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ACROSS AMERICA — Americans and the world will have to wait to learn if Republican President Donald Trump will get a second term, or if Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden will become the nation's 46th president.
As the seesaw battle continued in states across the country, Biden addressed the nation early Wednesday morning, urging his supporters to remain patient. His path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency is more difficult than it appeared it would be just a few days ago.
"We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying votes is finished," Biden said from Delaware. "And it’s not over until every ballot is counted."
Biden, who served for eight years as President Barack Obama's second-in-command, said he and running mate Kamala Harris are "feeling good about where we are."
Trump, who said on Twitter he and Vice President Mike Pence had scored "a big WIN," is also expected to address the nation.
"It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to call this election, that’s the decision of the American people, and I’m optimistic about the outcome," Biden said. My grandfather used to say, Joey, keep the faith. Keep the faith, guys, we’re gonna win this."
The outcome could change significantly as a surge of mail-in votes are counted. Both parties benefit from early voting, but Democrats traditionally more than Republicans. Depending on what votes have been counted — those cast on Election Day or the nearly 102 million early votes — the state of the electoral map could significantly change.
According to projections by The Associated Press, here's how the electoral map looks as of 7 a.m. Wednesday:
President Donald Trump: 213 | Former Vice President Joe Biden: 238
Long lines snaked around America's street corners Tuesday as Americans prepared to hand their verdict to candidates who have outlined vastly different visions for America.
Tightening polls in battleground states cast more uncertainty on a presidential race that both sides have painted in apocalyptic terms. Biden is widely expected by pollsters to win the popular vote, but as Americans learned in 2016, and even further back in 2000, it's the race to 270 votes on the electoral map that counts in presidential politics.
Results began trickling in around 6 p.m. Eastern Time as the first polls closed; but with many of the more than 102 million early voters casting mail-in ballots, it could be days before the results are certified. Networks and news organizations have pledged to proceed with patience and caution in delivering results and projecting results, especially in key battleground states.
That's because, in many states, election workers can't begin counting an onslaught on mail-in ballots until Election Day, and it may be days before it's known which candidate wins. The margin separating the two candidates is expected to be slim in the key battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which award a combined 101 of the needed 270 electoral votes.
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Court battles over the record vote-by-mail turnout continued on Election Day. In a critical ruling, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to sweep facilities in key battleground states to locate undelivered mail-in ballots and get them where they belong in time to be counted. The Postal Service said in court Tuesday about 300,000 ballots had been received but not scanned for delivery.
Trump threatened over the weekend to go to court to stop battleground states such as Pennsylvania from counting mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day but received in the three days after. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last month that election officials can count ballots received through the end of the work week, rejecting a Republican plea in the presidential battleground state.
Trump and Republicans' pre-election maneuvering to curtail early voting were dealt other blows. In Texas, a federal judge dismissed a GOP lawsuit aimed at disqualifying about 130,000 ballots cast in drive-thru polls set up in Houston to allow for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. A judge in Nevada dismissed a similar attempt to stop counting early votes in Las Vegas.
Control of the Senate also hangs in the balance in Tuesday's election, when several key Republican senators will learn the cost of their stalwart support for the president in light of a national shift of mood against him. Among those who went into the current election cycle with fairly safe margins are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Maine Sen. Susan Collins.
"I don't see how we hold it," Chip Felkel, a Republican strategist in South Carolina who opposes the president, told The Associated Press of the GOP's chances of keeping its Senate majority. "You'd be hard-pressed to say we don't have a Trump problem."
Long lines and glitches at polls are common in every election, but the nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica said tips about voter intimidation and electioneering received via its Electionland project appear to be outpacing previous election cycles. Patch is one of the national news organizations partnering with ProPublica in the effort.
ProPublica Deputy Managing Editor Scott Klein noted anecdotally that "callers are more freaked out than they've been in years past, but also there is more aggressive behavior."
"I don't remember seeing things like bands of pickups blocking the Tappan Zee," he said, referencing one of several reports in which convoys of Trump supporters are giving rise to Election Day fears about voter intimidation and violence.
In Texas, for example, the FBI is investigating after a "Trump train" of supporters reportedly slowed a Biden-Harris campaign bus to 20 mph on a Texas interstate and tried to force it off the road over the weekend.
Anxiety over the potential for Election Day violence turned into real fear in Charlotte, North Carolina, where a man with a handgun loitered near a poll. He was legally carrying the firearm, but some voters waiting in line to vote found it intimidating.
Some states reported an uptick in robocalls telling voters to stay home.
Trump appeared to back away from earlier reports that he intended to declare victory if he was leading early vote counts. In a "Fox & Friends" interview Tuesday, Trump said he would declare a victory "when there is victory, if there is victory."
"I think we will have victory,'' he said. "I think the polls are, you know, suppression polls. And I think we will have victory. But only when there is victory. You know, there is no reason to play games."
Trump's adversaries are worried about what happens after Election Day, though.
Dozens of activist groups are planning "Protect the Results" rallies in U.S. cities for Wednesday if Trump interferes with mail-in ballot counting or disputes the legitimacy of the election in other ways.
National polling gives Biden a roughly 8 percent lead in national polling, but Trump could still win the electoral map, as he did in 2016, according to Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight. The political analysis and forecast site puts Biden's chances at 90 percent, but says the uncertainty depends on how both candidates perform in battleground states with big electoral vote totals.
"And indeed — although nobody needs any reminders of this after 2016 — Trump can win," Silver wrote on his site Monday. "All the election models are bullish on Biden, but they are united in that a Trump win is still plausible despite his seemingly steep deficit in polls."
The current 8-point spread may seem to put Biden in a comfortable position, but he has been downplaying the lead, especially in battleground states with big electoral vote totals.
Biden is leading in Florida, where 29 electoral votes are at stake, but only by 1 point, according to RealClearPolitics' polling average. And Trump appears to have a 1.2-point advantage in Texas, which has 38 electoral votes.
"If Biden wins the popular vote by 2 to 3 percentage points, the Electoral College is roughly a toss-up," Silver wrote on his FiveThirtyEight site. "But if Biden wins the popular vote by less than 2 points, Trump is a fairly heavy favorite to win the election.
"Even popular vote margins of up to 6 points are not entirely safe for Biden if his votes are distributed in exactly the wrong way. So you can see why an 8- or 9-point lead in the popular vote shouldn't make Biden feel that secure; despite being a landslide margin, it's also only a few points removed from the inflection point where the Electoral College starts to become competitive."
Biden spent Monday barnstorming Pennsylvania, where the RealClearPolitics polling average gives him a 4.2-point advantage over Trump.
Trump had campaign stops in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Traverse City, Michigan; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, he is leading Biden in Iowa, Texas, Ohio and North Carolina, but well within the margin of error.
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