Early Thursday, with victories in Michigan and Wisconsin putting him close to a majority, the knife-edge US presidential race tipped toward Democrat Joe Biden, but President Donald Trump believed he was being robbed and went to court to try to stop the counting of ballots.
In the remaining battleground states, the tallying of votes continued into a second night where massive turnout and a mountain of mail-in ballots submitted by voters hoping to prevent coronavirus exposure made the job all the more challenging.
By reaching the golden majority threshold of 270 of the electoral votes allocated to whichever candidate wins the popular vote in this given state, both men still had ways to win the White House.
“But momentum shifted to Biden, who made a television speech from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, to say that” we assume we will be the winners when the count is over.
By flipping the Michigan and Wisconsin northern battlegrounds, and also winning previously pro-Trump Arizona, Biden gained 264 electoral votes to Trump’s 214 so far.
He hoped to add six electoral votes from Nevada, where he had a slight and diminishing lead, or, better still, bigger prizes from hard-fought Georgia or Pennsylvania, to hit 270.
Biden tried to project calm, reaching out to a country torn by four years of polarizing leadership and traumatized by the Covid-19 pandemic, with new daily infections close to hitting 100,000 for the first time on Wednesday, in stark contrast to Trump’s unprecedented rhetoric about being cheated.
Biden, 77, said, “We have to stop treating our opponents as rivals.” “What brings us as Americans together is so much more powerful than anything that can break us apart.”
Trump appears to have been fooled.
Trump, 74, however, unilaterally declared victory and made it clear he would not acknowledge the results announced, voicing unprecedented accusations of fraud, unsupported by any proof.
The harm to the credibility of our system has already been done, and to the Presidential Election itself, “he tweeted, claiming without evidence or clarification that in Michigan” secretly dumped ballots “had been inserted.”
In Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, Trump’s campaign declared litigation and ordered a recount in Wisconsin.
The campaign filed a lawsuit in Michigan to stop the tabulation of ballots, arguing that its “observers” were not permitted to watch at near distances.
Tension has also moved to the streets, even though there has not been the kind of violence that some expected just before the election so far, causing companies to board up windows in many major city centers.
A crowd of largely white Trump supporters chanted “Stop the count!” in Detroit, a Democratic stronghold that is majority Black! and attempted to barge into an election office until security stopped it.
In the significant Arizona county of Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, US news networks showed an aggressive pro-Trump crowd, also gathering outside a vote counting office.
Burly law enforcement officers were forming a security line at the doors of the hospital. “Firearms were openly carried by some of the demonstrators, which is legal in the state, while people chanted” Count the votes! Maricopa authorities reported new vote totals shortly before midnight local time, with Trump cutting Biden’s Arizona vote lead from 79,000 to under 69,000, a deficit of 2.4 percent with 86 percent of precincts reporting.
The biggest county of Fulton in Georgia, which includes parts of Atlanta, processed ballots through the night.
Biden narrowed Trump’s lead therefrom 29,000 votes to 23,000 over a 90-minute stretch, with 95% of precincts reporting. Biden trails Trump by half a point; the close nature of Georgia’s race raises the possibility of a recount.
Be ‘the patient.’
With German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer warning of a “very volatile situation,” the US election, generally viewed as an example to new democracies around the world, brought statements of international concern.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe observer mission, which tracks votes across the West and the former Soviet Union, found no proof of electoral fraud and announced that Trump’s “baseless accusations” undermined trust in democracy.
Unless Biden racks up a winning score sooner, the entire contest could ultimately end up being determined by the Pennsylvania winner, where the initially wide lead of Trump gradually decreased.
The state is a big focus for Trump campaign lawyers, who have already questioned its decision to allow the US Supreme Court to count mailed-in ballots obtained after Election Day.
Tom Wolf, the Democratic governor of the state, demanded that everyone be “patient” and vowed that all votes would be “absolutely counted.”
Recollections of the 2000 election between Republican George W Bush and Democrat Al Gore were evoked by the close White House race and recriminations.
That race, which relied on Florida’s handful of votes, ultimately ended up in the Supreme Court, preventing a recount when Bush was ahead.
The overall turnout for 2020 was estimated at a record 160 million by the US Elections Project, including more than 101,1 million early voters.