Which U.S. states are still counting votes and when will they be done?

 


Joe Biden won the battleground prizes of Michigan and Wisconsin on Wednesday, reclaiming a key part of the “blue wall” that slipped away from Democrats four years ago and dramatically narrowing President Donald Trump’s pathway to reelection.

A full day after Election Day, neither candidate had cleared the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. But Biden’s victories in the Great Lakes states left him at 264, meaning he was one battleground state away from crossing the threshold and becoming president-elect.

Biden, who has received more than 71 million votes, the most in history, was joined by his running mate Kamala Harris at an afternoon news conference and said he now expected to win the presidency, though he stopped short of outright declaring victory.

“I will govern as an American president,” Biden said. ”There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America.”

It was a stark contrast to Trump, who on Wednesday falsely proclaimed that he had won the election, even though millions of votes remained uncounted and the race was far from over.

The Associated Press called Wisconsin for Biden after election officials in the state said all outstanding ballots had been counted, save for a few hundred in one township and an expected small number of provisional votes.

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Trump’s campaign requested a recount, thought statewide recounts in Wisconsin have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes. Biden led by 0.624 percentage point out of nearly 3.3 million ballots counted.

Since 2016, Democrats had been haunted by the crumbling of the blue wall, the trio of Great Lakes states — Pennsylvania is the third — that their candidates had been able to count on every four years. But Trump’s populist appeal struck a chord with white working-class voters and he captured all three in 2016 by a total margin of just 77,000 votes.

Both candidates this year fiercely fought for the states, with Biden’s everyman political persona resonating in blue-collar towns while his campaign also pushed to increase turnout among Black voters in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee.

Pennsylvania remained too early to call Wednesday night.

It was unclear when or how quickly a national winner could be determined after a long, bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy. But Biden’s possible pathways to the White House were expanding rapidly.

After the victories in Wisconsin and Michigan, he was just six Electoral College votes away from the presidency. A win in any undecided state except for Alaska — but including Nevada, with its six votes — would be enough to end Trump’s tenure in the White House.

Trump spent much of Wednesday in the White House residence, huddling with advisers and fuming at media coverage showing his Democratic rival picking up key battlegrounds. Trump falsely claimed victory in several key states and amplified unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Democratic gains as absentee and early votes were tabulated.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said the president would formally request a Wisconsin recount, citing “irregularities” in several counties. And the campaign said it was filing suit in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia to demand better access for campaign observers to locations where ballots are being processed and counted, and to raise absentee ballot concerns.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of votes were still to be counted in Pennsylvania, and Trump’s campaign said it was moving to intervene in the existing Supreme Court litigation over counting mail-in ballots there. Yet, the campaign also argued that it was the outstanding votes in Arizona that could reverse the outcome there, showcasing an inherent inconsistency with their arguments.

In other closely watched races, Trump picked up Florida, the largest of the swing states, and held onto Texas and Ohio while Biden kept New Hampshire and Minnesota and flipped Arizona, a state that had reliably voted Republican in recent elections.

The unsettled nature of the presidential race was reflective of a somewhat disappointing night for Democrats, who had hoped to deliver a thorough repudiation of Trump’s four years in office while also reclaiming the Senate to have a firm grasp on all of Washington. But the GOP held onto several Senate seats that had been considered vulnerable, including in Iowa, Texas, Maine and Kansas. Democrats lost House seats but were expected to retain control there.

The high-stakes election was held against the backdrop of a historic pandemic that has killed more than 232,000 Americans and wiped away millions of jobs. The U.S. on Wednesday set another record for daily confirmed coronavirus cases as several states posted all-time highs.

The candidates spent months pressing dramatically different visions for the nation’s future, including on racial justice, and voters responded in huge numbers, with more than 100 million people casting votes ahead of Election Day.

Trump, in an extraordinary move from the White House, issued premature claims of victory — which he continued on Twitter Wednesday — and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting. It was unclear exactly what legal action he could try to pursue.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell discounted the president’s quick claim of victory, saying it would take a while for states to conduct their vote counts. The Kentucky Republican said Wednesday that “claiming you’ve won the election is different from finishing the counting.”

Vote tabulations routinely continue beyond Election Day, and states largely set the rules for when the count has to end. In presidential elections, a key point is the date in December when presidential electors met. That’s set by federal law.

Dozens of Trump supporters chanting “Stop the count!” descended on a ballot-tallying center in Detroit, while thousands of anti-Trump protesters demanding a complete vote count took to the streets in cities across the U.S.

