The walls appear to be closing in on all fronts for President Donald Trump, as his Democratic challenger’s lead in Nevada widened Thursday afternoon and two of his court challenges in key battleground states were rejected by state judges.
The key states of Georgia and Pennsylvania kept tightening in favor of Joe Biden as more votes were counted Thursday. By 7 p.m., just as Trump gave a briefing littered with lies, his lead in Georgia had dropped to just 3,635 votes.
In Nevada, Biden was up by 11,400 at 2 p.m. The only glimmer of hope for Trump lies in Arizona, which was called for Biden by the Associated Press but has seen Trump gain some late ground.
In a brief address late Thursday afternoon, Biden insisted that “each ballot must be counted” and asked “everyone to stay calm.”
“Democracy sometimes is messy. Sometimes requires a little patience as well,” he said. “We continue to feel—the senator and I feel very good about where things stand. We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator Harris and I will be declared the winners.”
Meanwhile, Trumpworld gave mixed messages on how they want vote counting to continue.
Kellyanne Conway, the president’s former senior aide, took to Fox News to urge patience in the voting process and demand a full count. Stating that after “three years investigating the President, impeaching the President,” Americans should wait “three hours, three days, three weeks to get a result in our great sturdy democracy as to whom the next President will be?”
“I mean, what is the rush, all of a sudden? I think the rush is, there was no blue wave. There was no early night. There was no Democratic Progressive realignment,” Conway said during a Fox appearance from Trump campaign headquarters in Virginia.
But minutes later, Trump shared the opposite message: “STOP THE COUNT!”
The Trump campaign filed a series of lawsuits in three states, laying the groundwork to contest election results as Trump slips further behind.
Lawsuits were filed in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan—which was called for Biden on Wednesday. The Trump campaign also announced another lawsuit in Nevada alleging voter fraud but didn’t provide any evidence of the alleged fraud.
But by Thursday afternoon, state judges in Georgia and Michigan had already dismissed two of the campaign’s legal challenges. In the Michigan case, Judge Cynthia Stephens tossed out the campaign’s bid to halt ballot counting without their election inspectors present, saying the lawsuit was filed only hours before the final ballots were tallied.
A state court in Philadelphia sided with President Donald Trump in one of the lawsuits and rescinded COVID-related rules that kept his campaign’s observers from getting closer than 25 feet to workers counting ballots. The operatives will now be able to come as near as six feet to the tallying of ballots, which will continue uninterrupted—the same distance his official “challengers” can view the process from in Michigan.
Current tallies in Arizona still show Biden in the lead, but Trump supporters are clinging to the long-shot hope that things could change as the final votes are tallied in Maricopa County.
According to local network ABC15, the county’s election department released a fresh batch of results shortly after midnight that skewed toward Trump. Those results reportedly left the two election rivals with just 69,000 votes separating them and, according to the department, there are some 275,000 ballots still to count.
Frustratingly, there will be no more answers soon—the department said it won’t offer any more results until 9 p.m. ET Thursday night. Staff were working under extreme pressure Wednesday after a band of Trump supporters, some armed, gathered to protest outside the election office. They were heard chanting “Count the vote” and “Fox News sucks!”
The race in Georgia is also set to go to the wire, with Biden making serious ground on Trump for the state’s 16 Electoral College votes. Trump’s lead over Biden has decreased repeatedly in Georgia over the last 24 hours.
On Thursday morning, Trump was leading Biden by 18,144 votes but by 7 p.m. it was down to 3,635 votes, according to unofficial state elections data.
Gabriel Sterling, the statewide voting system implementation manager in Georgia, told reporters during a press conference Thursday after 3 p.m. that there are “approximately 47,277 ballots still outstanding that are with the counties currently.” By 5:45 p.m. it was down to 36,331.
Asked about the president’s unfounded claims about cheating, Sterling said elections directors in Georgia are “doing the best to make sure that every legal vote is counted.”
“And the outcome will be whatever the voters of Georgia have chosen,” Sterling said. “And yes, it’s a tight race. So, be patient. The outcome will be certified. We will have an audit so we will all know that the outcome is correct.”
The Trump campaign had announced a lawsuit focused on Chatham County late Wednesday. The campaign concerns came from a claim from a GOP poll watcher that “witnessed 53 late absentee ballots illegally added to a stack of on-time absentee ballots,” according to the lawsuit and the campaign’s statement.
The case brought by the Trump campaign was dismissed Thursday morning, according to a reporter from BuzzFeed News.
In Pennsylvania, Trump remains in the lead but, again, Biden is chasing him down and could well flip the state of his birth if the trend continues through the final stages of counting.
Early Wednesday, when Trump held a 675,000-vote lead in the Keystone state, he prematurely declared victory there. But, according to the Associated Press, that lead slipped to 326,000 by the afternoon and then further to 239,000 by the evening.
During a CNN appearance just after 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar said she thought there were around 550,000 “ballots that are still in the process of being counted today.”
After noting the most of the remaining mail ballots are in key areas, including “100,000 or so” in Philadelphia, Boockvar expressed confidence “that we’re going to have the majority done today, overwhelming majority.”
During a press conference Thursday night she said “there’s several hundred thousand ballots remaining to be counted.”
“What I’ve said all along is that the overwhelming majority of ballots will be counted by Friday,” she said. “I still think that we’re ahead of schedule, we actually already have counted the overwhelming majority of ballots, but because it’s a close race, it’s not quite clear yet who the winner is.”
Finally, in Nevada, Biden remains narrowly ahead by 11,400 votes with mail-in ballots received on Election Day still to be counted. As in other states, those ballots are likely to skew in Biden’s favor overall but it’s more complicated here with pro-Trump counties also still in play.
Joe Gloria, registrar of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, said he was fearful for the safety of his staff as they kept counting. Counting there is expected to be done by the weekend.
“[M]y wife and my mother are very concerned for me, but we have security here,” Gloria said Thursday afternoon. “I am concerned for the safety of my staff. We’re putting measures into place to make sure that we have the security that is necessary.”
There are various ways for Biden to reach the 270 Electoral College votes needed to claim the White House—in fact, one battleground victory is all it would take. But, assuming Biden’s Arizona projection is not reversed by a dramatic late Trump surge, the president, who is still sitting on 214 electoral votes, needs to claim all four remaining contested states: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina.