WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrat Joe Biden was on the cusp of winning the presidency Friday night after he opened up narrow leads over President Donald Trump in critical battleground states.
Biden had leads in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia, putting him in a stronger position to capture the 270 Electoral College votes needed to take the White House.
The winner will lead a country facing a historic set of challenges, including the surging pandemic and deep political polarization.
The focus was on Pennsylvania, where Biden led Trump by more than 16,000 votes, and Nevada, where the Democrat led by about 22,000, as Americans spent a third full day after the election without knowing who will lead them for the next four years.
The prolonged process added to the anxiety of a nation whose racial and cultural divides were inflamed during the heated campaign.
Biden was at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, as the vote count continued, and aides said he would address the nation in primetime.
Trump stayed in the White House and out of sight, as more results trickled in, expanding Biden’s lead in must-win Pennsylvania. In the West Wing, televisions remained tuned to the news amid trappings of normalcy, as reporters lined up for coronavirus tests and outdoor crews worked on the North Lawn on a mild, muggy fall day.
Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, was quiet — a dramatic difference from the day before, when it held a morning conference call projecting confidence and held a flurry of hastily arranged press conferences announcing litigation in key states.
With his pathway to reelection appearing to greatly narrow, Trump was testing how far he could go in using the trappings of presidential power to undermine confidence in the vote.
On Thursday, he advanced unsupported accusations of voter fraud to falsely argue that his rival was trying to seize power in an extraordinary effort by a sitting American president to sow doubt about the democratic process.
“This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room.