Tight U.S. presidential vote means winner might not be known for days

The latest:

  • Electoral college tally stands at 224 for Biden, 213 for Trump, with many states still to be called.
  • Trump says he will win the election, despite ongoing vote counts in several states, and neither candidate reaching the required 270 electoral college votes.
  • Biden campaign calls Trump’s claims ‘outrageous, unprecedented and incorrect.’
  • Tight races still too close to call in battlegrounds Georgia and Michigan.
  • Get all the U.S. election results as they come in.
  • How the electoral college determines who wins the U.S. presidency.
  • What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.

The U.S. presidential election count continued into Wednesday morning with no clear winner emerging, despite Donald Trump declaring early Wednesday that he will ultimately win.

The U.S. president said he would take the election to the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the counting despite potentially millions of outstanding votes in several swing states still not counted. It was unclear exactly what legal action he might try to pursue.

“This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump told supporters in the East Room of the White House. “This is an embarrassment to our country. Frankly, we did win this election.”

The election has not been called for either Trump or his Democratic rival, Joe Biden. The electoral college count stands at 224 votes for Biden and 213 for Trump, with Hawaii’s four votes going to the Democrat. You can find full results from CBC here (note: CBC’s electoral college tally also shows states where candidates are leading).

“We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Trump declared. “We want all voting to stop.”

In fact, there is no more voting — just ballot counting.

Trump also accused Democrats without evidence of trying to “disenfranchise” Republican voters. “We were getting ready for a big celebration,” he said to a room full of 200 supporters. “The results tonight have been phenomenal.”

WATCH | ‘We did win this election,’ Trump tells supporters:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said as far as he’s concerned he and the Republican Party have won the U.S. election. He said he will go to the U.S. Supreme Court and wants voting to stop. However, several states are still counting votes that have already been cast. 1:12

Trump claimed prematurely to be winning in several states that have not been called — including Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Biden’s campaign responded to Trump’s claims, calling them “outrageous, unprecedented and incorrect.”

“The counting will not stop. It will continue until every duly cast vote is counted. Because that is what our laws — the laws that protect every Americans’ constitutional right to vote — require,” Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “Donald Trump does not decide the outcome of this election. Joe Biden does not decide the outcome of this election. The American people decide the outcome of this election. And the democratic process must and will continue until its conclusion.

“If the president makes good on his threat to go to court to try to prevent the proper tabulation of votes, we have legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort. And they will prevail.”

WATCH | Politics professor calls situation ‘a full-blown constitutional crisis’:

Scott Lucas, American politics professor at the University of Birmingham, called Donald Trump’s claim that he has won the U.S. election ‘false’ and explained why he sees this as a ‘constitutional crisis.’ 1:56

Georgia count delayed

It is unclear exactly what legal action Trump might try to pursue. Several states allow mailed-in votes to be accepted after election day as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. That includes Pennsylvania, where ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can be accepted if they arrive up to three days after the election.

In Georgia, the count was stalled early Wednesday with the race too tight to call. Officials in Fulton County, home to Atlanta and a tenth of all Georgians, warned that its vote count would not be finalized until later in the day after a burst pipe delayed absentee-by-mail ballot processing for at least two hours, according to local reports.

WATCH | Howard University professor concerned about potential Trump win:

Professor Ravi Perry of Howard University says that as a Black, gay man he’s ‘quite distressed’ over the possibility of a second term for U.S. President Donald Trump. 1:30

The tight overall contest reflected a deeply polarized nation struggling to respond to the worst health crisis in more than a century, with millions of lost jobs, and a reckoning on racial injustice. Trump and Biden have spent the better part of this year in a heated fight over how to confront those challenges, and each has argued in apocalyptic terms that his opponent would set the country on a devastating path.

Nevada, meanwhile, will not resume counting votes until Thursday at noon ET, according to Edison Research.

Predictable states and some surprises

Trump carried Florida — possibly the country’s most prized battleground state — and kept several other key states, including Texas, Iowa and Ohio, where Biden had made a strong play in the final stages of the campaign.

WATCH | Trump supporters celebrate in Miami’s Little Havana neighbourhood:

Trump supporters began early celebrations in Miami’s Little Havana neighbourhood following a Florida win, despite final presidential election results still being unknown 1:07

Both candidates picked up some predictable victories:

Trump took Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Missouri, Wyoming, Mississippi, Idaho, Iowa, Montana and Kansas.

Biden won Vermont, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Illinois, Colorado, Virginia, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and California.  

Four of Nebraska’s five electoral votes went to the president, while Biden won one electoral vote from the state. In 2016, Trump won all five of Nebraska’s electoral votes.

