Trump and Biden locked in a nail-biter as race for the White House comes down to key states

By Maeve Reston and Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN)President Donald Trump attempted to claim victory in the presidential race and called for a halt to legitimate vote counting that is underway around the country in a chilling threat to American democracyIn fact, the election is far from over with millions of votes outstanding in key states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — ballots that were cast before Election Day that have yet to be counted. Yet Trump sought to mislead his loyal supporters by conflating the legitimate counting of ballots with voting as he falsely claimed Democrats were trying to “steal the election.”Former Vice President Joe Biden holds the lead in the Electoral College at this stage in the night, 220-213; 270 electoral votes are needed to become president.Facing the real possibility that he could lose, Trump — as expected — appeared to be seizing the opportunity to confuse his supporters about the democratic process and suggest that there was something nefarious about the fact that many states are still counting votes. The lengthy vote count, which could extend for several days, was widely anticipated because so many Americans cast vote-by-mail ballots to protect themselves from exposure to the coronavirus in the middle of a pandemic.While making the ludicrous suggestion that the counting of legally cast votes should stop as he watched his margins narrow in several key swing states, Trump made a wild threat that his lawyers would take their case to the Supreme Court even though it remains unclear what their legal rationale would be.Even within Trump’s short speech there was a glaring inconsistency in his position as he advocated for votes to continue to be counted in Arizona, a state that he believes is more favorable to him, while expressing anger that one network had called it early. CNN has not projected a winner in Arizona.He celebrated his victories in Florida and Ohio, and claimed to win multiple states that CNN has yet to project. His call for an end to the counting was the kind of dangerous election night speech that political observers long feared Trump would make, in which he falsely claimed, “This is a major fraud on our nation.”Trump and Biden are locked in a momentous election could come down to Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.Biden was the first candidate to speak to supporters early Wednesday morning, after a night of results didn’t deliver a quick winner, saying that “we believe we’re on track to win this election.”The former vice president said it was not up to him or Trump to decide the winner of the election and that the votes would be counted.

“Keep the faith guys, we’re going to win this,” Biden said.Trump won a close race in Florida, which was one of the states Biden had hoped to peel away from the President’s 2016 map and has a narrow edge in North Carolina, which remains too close to call. The former vice president is hoping that Arizona, where he has a 8 percentage point lead with 75% of the ballots counted could be his first victory of the night that turns a red state blue. Increasingly it appears that the result of the entire election could hinge on whether Biden can restore the Democratic “blue wall” in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, a scenario that could mean the result may not be known on Tuesday night, and could stretch into the coming days as large numbers of mail-in votes are counted.Biden currently leads the Electoral College at this early stage in the night, but the key battlegrounds that will decide who serves as president for the next four years are still in play.The night unfolded as the most unorthodox election night in modern memory. At times it appeared like one candidate or the other was heading for an early win in important states. But batches of mail-in and early votes meant the count often dramatically shifted one way or the other.Polls are now closed across the continental US on a nerve-jangling night that will set the nation’s course for the next four years and cast judgment on the most tumultuous presidency of the modern age. Results are flowing in from battlegrounds and it’s too early to make a projection in many key states.CNN projects Biden will win Rhode Island, Minnesota, Virginia, California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Delaware, Washington, DC, Maryland, Massachusetts and one of Nebraska’s five electoral votes. Nebraska awards two electoral votes to its statewide winner and divides three others over its three congressional districts. CNN projects Trump will also win in Montana, Texas, Iowa, Idaho, Ohio, Mississippi, Wyoming, Missouri, Kansas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee and four of Nebraska’s five electoral votes.

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