The first results of the US election were released on Wednesday morning after polls in a number of states closed at midnight Irish time.
Predictable wins for each candidate were seen early on, with Mr Trump taking Kentucky and West Virginia and Mr Biden winning Virginia and Vermont.
Mr Biden entered Election Day with multiple avenues to victory, while Mr Trump, who was catching up in a number of battlefield states, had a narrower but still feasible path to getting 270 votes for the electoral college.
LIVE: Follow the US election results as the drama unfolds
Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Alabama were called for Donald Trump while Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut, Alabama, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island were called for Joe Biden, all of which were expected.
While Irish voters are used to waiting days for election results due to the PR-STV (proportional representation by the single transferable vote) voting system and the dangers of over-interpreting early trends, this is a different story here in the US.
Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to question the election results, arguing that the post election night result could “turn around” if more votes are counted. Due to the high number of early votes this year, a conclusive result may not be available for days. . . or even weeks. Trump has already said: “As soon as the election is over, we’ll go with our lawyers.”
Senate control is also at stake. Democrats will have to win three seats if Mr Biden takes the White House to take control of all of Washington for the first time in a decade. The house is expected to remain under democratic control.
A new anti-debris fence was built around the White House. In cities from New York to Denver to Minneapolis, workers have boarded up companies if the vote provokes unrest.
The previous Tuesday, Americans flocked to the election to vote for either incumbent Republican Donald Trump or Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who will be one of for the next four years after a fierce campaign that exposed the depths of political divisions in the US To lead pandemic-ridden nation.
Mr Trump faces a daunting challenge from Mr Biden, a seasoned politician who served as Vice President under former President Barack Obama for eight years and who has successfully got the Democratic Party behind him on its toes.
Tuesday’s elections take place against the unique backdrop of a coronavirus pandemic that killed more than 230,000 Americans and turned traditional campaign and election methods upside down. It was confirmed overnight that nearly 100 million Americans had already cast their vote – an unprecedented number suggesting this election could break the turnout.
In many ways, the election is a referendum on Mr Trump – the brand new political freshman who won a stunning victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton four years ago. Despite serving nearly four years in office, the president has continued to advocate for ordinary Americans as a political outsider.
In his final argument, Mr Biden returned to his core election message that he could restore the unity of a divided country. “Tomorrow we can end a presidency that has divided this nation. Tomorrow we can end a presidency that has not protected this nation. Tomorrow we can end a presidency that has fanned the flames of hatred in this nation, ”he said Monday at a campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio.
Although polls show Mr Biden is ahead nationally and in key swing states, Mr Trump still has a path to victory. As a sign of the importance of Pennsylvania – a battlefield state that Trump won with just 44,000 votes in 2016 – both campaigns ran across the state on Monday, with the president holding a campaign rally in his opponent’s hometown, Scranton.
Mr. Biden and his run mate Kamala Harris co-hosted various events across the state with music stars Lady Gaga and John Legend. With 20 electoral college votes, Pennsylvania is a must for candidates seeking a path to the 270 electoral college votes required to secure the presidency.
Mr Trump has been stepping up his attacks on the electoral system in the past few days. When Mr. Trump arrived in North Carolina on Sunday evening, he stated, “As soon as the elections are over, we’ll get in touch with our lawyers.”
Mr Trump has repeatedly alleged, without evidence, that postal ballot papers are subject to fraud. In the last few days he has also argued that only election night votes should be counted, although in the past states have taken more time to finalize the votes. He has suggested that he could try using the dishes to stop the counting.
A judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to search some mail processing facilities for late ballot paper Tuesday afternoon and immediately send them out for delivery in key states such as Pennsylvania and Florida. Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating a spate of mysterious robocalls urging people to stay home on election day.
One voter, Monique King, a 54-year-old surgical technologist, walked straight to her polling station at a college basketball gym in Santa Monica, California at 7 a.m. after finishing a 12-hour night shift at her hospital.
“I think the coronavirus has been treated incorrectly,” said Ms. King. “I think we have too many deaths. I can’t do Trump another four years. . . Lie about lie about lie. “
In McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania, voters lined up in jackets and hats on a cool morning.
“He’s a bit of an idiot and I appreciate that,” said Martin Seylar, a 45-year-old welder who had just finished his shift, of Mr. Trump, his preferred candidate. “He doesn’t get everything he says done, but the way I see it, he tries, unlike when everyone else is blowing smoke on us.”
Mr Trump, who sounded tired and hoarse after days of hectic campaigning, predicted he would win on Fox News Tuesday morning during a phone interview.
“We have crowds that no one has seen before,” said Trump, who has been criticized by the Democrats for holding overcrowded rallies despite socially distant recommendations. “I think that means a lot of votes.”
“I think we’re going to have a great night,” said MrTrump on a later performance in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington. He said he hadn’t considered delivering a concession or acceptance speech yet.
Mr Biden traveled to Scranton, his birthplace, on Tuesday morning. Speaking to a few dozen volunteers using a megaphone, Mr. Biden returned to some of his familiar campaign topics, promising to unite Americans and “restore basic decency and honor to the White House.”
He later stopped at his childhood home where he signed one of the living room walls and wrote, “From this house to the White House by the grace of God. Joe Biden 11-3-2020. ”
The most competitive states expected to determine the outcome include Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona, and Georgia. The Democrats hope Mr Biden could threaten Mr Trump even in states that once looked like Republican castles, Ohio, Iowa and Texas.
The pandemic, which left more people in the US unemployed, made election day feel anything but normal. Election workers and voters in masks and people stood several feet apart. Experts predict the total number of votes could reach 160 million, exceeding the 138 million votes cast in 2016.
In anticipation of possible protests, some buildings and shops in Los Angeles and New York were also boarded up.
US stocks rose Tuesday as investors bet Mr Biden would prevail and usher in new stimulus spending.
Tuesday’s voters will also decide which political party will control the US Congress for the next two years, with the Democrats barely in favor of regaining a Senate majority and maintaining control of the House of Representatives.
In addition to the pandemic, the country was also rocked by months of protests against racism and police brutality this year.
Mr Trump downplayed the pandemic, saying the country was around the corner, despite numerous states setting one-day records for new infections in the last few days of the campaign.
The most closely watched results will be visible after 7:00 p.m. EST when polls in states like Georgia close. However, it is possible that it will take days for the president’s outcome to be known, especially given the massive surge in postal votes due to the pandemic.
Some major states like Florida start postal ballot counting before election day and could deliver results relatively quickly on Tuesday night. Others, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, are banned from processing the vast majority of postal ballot papers by election day, increasing the possibility of a vote count that could stretch over several days. Additional coverage: – Reuters
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