This article is part of Election 2020: America Votes, FP’s 24/7 coverage of the US election results as they come in, with brief dispatches from correspondents and analysts from around the world. The America Votes page is free to all readers.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden moved closer to the 270 electoral votes necessary on Wednesday to defeat President Donald Trump and become the 46th President of the United States. He regained two major Midwestern states that his party lost in 2016, Wisconsin and Michigan, late voting.
But the incumbent Trump has refused to admit, instead promoting legal challenges to vote counting in several battlefield states. And it was clear, based on polls on the exit, that the nation remains even more bitterly polarized than experts thought, which poses titanic challenges for a Biden presidency. Voters were sharply divided according to race, ethnicity and education, Perhaps even more so than in 2016. Given these divisions, a record number of Americans are believed to have voted in the presidential election, but the partisan difference is full of anger and even threats of violence.
Biden himself did not declare victory in a statement late Wednesday afternoon, but said: “I am confident that we will emerge victorious” and that “when it is done, God willing” he will only be the fourth challenger the last Century to depose an elected incumbent president. The former vice president, who when inaugurated January 20 will be the oldest sworn president at the age of 78, also alluded to the difficulties facing a possibly Republican-led Senate.
“The presidency itself is not a partisan institution,” said Biden, alluding to Trump’s turbulent, very divisive tenure, which made him the only president in the modern term who had never achieved 50 percent approval at any point in his term. “We have to stop treating our opponents as enemies,” said Biden.
But that is exactly the effort the Trump campaign has already started when it filed a complaint in Philadelphia over improper surveillance of ballot papers which Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani described as “completely illegitimate”. Speaking at a news conference, the President’s son, Eric Trump, said, “Democrats know the only way to win this election is by cheating in Pennsylvania.”
Many thousands of votes remain untold in Pennsylvania, but even as Giuliani spoke, Fox News, along with CNN Michigan, called Biden and got him up to 264 votes, according to the Fox count. Biden would then just need Nevada a state in which he leadsto overdo it even without winning Pennsylvania. However, the final number of votes remained uncertain on Wednesday evening.
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