A tense US presidential election was still undecided on Wednesday, even as Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s path to the White House became clearer with projected wins in battlegrounds Wisconsin and Michigan.
Biden expressed confidence in winning the race, while President Donald Trump claimed victories in several swing states that were either called for Biden, or which have not yet been called, and his campaign is seeking to challenge the results in court.
“It’s clear that we’re winning enough states to reach 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency,” Biden said in Delaware while stressing that he is not yet claiming victory.
“When the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners.”
The Democrat insisted “every vote must be counted” and that no one can simply seize a win by making declarations, a dig at Trump.
The key swing states of Wisconsin, with 10 electoral votes, and later Michigan, with 16, were called for Biden by networks on Wednesday afternoon. He is also ahead in Nevada by a slim margin, where voters are still anxiously awaiting results from Nevada possibly later in the day.
If Biden can hold Michigan and Wisconsin he only needs one more state to win a majority of the Electoral College, giving him the presidency.
Trump on the other hand is increasingly facing an uphill battle and enters a situation where nearly every remaining state is a must-win.
Trump issued a tweet claiming victory in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina, which are all still up in the air. He also appeared to be laying a claim to Michigan.
Twitter flagged the content of the tweet as disputed or potentially misleading, the latest social media post from Trump to face warning labels.
Trump’s legal team has mounted challenges in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, indicating that his campaign has no plan to concede in the near term.
In Pennsylvania, a populous state that could end up the decisive one, one lawsuit launched by Trump’s campaign seeks to temporarily halt ballot counting in the state.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf earlier said the state’s outcome might not be known on Wednesday as “millions of mail-in ballots” were still being counted.
“We may not know the results even today, but the most important thing is that we have accurate results, even if that takes a little longer than we’re used to,” Wolf, a Democrat, told a press conference.
It remains unclear who will win the state when all of the votes are tallied. Many Republicans chose to vote in-person, while Democrats embraced mail-in ballots which have yet to be fully counted.
Early leads can often be reduced or overturned, depending on which counties in any state report first and how postal ballots are tallied.
Earlier, Trump claimed without evidence that a lead he claimed he had in several key states had “magically” disappeared overnight.
“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key states, in almost all instances Democrat-run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted,” he tweeted, in another post flagged by Twitter.
In an overnight speech, Trump said – again without offering proof – that there was “major fraud” underway and threatened to take the fight for the election to the courts.
At around the same as Trump tweeted, Biden urged patience, writing on Twitter: “We won’t rest until everyone’s vote is counted.”
Turnout this year, as a percentage, has been higher than any other election since 1900.
In his early-morning speech, Trump threatened to turn to the Supreme Court and said he wanted “all voting to stop,” but it was not clear exactly what he hoped to accomplish.
States run elections and Trump would have to first go through lower-level courts.
Biden’s team said it had lawyers ready to fight back.
Both candidates’ campaigns were asking supporters for money to fund the legal battles, with Biden saying he was “setting up the largest election protection effort ever assembled.”
The Democratic nominee has kept his cool throughout the nail-biter of an election while Trump has thrown the country into a state of uncertainty by appearing to declare himself the victor.
In stark contrast to the tone struck by Trump, Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, on Wednesday said the election result had not been decided.
“We are awaiting the judgement of the American people,” McConnell told reporters in his home state of Kentucky.
McConnell, who won re-election, said it was also unclear if his party would maintain its majority in the upper chamber of Congress, though Republicans beat back Democrats in key Senate races.
The Democrats maintained their majority in the House of Representatives.