The knife-edge US presidential race tilted towards Democrat Joe Biden early yesterday, with wins in Michigan and Wisconsin bringing him close to a majority, but President Donald Trump claimed he was being cheated.
Tallying of votes continued through a second night in the remaining battleground states where huge turnout and a mountain of mail-in ballots sent by voters trying to avoid exposure to the coronavirus made the job all the harder. Both men still had paths to winning the White House by hitting the magic majority threshold of 270 of the electoral votes awarded to whichever candidate wins the popular vote in a given state.
But momentum moved to Biden, who made a televised speech from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware to say that “when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners.” By flipping the northern battlegrounds of Michigan and Wisconsin, and also winning Arizona, Biden reached 264 electoral votes against 214 so far for Trump. To reach 270 he was hoping next to add the six electoral votes from Nevada, where he had a small and shrinking lead, or, even better, the larger prizes of hard-fought Georgia or Pennsylvania. In stark contrast to Trump’s unprecedented rhetoric about being cheated, Biden sought to project calm, reaching out to a nation torn by four years of polarising leadership and traumatised by the Covid-19 pandemic, with new daily infections Wednesday close to hitting 100,000 for the first time.
Biden, 77, said. “What brings us together as Americans is so much stronger than anything that can tear us apart.” However, Trump, 74, claimed victory unilaterally and made clear he would not accept the reported results, issuing unprecedented complaints — unsupported by any evidence — of fraud.
An observer mission from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which monitors votes around the West and former Soviet Union, found no evidence of election fraud and said Trump’s “baseless allegations” eroded trust in democracy.