This article is part of our special report US Election Special 2020: What to watch and why it matters.
This article was updated with Trump comments and refreshed numbers.
No clear winner emerged in the US presidential election as of Tuesday night (Wednesday morning in Europe) as incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic contender Joe Biden each secured several important states in early results.
As results trickled in from around the country, and the world waited with bated breath, Biden led Trump by 238 to 213 electoral votes in the early hours on Wednesday, with key battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan still outstanding and not expected to report their tallies overnight. Both still remain far below the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
Biden’s successes were mostly concentrated in typically Democratic-leaning states, with his hopes for a decisive early defeat of Trump fading as the president took solid leads in Florida, Ohio and Texas.
Most swing states remain close in the race for the White House, which analysts predict could come down to the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
In the upper Midwest (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin), mail-in ballots were not processed until Election Day (3 November). Winning those states would be enough to give Biden an Electoral College victory.
The polls have so far seen few disruptions, either digital or physical. However, fears of unrest continue to simmer as the vote count drags on, with Trump supporters having threatened violence ahead of the polls.
Trump sought again on Tuesday to sow doubt over the counting of ballots beyond election day, saying the country was “entitled” to know who won on the day of the vote.
“You have to have a date, and the date happens to be November 3,” he said during a visit to Republican National Committee offices in Arlington, Virginia. “And we should be entitled to know who won on November 3.”
While race remains too close to call, President Trump claimed that he was the winner early on Wednesday morning and that would go to court to prevent the votes from being counted.
In a speech to supporters, he said he’ll go to Supreme Court and said the vote should stop so that “ballots are not discovered somewhere”. US media, however, cautioned that it is “unclear why” the president would do this.
Meanwhile, in a statement to supporters in Delaware, Biden said his campaign “feels good” where they are and believes they are “on track to win this election.”
“We are going to have to be patient and wait until every vote is counted. It ain’t over until every ballot is counted,” Biden said.
Coming down to swing states
With more than 100 million people voting before election day, the US is on track to break records for voter turnout in a presidential election.
Despite a comfortable lead for Biden in the national polls ahead of the election, a landslide victory has not occurred for the Democrat, particularly in the crucial swing states necessary to win the election.
Both candidates were so far able to secure the largely predictable states, as each triumphed in those won by their party’s candidate in 2016.
Trump has won Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Wyoming, West Virginia, South Carolina, Idaho, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Iowa Montana, and 3 districts in Nebraska.
Biden has sealed Arizona, Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, California, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, Delaware and Connecticut, as well as the District of Columbia
Florida, a state most observers believe Trump needs to win to have a chance at reelection, went his way, winning 51% to 48%. The president did surprisingly well there, particularly in districts with a large Latino population according to report in the US media.
The swing states of Georgia and North Carolina also are currently leaning the president’s way, but the tallies remain close.
Particularly in Georgia, key Democratic districts have not yet released their results. Fulton County, the Democrat-leaning district that includes Atlanta, has stopped counting their ballots until 8AM EST, (2 pm Central European Time) which will likely delay final results for the entire state.
There are other states that are traditional Republican strongholds that remain too close to call.
Key among those is Texas, which is usually called for Republicans as soon as polls close. Early on Wednesday morning, the state remains too close to call.
Biden’s team, however, maintains that there are other paths to victory.
There are other states that could give Biden an advantage relative to 2016. The key state that is giving the Democrats hope is Arizona, where Biden maintains a seven-point advantage over Trump.
Additionally, results in the Democrat-leaning cities in these states will come later. This could mean that initial counts show a lead for Trump that could disappear as more votes are counted.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]