Home world US election briefing for Australia: Biden edges closer to victory

US election briefing for Australia: Biden edges closer to victory


Welcome to today’s US election briefing for Australia.

The rustbelt states of Wisconsin and Michigan were both called for Joe Biden overnight in Australia, meaning the Democratic party candidate is now tantalisingly close to securing the 270 electoral college votes he needs to declare victory.

There are a few paths open for him to do that, but the most obvious is Pennsylvania. Its 20 electoral votes would be enough to secure Biden the presidency, even if late vote counting in Arizona led to him being overtaken in that state. As I write this, Donald Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania is down to about 164,000 votes with more than 700,000 mail-in ballots yet to be counted. About a quarter of those are from Democrat-leaning Philadelphia.

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It’s still too close to call, but Trump’s path to victory has narrowed significantly. The president and his supporters seem all too aware of how close he is to losing this race, and have mounted a desperate campaign to stop vote counting. During a press conference in Philadelphia on Wednesday, the president’s son, Eric Trump, and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, both made the baseless claim that the election was being stolen. The Republican party is also likely to demand a recount in at least Wisconsin.

By seeking to sow doubt in the result, Trump and his campaign have seeded potential civil unrest. Protests have already broken out at vote counting sites in Michigan and Arizona.

The race is almost over, but it’s nowhere near over.

The big stories

A protester interrupts a news conference to discuss ballot counting in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

A protester interrupts a news conference to discuss ballot counting in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Biden has claimed he is on course to win the US presidential election and issued a plea for national unity, even as Trump threatens to fight the outcome in court. Biden praised a historic turnout of about 150 million and called for people on both sides “to unite, to heal, to come together as a nation”.

Fears are growing that the US could see an unwanted sequel to the Brooks Brothers debacle that followed the Bush/Gore election, where hundreds of mostly middle-aged male protesters descended on polling headquarters in Florida, successfully demanding that a recount of ballots for the presidential election be stopped.

Scott Morrison says he has great confidence in American institutions to deal with the challenges posed by Trump calling for the vote count to be stopped. “We respect the decisions that the American people make in their democracy and we’ll be patient and we’ll await the outcome of their process,” he said.

America’s rural heartland stuck firmly with Trump, depriving Biden of easy wins in some states and undercutting Democratic expectations of winning the US Senate. From Wisconsin to Iowa and Missouri, Trump’s support in rural counties generally held up or strengthened.

The once conservative stalwart of Arizona appeared to shift blue on election night – the culmination of more than 10 years of tireless boots-on-the-ground organising, campaigning, marching, protesting and door-knocking, and a historic Latino and youth turnout. Here’s how it happened.

The US has set a new record for average daily confirmed Covid-19 cases, with surging infections and hospitalisations as the country remains on edge waiting for a winner to be declared in the presidential race.

When all the votes are counted, the presidential election may deliver defeat for Trump – but it did not deliver defeat for Trumpism. This piece looks at how Trump’s behaviour and politics have been vindicated – and will live on.

Quote of the day

After a long night of counting, it’s clear that we’re winning enough states to reach 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.”

Biden during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware late on Wednesday afternoon in the US.

Election views

Pro-Trump flags hang from a fence at an overpass on a highway in Lafayette, California.

Pro-Trump flags hang from a fence at an overpass on a highway in Lafayette, California. Photograph: John G Mabanglo/EPA

Trump’s false claim of victory on election night was a “spectacle that spoke volumes about the man, and about the nation at this singularly damaged and dangerous moment in its 244-year history,” writes Ed Pilkington. But the night should also provoke some soul searching for Democrats.

It is possible, says Guardian US data editor Mona Chalabi, that pollsters were actually more wrong this time around. “I do not know how many times polls have to be wrong or how wrong they have to be for us to finally walk away from the dangerous seduction of predicting political outcomes.”

“Surprisingly, Fox News might be the media outlet that holds the country together,” writes Corey Brettschneider. “If Fox continues to say that any early declaration of victory is incorrect, viewers might be more likely to have the patience required to wait for what might be days, with twists and turns as more ballots are reported, until a winner is declared.”

“For the next few days, the 2020 election might feel like it’s 2000 all over again. But it’s not,” says Richard Wolffe. “There may well be multiple legal disputes, as Trump has suggested. However, it is hard to stop counting ballots that have yet to be counted.”

Video of the day

“Make no mistake, our democracy is being tested in this election.” Here’s the governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, saying the electoral system in the state is working, but due to millions of mail-in ballots the results could be delayed until after Wednesday.

‘Pennsylvania will have a fair election’: governor announces possible result delay – video

Around the web

Trump reportedly phoned Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch to scream about the network calling Arizona for Biden on election night, demanding a retraction, according to Vanity Fair. “Murdoch refused, and the call stood.”

Forget Alec Baldwin – this guy is the only good Trump impersonator and this video is the only thing to make me laugh-laugh (as opposed to cry-laugh) today.

What the numbers say: six

The number of electoral college votes Joe Biden needs to secure a victory, according to the Guardian’s current count. Important to note though that it hinges on late counting in Arizona not flipping the state back to Republicans.

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