Trump declares victory in tight US presidential race
President Donald Trump declared victory over Democratic rival Joe Biden on Nov. 4 with millions of votes still uncounted in a White House race that will not be decided until tallying is completed over the coming days.
By Nov. 4, the race was down to a handful of states, and both Trump, 74 and Biden, 77, had possible paths to reach the needed 270 Electoral College votes to win the White House.
Shortly after Biden said he was confident of winning the contest once the votes are counted, Trump appeared at the White House to declare victory and said his lawyers would be taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, without specifying what they would claim.
“We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said.
“This is a major fraud on our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.”
Polls have closed and voting has stopped across the country, but election laws in U.S. states require all votes to be counted, and many states routinely take days to finish counting ballots. More votes stood to be counted this year than in the past as people voted early by mail and in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden is pinning his hopes on the so-called “blue wall” states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that sent Trump to the White House in 2016, although they could take hours or day to finish counting. Biden has a narrow lead in Wisconsin while Trump is ahead in Michigan and Pennsylvania, with more mail-in ballots that are likely to lean Democratic still to be tallied.
Winning those three states would be enough to give Biden victory. Fox News projected Biden would win Arizona, another state that voted for Trump in 2016, giving him more options.
Even without Pennsylvania, Biden victories in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, along with his projected win in a congressional district in Nebraska, which apportions electoral votes by district, would put him in the White House, as long as he also holds Nevada, where he leads.
Trump said he still believes he can win Arizona, and is counting on victories in at least two of the three “blue wall” states.
Earlier in the evening, Trump won the battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and Texas, dashing Biden’s hopes for a decisive early victory, but Biden said he was confident he was on track to winning by taking three key Rust Belt states.
“We feel good about where we are,” Biden said in his home state of Delaware, shouting over a din of supporters in cars honking their horns in approval. “We believe we’re on track to win this election.”
Biden leads 238 to 213 over Trump in the Electoral College vote count, according to Edison Research.
Trump leads in Georgia and North Carolina, states he carried in 2016, but votes are still being counted in both.
“The president’s statement tonight about trying to shut down the counting of duly cast ballots was outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect,” Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement.
“We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!” Trump tweeted before his White House appearance. Twitter swiftly tagged the tweet as possibly misleading.
“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare the winner of this election. It’s the voters’ place,” Biden said on Twitter in response to the president.
Trump has repeatedly and without evidence suggested an increase in mail-in voting will lead to an increase in fraud, although election experts say that fraud is rare and mail-in ballots are a long-standing feature of American elections.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf said the state still had to count more than 1 million mail-in ballots. He called Trump’s remarks a partisan attack.