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.
With voting in the final stages in five major swing states in the country, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden appears to be in a strong position to win the presidency – although it could take a day or more to make a final call .
Biden prevailed in Pennsylvania on Friday, where victory would get him over the 270-vote threshold required to win the White House. He also has a narrow head start in Georgia, a state no Democratic presidential candidate has won in nearly 30 years, despite election officials saying Friday that the race would lead to a recount.
If Biden’s leads persist in the four hotly contested states where he has a slight lead – including Arizona and Nevada – while the votes continue to be counted, he could ultimately get 306 electoral votes and a statewide advantage of more than 4 million votes. But more than 100,000 provisional ballots in Pennsylvania, which apparently broke against President Donald Trump and left him a small chance of victory there, have prevented news outlets from calling the race.
Trump was harshly condemned by members of Congress – even from some of his own party – for promoting sanctity after a caustic speech Thursday night in which he falsely accused Democrats of committing massive postal ballot fraud to steal elections had undermined the elections.
Trump’s election campaign made a defiant statement Friday morning insisting that there is still a way to re-election. “This election is not over yet. The false prognosis of Joe Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final, ”said Matt Morgan, General Counsel of the Trump campaign. He cited allegations that ballots were not properly harvested in the remaining swing states, but did not provide evidence to support these claims. “[O]Once the election is final, President Trump will be re-elected, ”he said.
Trump has repeatedly refused to say whether he would peacefully transfer power if defeated. However, the Biden campaign said there was no way Trump could cling to power once the results were confirmed. “[T]The United States government is perfectly capable of escorting intruders from the White House, ”said campaign spokesman Andrew Bates on Friday.
Since election night on Tuesday, Trump has repeatedly urged election officials to stop counting ballots, but legal challenges in several swing states appear to have stalled. Some are still ongoing. Trump’s closest allies predicted he would continue to disapprove of the outcome of the race – even if major news outlets call the poll for Biden. NBC’s Hallie Jackson reported Friday that Trump was in a “fighting mood” and would take that fight to the Supreme Court, although it is unclear whether he will have a legal basis for a Supreme Court hearing.
Trump’s unwillingness to admit will make the transition to Inauguration Day in January extremely difficult. He supposedly wants keep going with the firing of senior administrative officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and CIA Director Gina Haspel, who are not considered sufficiently loyal to the President. Esper, whose relationship with Trump has been cooling in the past few months According to reports has already written his resignation letter asking to leave the Pentagon. Trump could also issue a number of executive orders to try to cement his legacy – although these could be overturned by a Biden administration.
Biden stayed in Pennsylvania for most of the early returns after Tuesday, but his advantage in the state was evident when postal ballots from Philadelphia and other urban areas were eventually counted. Pennsylvania hadn’t conducted a mail-in vote on this scale prior to the coronavirus pandemic and was not legally allowed to begin counting early votes until election day.
Even before the results were announced, Biden and his Vice President Kamala Harris were beginning to move closer to a presidential transition. On Thursday they attended briefings, launched a transitional website and had a “national defense airspace” built over Biden’s home in Wilmington. Delaware to restrict flights.