Protests — sometimes about the election, sometimes about racial inequality — took place Wednesday in at least a half-dozen cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and San Diego.

Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. That includes Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can be accepted if they arrive up to three days later.

Trump appeared to suggest those ballots should not be counted, and that he would fight for that outcome at the high court. But legal experts were dubious of Trump’s declaration. Trump has appointed three of the high court’s nine justices — including, most recently, Amy Coney Barrett.

The Trump campaign on Wednesday pushed Republican donors to dig deeper into their pockets to help finance legal challenges. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, during a donor call, spoke plainly: “The fight’s not over. We’re in it.”

The momentum from early voting carried into Election Day, as an energized electorate produced long lines at polling sites throughout the country. Turnout was higher than in 2016 in numerous counties, including all of Florida, nearly every county in North Carolina and more than 100 counties in both Georgia and Texas. That tally seemed sure to increase as more counties reported their turnout figures.

Voters braved worries of the coronavirus, threats of polling place intimidation and expectations of long lines caused by changes to voting systems, but appeared undeterred as turnout appeared it would easily surpass the 139 million ballots cast four years ago.

The outcome of the U.S. presidential election hung in the balance on Wednesday as several states continued to count their ballots, including some of the most competitive battlegrounds where the tally could take days to complete.

Votes are counted at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Election Day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Rachel Wisniewski

Democratic nominee Joe Biden has a slight edge over Republican President Donald Trump with 227 to 213 electoral votes. That leaves 98 electoral votes to be allocated, and possible paths to victory for both candidates. The winner needs to secure 270 votes.

Here is the state of play in nine states. The vote counts are supplied by Edison Research.

Alaska

Trump has a wide lead and is broadly expected to carry the state. Still, just 56% of the expected vote has been counted, with Trump ahead by 62.9% to 33%.

Arizona

Biden has a significant lead, and the Associated Press and Fox News have already called the state for the Democrat. With 86% of the expected vote counted, Biden leads with 50.7% against 47.9% for Trump, according to Edison Research.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told ABC News that Maricopa County, which includes heavily populated Phoenix, had about 400,000 outstanding ballots to be counted and would release more results later on Wednesday.

Georgia

Trump is holding onto a narrow lead, but several of the large counties around Atlanta that lean Democratic have substantial numbers of ballots still to count. With 95% of the expected vote counted, Trump is ahead with 49.7% versus 49% for Biden.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he hoped to have a result by the end of Wednesday.

Under Georgia law, if the margin between the candidates is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage point, a candidate may request a recount within two business days following the certification of results.

Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit to require that Chatham County, which includes Savannah, separate and secure late-arriving ballots to ensure they are not counted. The campaign said it had received information that late-arriving ballots in the county were improperly mingled with valid ballots.

Maine

Maine is one of two states that divide their Electoral College votes between the winner of the statewide popular vote and the winner in each of its congressional districts.

Edison Research has allocated Biden two votes for the statewide outcome, which he leads by 53.8% to 43.2% with 87% of the state’s expected votes counted. It also called the state’s 1st Congressional District for Biden, giving him a third electoral vote from the state.

Trump has a lead of 51.4% to 45.1% in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. The Associated Press projected Trump the winner of the state’s fourth vote on Wednesday, with only 53.7% of the expected vote in.

Michigan

Biden has a growing margin, with CNN and NBC projecting Biden the winner there just before 4.30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT) on Wednesday. Biden leads Trump by 50.3% to 48.1% with 99% of the state’s expected votes counted.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said on Wednesday night that all valid ballots in the state had been counted, and that a lawsuit by Trump seeking to halt counting of votes there was “frivolous.”

Nevada

Long seen as a solid Biden-leaning state, Nevada now appears in play. Edison Research data shows 86% of the expected vote is in and Biden’s lead is just 49.3% to 48.7% for Trump.

State officials expect the remaining votes - largely mail-in ballots - to be counted by 9 a.m. PST (1700 GMT) on Thursday. Clark County, the state’s largest and home to Las Vegas, has tallied 84% of expected votes so far and Biden is ahead there 52.9% versus 45.4% for Trump.

North Carolina

The margin between Trump and Biden is less than 2 percentage points as the president clings to a lead of 50.1% to 48.7% for the Democrat, with 95% of the expected vote counted.

The state allows mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday to be counted if they are received by Nov. 12. On Wednesday morning, the Biden campaign said it expected a final result to take several days, and state officials said later on Wednesday that a full result would not be known until next week.

