Democrat Joe Biden edged closer to winning the White House on Friday, expanding his narrow leads over President Donald Trump in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Georgia even as Republicans sought to raise $60 million to fund lawsuits challenging the results.
Trump remained defiant, vowing to press unfounded claims of fraud as a weary, anxious nation waited for clarity in an election that only intensified the country’s deep polarisation.
On the fourth day of vote counting, former Vice President Biden had a 253 to 214 lead in the state-by-state Electoral College vote that determines the winner, according to Edison Research.
Securing Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes would put Biden over the 270 he needs to win the presidency after a political career stretching back nearly five decades.
Biden would also win if he prevails in two of the three other key states where he was narrowly ahead on Friday: Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. Like Pennsylvania, all three were still processing ballots on Friday.
Nationwide, Biden led Trump by 4.1 million votes out of a record 147 million cast.
However, his lead was much smaller in those four contested states: just 83 038 votes out of more than 16 million cast. In Georgia, he led by a mere 3 962 votes.
As Biden’s lead grew in Pennsylvania, hundreds of Democrats gathered outside Philadelphia’s downtown vote-counting site,wearing yellow shirts reading “Count Every Vote.”
Two men were charged with gun offenses after being arrested near the center,which has become a focal point for protests.
Local media showed stickers on their vehicle promoting QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy theory.
In Detroit, a crowd of Trump supporters, some armed,protested outside a counting location, waving flags and chanting, “Fight!”
Under the banner of “Stop the Steal,” Trump supporters planned 62 separate rallies for Friday and Saturday.
Biden planned to deliver a prime-time address on Friday, according to two people familiar with his schedule, even if television networks have not called the race for him.
As the votes trickled in, Democrats grew increasingly frustrated that Biden had not yet been declared the winner.
“These outlets have been bullied by Trump,” Democratic strategist Brad Woodhouse wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Trump showed no sign he was ready to concede, as his campaign pursued a series of lawsuits that legal experts said were unlikely to alter the election outcome.
“Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President. I could make that claim also. Legal proceedings are just now beginning!” he wrote on Twitter.
Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President. I could make that claim also. Legal proceedings are just now beginning!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2020
Trump earlier leveled an extraordinary attack on the democratic process, appearing at the White House on Thursday evening to falsely claim the election was being “stolen” from him.
Election officials across the nation have said they are unaware of any significant irregularities.
Some of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress said he should tone down his rhetoric.
The Republican National Committee is looking to collect at least $60 million from donors to fund Trump’s legal challenges, two sources familiar with the matter said.
In both Pennsylvania and Georgia, Biden overtook Trump as officials processed thousands of mail-in ballots that were cast in urban Democratic strongholds including Philadelphia and Atlanta.