Donald Trump has held Florida, Texas and Ohio but Joe Biden has flipped Arizona and the race in Georgia remains tight, with eyes now turning to the Midwestern states that look increasingly likely to decide the winner of a nail-biting U.S. presidential election.
The Republican president claimed without basis Wednesday that he had won the election and a “major fraud” had been committed on the American public – a reference to the continuing counting of early votes, which are expected to skew Democratic, in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. He made the remarks in a short early-morning speech from the White House, in which he also said his campaign would be taking its objections to the Supreme Court.
Biden made a brief appearance in Delaware shortly after midnight and said he was confident of victory, stressing it wasn’t up to the candidates to decide the winner, after Trump tweeted “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election.”
Biden and Trump earlier picked up solidly Democratic and Republican states as expected, with a series of quick-counting battlegrounds edging towards the president but Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin remaining in play and millions of votes still to be counted.
Trump won Florida’s 29 electoral votes, Texas’ 38 and Ohio’s 18, according to the Associated Press, and holds narrow leads in Georgia and North Carolina, states he needs to win the 270 electoral votes required to take the presidency.
Biden flipped Arizona’s 11 votes, but counting in the critical Midwestern states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – surprisingly won by Trump in 2016 – is not expected to be completed for hours or even days.
The Associated Press has called a slew of small Republican states, including Kentucky and Iowa, for Trump, while a series of traditionally Democratic states, including New Hampshire and Minnesota, have gone to Biden.
The race looks set to be settled in the Midwest, with Pennsylvania – the likely pivotal state – unlikely to report final results on election night.
Biden needs to find another 34 votes to win the White House, while Trump is currently 57 votes short.
Voters have also cast ballots in 35 Senate races that will have a major bearing on the ability of the eventual winner of the presidential race to pursue their agenda.
The Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take control of the Senate and have flipped a seat in Colorado, with former contender for the Democratic nomination John Hickenlooper defeating incumbent Republican Cory Gardner.
Other competitive races have gone to the Republicans, winning back Alabama, with Tommy Tuberville defeating Doug Jones, and holding on in Iowa.
Senate battles that could make or break the next president
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has held his Kentucky seat and Lindsay Graham (South Carolina), John Cornyn (Texas) and Tom Cotton (Arkansas) have all been reelected.
The Democrats are expected to comfortably retain their majority in the House of Representatives, while there are also 11 gubernatorial elections.
More than 100 million people voted early and overall turnout is expected to hit a record high.