Pennsylvania

Of the battleground states, Pennsylvania has the furthest to go in counting votes, and Trump so far maintains a lead. With 88% of the expected vote counted, Trump is up 50.8% to 47.9% for Biden.

Officials there can accept mailed-in ballots up to three days after the election if they are postmarked by Tuesday. About 1 million votes remain to be counted, Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said on Wednesday.

If the margin of victory is within half of 1%, state law requires a recount.

The Trump campaign said on Wednesday it was suing to temporarily halt vote counting in Pennsylvania and also asked to intervene in a U.S. Supreme Court case over mail-in ballots in the state, which could determine the winner of the election.

Wisconsin

The Trump campaign said on Wednesday it would request a recount of votes in Wisconsin, where the margin between the candidates is less than 1 percentage point.

Biden is up 49.4% to 48.8% for Trump with 99% of the expected vote tallied, according to Edison Research. Edison said that it would not call a race in Wisconsin or any state where the margin is narrow enough to allow a candidate to demand a recount under state law. Some media outlets, including NBC and the Associated Press, projected Biden the winner.

Note: Vote counts supplied by Edison Research, which provides exit polls and voting data to the National Election Pool media consortium. Reuters has not independently tabulated the ballots.

Hundreds of people gathered in Black Lives Matter Plaza for the second night in a row as the region and the rest of the country awaits the results of the presidential election.

The evening was quieter than Tuesday, when crowds converged on Black Lives Matter Plaza and nearby McPherson Square to watch election results. Demonstrations on both nights remained largely conflict-free, aside from a few clashes with police and four arrests on Tuesday.

Protesters who want President Trump out of office danced to music and created art near the White House on Wednesday. They held signs  that declared “Trump is a danger to us all” and “Count the votes.”

Twenty-year-old Grace McLean watched CNN relay election results from a large screen at McPherson Square. She hoped being outside would calm her frayed nerves.

McLean, a Howard University student, fears a conservative Supreme Court and four more years of a Trump presidency could jeopardize gay marriage and women’s reproductive health rights.

She said she was too nervous to follow election results out of her home state of Michigan. She breathed a sigh of relief when she learned from friends that the state swung in Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s favor.

“I wanted to come out here to soothe my anxieties,” she said. “I’ve definitely seen a lot of hate in the last four years, so I just hope we can have people in office, in positions of power, that don’t allow that.”

Bethelehem Yirga, co-founder of the Palm Collective, a Black-led organization working to build a coalition of grassroots organizations in the D.C. region, led an art workshop and handed out food to passersby in front of the AFL-CIO building downtown.

Bethelehem Yirga is co-founder of The Palm Collective and helped organize an art event at BLM Plaza.Tyrone Turner / WAMU/DCist

 

Yirga, who was a teacher and principal for a decade, said she left the profession to organize after George Floyd’s killing this summer.

“I am honored to be out here representing Black and Brown students who are for so long fought for in the classrooms and in the school buildings, doing it on the streets and being a part of communities that are fighting for real change no matter who wins,” she said.

Yirga said that her group and other grassroots organizations wanted to create spaces for community, particularly as the region and the nation anxiously await the results of this year’s contentious presidential election.

“…We’re all anxious. We’re all concerned. We’re all afraid. Let’s come together in community. Let’s do some positive stuff and wait it out together and know that even to and through this election, we’re still going to be together to be able to continue to fight for the injustices that are still out and not being focused on or solved,” she said.

Muhammad Afridi sat on a sidewalk near the White House with his wife and four sons, jubilant after Biden won Michigan and pulled ahead in Arizona.

He said he brought his sons to Black Lives Matter Plaza so they could witness camaraderie between diverse groups of people. It was the most relaxed Afridi said he has felt in D.C. since Trump became president.

Afridi, who is Muslim, said he and his family have lived in fear because the Trump administration has sown hostility toward people of color and certain ethnic groups. The Trump administration has banned nearly all travelers or immigrants from five majority-Muslim countries, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia, in addition to North Korea and Venezuela. Critics of the ban have pointed to Trump’s many negative remarks about Islam as proof of bias.

“We are here to tell Biden, ‘sir, we are so happy that you are here,’” Afridi said of the former vice president. “For the last four years, we’ve felt very unsafe in this country because of Trump.”

As Afridi spoke, his 7-year-old son, Abdullah interjected.

“We are looking for peace, not terror,” the boy said.

 Democrat Joe Biden on Wednesday predicted a U.S. election win over President Donald Trump after pivotal victories in Michigan and Wisconsin, while the Republican incumbent sought to offset a narrowing path to re-election with lawsuits and demands for a recount.

