GOP pollster says Trump must win Pennsylvania to have a chance at beating Biden

  • President Donald Trump needs to capture Pennsylvania in order to win reelection, GOP pollster Frank Luntz told CNBC on Wednesday.
  • Luntz said the president "must win Pennsylvania if he's to get to 270," the number of electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
  • The presidential race Wednesday morning remains unsettled.
  • In addition to Pennsylvania, Luntz sees Michigan and Wisconsin as the two other critical states to watch.

Longtime Republican pollster Frank Luntz told CNBC on Wednesday that President Donald Trump needs to win Pennsylvania in order to have a chance at defeating Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Luntz's comments on "Squawk Box" come as the outcome of Tuesday's election still hangs in the balance, with neither candidate having earned the necessary 270 electoral votes to win the presidential race, according to NBC News. Biden currently has 224 electoral votes compared with Trump's 213, NBC News reports.

"Donald Trump must win Pennsylvania if he's to get to 270," Luntz said. Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes. While Trump currently holds a lead in the Keystone State, NBC News considers the race too early to call as a significant number of mail-in votes remain uncounted. Luntz said he believes those mail-in votes will favor Biden heavily.

"I believe when all the votes are counted, this is going to be dead even, which is why it's going to take at least the next six hours and as much as another 24 hours before we know who is the winner," Luntz added. "It's going to be so close in Pennsylvania that it may require a state recount."

Underlying Luntz's forecast is his assumption that Trump wins Georgia and its 16 electoral votes, as well as North Carolina's 15 electoral votes. The other side of Luntz's assumptions are that Biden wins Arizona's 11 electoral votes and Nevada's 6 electoral votes. NBC News has not made any projections in those races.

That then leaves a trio of key bricks in the so-called "blue wall" that Trump won in upset fashion in 2016: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

"The three critical states, and Donald Trump would have to win two of them, at this point, are Pennsylvania, where he has a clear lead, and Michigan and Wisconsin, where it will be much more difficult for him," Luntz said.

Luntz believes Biden is in more favorable positions in Wisconsin and Michigan, which have 10 and 16 electoral votes, respectively. NBC News has not made a projection in either Michigan or Wisconsin.

"We could have a situation I think the most likely outcome — is that whoever wins, wins with less than 280 electoral votes, which means they're only one state away on either side," Luntz added.

Earlier Wednesday morning, Trump falsely claimed he had won the presidential election, despite the fact millions of legally cast ballots had yet to be counted at the time of his remarks. Speaking to a room of supporters in the White House, Trump also threatened legal action, saying that "we want all voting to stop." All polls in U.S. states had, in fact, been closed at the time.

The Biden campaign pushed back vigorously on Trump's remarks, with campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon calling them "outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect."

"If the president makes good on his threat to go to court to try to prevent the proper tabulation of votes, we have legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort. And they will prevail," she added in a written statement.

Before Trump spoke, Biden urged patience, saying, "it's not over until every vote is counted." 

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