determine the winner of elections before all the votes are counted as well as a look at the effect of early voting and mail-in ballots in some states. He also provides advice on which races to watch earlier in the evening for indications of whether Towle’s predictions are holding up.

While the media’s process will remain the same, it likely will take longer to have accurate results. An unprecedented number of Americans across the country have submitted mail-in ballots or participated in early voting due to concern about the novel coronavirus. Some states such as Pennsylvania wait until after the polls close to begin counting mail-in ballots, so it is possible that some results will not be known for at least several days. “If this happens expect a lot of partisan jockeying about which ballots not to count,” Towle states. “Republicans are already preparing for lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Minnesota.”  

After offering an explanation for his reasoning, Towle predicts that Joseph Biden will be elected president with 322 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 216. In a coincidence, Towle also predicted 322 electoral votes for Hilary Clinton in 2016, with a different combination of states. Towle projects that Biden will capture 52.6% of the popular vote and Trump 44.3%.

Towle, who also analyzed every U.S. Senate race, predicts that the Democrats will take over the Senate by gaining four seats for a total of 51. He also prognosticates that Democrats will gain eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, increasing its margin of control of the House to 243 to 192.

Make sure you have Towle's Guide to Watching Election Returns for 2020 with you as you watch election coverage on November 3.

Donna Klinger