US election: Joe Biden is still at the top

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The excruciatingly close U.S. presidential election hung in the balance yesterday with Democrat Joe Biden leading in two critical Midwestern states that could tip the contest in his favor even as President Donald Trump falsely claimed victory and made unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud.

Biden extended his narrow lead in Michigan while maintaining a slight edge in Wisconsin on Wednesday, according to Edison Research.

The Republican president won the two pivotal battleground states in 2016. Michigan officials continued to count mail-in ballots that surged amid the coronavirus pandemic. Wisconsin officials said they concluded their counting, but a winner had yet to be declared.

Together with Nevada, another state where Biden held a small advantage with votes still left to be tallied; those states would deliver Biden the 270 votes needed in the state-by-state Electoral College to win the White House.

But Trump still had a path to victory with those states officially undecided. In dueling conference calls with reporters, officials from each campaign insisted their candidate would prevail.

“If we count all legal ballots, we win,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said, potentially setting the stage for post-election litigation over the counting of mail-in ballots.

Biden campaign manager Jennifer O’Malley Dillon told reporters the former vice president was on track to win the election, while senior legal adviser Bob Bauer said there were no grounds for Trump to invalidate lawfully cast ballots.

As at the time of going to press, Biden leads 238 to 214 over Trump in the Electoral College vote count, according to Edison Research, aiming to reach the needed 270 electoral votes, which are based in part on a state’s population. Here is the state of play in seven battleground state as of 1:45 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.

ARIZONA: Electoral votes: 11

Biden leads Trump, 51.0 percent to 47.6 percent, with 86 percent of the estimated vote in. Counties with critical votes still to be counted include Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and where Biden is ahead. Officials have said they expect to finish counting ballots today.

GEORGIA: Electoral votes: 16

Trump leads Biden, 50.3 percent to 48.5 percent, with 93 percent of the estimated vote in. Most of the votes yet to be counted are in DeKalb County and other counties in the suburbs of Atlanta that have been breaking heavily for Biden.

Mr. Biden would need almost two-thirds of the remaining vote to carry the state.

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The Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, said in a television interview that he expected the count to be done by the end of the day.

MICHIGAN: Electoral votes: 16

Biden leads Trump, 49.6 percent to 48.7 percent, with 94 percent of the estimated vote in.

Nearly a quarter of the vote in Wayne County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Detroit, has yet to be counted, and Biden was closing the gap in Kent County, which includes Grand Rapids, with more than 15 percent of votes outstanding.

The secretary of state said last night that she expected to have “a very clear picture, if not a final picture” of the results by tonight.

NEVADA: Electoral votes: 6

Biden leads Trump, 49.3 percent to 48.7 percent, with 86 percent of the estimated vote in. All of the Election Day vote has been counted, and now only Democratic-leaning late mail and provisional ballots remain. The secretary of state says the next update will come at around 12 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday.

NORTH CAROLINA: Electoral votes: 15

Trump leads Biden, 50.1 percent to 48.7 percent, with 95 percent of the estimated vote in. With most votes now tabulated, Biden would need to win about two-thirds of the remainder to pull ahead.

PENNSYLVANIA: Electoral votes: 20

Trump leads Biden, 53.4 percent to 45.3 percent, with 80 percent of the estimated vote in. An analysis by The Times’s Upshot finds that the remaining vote appears to be overwhelmingly for Biden. Only 19 of 67 counties have their reported absentee votes.

The populous counties where the largest portion of the votes have yet to be counted include Philadelphia, where Biden leads by 56 percentage points, and Allegheny, which Biden leads by nine percentage points and which includes Pittsburgh. Biden needs to win more than two-thirds of the remaining votes to win the state.

WISCONSIN: Electoral votes:10

Biden leads Trump, 49.4 percent to 48.8 percent, with more than 98 percent of the estimated vote in. Wisconsin election officials said they had finished counting all but a few votes and that Biden led by more than 20,000 votes.

Democrats falling short Senate race

A Democratic drive to win control of the U.S. Senate appeared to fall short, with Democrats picking up only one Republican-held seat while six other races remained undecided early on Wednesday.

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