President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are battling it out for the White House, with polls closed across the United States Tuesday – and a long night of waiting for results in key battlegrounds on the cards.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump threatened in a White House appearance to sue to stop the vote counting in states that did not complete the task on election day.
Shortly after his remarks, the news media called Arizona for Biden.
A PBS television commentator noted that having won one district (Omaha) of the five in Nebraska (which splits electoral votes), Arizona was key for Biden. If he wins Wisconsin and Michigan he can hit the required 270 electoral votes without the evidently closer Pennsylvania and Georgia. Otherwise it could be the dreaded 269-269 tie, for the House to decide on the basis of one vote per state.
The results are flowing in, with US media projecting wins for the Republican incumbent so far in 23 states including big prizes Florida and Texas, as well as Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio – all states he won in 2016.
Biden has captured 18 states including his home state Delaware and big prizes California and New York, as well as the US capital. As with Trump, so far, all states claimed by Biden were won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
So far, that gives Biden 224 electoral votes and Trump 213, after Nebraska split its electoral votes between the two – four for Trump and one for Biden, CNN and Fox News projected.
A number of key battleground states are still up in the air, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The magic number of electoral votes is 270.
The following is a list of the states won by each candidate and the corresponding number of electoral votes, based on the projections of US media including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC/NBC News, ABC, CBS and The New York Times.
North Dakota (3)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
West Virginia (5)
District of Columbia (3)
New Hampshire (4)
New Jersey (14)
New Mexico (5)
New York (29)
Rhode Island (4)
STATES NOT YET CALLED
* Nebraska splits its five electoral votes — two electors are assigned based on the plurality of votes in the state, and the other three are awarded based on congressional district. Biden took one vote, in the 2nd congressional district.
No blue wave
Against a backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 230,000 lives in the United States, a quick Biden triumph – dreamed of by some Democrats – looked unlikely with key states too close to call.
In Florida exit polls showed Trump capturing swaths of the Latino vote, making strong gains among Cuban-Americans after the Republican tycoon’s relentless attacks against leftist leaders in Latin America and rhetorical attempts to link them to Biden.
Biden’s team has long insisted that it doesn’t need to win Florida and analysts pointed to gains for the Democrat in some Trump areas of the state that might bode well in other big states.
Biden for his part enjoyed early strength in Arizona, which Trump carried four years earlier, and he was neck-and-neck in Texas – a state where the Democrat a few weeks ago saw little chance.
And Biden – as expected – collected the biggest prize of the night with a win in solidly Democratic California.
But attention quickly turned to results emerging from Georgia and North Carolina, two more states Biden hopes to wrest away, and the Midwestern trio of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – in which Trump squeaked out surprise 2016 wins over Hillary Clinton that handed him the White House.
With a record more than 100 million Americans having voted ahead of Election Day due to the Covid-19 pandemic, definitive final results could easily take hours or even days to be tabulated.
Race for Congress
Networks projected the Democrats to have maintained control of the House of Representatives, as widely expected, but it remains to be seen if they can win back the Senate.
The Democrats flipped one Senate seat from the Republicans in Colorado, with former governor John Hickenlooper projected to triumph, but were also expected to lose an especially vulnerable senator in Alabama.
Accepting the results?
Trump has repeatedly refused to confirm he will accept the results of the election – a first for a US president. He argues, without offering proof, that the vast number of mail-in ballots could be used to rig the polls against him.
In the final run-up to Election Day, Trump focused especially on Pennsylvania, which allows ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted, even if they arrive afterward.
Trump somewhat dampened fears that he will try to declare victory prematurely, telling Fox News that he will only declare “when there is victory.”
“There is no reason to play games,” he said.
Americans could not be more divided over Trump.
For some he represents a breath of fresh air who brought his business instincts to shake up the Washington establishment. For the other half of the country, he is a corrupt leader who wrecked the United States’ reputation abroad and stoked dangerous racist and nationalist sentiments at home.
In Miami, Juan Carlos Bertran, a 60-year-old Cuban-American mechanic, said Trump “seems better to me for the country’s economy.”
“Now I have two jobs,” he said. “Before I only had one.”
But voting in New York, Megan Byrnes-Borderan, 35, said Trump’s threats to challenge the election results in the courts were “scary.”
“I believe that Trump will go through all odds to try to win the election,” she said.
Outside the White House, a boisterous, peaceful protest in a plaza renamed for the Black Lives Matter movement turned heated as the night wore on, with scuffling after a person appeared to throw a gas cannister.
In Portland, the center of confrontations this summer between leftist protesters and police, some 400 people marched toward the downtown under a watchful eye of state police.
Question of Covid
Biden has tapped into widespread public disapproval of Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more people in the United States than any country.
Trump – who recovered quickly from his own bout with the virus in October – is gambling that Americans want to put the crisis behind them and reopen the economy fully. Biden, in contrast, is preaching caution and accuses the president of having abandoned his basic responsibilities.
“We’re done with the chaos! We’re done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility,” Biden said at an election eve rally in Cleveland, Ohio.
Fears of Covid-19 drove the huge flow of early voters, encouraged by Biden. Trump has countered by holding dozens of mass election rallies with no social distancing, underlining his message that it’s time to move on.
One notable win in the Senate was for the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, who easily fended off a challenge in Kentucky.
And in Georgia, Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene – a political newcomer who has promoted the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory – won a seat in the US House of Representatives, giving the widely debunked movement a voice in Congress.