Tuesday

24th Nov 2020

Trump doing well in US election nail-biter

  • Washington DC - election day was peaceful despite fears of potential unrest (Photo: Eric B. Walker)

Europeans hoping to wake up to news that US Republican Party president Donald Trump was on his way out would be disappointed on Wednesday (4 November).

By 7.30AM Brussels time, the pro-European Democratic Party contender, Joe Biden, had a slim lead, with 224 out of the 270 votes in the so-called Electoral College that he needed to win, while Trump had 213.

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But that was a bit of an illusion.

Biden had won in Democratic Party strongholds, such as California and New York State, which have large populations and commanded large numbers of Electoral College votes.

The anti-European Trump had won in Republican Party fortresses, such as Kansas and Oklahoma, which are sparsely populated and counted less in the Electoral College.

He had also won in Florida, Ohio, and Texas - weighty swing states, with Florida, especially, seen as a historical predictor of the overall result.

But there was no decisive outcome yet in other swing states on the east coast - Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

And there was also uncertainty in big swing states further west - Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Trump was nosing ahead in all of them, except Arizona.

But the idea that Trump was sweeping toward victory might also be an illusion.

Trump needs to win almost all the swing states to get 270 Electoral College votes.

But vote counting was proceeding slowly in some key places, such as Pennsylvania (just 64 percent counted).

And Biden could start nosing ahead of Trump when pre-mailed votes were tallied up after on-the-day votes, because more Democrats tended to vote by post and these take longer to count.

In another indicator, 34 percent of voters told a Reuters news agency exit poll that the economy was their main concern, boding well for the pro-business Trump.

But racial inequality (21 percent) and the pandemic (18 percent) - two areas in which Trump had done badly - were the next big priorities.

The situation means the final result might not be called even on Wednesday or Thursday.

And the uncertainty could drag out longer if Biden or Trump launched legal battles for recounts.

Quiet day

There were no reports of election-day violence or serious levels of voter intimidation, as had been feared following a severely divisive campaign in a country awash with guns.

And there were no reports of last-minute disinformation tsunamis or cyber-attacks by foreign powers.

For his part, the 74-year old Trump held an election-night party at the White House with some 100 guests.

He said almost nothing to press and sounded tired on Tuesday night.

The 77-year old Joe Biden watched the results roll in with a much smaller group of aides and relatives and also stayed quiet.

But Trump came back to form early on Wednesday, tweeting: "We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it".

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