Joe Biden pulled narrowly ahead of Donald Trump in Pennsylvania on Friday, hours after doing the same in Georgia, making it more certain than ever that Democrats will reclaim the White House.
After trailing Trump by hundreds of thousands of votes on Election Day in Pennsylvania, Biden steadily ate into his margins as more mail-in ballots were tallied in the state and put him in the lead for the first time after 32,000 ballots from heavily Democratic Philadelphia were counted.
Biden’s lead continued to grow throughout the day in Pennsylvania, to more than 13,500 by 3:30 p.m., as about 113,000 ballots remained to be counted.
In a sign of the campaign’s confidence, Biden plans to deliver a primetime speech to the nation from Wilmington on Friday, according to aides. His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, is also expected to give remarks.
“I know he knows he’s a winner,” said Bob Brady, chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party, who spoke to an upbeat Biden earlier in the day. “Philadelphia put him in the White House. Pennsylvania put him in the White House.”
“Biden has re-built a Wall…the Blue Wall … although it is fragile,” University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald, who tracks the nation’s early voting in real-time, wrote on Twitter after Pennsylvania’s race flipped.
In a written statement issued midday, Trump tried to reframe his baseless claims of widespread fraud, saying his campaign was engaging in multiple lawsuits in different states to protect “the integrity of our entire election process.”
Also, the Pennsylvania Republican Party announced that it is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to make sure that state officials separate late-arriving ballots and not count them before a court ruling to declare their validity. The Pennsylvania Secretary of State said the separation is already happening.
Biden only needed six electoral college votes to secure the 270 needed to win. Pennsylvania is worth 20 electoral votes, and Georgia is worth 16. They are still too close to call.
With fewer than 1,600 votes separating the candidates, Georgia’s secretary of state announced Friday morning there would be a recount, something Democrats don’t expect in Pennsylvania because of Biden’s growing margin and the large pool of uncounted ballots.
In Nevada, which is worth six electoral votes, Biden has led for days and he saw his margins almost double Friday to more than 22,000. Tens of thousands of ballots remain to be counted, but nearly all come from heavily Democratic Clark County.
Nevada is the likeliest state to be called first in Biden’s favor. His campaign is waiting on independent media to call one of the races so he can claim victory without appearing premature, allies said.
Meanwhile, Biden clung to his advantage in Maricopa County in Arizona, where a batch of newly counted ballots that favored Trump failed to make up enough ground to alter the trajectory of that contest, although more ballots are still being counted.
If Biden wins Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia, and keeps Arizona in his column, he will rack up the same number of electoral votes as Trump did in 2016 — 306.
“306. Landslide. Blowout. Historic,” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, summed up on Twitter four years ago.
Biden is expected to address the public later on Friday, with a victory speech if he clearly gets to 270 or a brief statement to the public similar to the one he did the day before by urging calm, patience and faith in the American system. It’s a contrast to Trump and his backers who have spread baseless conspiracy theories and unfounded accusations of rampant fraud.
The most dramatic result so far is in Georgia, which is run by Republicans. Georgia last voted for a Democratic president in 1992, when it went for Bill Clinton. Shortly after 4 a.m., Biden pulled ahead on the strength of mail ballots from the Atlanta area and blue suburban counties.
Falling further back in overtime ballot-counting, Trump has resorted to legal challenges where the Trump campaign and Republicans have made little progress as the president attacks the electoral process and makes claims, without evidence, of illegal voting and widespread fraud.
Georgia elections officials emphasized Friday that they saw no evidence of mass illegal voting.
“We’re not seeing any widespread irregularities," Gabriel Sterling, a top Georgia elections official, said during a press briefing.
Trump’s inflammatory statement at the White House Thursday is dividing Republicans, with some officials echoing the president’s charges that he would have been victorious if all of the ballots cast in the election were not counted.
"President Trump won this election," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in his defense of Trump, whose remarks were cut short by several TV networks that pivoted to fact-checking his unsubstantiated claims.
Trump and Republicans have focused in on heavily Democratic cities where Biden notched massive margins. They’ve been pushing for more accommodations for ballot-counting observers, and suing to have the counts halted.
“Philadelphia elections are crooked as a snake,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Fox News. “Why are they shutting people out? Because they don’t want people to see what they’re doing.”
Other GOP leaders offered what have become familiar rebukes, with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan saying, "there is no defense for the president’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process."
“Show us the evidence. We heard nothing today about any evidence,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on ABC. “This kind of thing — all it does is inflame without informing.”
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