In Pennsylvania and Georgia, two states that the new occupant of the White House can not afford to lose if he is to hold alive his dreams of a second term, Democrat Joe Biden closes on President Donald Trump’s intense vote counts.
As counting continues in the two states, Biden relentlessly racked upvotes during the night and all day, racking up enormous margins among mail-in ballots preferred by Democratic voters. As the chaos unfolded across the nation, the supporters of the President launched legal challenges and floated conspiracy theories as Trump tweeted “Stop the Count!” In two other states that could affect the race’s fate, Nevada and Arizona, close races are both going into overtime. According to CNN estimates, Biden has 253 electoral votes so far and the President has 213.
On Thursday or Friday, officials there said, Pennsylvania, the state that could carry Biden over the 270-vote threshold required to win the presidency, could complete most of its remaining counts. In the Keystone State, the former vice president is just behind Trump by a little more than 97,000 votes after trailing more than half a million ballots at one point in the hours after polls closed. Tens of thousands of votes remain to be counted — most of them from highly Democratic areas, including around Philadelphia.
Biden’s mail-in ballot advantage has pulled him to less than 13,000 votes from the President in Georgia, another state that Trump can not afford to lose with his 16 electoral votes, with 47,000 votes still out, as results came in from Fulton County around Atlanta with 98 percent of the state vote count registered.
Without Georgia and Pennsylvania, Trump will not find a path to 270 electoral votes, so his chances of winning reelection will depend on developments in the two states in the coming hours.
Biden urges calm
On Thursday, there were no sightings of the President, while in blocked capitals, he unleashed a torrent of enraged tweets. Biden appeared in Wilmington, Delaware, for a brief speech aimed at projecting hope, encouraging diligence in the counting of votes, and seemingly painting a vision of a waiting presidency.
“The vote is sacred in America. It is how this nation’s people communicate their will,” he said, calling for calm and patience as the process of counting votes continues.
In comparison, the President’s team had earlier bullishly insisted that Pennsylvania would be won by the President with some room to spare. “Donald Trump is alive and well,” Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, said.
“But a Trump advisor told Jim Acosta of CNN that the increasing momentum of Biden in the Commonwealth is causing growing anxiety in the campaign, acknowledging that the margin will be” tight. “The adviser stressed that Pennsylvania is riding on Trump’s future.
The individual said, before saying, “They all matter,” “Pennsylvania matters,” conceding that the President can’t really afford to let any of these remaining states slip away.
It has been understood for a long time that Biden would benefit from a late burst in mail-in balloting that Democrats favored in the midst of the pandemic. The President spent months on the trail of the campaign, wrongly blasting mail-in ballots as vulnerable to fraud — one explanation why GOP voters have proved much less likely to use them.
“Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Thursday afternoon,” Counties are furiously at work “and” it looks like we are ahead of schedule. “Democratic Sen. Bob Casey said in several interviews on CNN that he believed Biden would ultimately win by up to 100,000 votes in the state.
In Arizona, where multiple tranches of votes from Maricopa County, like Phoenix, narrowed Biden’s lead to just under 68,000 votes, with Trump’s team demanding that the president ultimately win and keep his dreams of a road to 270 alive, the story was reversed.
There is also a tight contest in Nevada, whereby midday Thursday, Biden’s lead had increased to nearly 12,000 votes. As a probable victory, Democrats had the state down, but it is closer than expected. The final outcome will come down to mail-in votes again, which may benefit Biden as thousands in Clark County, centered around Las Vegas and typically Democratic territory, are outstanding.
If Biden retains the lead in Arizona and Nevada, regardless of what happens in Pennsylvania and Georgia, he will get 270 electoral votes and become the next president.
In addition to Wisconsin, Michigan, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Virginia, California, Oregon, Washington State, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Delaware, Washington, DC, Maryland, Massachusetts and one of Nebraska’s five electoral votes, CNN predicts Biden will win at least three of Maine’s four electoral votes. Nebraska and Maine are giving their statewide winners two electoral votes and splitting their other electoral votes by congressional districts.
