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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 28 February 2021

US elections: remaining swing states hold key to victory

Delayed vote counting in the 'blue wall' will be critical

The US election contest became a tighter race on Wednesday as early voting counts, minus absentee ballots, suggested that Republican President Donald Trump and his Democrat challenger, Joe Biden, had each won critically important states.

Mr Biden stunned observers by winning long-time Republican stronghold Arizona, but Mr Trump’s supporters came out in force in traditional “red states” including Kansas and Texas, the latter being a crucial swing state.

Florida was another substantial prize for Mr Trump with 29 electoral votes, while Ohio and Iowa also went to Mr Trump.

Ohio and Iowa, among the so-called “rust belt” states, had narrowly gone to the Democrats in 2012, but flipped to Mr Trump in 2016 after the president promised more jobs in industry, which has declined across the region.

The results took the electoral college votes to 238 for Mr Biden and 213 for Mr Trump, who are now contesting the remaining 87 votes to reach the 270 required to win the White House.

But the president’s swing state victories, so far, do not mean his second term is safe because in recent years, remaining “battleground states” – also sometimes called “purple states,” have been a tight contest.

On the second day of vote counting, the race may now be down to four, perhaps five critical states.

This was the view of political scientist Brian Klaas.

“Ok, so as far as I see it, there are now four states in play: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Biden needs to win two of them. If he wins at least two of the four, he's president. If he loses three or four of them, Trump wins," Mr Klaas wrote on Twitter.

Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin have all faced delays counting ballots, as they are not permitted under state law to open and scan early ballots before election day, something usually done in other states.

Often called “the blue wall” due to long periods of Democrat control, the political balance in these states in recent years has been more uncertain.

Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania tweeted early on Wednesday morning that a million ballots remained uncounted, the most of all remaining states.

Vote counting in these states is expected to stretch well into Wednesday.

In Georgia, where Mr Trump was leading Joe Biden by about 300,000 votes, a water pipe burst in a ballot counting centre, delaying the count of absentee ballots, although no machinery or votes were damaged, according to a spokesperson for Fulton Country, where the incident occurred.

Mr Biden therefore, may still be in with a chance in the so-called “Peach State”.

Georgia will be crucial for the Biden campaign, according to political scientist Cliston Brown.

“Right now, it looks to me like Biden’s likeliest path to a win, in order of likelihood, is Nevada-Georgia-Wisconsin,” , he tweeted on Wednesday.

North Carolina is also being hotly contested, with polling extended due to what the State Board of Elections referred to as interruptions to polling.

Michigan, which had been a stronghold for the Democrats between 1992 and 2012 before sliding decisively toward Republican control during the 2016 general election, will also be a tight contest.

Pennsylvania, another critical swing state, has seen both campaigns spend significant sums, with Mr Biden attempting to win over black American voters.

In Wisconsin, Mr Trump was the first Republican candidate to win the state since 1984, so he may face a tougher battle there.

Typifying the close contest, each candidate had about 1.5 million votes early on Wednesday.

Updated: November 4, 2020 03:42 PM

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