CHICAGO (CBS) — The race for president is still too close to call, CBS News has declared Joe Biden the winner in Wisconsin and Michigan, while the race in Pennsylvania and two other swing states in the South remain tight in determining control of the White House.
While Illinois was a lock for former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, the results in Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t become clear until Wednesday afternoon.
Biden’s victory in two states that key parts of Mr. Trump’s coalition in 2016 significantly limits the president’s pathways to reelection, with just four states still considered toss-ups in CBS News’ estimates. Biden currently holds a lead of 20,510 votes in Wisconsin with nearly all votes counted, and a lead of roughly 61,000 votes in Michigan.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 4, 2020
Even before news organizations began projecting Biden to win the state Wednesday afternoon, Bill Stepien, President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, said the campaign would “immediately” seek a recount, which is permitted in Wisconsin when the margin of victory is less than 1 percentage point. Biden’s lead stands at about 0.6 percentage points.
Stepien said the campaign also moved to file suit in Michigan court to stop officials from counting ballots there, saying campaign observers have been denied adequate access to vote-tallying locations. Biden has opened a lead of roughly 45,000 votes in Michigan as counting continues in the state.
The president has falsely claimed victory in the election, portraying the orderly counting of millions of legally cast votes as an illegitimate effort to steal the election and vowing to challenge the continued counting all the way to the Supreme Court. Elections officials across the country said Wednesday that the vote-counting process has gone smoothly, with few if any irregularities.
CBS News still considers North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Georgia toss-ups. Biden is currently projected to win states that control 253 electoral votes, just 17 votes shy of the 270 needed to win the White House. The president’s total, which includes large swing states like Florida and Ohio, stands at 213.
It could be days before it’s clear which candidate has secured the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. Arizona and Nevada are leaning to Biden.
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The results in Wisconsin went back and forth much of the night on Tuesday. Around 2 a.m. Wednesday, President Trump still had the lead, but things took a turn in Biden’s favor between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m.
As of 1 p.m.., with 98% of the vote counted, Biden was leading in Wisconsin 49.5% to 48.8% — a margin of less than 21,000 votes.
Election authorities in Milwaukee County are still counting absentee ballots.
Around 3 a.m., absentee ballots that had been tallied and placed on encrypted USB drives were delivered to the Milwaukee County Courthouse, and it could take a couple more days to certify all those votes.
“These are the unofficial results, so I will say that as well. We need to certify these results, and it’s certified on three levels. The municipal clerks will certify beginning on [Wednesday]. The Milwaukee County clerks, we will certify beginning on Thursday. Our certification will take place. We must be completely done and our files submitted to the state by Tuesday, November 17th,” Milwaukee County Elections Director Julietta Henry said.
Meantime, in Michigan, tens of thousands of votes also were still being counted on Wednesday, as Biden also pulled into a narrow lead over President Trump.
All eyes are on Wayne County, which includes the state’s largest city of Detroit. The ballot count in Wayne County is only about 73% complete, and many of the remaining votes are expected to favor Biden, since it’s a traditionally Democratic county, which could increase his lead.
Wayne County Clerk Cathy M. Garrett was short and to the point Wednesday morning.
“We’re not in a competition. It’s just very important that we are accurate, and we will be here until the job is done,” Garrett said.
Completing the count in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina also could take a couple more days. President Trump currently holds leads in all three of those states, but particularly in Pennsylvania, uncounted mail-in ballots are expected to favor Biden, and could potentially swing the state in his favor.