President Donald Trump falsely claimed victory over Democratic rival Joe Biden on Wednesday with millions of votes still uncounted in a White House race that will not be decided until tallying is completed over the coming hours or days.
By early Wednesday, the race was down to a handful of states, and both Trump, 74 and Biden, 77, had possible paths to reach the needed 270 Electoral College votes to win the White House.
Shortly after Biden said he was confident of winning the contest once the votes are counted, Trump appeared at the White House to declare victory and said his lawyers would be taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, without specifying what they would claim.
“We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said. “This is a major fraud on our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.” He provided no evidence to back up his claim of fraud.
Polls have closed and voting has stopped across the country, but election laws in U.S. states require all votes to be counted, and many states routinely take days to finish counting ballots. More votes stood to be counted this year than in the past as people voted early by mail and in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden is pinning his hopes on the so-called “blue wall” states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that sent Trump to the White House in 2016, although they could take hours or days to finish counting. Biden has a narrow lead in Wisconsin while Trump is ahead in Michigan and Pennsylvania, with more mail-in ballots that are likely to lean Democatic still to be tallied.
Winning those three states would be enough to give Biden victory. Fox News projected Biden would win Arizona, another state that voted for Trump in 2016, giving him more options.
Even without Pennsylvania, Biden victories in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, along with his projected win in a congressional district in Nebraska, which apportions electoral votes by district, would put him in the White House, as long as he also holds Nevada, where he leads.
Trump said he still believes he can win Arizona, and is counting on victories in at least two of the three “blue wall” states.
Earlier in the evening, Trump won the battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and Texas, dashing Biden’s hopes for a decisive early victory, but Biden said he was confident he was on track to winning by taking three key Rust Belt states.
“We feel good about where we are,” Biden said in his home state of Delaware, shouting over a din of supporters in cars honking their horns in approval. “We believe we’re on track to win this election.”
Biden leads 224 to 213 over Trump in the Electoral College vote count, according to Edison Research.
Trump leads in Georgia and North Carolina, states he carried in 2016, but votes are still being counted in both.
“The president’s statement tonight about trying to shut down the counting of duly cast ballots was outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect,” Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement.
Global stocks gyrated in early trade as results streamed in, with a final call now seen unlikely for days and the outcome raising the potential for gridlock that complicates the chance of a quick U.S. government spending boost to counter the effects of the pandemic.