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Data: FairVote; Table: Axios Visuals

The Trump campaign says it will seek recounts in several key states, but that's highly unlikely to change the outcome.

Why it matters: Statewide recounts have historically only changed electoral margins by an average 430 votes, according to the nonpartisan election reform group FairVote. Joe Biden's lead in several states is thin, but it's not that thin.

Driving the news: Each state has its own rules about when a recount can be triggered, whether it has to be requested by a campaign and who foots the bill.

  • Georgia's secretary of state announced Friday that the race is so close that a recount is inevitable. It's unlikely to change the state's final outcome, but FairVote senior research analyst Deb Otis said it's more realistic in Georgia than in other states.
  • The Pennsylvania race is currently within the 0.5% margin that would trigger an automatic recount, but that could change as more votes are counted.
  • The Trump campaign has said it will ask for a recount in Michigan and Wisconsin, where the president is down by tens of thousands of votes.
  • The only way to get a recount in Arizona is if the margin is within 0.1%.

The big picture: There have only been 31 recounts in the past 20 years, out of more than 5,700 statewide general elections, according to FairVote's analysis.

  • Three of those recounts overturned results, but they only shifted the final margin by 239-440 votes.
  • The median margin shift after a recount is 0.015% of the total count. The largest margin shift ever seen in a statewide race was 0.11% — much smaller than what Trump would need in order to hang onto the White House.
  • High turnout and millions of Americans voting by mail for the first time in 2020 could lead to more human error in ballot counting, but it's not likely to be enough to make a difference, Otis said.

Go deeper

18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Georgia's Secretary of State: GOP is looking for "scapegoats"

Brad Raffensperger, Jan. 20 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, tells Axios it's time for President Donald Trump and the state GOP to accept that Joe Biden won Georgia and focus on the two Senate runoffs that will determine control of the Senate.

What they're saying: “The Republican Party's sole job is to win campaigns — and that's to raise money and turn out voters," Raffensperger told Axios in an interview on Sunday. "And when they don't get it done, they look for scapegoats.”

GOP Rep. Fred Upton on Trump's push against Michigan election results: "It's over"

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told CNN's "Inside Politics" on Sunday that "the voters have spoken” in Michigan, and that it's time to move on from the election after no evidence of mass voter fraud has been found in his home state.

Why it matters: President Trump reached out directly to Republican leaders last week in Michigan as part of a long-shot effort to prevent the state from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, the New York Times reports.

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Driving the news: Merck this morning announced an agreement to buy OncoImmune, a Maryland-based biotech that showed promising late-stage clinical results for a therapy that treats severe and critical coronavirus cases.