WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (Nov 4) alleged major vote fraud, saying "frankly we did win this election", despite incomplete results from several battleground states that could determine the outcome of the US presidential race.
He said he plans to go to the US Supreme Court, adding "we want all voting to stop".
"Millions and millions of people voted for us... But a very sad group of people are trying to disenfranchise that group of people and we won't stand for it," Mr Trump said, speaking at the White House at 2.30am (3.30pm Singapore time).
Calling the results "phenomenal", he said he had been getting ready to go outside and celebrate, but that it was suddenly called off.
"We won states we didn't expect to win: Florida," he said, adding that most importantly, the Republicans are also winning Pennsylvania by a "tremendous amount".
But election results from some battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia, were still not clear and projections from major networks and Edison Research showed Mr Trump still short of the 270 electoral votes needed to win re-election.
The Associated Press said it is "not calling the presidential race yet because neither candidate has secured the 270 electoral college votes needed to claim victory".
The current results show Mr Biden has a 227-213 lead in the Electoral College. The first candidate to reach 270 will claim the presidency.
Key states won
US President Donald Trump won the key states of Texas, Florida, Ohio and Iowa, while Democrat Joe Biden took Arizona and Minnesota, the Associated Press reported.
Texas accounts for 38 Electoral College votes, Florida 29, Ohio 18, and Iowa six. Arizona holds 11 votes and Minnesota holds 10.
Texas is traditionally a staunchly Republican state but Mr Biden made major inroads in the campaign and it was thought the state could go blue for the first time since 1976. Florida is a key swing state crucial in Mr Trump's bid for re-election; he won the state only narrowly in 2016. As for Ohio, no Republican has ever won the presidency without also winning the state, which Mr Trump won by more than 8 percentage points four years ago.
In Minnesota, Mr Biden defeated Mr Trump as voters rejected the incumbent’s law-and-order pitch that was a counter to Black Lives Matter protests. Mr Trump’s campaign had targeted the traditionally Democratic state, where Mr George Floyd was killed by police in May. In Arizona, Mr Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1996. MrBiden benefited from a more diverse electorate in Arizona, which Mr Trump won by 3.5 percentage points in 2016. Mr Bill Clinton was the last Democrat to win Arizona, claiming it for his re-election.
Mr Biden called for patience on Tuesday night in an address to the nation, saying that he believed he was on track to win the election amid a tight race and early leads taken by Mr Trump in key battleground states.
“We knew because of the unprecedented mail-in vote it’s going to take a while,” he said. “It ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.”
“We knew this would go on, but who knew we would go into maybe tomorrow morning, maybe longer,” Mr Biden said as he stood beside his wife Jill on an outdoor stage in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware, half an hour past midnight.
In response, Mr Trump said he expected a “big win” and accused Democrats of trying to steal the election.
“We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter moments after Mr Biden's speech. “We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed."
Twitter quickly flagged and hid the Trump tweet, saying “some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”
Mr Trump once again defied polls and predictions, with a strong showing across the Sun Belt in early results appearing to significantly shrink Mr Biden’s path to victory.
Mr Trump’s leads in North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, and most significantly, his win in Florida, appeared to foreclose the chances of a wave election that Mr Biden could ride easily to the White House.
The president’s ability to chip away at support among Latino and black voters – while encouraging more of his white, rural base to come out to the polls – denied Democrats hope that the coronavirus pandemic and president’s sagging approval ratings could make for an early night.
There are still ways for Mr Biden to win – principally by reclaiming the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that have been the centrepiece of his campaign. His victory in Arizona could provide the former vice-president with crucial breathing room and tilt the contest back in his favour.
Still, Mr Trump’s allies appeared increasingly bullish as results came in on Tuesday night. The president’s strategy of aggressive campaigning and outreach to minority communities paid early dividends, particularly in Florida. One Trump campaign official speaking on the condition of anonymity said that so far, the model came out right for how the races would break and they were feeling good about the night.
“It’s happening,” tweeted Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller.
