Democrat Joe Biden is closing on President Donald Trump in tense vote counts in Pennsylvania and Georgia, two states that the current occupant of the White House cannot afford to lose if he is to keep alive his hopes of a second term.
Biden relentlessly piled up votes through the night and all day as counting goes on in the two states, racking up huge margins among mail-in ballots favored by Democratic voters. As the drama unfolded across the country, the President’s allies launched legal challenges and floated conspiracy theories as Trump tweeted “Stop the Count!”
Tight races are also going into overtime in two other states that could influence the destiny of the race, Nevada and Arizona. Biden so far has 253 electoral votes and the President has 213.
Pennsylvania, the state that could take Biden over the 270-vote threshold needed to win the presidency, could complete most of its outstanding counts on Thursday or Friday, officials there said.
The former vice president is only behind Trump by a little more than 18,000 votes in the Keystone State after having trailed at one point by more than half a million ballots in the hours after polls closed. Tens of thousands of votes most of them from strongly Democratic areas, including around Philadelphia remain to be counted.
In Georgia, another state that Trump cannot afford to lose with its 16 electoral votes, Biden’s mail-in ballot advantage has pulled him to within 700 votes of the President, as results came in from Fulton County around Atlanta with 99% of the state vote count reported.
Trump cannot find a route to 270 electoral votes without Georgia and Pennsylvania, so his chances of securing reelection will hinge on developments in the two states in the coming hours.
But on Thursday night, Trump effectively sent a signal that he has no intention of leaving power without a fight if he ends up losing the election.
The President’s speech from the White House briefing room could end up being one of the most dangerous presidential statements in American history.
In it, Trump falsely claimed that votes that were cast before and during the election, but counted after Election Day, are illegal votes.
Trump made ludicrous claims that his leads on election night shrunk because Democratic officials keep finding ballots, when in fact the counts have narrowed because election officials in many states counted the vote-by-mail ballots, which favored Democrats, after the Election Day votes, which tended to favor Republicans.
As the President spoke, the daily tally of new US coronavirus infections hit 114,876, the worst daily count ever, encapsulating how Trump’s political obsessions have driven his neglect of a crisis that has killed more than 234,000 Americans.