Biden, Trump locked in tight race as uncounted votes remain

The New York Times

Posted at Nov 04 2020 10:15 PM | Updated as of Nov 05 2020 05:11 AM

Biden, Trump locked in tight race as uncounted votes remain 1
A news report of the US presidential election is seen on television screen in Hong Kong, China on November 4, 2020. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

US President Donald Trump won a series of key battlegrounds early Wednesday morning, including Florida, Ohio and Iowa, as Joe Biden expressed confidence he would ultimately prevail across key Northern states and Arizona as the presidential contest turned into a state-by-state slog that could drag deeper into the week.

“We believe we are on track to win this election,” Biden said in a brief speech after 12:30 a.m. Eastern, saying he was “optimistic” about the outcome once all the votes were counted.

No full states had yet flipped from their 2016 results as of 1 a.m., but several key states had huge portions of ballots still to be counted. Biden did flip a single Electoral College vote that Trump had won in 2016, carrying Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Omaha.

With millions of legitimate votes still waiting to be counted, Trump prematurely and recklessly declared that “frankly we did win this election” from the White House. He pressed for more vote counting in Arizona, where he is behind, and called to stop the count where he is ahead as he baselessly declared the election “a fraud on the American public.”

So far, Trump was holding off Biden in two Southern states that the former vice president had hoped to snatch back from the Republican column: Georgia and North Carolina. These were not must-win states for Biden, but he spent heavily in both states and visited them in the final stretch of the campaign. Biden lost Texas, a long-shot hope that some Democrats invested in late in hopes of earning a landslide repudiation of Trump that did not arrive.

Georgia has not gone Democratic since 1992. But while Trump held a narrow lead, much of the remaining vote to be counted appeared to be in the Atlanta area, where Biden performed strongest.

Shortly after Biden spoke, Trump responded on Twitter, misleadingly saying he was “up big” and claiming without evidence that “they are trying to STEAL the election.” Twitter immediately marked it as content that was “disputed and might be misleading.”

The most encouraging sign on the map for Biden was in Arizona, where he was leading in a state that Trump won in 2016. He won New Hampshire and Minnesota, two states that Hillary Clinton had only narrowly carried four years ago and that Trump had once hoped to flip in 2020.

“We’re going to win this,” Biden said, urging “patience.”

Biden’s win in Nebraska’s 2nd District was only one of the 270 Electoral College votes that he needs. But it could prove important. It opened a potential pathway to the White House without winning Pennsylvania, if Biden carried all the states that Clinton did and added Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin, plus Nebraska’s lone vote.

In a briefing for donors Tuesday night, Biden campaign officials acknowledged underperforming among Cuban Americans in the Miami area, but saw positive signs with their strength in some suburbs in Ohio that they said could be predictive across the Midwest, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Campaign officials signaled that Biden’s team was preparing to wait for votes to be counted in three Northern battlegrounds that Trump carried in 2016 — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — where it still feels bullish.

North Carolina and Arizona could still be called relatively quickly. But vote-counting in the so-called former “blue wall” that Trump flipped in 2016 — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — was not expected to be completed until later in the week.

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Democrats’ path to Senate control narrows 

Democrats’ path to seizing the Senate was narrowing early Wednesday as the two parties continued to fight to control the upper chamber in close contests across the country.

Democrats early in the night won a critical seat, with former Gov. John Hickenlooper defeating Sen. Cory Gardner in the high-profile fight for Colorado’s Senate seat, and early returns in Arizona showed Sen. Martha McSally badly trailing Mark Kelly, a former astronaut. Those victories were essential to Democrats’ push to take the Senate majority.

In Georgia, the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, a Democrat, advanced to a runoff election against Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Republican incumbent. The other race in the state, between Jon Ossoff, the Democratic challenger, and Sen. David Perdue, a Republican, was too close to call.

But Republicans across the country were successful in holding off well-funded Democratic challengers. In Iowa, Sen. Joni Ernst defeated Theresa Greenfield, a businesswoman who had styled herself as a “scrappy farm kid.” In South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, hung onto his seat, fending off the toughest challenge of his political career from Jaime Harrison, a Black Democrat whose upstart campaign electrified progressives across the country and inspired a record-setting onslaught of campaign cash.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, also defeated a challenge from M.J. Hegar, a former Air Force pilot who Democrats hoped could have an outside chance of winning in the rapidly changing state. In Kentucky, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, easily won reelection, defeating Amy McGrath, a Democrat who struggled to gain ground despite an outpouring of financial support from her party’s supporters around the nation. And Republicans succeeded in ousting Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., who came to power in a 2017 special election against Roy Moore, who was accused of sexually assaulting and pursuing teenage girls.

And early returns showed Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., with a lead over his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, in a seat that strategists in both parties identified as a possible tipping point.

There were still several crucial Senate races that were not yet called that Democrats hope to win, including Maine and Montana.