Joe Biden widens electoral path as Trump campaign threatens recount

Biden extended his lead in Wisconsin and Michigan as counts continued in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and North Carolina

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Vote counting in the US election could continue to the end of the week before either Donald Trump or Joe Biden clinch the Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency.

As of Wednesday morning, the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona had not been called, leaving both candidates short of the 270 electoral votes required to win. But votes on Wednesday showed Mr Biden with more paths to the presidency than his rival.

Mr Biden was leading in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada by Wednesday at noon. If his lead holds, Mr Biden could reach the 270 mark even while losing Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia, where Mr Trump is leading at the moment.

But the Biden campaign said in a call with reporters it was confident of winning Pennsylvania, attributing that to more than three million early votes still to be counted.

By Wednesday night, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania should have confirmed results, state officials said. Nevada will not be providing another update until Thursday morning.

"Biden is on track to win this election and he will be the next president of the United States,” Jen O’Malley Dillon, Mr Biden’s campaign manager said on the call on Wednesday.

The Biden campaign appeared bullish about winning Wisconsin and said its lead in Michigan is now “insurmountable” as the African-American vote there leaned heavily in favour of Democrats.

Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe told NBC news that all the ballots have been counted, as Mr Biden was leading by more than 20,000 votes there. But no major projection was made by the networks regarding the state by noon on Wednesday.

But despite a narrowing path for Mr Trump, whereby he would need to win four out of the six contested states to secure a second term, his campaign remained confident about his chances.

"If all legally cast ballots are counted, we believe the president will win," Bill Stepien, Mr Trump's campaign manager said.

He remained confident in the president’s chances to take Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Nevada.

Mr Stepien said Wisconsin was headed to "recount territory.”

But even former Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, regarded a recount as unlikely to change the outcome of the result: “20,000 is a big hurdle,” he tweeted.

Mr Trump’s threat to go to the Supreme Court was rebuffed by the Biden campaign.

The president faces “embarrassing defeat” if he fights the results in the US Supreme Court, the Biden campaign said. Mr Biden said his team will not rest until every vote is counted.

In a tweet that was marked by Twitter as misleading, Mr Trump claimed “surprise ballot dumps” had been taking place.

But even if Mr Biden wins, the result is nowhere near the landslide that many Democrats hoped for.

Even in Senate races, the Democrats have so far failed to pick up enough seats to take the majority.

Republican Senators Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst, Steve Daines and Lindsey Graham retained their seats in Kentucky, Iowa, Montana and South Carolina respectively.

Democratic Senator of Alabama Doug Jones lost his seat on Tuesday, but Democratic candidates John Hickenlooper and Mark Kelly picked up two seats in Colorado and Arizona.

With Maine and North Carolina still counting, the balance of the Senate is now 47-47. Fifty-one seats are needed for a majority. But, according to projections, the Democrats kept the House of Representatives.

The electoral map shows a better performance for Mr Biden in the Midwest than Hillary Clinton in 2016 but worse in the state of Florida that he lost by half a million votes. If Mr Biden wins Arizona and Georgia it would be the first time since 1992 with Bill Clinton that the Democrats win there.

However, without a Senate majority and a decisive win, Mr Biden will have a major challenge in securing a concession from Mr Trump, healing the nation and dealing with a divided Congress. If the Trump campaign does not secure the 270 electoral votes and enters litigation, the results and the transition to power may not start until December.

Tuesday’s election has been so far symptomatic of a polarised nation and highly divided electorate on the questions of the pandemic, economic recovery, the Supreme Court, racial justice and the way forward. The results from the outstanding states are unlikely to change this situation.