CHICAGO (CBS Chicago/CBS News) — As of 10 p.m. Central Time Wednesday, five states remained in play in the 2020 presidential election – Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Ballots were still being counted late Wednesday in all of those states, and they could shift the course of history in the 2020 presidential election, in which former Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden is looking to unseat President Donald Trump.
Earlier Wednesday, CBS News projected Biden is the winner in Wisconsin and Michigan, capturing 26 electoral votes and inching closer to the 270 he needs to capture the White House and deny President Trump a second term.
Biden’s victory in two states that were 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.
Even before news organizations began projecting Biden to win Wisconsin Wednesday afternoon, Bill Stepien, the president’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 in the state 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. The campaign followed that announcement with three more legal actions in Pennsylvania, where Biden has cut into the president’s lead as votes were counted over the course of the day.
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.
President Trump’s actions with regard to the election have sparked protests around the country, including in Chicago. But as CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, Democrats and critics from Wisconsin and Michigan said the Trump administration’s maneuvers have a slim chance of working.
In Detroit on Wednesday, a crowd gathered in front of the TCF Center demanding that the vote count in Michigan be stopped.
While Michigan was called for Biden, the tally is not final. The state has joined a growing list of battleground states now facing lawsuits from the trump campaign.
In calling for the recount in Wisconsin, the Trump administration cited voting irregularities, but did not provide specifics.
“He’s the President of the United States currently, and his tone is one of a 10-year-old child,” said Phu Ngo of Milwaukee.
“Apparently, Trump is going to, you know, dispute it anyway, so, but in the end, I’m sure Biden will be the winner,” said Jennifer from Milwaukee.
President Trump was against a recount in 2012 – when he was not a candidate. On Nov. 3, 2012 – three days before President Barack Obama won reelection against Republican Mitt Romney, President Trump tweeted, “We don’t want to have a recount in any of the battleground states. Obama will steal it. Make sure all your friends and family vote.”
“That’s just his nature,” said Riley Taylor of Milwaukee. “I don’t think he’s going to be a fair loser.”
“It’s probably going to be tied up in courts for a long time,” said Kurt Spiering of Milwaukee. “I would prefer to have certainty in vote than have this curious position we are in now.”
But could President Trump’s tactics work?
“It may be the only path to success here would be to challenge some of the existing results,” said Chicago election attorney Scott Uhler.
But Uhler said there is a risk in asking for a recount.
“What you find in a lot of these cases is when you do a recount thinking that you’re going to find more votes for your side, you end up finding more votes for the other side,” Uhler said.
As he warned he would, President Trump is now trying to cast doubt baselessly on the election in at least two Midwest battleground states.
“There’s going to be lots of recounts,” said Mary from Michigan. “I’d like to have seen it have end today so we know.”
In the Michigan lawsuit, the president’s campaign says there should have been more access for poll watchers. Again, critics of the president believe this litigation is really a Hail Mary effort by the president at this point.
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