In a race without a clear winner well into early Wednesday morning, the bid for the presidency hinges on a handful of battleground states still counting votes in a process that could take days to tally the remaining, decisive votes.
Still, that didn’t stop President Donald J. Trump from attempting to declare a victory. To be clear, no winner was identified by the time he made his post-election speech shortly before midnight. Even Fox News, Trump’s mainstream media favorite, had the president trailing by 25 electoral votes when he took to the stage.
He proceeded to make a series of false claims about the results of several states.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also spoke to supporters late Tuesday, but the tone of his speech was markedly different than Trump’s. Biden stressed a need for patience, though he did say:
“We feel good about where we are. We really do. I believe tonight we’re on track to win this election.”
He did not, however, claim any wins that were not clearly called by the night’s end. In a Twitter post, Biden added:
“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare the winner of this election.”
As votes continued to be counted into Wednesday morning, key battlegrounds teetered between red and blue. Wisconsin flipped to Biden in the pre-dawn hours after Milwaukee County reported results for more than 100,000 early ballots. Results trickled in from Pennsylvania and Michigan, trimming Trump leads in both states with hundreds of thousands of ballots remaining to be counted. And Biden leads in Arizona and Nevada narrowed before counts halted until the morning in both western states.
In Georgia, where a water main break disrupted the count Tuesday night, Trump’s lead stood at less than 104,000 votes, less than two points. A similar story remained in North Carolina, where fewer than 80,000 votes and a single percentage point separated the candidates with about 5 percent of statewide votes not yet counted.
Trump had taken a seven-point lead in Michigan with 72 percent of precincts in, yet the lead had shriveled to less than 30,000 votes by 5:30 a.m. PDT.
Alaska was last to start reporting and while it was tilting toward Trump significantly with about 31 percent of the precincts, mail-in ballots will be counted at all for about one week.
The presidential election results were still entirely too shaky very early Tuesday for either to claim victory or concede, though Trump has made it clear he will litigate results and attempt to stop the counting process. His campaign has recently lost election court battles aimed at tossing votes and cutting off mail-in ballot acceptance dates.