Joe Biden has pulled ahead in Michigan and Wisconsin, two crucial states where victories would put him on the cusp of the presidency.
Late-reporting Wisconsin vote counts out of Milwaukee more than erased a 100,000-vote lead that President Trump had as of early Wednesday morning. Biden’s lead grew larger with subsequent updates out of Green Bay and Kenosha, leaving him more than 20,000 votes ahead of Trump with little vote left to be counted in the state.
Biden also pulled ahead in Michigan for the first time at around 9 a.m. EST, jumping to a slim lead and erasing a once-massive Trump lead with late-counting absentee votes. There’s still a lot of votes to be counted in Michigan, but the remaining vote looks heavily Democratic.
If those leads both hold up, and the rest of Biden’s state leads do too, he will have won enough Electoral College votes to become president. And Georgia and Pennsylvania all still have significant numbers of Democratic-heavy mail ballots left to be counted that could put Biden over the top in either one of them as well.
The hard shift to Biden in Michigan and Wisconsin is a pattern that’s repeating itself in Pennsylvania as well. All three states didn’t start counting mail ballots until very late, mail votes are disproportionately Democratic this election, and the largest troves of votes left to be counted in those states are in heavily Democratic metro areas.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) said on CNN Wednesday morning that hundreds of thousands of votes remained to be counted, but said the state will have “much more complete picture” of the results by the end of the day.
Pennsylvania is expected to take longer, but there are 1.4 million votes left to be counted in the state. It’s not totally clear that they’ll break hard enough for Biden to overcome his current 675,000-vote deficit in the state, but based on other voting patterns he has a clear shot to win Pennsylvania as well.
The reason Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are all taking so long to count their votes is that Republican state legislators refused to change the rules to allow the states to begin preparing mail ballots to be counted before Election Day, as is allowed in most other states. In Michigan, they gave local officials a one-day head start in larger counties, but Wisconsin and Pennsylvania Republicans refused even that limited concession, forcing local officials to wait to count an unprecedented number of mail ballots.
And in Georgia, slow vote-counting in metro Atlanta means that Biden could very well pull ahead there when all is said and done too. Roughly 250,000 votes are left to be counted, with Trump’s lead standing at just over 100,000 in the state.
Biden is not completely out of the woods yet. His lead in Nevada is just 7,600 votes, and while late-counting ballots look like they’ll benefit him, there’s enough votes outstanding that there’s some uncertainty in the state’s final results. The state won’t announce new ballot counts until Thursday.
Wisconsin is close enough that former Gov. Scott Walker (R), a close Trump ally, was already hinting at a recount Wednesday morning:
But Wisconsin Democrats are confident that Biden’s lead will stand. State party chairman Ben Wikler declared victory:
Trump has made it clear he won’t accept defeat. In a 2:30 a.m. EST speech Wednesday morning, he demanded that vote-counting be halted and baselessly claimed the election was being stolen from him.
And GOP lawsuits loom. Trump declared early Wednesday morning that he wanted to go to the Supreme Court to stop all vote-counting, and while he doesn’t have a legal argument to do so his team is preparing lawsuits to try to disenfranchise as many Democrats as possible to grind out a win in these key states. His team already launched one lawsuit in the Philadelphia area to try to bar mail voters from fixing ballots with technical errors, and more are likely on the way.
But right now, it looks like there are very few major election issues that Trump could seize on for a successful court fight. Things are looking up for Biden and Democrats. After an arduously slow election night, he has the edge in the high-stakes battle for the White House.