Races in other swing states remained too close to call, namely, those in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, all crucial to determining who wins the White House.

“I love Texas! I’m moving to Texas,” Trump supporter Angie Baskette said after the state was called for the Republican. She was one of about 50 Trump supporters gathered at a small Italian restaurant in Alexandria, Va., for an election night party.

Baskette, a defence contractor, said regardless of the final result, she will take it in stride. “If he loses, life will go on,” she said of Trump. “We are going to go to bed, wake up in the morning, go to work. I’m not going to go out and storm the city and burn it down.”

‘Keep the faith,’ Biden tells supporters

Biden entered the night with two paths: winning back the states Hillary Clinton lost in the Midwest in 2016 or winning states in the South and southeast, some of which haven’t voted Democratic for decades.

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump speak while looking at a phone as election results continue to roll in. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

“With Trump holding on to North Carolina and Florida, that leaves the election to be decided in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania,” said CBC polls analyst Éric Grenier — a situation that will play out over the coming days. 

“The delay in counting the votes in Michigan and Wisconsin could push results in the two states until Wednesday morning, while the outcome in Pennsylvania might not be known before the end of the week,” Grenier said.

WATCH | CBC’s Ellen Mauro discusses Trump’s early claim:

Donald Trump has already said he will win the 2020 U.S. presidential election, but the CBC’s Ellen Mauro explains why it’s too early to make a call.  5:37

Despite the narrowing path, Biden said he remained optimistic. The first of the candidates to make a public statement after polls closed, Biden came out about two hours before Trump and told supporters the election would not be decided early Wednesday and would not be final until every vote was counted.

He zeroed in on Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which he said he would win. 

“Keep the faith, guys,” he said to gathered supporters in a parking lot in Wilmington, Del. “We’re gonna win this!” 

WATCH | Biden tells his supporters he still feels good: 

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke to a crowd at a drive-in rally in Wilmington, Del., where he said he believes he and his party are on track to win the election. 0:59

Trump almost immediately tweeted after Biden spoke that he, too, would be coming out to make a statement, referring to “a big win,” despite the fact there is no declared winner yet. He also tweeted that Democrats were trying to steal the election, which Twitter promptly labelled as being disputed and possibly misleading. 

For weeks, Trump has been telling his supporters the race must be decided on election night, and that any votes counted afterwards would be an opportunity for cheating and for Democrats to steal the election. 

Historically high mail-in votes slow ballot counting

Millions of voters put aside worries about the virus — and some long lines — to turn out in person, joining 102 million fellow Americans who voted days or weeks earlier, a record number that represented 73 per cent of the total vote in the 2016 presidential election.

Early results in several key battleground states were in flux as election officials processed the mail-in votes. Democrats typically outperform Republicans in mail voting, while the Republicans looked to make up ground in election day turnout. That means the early margins between the candidates could be influenced by which type of votes — early or election day — were being reported by the states.

Angie Baskette was celebrating Trump’s early showing Tuesday night, but said no matter the winner, she would take the result in stride. (Mark Gollom/CBC)

The closing of the polls began to draw to an end a campaign that was reshaped by the coronavirus and marked by contentiousness. Each candidate declared the other fundamentally unfit to lead a nation grappling with COVID-19, which has killed more than 230,000 Americans, cost millions of jobs and rewritten the norms of everyday life.

Biden entered election day with multiple paths to victory while Trump, playing catch-up in a number of battleground states, had a narrower but still feasible road to clinch 270 electoral college votes.

Senate also up in the air

Control of the Senate was at stake, too: Democrats needed to net three seats if Biden captured the White House to gain control of all of Washington for the first time in a decade. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky won re-election in an early victory for the Republicans, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, fought off a fierce challenge to hang on to his seat. The House was expected to remain under Democratic control.

The momentum from early voting carried into election day, as an energized electorate produced long lines at polling sites throughout the country. Turnout was higher than in 2016 in numerous counties, including all of Florida, nearly every county in North Carolina and more than 100 counties in both Georgia and Texas. That tally seemed sure to increase as more counties reported their turnout figures.

No major problems were reported during voting, and fears of large-scale voter intimidation or harassment had not materialized by the end of the day. 

WATCH | Mail-in ballots were only counted in Pennsylvania beginning Tuesday:

A large vote-counting operation has been set up at the Philadelphia Convention Center to count mail-in ballots. Machines called extractors separate the ballot from the main envelope and the security envelope and then the ballots are scanned. They can scan 30,000 an hour. 0:40