Joe Biden stood on the brink of claiming the US presidency from Donald Trump on Thursday, with a handful of states expecting to complete their vote counts despite Republicans opening legal fights to stop counting in at least two states. Biden held 264 Electoral College votes out of the 270 needed to win the White House, according to the Associated Press. Trump has 214.
Biden needs only to win an additional outstanding state, such as Nevada, where he is narrowly leading, or Georgia, where his campaign believes mailed votes will push him over the top. He also likely needs to hold Arizona, which the Associated Press has called in his favour but which the Trump campaign says it can still win. A Biden win in Pennsylvania could also clinch the race.
The former vice president said he expects to prevail. “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,” he told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware. He spoke Wednesday afternoon after he scored a victory over Trump in Wisconsin, closing off one of the president’s best routes to re-election.
Trump raged on Twitter about the increasing votes for Biden, and stoked unrest among his most ardent supporters with the unfounded allegation that fraud kept him from winning. His campaign said it is suing in Pennsylvania and Michigan to halt vote counts that have been trending toward Biden. It also filed a suit in Georgia over 53 absentee ballots it alleges were late.
Trump falsely declared victory in Pennsylvania, one of the five states that has yet to be called by the Associated Press. As of Thursday morning, there were 763,000 mailed ballots left to count in Pennsylvania -- about half the total of a day earlier -- and Trump’s lead had shrunk to 176,000 votes. About 77 per cent of mailed ballots counted so far have been for Biden, suggesting he could still overtake Trump there.
To win the Electoral College vote, Trump would have to sweep the remaining states or see a reversal in Arizona. Biden’s lead there shrunk to about 69,000 votes overnight as ballots continue to be counted. Trump’s campaign has sharply criticised Fox News and the Associated Press for declaring Biden the winner in Arizona.
Trump still holds small leads in North Carolina and Georgia, though there are votes outstanding in each. Trump won both states in 2016.
In Georgia, Trump’s lead has been steadily shrinking as mailed ballots are counted, and was down to about 18,500 votes as of Thursday morning. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, about 51,000 votes remain to be counted.
Biden’s Wisconsin and Michigan victories reverse two of Trump’s upsets in 2016, when he defeated Hillary Clinton. Trump’s campaign said it would demand a recount in Wisconsin, where the candidates were less than 1 percentage point apart.
The president tweeted throughout the day, casting doubt on the count of mail-in ballots, which were heavily Democratic, after the Election Day in-person votes were counted, which leaned Republican.