As President Trump littered his Twitter feed with grievances and conspiracy theories on Friday, Joe Biden widened his lead in almost every state still in play—and remained the front-runner on Saturday morning as officials methodically counted the remaining ballots.
The Democratic challenger took the lead in Pennsylvania early Friday and, by mid-morning on Saturday, had grown it to more than 30,000 votes—a position which, unless Trump can pull off an unlikely late surge, looks set to land the former vice president in the White House.
With the Keystone State’s remaining votes largely mail-in and provisional ballots from metro areas like Philadelphia, Trump’s chances are dimming by the hour.
Biden also overtook the president in historically red Georgia and surged further ahead in Nevada, where Trump appears to have no viable path to victory. However, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during a press conference Friday morning that “right now, Georgia remains too close to call” and it would go to a recount.
“Out of approximately five million votes cast, we’ll have a margin of a few thousand,” he said, adding later, “with a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia.”
Based on the number of ballots left in Pennsylvania and the regions they’re coming from, Democrats say they don’t believe that Trump has the votes to snatch his lead back.
Biden’s birth state holds 20 Electoral College votes. If, as now appears highly likely, those are now folding into Biden’s total, he will pass the required 270 and can declare victory in the election.
Preparations were underway for Biden to declare victory Friday but every outlet, bar Decision Desk, said it was still too early to call the election because returns in key states are too close to be considered decisive.
Shortly after news of his Pennsylvania lead broke, CNN reported that new restricted “national defense airspace” has been put in place over Biden’s home near Wilmington, Delaware. Biden has also been assigned more protection after his campaign told the Secret Service he may make a major speech Friday.
In the Trump camp, there was no indication that the president is ready to concede. A statement from Matt Morgan, general counsel of Trump’s re-election campaign, said, “This election is not over. The false projection of Joe Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final.”
However, Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement, “As we said on July 19th, the American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
Trump held a 675,000-vote lead in Pennsylvania early Wednesday, leading him to baselessly declare victory in the state on the morning after Election Day. “We’re winning Pennsylvania by a tremendous amount,” he said at the time from the White House. “We’re up 690,000 votes in Pennsylvania. These aren’t even close. It’s not like, ‘Oh, it’s close.’”
In Nevada, each new tranche of ballots on Friday put Biden in a stronger position. By 6:30 p.m. ET, he had 632,558 votes to Trump’s 609,901—a lead of 22,657. Almost all the outstanding ballots are mail-in votes from the heavily Democratic Clark County, which Biden is winning 2:1.
“There is almost no chance that Biden’s lead is going to do anything but grow from here,” Jon Ralston, editor of The Nevada Independent said. “It’s over here.”
Clark County registrar Joe Gloria said Friday afternoon at least 123,00 total ballots still need to be counted in the county, which will start reporting results twice a day to expedite the outcome. The number of ballots that need to be reviewed include 63,00 mail-in ballots and at least 60,000 provisional ballots, Gloria later clarified.
“Today we’ll start in earnest reviewing provisional ballots,” Gloria said. “We’re not interested in being as fast as we can, we want to be accurate.”
In Arizona, Biden’s lead shrank as batches of results came in from Maricopa County but not fast enough for Trump to have a solid chance of taking the lead. By Saturday at 11 a.m., Biden’s lead statewide had shrunk slightly to 20,57 votes.
“I’ve been an optimist on the Trump comeback in Arizona [but] ... I think Biden is the more likely winner now in Arizona,” FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver told ABC on Friday.
In Georgia, Biden was ahead by 7,248 votes by Saturday morning—but, as the race is so close, military ballots, which might skew toward Trump, could give the president a chance at regaining his lead when they’re counted.
Either way, the state is heading for a recount. If Biden takes Pennsylvania, he will not require victory in Georgia.
However, if Trump doesn’t claim both Pennsylvania and Georgia, there is no way for him to win a second term.