WASHINGTON – The United States was left on a knife edge after an intense election with record voter turnout yielded no clear outcome, and hinges on the counting of a few hundred thousand ballots in a handful of key states.
Six key states remained undeclared at press time, past midnight in Singapore.
President Donald Trump, whose showing surpassed pollsters’ forecasts, was leading in Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden was leading in Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada. US networks projected Mr Biden as the victor in Arizona but the Trump campaign insisted they would retain the state Mr Trump took in 2016.
Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania still have tens of thousands – in Pennsylvania the number is over 600,000 – mail-in ballots left to count. While Michigan’s count could be known by this morning in Asia, Nevada’s count may take several days, reports said.
That is, if they are not also subjected to litigation. In a statement while the count was still on earlier in the day, President Donald Trump alleged fraud, saying “We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win the election.”
“This is a fraud on the American public,” he said. “This is an embarrassment to our country.”
The President suggested he wants to see ballot counting stop in Pennsylvania and Georgia, leading to speculation that the Republican Party may take legal action to do that.
Mr Trump’s comments came soon after a brief statement in Wilmington, Delaware by his Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden, who, speaking at a big parking lot with the audience in their cars honking in appreciation, said “We feel good about where we are. We really do.”
“I’m here tonight to tell you we’re on track to win this election” he said. “I’m optimistic about the outcome.”
“It may take a little longer,” he added. “As I’ve said all along, it’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who won this election. That’s the decision of the American people.”
He called Mr Trump’s claim of victory and fraud allegations “outrageous”.
But with both candidates needing more than one or two states to reach the winning number of 270 electoral college votes, the outcome of the election may not be known for another day or more.
Most pre-election surveys had predicted a landslide for Mr Biden. Instead, he finds himself in a dogfight, with outcome unclear.
According to the latest Associated Press count, Mr Biden had 238 Electoral College votes in his bank, and the President had 213.
Mr Trump was leading in Georgia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina and slightly behind Mr Biden in Michigan. Winning these four would put him over 270. But the mail-in ballots especially in Pennsylvania, favour Mr Biden.
“Biden’s path to 270 is to win Nevada, Michigan, and Wisconsin,” the Cook Political Report said in a Wednesday morning note. “Trump will need to win Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.”
Democrats remain bullish on the three “Blue Wall” states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin based on the fact that so many of their votes have come in early and are still being counted.
Democrat hopes to flip at least two Senate seats were belied. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was projected to retain Kentucky.
And Republican Senator Lindsey Graham retained his seat in South Carolina.
But the Democrats gained one Senate seat in Arizona when Mr Mark Kelly defeated Republican Senator Martha McSally.