Global Economy

Mission 270: As Joe Biden rebuilds the blue wall, Donald Trump sees red

WASHINGTON: Two days after the hotly contested 2020 presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden appeared close to victory. But incumbent President Donald Trump signalled a legal challenge in at least four states, leaving the country on edge.

Biden has 253 electoral votes at the timing of writing, while Trump has 214 in his bank. (Some media outlets have called Arizona for Biden, taking his tally to 264). The winning number is 270 as results continue to come in from five battleground states yet to be called for either candidate. Biden made a brief appearance with running mate Kamala Harris and stressed that every vote must be counted. “Power cannot be taken or asserted,” he said. “We the people will not be bullied.” Trump was holed up inside the White House with supporters and his Twitter account, issuing ominous tweets.

Meanwhile, supporters took to the streets in several cities, blocking highways and sometimes indulging in violence. Many gathered outside election offices in Phoenix, Arizona, to protest the alleged ‘fraud’ in counting. In Portland, Oregon, the National Guard was called in as protestors destroyed property and ATM machines in the downtown area.

Patience running thin

Portland has seen near-continuous protests for racial justice since summer, which sometimes turned violent.

It’s been two days since Americans voted and there is no clear winner. While it was known that a final decision could take days if not weeks, patience among hardcore supporters on both sides is running thin.

The fate of the election now rests on results from Arizona, where Trump is gaining; Pennsylvania, where the Trump campaign has mounted their biggest legal challenge; Georgia, where Biden is catching up, Nevada, which hangs on razor-thin margins and North Carolina, where Trump has a slight lead over Biden.

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Biden has more ways to get to the 270 electoral votes required to win while Trump has a very narrow path. But both need to win Pennsylvania, the battleground for a legal fight. The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit Thursday morning demanding that votes that came after November 3 be rejected. More than 700,000 mail-in ballots are still to be counted.

The matter may well land in the US Supreme Court, which sent the case back once already but left a window open allowing for reconsideration of the state court’s decision.

The increasingly thin margins separating the two candidates have raised the stakes even higher with lawyers from both camps aggressively posturing to defend their side. Trump lawyers are trying to halt vote-counting in Michigan while demanding a recount in Wisconsin and claiming that illegal votes have been cast in Nevada by people who no longer live in the state.

The legal morass is potentially bigger and messier than 2000 when the presidential election was decided by the US Supreme Court. Republican George W Bush became the president based on the ruling, leaving Democrat Al Gore in the wilderness even though Gore had won the popular vote. The presidency was essentially decided by a mere 500-odd votes.

The Democrats are better prepared in 2020 with lawyers and strategies. Bob Bauer, the senior lawyer for the Biden campaign, said on Wednesday, “We’re winning the election, we’ve won the election and we’re going to defend that election.”


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