CNN projects Trump will win Montana, Texas, Iowa, Idaho, Ohio, Mississippi, Wyoming, Missouri, Kansas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, Florida and Tennessee and four of Nebraska’s five electoral votes.
Trump mounts an aggressive legal strategy to contest results
Trump’s team has launched a flurry of often conflicting and scattershot legal challenges, attempting to keep his narrow road to victory alive, without providing proof of fraud, insisting polling counts proceed in states where he is behind and wanting them shut down in those where he leads.
Trump tweeted Thursday morning, “STOP THE COUNT,” even though doing such action would freeze the race and offer his opponent an advantage and the fact that executing his demand would be analogous to the disenfranchisement of votes, with tens of thousands of legally cast ballots still being counted.
The Trump campaign, as one piece of his legal strategy, wants to ask the Supreme Court to intervene in a case challenging a decision of the Supreme Court that required the counting of Pennsylvania ballots after Election Day. Before the referendum, the justices had declined to expedite the appeal and were debating whether to take up the case.
In the crucial state of Wisconsin, where the Democrat rose on the strength of mail-in and early votes that were tallied after most of the votes cast in person on Election Day, Trump and his campaign team have tried to raise questions as to how Biden made a late surge to victory.
The Trump campaign said Wednesday that, though mounting legal challenges in Michigan and Georgia, it would seek a recount in Wisconsin.
“The President is well within the threshold (in Wisconsin) to order a recount and we will do so immediately,” Stepien said Wednesday.
Stepien noted that the findings indicate “a razor thin race as we always thought it would be” and reported that in some Wisconsin counties there were anomalies, but did not explain what the campaign thinks those irregularities are.
The state-by-state approach of the campaign exposed the glaring contradictions in its strategy: in states where Biden is trailing, such as Pennsylvania and Georgia, it seems to be seeking to avoid voting counting, while insisting that all votes be counted in states where it thinks the President has a chance of catching up with Biden, such as Arizona and Nevada.
Candidates can request a Wisconsin recount if they are within 1 percent of the total vote of the winner — but the recount can not be officially requested until the canvass is completed, which could be as late as November 17. It seems extremely unlikely that a margin of around 20,000 votes, the size of Biden’s lead in Wisconsin, could be overturned by a recount. But the Trump campaign is well within its rights to request a recount since the margin is less than 1 percent.
With Kevin Liptak of CNN reporting that even Trump himself seems to be suspicious of the thin foundation for some of the obstacles his campaign is creating, the campaign said it plans to file a lawsuit in Georgia alleging that 53 late absentee ballots “illegally added to a stack of on-time absentee ballots in Chatham County” were observed by a Republican poll observer in that state.
Jen O’Malley Dillon, the Biden campaign manager, called the legal suits “meritless” and stressed “our data shows that Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States”
In phone calls with some of his allies on Wednesday, Trump gave a less-than-enthusiastic endorsement of his team’s legal strategy, sounding resigned to the proposal falling short and wondering why his team had not challenged voting rules before the election successfully, even as he remained determined to see it through, CNN reported.
The Trump campaign has said it is filing a lawsuit in Michigan urging the state to stop its count because, as guaranteed by Michigan law, “it has not been granted meaningful access to multiple counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process.”
Ryan Jarvi, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s spokesman, replied to the threat of the lawsuit by claiming in a statement that “the elections in Michigan were carried out transparently, with access given to all political parties and the public.”
Trump campaign officials said Wednesday afternoon that they are also suing in Pennsylvania, alleging that Republican vote observers are “hiding the counting and sorting of ballots” from Democratic election officials.
On Thursday, a court in Pennsylvania said Trump campaign observers should stand closer to watching ballot processing in Philadelphia, a surprisingly contradictory decision that Trump campaign associates immediately touted as a major victory, as votes that could determine the state are still being counted there.
In Philadelphia, no court has found fraud in the ballot counting process.