AGENCIES, Washington: Democrat Joe Biden moved closer to winning the White House on Friday as he expanded his lead over President Donald Trump in battleground states, but television networks held off from declaring him the victor as officials continued to count votes.
Trump remained defiant, vowing to press unfounded claims of fraud as a weary, anxious nation waited for clarity in an election that only intensified the country’s deep polarization. Republicans sought to raise $60 million to fund lawsuits challenging the results.
On the fourth day of vote counting, former Vice-President Biden had a 253 to 214 lead in the state-by-state Electoral College vote that determines the winner. Securing Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes would put Biden over the 270 he needs to win the presidency after a political career stretching back nearly five decades.
Biden would also win if he prevails in two of the three other key states where he was narrowly ahead: Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. Like Pennsylvania, all three were still processing ballots on Friday.
Biden had planned a victory speech for Friday night, anticipating that the race would be called in his favour. But with the vote counting dragging on, staffers and allies said he would give a scaled-back speech.
“You will likely hear an update on the race in which he’ll convey his confidence in the system, his optimism about the ultimate outcome and his determination to lead a responsible path forward rather than some pronouncement that might make all of us feel better and allow us to go to sleep sooner,” said Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a Biden ally.
Nationwide, Biden led Trump by 4.1 million votes out of a record 147 million cast.
However, his lead was much smaller in those four contested states: just 83,937 votes out of more than 16 million cast. In Georgia, he led by a mere 3,962 votes.
In Pennsylvania, Biden’s lead jumped to 27,130 votes with 96% of the vote tallied, Edison Research said. In Georgia, he was 4,289 votes ahead with 99% of the vote in.
In Arizona, Biden’s lead narrowed to 29,861 votes with 97% of the vote counted. His margin in Nevada jumped to 22,657 with 93% of the tally completed.
Though the race failed to deliver the landslide that Democrats had hoped for, the party retained hopes of winning control of the US Senate in two Georgia run-off elections on January 5. If Democrats win both seats that would give them at least 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber, enabling Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, to cast tie-breaking votes.
That would make it harder for Republicans to block Biden priorities such as expanding healthcare and fighting climate change.