Democrats out on New York streets.

Democrats out on New York streets.

Joe Biden inches closer to White House; Trump quite, no tweets; goes to court

By flipping Michigan and Wisconsin, Biden reaches 264 votes against Trump’s 214

Agency Report | New York | 5 November, 2020 | 09:30 PM

As Joe Biden amasses small but stable leads in critical states that edges him closer to winning the presidency, President Trump and Republicans threaten legal challenges as they seek to shift the battle for the White House from the ballot box to the courts. The knife-edge US presidential race tilts toward Democrat Joe Biden with wins in Michigan and Wisconsin bringing him close to a majority, but President Donald trump claims he was being cheated and went to court to try and stop the counting. Tallying of votes continues through a second night in the remaining battleground states where huge turnout and a mountain of mail-in ballots sent by voters trying to avoid exposure to the coronavirus made the job all the harder. Both candidates still have paths to winning the White House by hitting the magic majority threshold of 270 of the electoral votes awarded to whichever candidate wins the popular vote in a given state. But momentum moves to Joe Biden, who makes a televised speech from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware to say that "when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners."

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, edging closer to electoral votes needed to win, has declared that he was ready to “govern as an American President”, while incumbent President Donald Trump has gone to the courts in a bid to stop his rival.

To contrast his style from Trump’s, Biden declared victory on Wednesday but with a caveat to seem he wasn’t.

“I’m not here to declare that we’ve won, but I am here to report that when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners,” he said.

As of Wednesday night, Biden had 264 electoral college votes, six short of the 270 needed to become President, and Trump had only 214, according to media tally.

The only way Trump can get re-elected is by capturing 54 of the remaining 60 votes.

Biden also created a record for the highest number of popular votes polled by a presidential candidate with 70.3 million ballots as of Wednesday afternoon and still counting.

Trump had polled 67.5 million votes.

The winner is determined not by the popular votes but by the number of votes in the electoral college where the votes are distributed according to the size of the states.

Faced with Trump’s court cases against continuing the counting of postal ballots, Biden said: “Every vote must be counted. No one is going to take our democracy away from us. Not now, not ever.”

“We the people will not surrender,” he said in Delaware with his running mate Kamala Harris at his side.

Around the country, protests, which has been so far peaceful, echoed the demand.

Several thousand demonstrators marched in New York City before converging on a park shouting, “every vote counts”.

Trump, who was ahead in several key states Wednesday morning found his lead whittled down by the evening, tailing Biden’s tally by 50 electoral college votes as more of the postal ballots were counted.

Trump, who stayed in the White House and did not meet supporters or reporters, took to Twitter to cast doubts on the electoral system’s integrity,

“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat-run and controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. Very strange, and the ‘pollsters’ got it completely and historically wrong,” he tweeted.

In another tweet, the President further questioned the validity of the postal ballots, saying: “They are finding Biden votes all over the place” in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our country.”

The Trump re-election campaign filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, casting a wide net to contest battleground states as he trails Biden.

Some states and their courts have allowed the ballots received after the closing of polls on Tuesday to be counted and Trump wants that stopped.

His courts also raised issues like having access to where the postal votes are kept and examined.

The President’s campaign is seeking to reignite a Pennsylvania case at the Supreme Court which questions the counting of ballots received up to three days after the election.

His critics describe the lawsuits as “frivolous”.

Pennsylvania continues to process ballots postmarked by Election Day and received until Friday, as per an order by the state’s highest court.

Trump said early Wednesday morning that he would take his case to the Supreme Court, which seldom deals with matters of state law, leaving it to state courts.

Trump’s lawyers may find a way around it by calling the Pennsylvania case a federal issue by arguing that the extension in deadline was made by a state court violates the constitution which says the state legislatures regulate elections.

Because of the raging Covid-19 pandemic, postal ballots, which were sent to all voters in some states like New Jersey and California, were more widely used to minimise chances of contagion at the polling stations.

According to the US election project, 62.1 million postal ballots were used as of Sunday.

Biden’s speech on Wednesday took on a certain decisiveness in tone as confidence grew with the Democratic party with back to back wins in Wisconsin and Michigan.

These wins are part of the Democratic effort to reclaim a key part of the “blue wall” that slipped away four years ago.

“I will govern as an American President,” Biden said. “There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America.”

As of Wednesday night with results incomplete, there was a tie in the party standings in the Senate, with each side having 48 seats.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats had 205 seats to Republicans’ 190.

Trump and the Republicans have managed to avoid the rout that the pollsters and the media had predicted, again shaking their credibility — if not integrity.

Even in some of the states that Trump is losing like Wisconsin, the margin is less than 1 per cent, nowhere near the 11 per cent predicted by a New York Times poll or the 10 per cent by a Reuters poll.

With just five states left to be called in the US presidential elections, there’s an uneasy kind of quiet at the White House. Sometime around 5.30 pm on November 4, the Trump White House confirmed a lid, which means we wouldn’t be hearing from Trump that evening.

Coming from the Trump White House, an official lid is uncommon, at best. The pattern extends to social feeds. The White House official handle hasn’t tweeted since a fluttering flag video on November 3, while Trump hasn’t posted for more than 11 hours.

The Trump campaign reportedly got chills after two news media outlets called Arizona for Biden, putting the Democrat well past the 250-mark with Trump still trying to snap out of the 214-mark. The White House lid came soon after.

Both sides know that Arizona going blue means Biden may not need Pennsylvania to get to 270 electoral votes.

Arizona in the Biden column takes the party’s total to 264. Without it, the number is 253.

If it’s 264, Biden needs just 6 more to seal the deal. A Nevada win will do it for the Democrats.

If it’s 253, an Arizona and a Georgia or a Nevada will seal the deal, all running close right now.

Arizona updated its total at around 3 am EST and Biden is ahead by 68,000 votes statewide. The Trump campaign said the Arizona calls are premature and should be pulled.

The Arizona-for-Biden scenario puts a giant pin in the Pennsylvania balloon. The Trump campaign is now confronting the real possibility that Penn State’s 20 electoral votes may not matter at all.

White House insiders, although they must play along, for now, are reportedly growing increasingly frustrated with Trump’s scattershot strategy of suing to stay in the game.

Trump has filed ballot-counting lawsuits in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Live visuals from all three states show that counting is continuing at a steady clip.

State officials have already brushed aside the lawsuits, saying that it makes no difference to the process of counting.

The first signs of Republicans breaking with Trump are surfacing as it becomes increasingly clear that the Trump strategy now is going in precisely two opposite directions from the math: Filing lawsuits, and lobbying rhetorical bombshells. (IANS)