The race for the White House appears headed for a photo finish between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, with the race too close to call in several key battleground states early Wednesday morning.
Vote counting is still underway in states where Trump leads, including Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina, and the vote tally needed to determine a winner may not be known for several days.
In North Carolina and Pennsylvania, ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can still be received and counted for the next few days.
The Associated Press has declared Biden the winner in Arizona, giving him a little leeway and breathing room as votes are counted in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the former “blue wall” states that will likely determine the outcome of this year's election.
There are any number of possible outcomes in the undetermined battleground states that would give either Trump or Biden the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. The margin in the Electoral College could be very small, and a tie is not outside the realm of possibility.
Trump gave an early morning speech from the White House on Wednesday in which he claimed victory despite votes still being counted across the country, including both in states he leads and trails.
“As far as I’m concerned we’ve already won it,” Trump said.
The president also called on vote counting to be halted and said he’d take the election to the Supreme Court because he believes he should already have been declared the winner.
It’s unclear what Trump would challenge at the Supreme Court. It is normal for vote counting to continue on for several days beyond the election, and the tallying will continue to take place as election officials work their way out from under the crush of mail ballots sent in amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden also struck a confident note in a speech not far from his home in Delaware late Tuesday. The former vice president pointed to his lead in Arizona, the first state that either candidate was able to flip from the 2016 map.
“It may take a little longer,” Biden said to honking car horns from supporters. “As I’ve said all along, it’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who won this election. It’s put to the American people. But I’m optimistic about the outcome.”
Still, the race is far closer than election analysts, pollsters and Democrats believed it would be heading into the night and it’s possible that Trump could still pull out yet another unlikely Electoral College victory.
Democrats entered the night bolstered by polls showing Biden with the potential to close the night out early by winning in a right-leaning state, such as Florida, Georgia, Texas, Ohio or North Carolina.
Those hopes were dashed when Trump scored a convincing victory in Florida on the strength of his support among Latinos in South Florida.
Trump also held serve in Texas, Ohio and Iowa, keeping his pathway to a second term open in right-leaning states that he had to win.
The race is closer in North Carolina and Georgia, two other states that Trump must keep in his column.
Those states remain too close to call, although the president ended the night with narrow leads in both.
Democrats are hopeful that the outstanding votes in Atlanta will push Biden over the top in Georgia. A victory in the Peach State would effectively clinch the White House for the Democratic nominee.
The focus has turned primarily to the former “blue wall” states that Trump turned red in 2016 for the first time in decades: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
The president finished the night with leads in all three, though the vote count on Election Day did not give the full picture, as some states reported early returns first and others reported same-day votes first.
Biden has done well with early and absentee balloting, while Trump has mopped up among those casting ballots on Election Day.
It’s possible that Biden could come charging back as absentee and mail ballots from major cities are counted. But it will not be anything close to the big night Democrats had hoped for.
In addition to still fighting it out for the White House, Republicans won many House and Senate seats that were toss-ups.