WASHINGTON (AP) — The fate of the United States presidency hung in the balance Wednesday as Democratic challenger Joe Biden picked up a win in Wisconsin and fought President Donald Trump in other battleground states that could prove crucial in determining who wins the White House.
Neither candidate cleared the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, and the margins were tight in several fiercely contested states. Top advisers for both Biden and Trump on Wednesday morning expressed confidence that they respectively had the likelier path to victory in the outstanding states.
The Associated Press called Wisconsin for Biden after election officials in the state said all outstanding ballots had been counted, save for a few hundred in one township and an expected small number of provisionals.
Trump’s campaign requested a recount. Statewide recounts in Wisconsin have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes; Biden leads by 0.624 percentage point out of nearly 3.3 million ballots counted.
It was unclear when or how quickly a national winner could be determined. The latest vote counts in Michigan gave Biden a small lead, but it was still too early to call the race
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said the president would formally request a Wisconsin recount, citing “irregularities in several Wisconsin counties,” and the campaign filed suit in Michigan to halt counting of ballots because it contended it wasn’t given “meaningful access” to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process.
At the same time, hundreds of thousands of votes were still to be counted in Pennsylvania.
The margins were exceedingly tight in states across the country, with the candidates trading wins in battlegrounds. Trump picked up Florida, the largest of the swing states, while Biden flipped Arizona, a state that has reliably voted Republican in recent elections.
The unsettled presidential race came after Democrats entered election night confident not only in Biden’s prospects, but also in the the party’s chances of taking control of the Senate. But the GOP held several seats that were considered vulnerable, including in Iowa, Texas, Maine and Kansas. Disappointed Democrats lost House seats but were expected to retain control there.
The high-stakes election was held against the backdrop of a historic pandemic that has killed more than 232,000 Americans and wiped away millions of jobs. Both candidates spent months pressing dramatically different visions for the nation’s future, including on racial justice, and voters responded in huge numbers, with more than 100 million people casting votes ahead of Election Day.