Election personnel handle ballots as vote counting in the general election continues at State Farm Arena, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
SOURCE: CNN

The race for the White House has intensified as Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, is nearing the 270 electoral votes needed to decide who wins the Presidency.

Five critical battleground states -– Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and North Carolina – along with the state of Alaska, remain uncalled by CNN for either President Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden.

According to CNN’s Chris Cilizza, those states will, without question, determine the identity of the next president.

“Both men retain paths to victory, though Biden is closing in on the 270 electoral votes he needs to take the White House,” Cilizza observes.

He adds: “What’s difficult to remember – but critically important to remember – amid this ongoing uncertainty is that this is all a) totally expected and b) totally normal.”

Here’s where vote-counting stands in 4 key states

From CNN's Ross Levitt and Kevin Bohn
Maricopa County elections officials and observers watch as ballots are tallied, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, at the Maricopa County Recorders Office in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

It’s the Thursday after Election Day, and CNN has not yet projected a winner in the presidential race.

Ballots are still being counted in several key states, with elections officials expected to provide updates later today.

Here’s a look at four states we’re watching today:

Arizona: Joe Biden holds about a 69,000 vote lead in CNN’s count. Maricopa, the biggest county in Arizona, has released the second of two sets of new votes promised Wednesday night – shrinking the Biden lead there by just over 10,000 votes. Early this morning, the county tweeted that 275,000 remain and that its next update will come at 9 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, the next biggest share of votes come from blue-leaning Pima County. The state’s website said 46,000 votes remained to be counted in Pima as of last night.

Georgia: Fulton County, in the Atlanta area, just added 8,300 ballots to its tally, further cutting into Trump’s lead in the state. Georgia’s largest county still has about 7,564 ballots left to count, Fulton County’s Regina Walker said just after 5 a.m. ET. But remember: Georgia could be the next target for President Trump to request a recount. CNN reported a source familiar with the matter says that if Georgia is close, “of course” the Trump camp will ask for a recount if he loses.

Nevada: Biden holds a slim 8,000 vote lead. Clark County — home to Las Vegas — has, by far, the largest share of votes in Nevada. After a full day of silence from Clark county and the state overall, all eyes will be on Clark when it updates at 12 noon ET.

Pennsylvania: The state as a whole has about 750,000 mail-in ballots to be counted, according to the Secretary of State’s website, though this figure has not been updated recently. Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, has finished tabulating mail-in and absentee ballots. Officials say the county will resume tabulating several precincts’ worth of in-person votes later this morning.

Trump’s lead in Georgia narrows further as the largest county reports thousands more ballots

On-air analysis from CNN's Phil Mattingly / 
Written by CNN's Adrienne Vogt and Kevin Bohn
ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 04: Election workers count Fulton County ballots at State Farm Arena on November 4, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. The 2020 presidential race between incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is still too close to call with outstanding ballots to count. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

President Trump’s lead in Georgia has narrowed over the past few hours, and that just happened again. That’s due to another batch of votes that just came in from Fulton County — the largest county in the state and home to Atlanta — according to CNN’s Phil Mattingly.

Fulton County reported the results of more than 8,000 additional ballots. Trump’s lead in the state narrowed from more than 30,000 at midnight to just more than 18,500.

Overnight, Fulton had about 20,000 absentee ballots to be counted. The county just reported the results of 8,351 of those, with Biden getting 6,410 of those votes and Trump getting 1,941 of them.

County election workers have been processing and counting those votes all night and continue now. 4% of the vote in Georgia still remains to be counted.

While some counties that have voted overwhelmingly for Trump are still waiting for votes to be counted, most of the outstanding ballots are from more populous blue areas around Atlanta, Savannah and Columbus, Mattingly explained.

“If [Biden] continues to win this vote that’s outstanding at a rate of around 60 to 62%, he has a chance to overtake Donald Trump,” Mattingly said.

“To give you some context here, the vote that was coming in out of Fulton County over last couple of hours has been coming in at a rate of 80% to 20% Biden. That is above that 60 to 62% range. Will that hold? That will dictate whether or not Joe Biden ends up overtaking Donald Trump in the state of Georgia, but there’s a pathway right now for Joe Biden in Georgia,” he added.

If Biden wins Pennsylvania, he’ll have the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election

On-air analysis by CNN's Phil Mattingly / 
Written by CNN's Aditi Sangal
SCRANTON, PA – NOVEMBER 03: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to supporters at a canvass kickoff event at Local Carpenters Union 445 on November 03, 2020 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. As polls open on Election Day, nearly 100 million Americans have already cast their ballots through early voting and mail-in voting. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

If Joe Biden wins Pennsylvania, he will get to the 270 electoral votes that he needs to win the US presidency.

“Pennsylvania for the Biden campaign is everything. It is the ball game. They can get to 270 without Pennsylvania. But with Pennsylvania, particularly given that Pennsylvania is probably going to start picking up their count pretty soon, Pennsylvania ends it, no matter what else happens in the rest of the race,” Phil Mattingly said Thursday morning.

Currently, President Trump is leading the Keystone State, but his lead has significantly narrowed in the last 24 hours. As more mail-in ballots were counted, Trump went from an over 600,000-vote margin to now being ahead with about 164,000 votes.

“Joe Biden has been, with regularity, progressively eating away in major chunks at Donald Trump’s lead,” Mattingly said, adding that with 11% of votes in Pennsylvania still to be counted, it means Biden can overtake Trump and lead in Pennsylvania based on the current state of the race.

In Philadelphia County, for example, Biden leads with 79% of the counted vote in his favor. It is yet to report about 30% more of its outstanding vote here. Given that Hillary Clinton won this county by about 584,000 votes in 2016 and 2020 has produced a record voter turnout, the number of votes for Joe Biden is likely to increase.

But remember: The path for 270 is still open for both candidates.

Joe Biden could lose Pennsylvania and could still win 270 electoral votes if he wins Arizona and Nevada.

If President Trump holds on to Pennsylvania, he can get to 270 electoral votes with Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia. It will have to be “some combination of Pennsylvania and three other states,” Mattingly said.