Trump takes Florida, Ohio, but other swing states still too close to call

The latest:

  • Tight races underway in battlegrounds Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Texas.
  • Electoral college stands at 205 for Biden, 162 for Trump, with many states still to be called.
  • Trump takes states including Ohio, Idaho, Ind., Ky., Tenn., Ark., W.Va., S.D., S.C, Okla., N.D, La., Utah, Kan., Mo., Wyo., Miss., and Ala.
  • Biden takes Vt., N.Y., Del., D.C., Conn., Md., N.J., Mass., N.M., N.H., Ill., Wash., Ore., Calif., Va., and Colo. 
  • Get all the U.S. election results as they come in.
  • How the electoral college determines who wins the U.S. presidency.

U.S. President Donald Trump was declared the winner in the key battleground states of Florida and Ohio early Wednesday, as he and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were locked in several tight races in battleground states across the country — a nail-biter conclusion to an epic election that will shape the country’s response to the surging pandemic and foundational questions of economic fairness and racial justice. 

From coast to coast, races were too early to call in the most fiercely contested states on the map, including North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Georgia — where officials in Fulton County, home to Atlanta and a tenth of all Georgians, warned that its vote count would not be finalized until Wednesday after a burst pipe delayed absentee-by-mail ballot processing for at least two hours, according to local reports.

Both candidates each picked up some predictable victories, with Trump  taking Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Missouri, Wyoming, Mississippi, Idaho, and Kansas.

Trump was also leading in many of the swing states, making Biden’s bid for the White House much tougher. 

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.

WATCH | CBC’s Katie Simpson explains how Biden is doing worse than expected in parts of Florida:

Republican-leaning Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County, Fla, could be key to a Trump win in tight race. 1:57

“With Trump holding on to Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, that leaves the election to be decided in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania,” said CBC polls analyst Éric Grenier. And that’s not likely to happen tonight. 

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

Despite the narrowing path, Biden said he remained optimistic, saying the election would not be decided tonight and would not be final until every vote was counted, keying in on states like Michigan and 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!” 

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

The electoral college stood at 205 for Biden, 162 for Trump, with 270 votes needed to win the White House. 

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.

Robert Powell casts his ballot at Alliance High School on Tuesday in Alliance, Ohio. (David Dermer/The Associated Press)

Early results in several key battleground states were in flux as election officials processed a historically large number of mail-in votes. Democrats typically outperform Republicans in mail voting, while the Republicans look 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.

WATCH | Biden addresses Philadelphia crowd on election day:

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to canvassers in Philadelphia on election day. 1:31

The victories 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.

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 onto his seat. The House was expected to remain under Democratic control.

Young Cuban-Americans celebrate in Little Havana, Miami, Fla., on Tuesday. (Marie Morrissey/CBC)

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.

As the results began to come in, the nation braced for what was to come — and an outcome that might not be known for days.

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 today:

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

Robocalls under investigation

The FBI is investigating reports in several U.S. states of robocalls made to potential voters in an apparent effort to suppress the vote, a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security said.  

Audio of the calls shared by RoboKiller, a company that fights telemarketers and robocalls, features a synthetic female voice saying: “Hello. This is just a test call. Time to stay home. Stay safe and stay home.” Giulia Porter, vice-president at RoboKiller, which has been tracking the campaign, said the call had been placed millions of times in the past 11 months or so but had just today shot up to No. 5 or No. 6 in the list of top spam calls.

WATCH | Authorities intervene after armed man appears at Charlotte polling location:

Authorities in North Carolina intervened when an armed man showed up at a polling location in Charlotte as voters cast their ballots in the U.S. presidential election.   0:24

A U.S. judge, meanwhile, ordered the U.S. Postal Service to conduct a sweep of some processing facilities Tuesday afternoon to ensure no ballots have been held up and that any discovered are immediately sent out for delivery. Affected by the order are central Pennsylvania, northern New England, greater South Carolina, south Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Alabama and Wyoming, as well as the cities of Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Lakeland, Fla.

WATCH | Trump speaks to campaign workers in Virginia on election day:

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to Republican campaign workers in Arlington, Va., on election day. 0:56

Legal battle looms over early votes

The record-setting early vote — and legal skirmishing over how it will be counted — drew unsupported allegations of fraud from Trump, who refused to guarantee he would honour the election’s result.

The Republican president threatened legal action to block the counting of ballots received after election day. If Pennsylvania ballot counting takes several days, as is allowed, Trump claimed without evidence that “cheating can happen like you have never seen.”

In fact, there are roughly 20 states that allow mail-in ballots received after election day to be counted — up to nine days and longer in some states. Litigation has centred on just a few where states have made changes in large part due to the coronavirus.

Trump to speak tonight

At the White House on Tuesday night, more than 100 family members, friends, donors and staff were set to watch returns from the East Room. Trump was watching votes come in upstairs in the residence with a few close aides. Most top campaign officials were monitoring returns from a “war room” set up in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The White House confirmed Trump would come out and speak at some point. 

Todd Foote, a lifelong Republican voted for Trump in 2016. But the father of four said he will never vote Republican again after the 2018 shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while his son was a student. (Courtesy Todd Foote via The Associated Press)

A new anti-scale fence was erected around the White House, and in downtowns ranging from New York City to Denver to Minneapolis, workers boarded up businesses lest the vote lead to unrest of the sort that broke out earlier this year amid protests over racial inequality.

Just a short walk from the White House, for block after block, stores had covered their windows and doors. Some kept just a front door open, hoping to attract a little business.