[Captions auto-generated & unedited.] Officials worked around the clock
 

Victories in those Midwestern states gave Biden, a former vice president who has spent five decades in public life, a critical boost in the race to obtain 270 electoral votes in the state-by-state Electoral College needed to win the White House.

Trump, who won both states in 2016, now has fewer options to secure a second four-year term. With the count still under way, he has falsely declared victory, accused the Democrats of trying to steal the election and vowed to fight the states in court.

“It’s clear that we’re winning enough states to reach (the) 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency,” Biden, appearing with his running mate Kamala Harris, said in his home state of Delaware. “I’m not here to declare that we’ve won. But I am here to report that when the count is finished we believe we will be the winners.”

Trump has spent months seeking to undermine the credibility of the voting process in case he lost and accusing Democrats, without evidence, of seeking to steal the election.

His campaign fought to keep Trump’s chances alive with a lawsuits in Michigan and Pennsylvania to stop vote counting. It demanded a recount in Wisconsin.

The campaign asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Trump to join a pending lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Republicans over whether the battleground state, which was still counting hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots, should be permitted to accept late-arriving ballots sent by Election Day on Tuesday.

The maneuvers amounted to a broad effort to contest the results of a still undecided election a day after millions of Americans went to the polls during the coronavirus pandemic that has upended daily life.

While fighting to stop the count in states where he feared losing, Trump blasted news organizations that projected losses in Arizona and Nevada, states he thought he should be winning.

Biden said every vote must be counted. “No one’s going to take our democracy away from us, not now, not ever. America’s come too far. America’s fought too many battles, America’s endured too much to ever let that happen,” he said.

Trump is trying to avoid becoming the first incumbent U.S. president to lose a re-election bid since George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Biden won Michigan by 67,000 votes, or 1.2%, while he was ahead in Wisconsin by just over 20,000 ballots, or 0.6%, according to figures from Edison Research, which projected Biden as the winner in Michigan. Several news outlets projected Biden as the winner in Wisconsin, though Edison did not, citing the pending recount.

Wisconsin law allows a candidate to request a recount if the margin is below 1%, which the Trump campaign immediately said it would do.

In response to the Michigan lawsuit, Ryan Jarvi, a spokesman for the state attorney general, said the elections had been “conducted transparently.”

Voting concluded as scheduled on Tuesday night, but many states routinely take days to finish counting ballots. There was a surge in mail-in ballots nationally amid the pandemic. Other closely contested states including Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina were still counting votes, leaving the national election outcome uncertain.

At the moment, not including Wisconsin, Biden leads Trump 243 to 213 in Electoral College votes, which are largely based on a state’s population.

EMIC EFFECT

The contentious aftermath capped a vitriolic campaign that unfolded amid a pandemic that has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States and left millions more jobless. The country has also grappled with months of unrest involving protests over racism and police brutality.

Supporters of both candidates expressed anger, frustration and fear with little clarity on when the election would be resolved.

Trump held a narrow lead in North Carolina, while his lead dwindled in Georgia and Pennsylvania. Without Wisconsin and Michigan, he would have to win all three as well as either Arizona or Nevada, where Biden was leading in the latest vote counts.

Biden would be only the second Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona in 72 years. Trump won the state in 2016.

In Pennsylvania, Trump’s lead dropped to around 196,000 votes as officials gradually worked their way through millions of mail-in ballots, which were seen as likely to benefit Biden. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien called the president the winner in Pennsylvania, even though state officials had not completed the count. Biden said he felt “very good” about his chances in the state.

In the nationwide popular vote, Biden on Wednesday was comfortably ahead of Trump, with about 3 million more votes. Trump won the 2016 election over Democrat Hillary Clinton after winning crucial battleground states even though she drew about 3 million more votes nationwide.

Legal experts had warned the election could get bogged down in state-by-state litigation over a host of issues, including whether states can include late-arriving ballots that were mailed by Election Day. Both campaigns have marshaled teams of lawyers in preparation for any disputes.

In the Pennsylvania case in which the Trump campaign sought to intervene, the U.S. Supreme Court previously allowed the state to move forward with a plan to count ballots mailed by Election Day that arrive up to three days later.

But some conservative justices suggested they would be willing to reconsider the matter, and state officials planned to segregate those ballots as a precaution.

Ahead of the election, Trump had said he wanted his latest U.S. Supreme Court appointee, Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed by the Senate in case the court had to hear any electoral dispute. Democrats had criticized the president for appearing to suggest he expected Barrett to rule in his favor.