For many Democrats, Tuesday night echoed election night in 2016, when what appeared to be a solid advantage for Mrs Hillary Clinton quickly evaporated as vote totals came in.
Early returns also provided promising signs for Senate Republicans, who entered the night concerned they could lose their majority. But despite the quick defeat of Mr Cory Gardner in Colorado, Mr Lindsey Graham in South Carolina won his race and Mr Thom Tillis in North Carolina was leading, making it increasingly unlikely that Democrats would gain control of the upper chamber.
Mr Biden will need to do substantially better among key demographics in Northern states than he managed in the South, where he appeared to lose ground among the suburban and black voters he hoped would propel him to the White House.
And his hopes may hinge on states like Pennsylvania where the vote is expected to take days to be tabulated, with the president’s campaign already pledging aggressive legal battles.
A prolonged fight – particularly if the president is seen to have the momentum – could prove fatal to Mr Biden’s chances, particularly in a federal judiciary that Mr Trump has reshaped with loyalists during his first term.
When the projections first started coming out, Mr Biden scored early wins in traditionally Democratic states while Mr Trump won Republican strongholds.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, was re-elected, the AP said. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, was re-elected, and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, defeated Senator Cory Gardner. Senator Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat, was defeated by Republican Tommy Tuberville.
The odds of a second Trump presidency were trading at more than 79 per cent on the Betfair exchange, and US equity tech futures surged more than 3.5 per cent as investors speculated that they may avoid a contested election.
Officials tally votes
Mr Trump and Mr Biden have little more to do than wait as officials tally the votes, including millions of pivotal mail-in ballots that could take days to count. Some Trump supporters posted on Twitter that they were headed to the White House for an election-night party.
A final outcome in the race may not be known until much later in the night, or possibly in days or weeks, if vote counts are close.
Almost 100 million voters had already cast their votes before Election Day by mail or in person through early voting, more than 70 per cent of the total in 2016. That election had set the current record of 139 million people voting.
Some 240 million Americans are eligible to vote this year, out of a population of about 330 million.
According to the United States Election Project, 2020 votes have already exceeded 2016 votes in Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Texas and Washington State.
Candidates project confidence
Both Mr Trump and Mr Biden said earlier they were confident of their chances.
Mr Trump said there were good signs for his campaign in the toss-up states of Florida, Arizona and Texas, while Mr Biden separately said likewise of turnout in Georgia and Florida.
"What I'm hearing is that there's overwhelming turnout. And overwhelming turnout particularly of young people, of women, and an overwhelming turnout of African American voters over the age of 65 in places like Georgia and Florida," Mr Biden told reporters in between campaign events.
Mr Trump again sought to undermine the legitimacy of ballots counted after Election Day, despite it being a long-established practice in the US and a Supreme Court ruling last week that allowed doing so in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
"You have to have a date, and the date happens to be November 3. And we should be entitled to know who won on November 3," said Mr Trump on a visit to Republican National Committee offices in Virginia.
Asked if he would declare victory if early numbers showed him ahead, as the Axios news outlet reported over the weekend, Mr Trump told Fox in a morning interview: "I think we will have victory. But only when there is victory. You know, there is no reason to play games."
Mr Biden, when asked what he would do if Mr Trump claimed victory early, said: "Presidents don't decide what votes are counted and not counted. Voters determine who's president. No matter what he does, no matter what he says, the votes are going to be counted."
He added: "His talk about there being disruptions and things like that, he's embarrassing Republicans."
Mr Biden started his day attending a mass service in a church near his home in Wilmington, Delaware, after which he visited his family's plot in the church cemetary, where the graves of his son Beau, first wife Neilia and daughter Naomi are.
He then travelled to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he lived until he was 10. Mr Biden visited his childhood home, where he wrote a message on the wall of the living room: "From this house to the White House with the grace of God."
Mr Trump plans to be in the White House. The President said he did not have an acceptance or concession speech prepared, adding: "You know, winning is easy. Losing is never easy, not for me it's not."
Additional reporting by Bloomberg, AFP
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