Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in the 2020 election against President Donald Trump, has overtaken the incumbent in Georgia and Pennsylvania, two states that are crucial for Trump to have any chance to win.
Georgia was the first state to see the candidates swap places early on Friday morning. As vote totals throughout the week were updated, due to a high volume of absentee ballots that had been cast, Biden began to close Trump’s lead to just a few thousand votes late Thursday night.
That shift continued into Friday. After the results from Clayton County came in — a county that portions of which are within the state’s Fifth Congressional District, which was held by the late Rep. John Lewis until his death this past summer — Biden took over the lead.
Though the former vice president now leads in Georgia, Trump’s legal team is likely to contest a Biden victory in the state, which would grant him 16 Electoral College votes. State law allows for a recount if the difference between candidates is less than one-half of 1 percent.
Biden also closed the gap with Trump in Pennsylvania, and took a narrow lead in the Keystone State on Friday morning, according to updated vote count totals. This shift occurred after several Democratic-leaning areas reported their ballots later than usual due to the influx of absentee ballots, which were utilized primarily by Democratic voters because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania would be an enormous victory if he continues to hold or grow his lead there. The state’s 20 Electoral College votes would put the Democratic candidate over the 270 threshold needed to win the presidency.
Beyond Georgia and Pennsylvania, Biden is also in the lead in two other states that are also still counting ballots. As of 9:15 am Eastern Time, Biden led in Nevada by a very slim margin of about 0.9 percent of the vote, while he also led Trump in Arizona by about 1.6 percent.
Assuming Biden is able to win Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, his Electoral College vote total would be at or near 306 votes, versus Trump’s 232 (assuming the president wins North Carolina and a still-contested congressional district in Maine).
Before vote totals shifted to Biden’s favor on Friday, Trump on the previous night lambasted the continued counting of votes in those four states, holding a press briefing deriding the process and wrongly arguing that updated totals were fraudulent.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us,” Trump said on Thursday.
In actuality, none of the votes included in the totals that the president was complaining about were “illegal votes,” and Trump offered zero proof to back up his claims. The votes he had depicted as being illegitimate were legally cast prior to Election Day but were counted at a slower pace than usual due to the historically high rate of absentee ballot requests in this year’s race.