Trump has repeatedly said without evidence that widespread mail-in voting would lead to fraud, although U.S. election experts say fraud is very rare.

Trump continued to make unsubstantiated attacks on the vote-counting process on Twitter on Wednesday. Both Facebook and Twitter flagged multiple posts from the president for promoting misleading claims.

“We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said before launching an extraordinary attack on the electoral process by a sitting president. “This is a major fraud in 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.”

Trump provided no evidence to back up his claim of fraud and did not explain how he would fight the results at the Supreme Court.

The election will also decide which party controls the U.S. Congress for the next two years, and the Democratic drive to win control of the Senate appeared to be falling short. Democrats had flipped two Republican-held seats while losing one of their own, and five other races remained undecided - Alaska, Michigan, North Carolina, and two in Georgia.

Ryan Collerd/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes remain among the states front and center in the minds of both the Trump and Biden campaigns as ballots there continue to be counted.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters Wednesday evening that election workers have made excellent progress and that she expects hundreds of thousands of more ballots to be counted Wednesday night.

“At this point, I think we’re actually a little bit ahead of where I thought it would be, which is great,” she said, noting that it’s still a “matter of days” before the overwhelming majority of ballots will be counted.

“The eyes of the world are on Pennsylvania,” Gov. Tom Wolf added.

He reiterated that it’s not surprising that returns in Pennsylvania are taking longer than in other states.

“That’s actually a good sign,” he said. “And part of the reason for that is because so many more people have voted and it does mean that votes in Pennsylvania are actually being counted.”

Pennsylvania, like many states, had surges in ballots cast by mail this year, in large part because of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike in other states, Pennsylvania’s election workers are barred from processing ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day, which doesn’t give them any kind of head start in the counting process.

Wolf acknowledged the Trump campaign’s press conference in Philadelphia earlier Wednesday afternoon, in which Rudy Giuliani alleged, without proof, rampant election fraud in the city.

The Trump campaign has said it will take legal action in Pennsylvania, including suing to stop counting the vote over allegations that Republican canvassing monitors weren’t able to watch the vote count closely enough.

Wolf called the lawsuit “simply wrong.”

“It goes against the most basic principles of our democracy. It takes away the right of every American citizen to cast their vote and to choose our leaders,” he said, adding, “We need to make sure that the voters are choosing the leaders, not the other way around.”

Wolf said Giuliani’s claims that there isn’t enough transparency in the Pennsylvania election system are baseless.

Boockvar also rebuked Giuliani’s allegations that over 100,000 ballots could appear and be counted while being illegitimate.

“You couldn’t find a box of ballots somewhere,” she said, adding that in Pennsylvania, ballots aren’t automatically sent to all eligible voters. Voters must apply for them and election officials must verify that all applicants are qualified voters.

“[It’s] all public record,” she said. “If you found a box of ballots in a room, they would have to match up with a list of people who actually were qualified voters who got approved, so it literally could not happen in Pennsylvania.”

Legal experts are doubtful that the rush of lawsuits, including the new ones in Michigan and Pennsylvania, will end up swinging the race.

For lawsuits to affect the outcome, said Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, they would need to affect more ballots in swing states than the margin between the two candidates. He called the scenario “increasingly unlikely.”

“Before [the election], I thought voters would decide this election, not the courts,” Levitt said. “And with every passing day, I think that’s more true.“

Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks soared for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, even as the unresolved election left the likelihood of another economic stimulus bill less certain than ever.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up nearly 700 points, or 2.5%, in the late morning, but pared its gains and finished 1.3% higher. It climbed 1.6% on Tuesday.

The S&P 500 finished up 2.2%. Meanwhile, a surge in technology stocks including Apple and Microsoft sent the Nasdaq composite index up nearly 4%.

Investors are hoping that Congress and the White House can agree on another stimulus bill to cushion the impact of ongoing coronavirus lockdowns, which have led to mass layoffs and business closures.

A Democratic sweep would make passing a bill easier, but a better-than-expected performance by Republicans on Tuesday means divided government may be here to stay.

“The blue wave didn’t materialize, and a status quo policy environment looks increasingly likely,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

The next few days could see considerable volatility in the markets as vote counting continues and the race for president gets decided.

"We expect markets to be especially sensitive to headlines over the next few days as investors search for clues on who could win the presidency," says Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest.

Election weeks tend to be especially volatile, Bell noted. The S&P 500 index has moved more than 2% in every presidential election week since 1992.