Joe Biden asked his supporters early on Wednesday to “keep the faith” and remain patient as the counting goes on in the drawn-out US presidential election, as Donald Trump claimed without evidence that the Democrats were attempting to “steal” the vote and appeared poised to declare an unfounded victory.
The Democratic presidential candidate emerged after midnight to speak on the election results that have left the outcome in the balance. He spent the evening watching the returns come in from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, then drove downtown by motorcade to make his statement outside the Chase Center.
He told a gathering of supporters that his hopes for victory remain high despite the uncertainty and cautioned them that it could take a day or longer to know who won. He told them: “Your patience is commendable.”
“We feel good about where we are. We believe we are on track to win this election,” added Biden.
Trump, meanwhile, announced he would be making a statement late Tuesday, tweeting about a “big WIN.”
In another tweet flagged by the social media giant as disputed and misleading, the US president added: “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!”
I will be making a statement tonight. A big WIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2020
“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare the winner of this election. It’s the voters’ place,” Biden tweeted overnight in response to Trump’s earlier tweet.
Prior to the election, Trump was widely believed to plan to declare victory prematurely, before the results were called. He disputed that on Tuesday.
Hours after the polls have closed across America, the result is up in the air.
A number of key states still have hundreds of thousands of ballots outstanding, after a large influx of mail ballots have slowed down the count in states across the nation.
Neither candidate had the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency during an epic campaign that will shape America’s response to the surging pandemic and foundational questions of economic fairness and racial justice.
The two men were locked in tight races across the country, with Trump retaining Texas and claiming the battlegrounds of Ohio, Florida and Iowa while Biden won Minnesota and New Hampshire, two modest prizes the president had hoped to take.
Races were too early to call in some of other fiercely contested and critical states on the map, including North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania. The president, by early Wednesday, had retained many states he won in 2016 and, as long predicted, the race in part seemed to rest on the three northern industrial states where Trump most surprised the Democrats four year ago — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Anti-Trump protesters gather near White House
More than 1,000 people protesting Trump descended on Black Lives Matter Plaza on Tuesday night, just a block from the White House, while hundreds more marched through parts of downtown Washington, sometimes blocking traffic and setting off fireworks.
Scattered protests also took place from Seattle to New York City, but across the US there were no signs of serious violence or widespread unrest in the hours immediately after the polls closed.
The demonstrations in Washington were largely peaceful, with people shouting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” and “If we don’t get no justice, they don’t get no peace!”
Groups of teenagers danced in the street as onlookers cheered. Large banners, including one reading “Trump lies all the time,” were unfurled.
At one point, the marchers stabbed the tires of a parked police van to flatten them.
Hundreds of businesses in cities across the US boarded up their doors and windows ahead of the election, fearing the vote could lead to the sort of violence that broke out earlier this year after the death of George Floyd under a Minneapolis police officer’s knee.
“Some people would like to cause mayhem and trouble,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said earlier in the day. She said she had never seen so many businesses being boarded up: “That all saddens me.”