NEW YORK/WASHINGTON — The 2020 U.S. presidential election has become a tense showdown, with incumbent President Donald Trump claiming victory and “fraud” as Democrats insist uncounted ballots in crucial swing states can still put their candidate, Joe Biden, in the White House.
For weeks, former Vice President Biden had a wide lead in the national polls, with narrower advantages in key battleground states. But just as he did in 2016, Trump defied predictions, holding red states across the Rust Belt, as well as the major battlegrounds of Florida and Ohio.
In most scenarios that leaves the race up to Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states Trump wrestled away from Hillary Clinton to win four years ago. Trump was leading all three in the early hours of Wednesday, but restrictions on counting mail-in ballots before Election Day meant this could still change, with the early votes expected to favor Biden.
Arizona, a state Trump carried in 2016, does appear to have flipped to Biden. And all eyes were on typically red Georgia, which looked to be tilting toward the Democrats as a potential game changer, according to U.S. media outlets — despite Trump’s protestations that “they can’t catch us” there.
The record level of early voting this year has complicated the process, delaying the outcome and prompting Trump to claim his opponents are trying to “steal” the election and “disenfranchise” the millions who voted for him. Biden, for his part, called on his supporters to “keep the faith.”
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, at least 101 million Americans cast ballots before Election Day, compared to 47 million in 2016, according to the US Elections Project. All told, the 2020 turnout is shaping up to be the highest in a presidential election since 1908.
Nikkei Asia is following the results live. For all our coverage on the election, visit our U.S. Elections 2020 page.
Here are the latest developments (U.S. Eastern time):
Wednesday, Nov. 4
6:00 a.m. While we wait, Nikkei Asia continues to look into a burning question: How might this election affect the U.S.-China relationship?
We spoke with Jonathan Choi, chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, the largest pro-Beijing business organization in the territory. He believes Washington’s tough stance against Beijing — and the Beijing-backed Hong Kong government — will persist regardless of who wins the White House. Trump “may be more serious” while Biden could engage “in a more gentle way,” but for Choi, “American policy toward China and Hong Kong is quite clear, no matter who the president is.”
Earlier, Graham Allison, a Harvard University professor and leading national security analyst, offered his thoughts at an online forum hosted by Credit Suisse. He predicted a “more orderly, business-like relationship” if Biden prevails, while Trump would be “very idiosyncratic.”
“Even though [Trump] blamed China for everything, you could even imagine him going back and doing some grand deal,” Allison said. In any case, the professor predicted, “We may not know who the clear winner is for some days.”
5:35 a.m. A Wisconsin vote counting machine reportedly ran out of ink, holding up the results. The ink is being replaced.
5:30 a.m. U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes now makes Biden the favorite to win the election. It’s still a tight market, though, with the Democratic candidate’s odds coming down to 8/11, compared with Trump’s 11/10.
4:55 a.m. Biden has taken a razor-thin lead in Wisconsin, according to multiple U.S. news outlets. But only around 10,000 votes separate him from Trump and there are still ballots to be counted.
4:35 a.m. The Democratic chair in Wisconsin expressed optimism a short while ago that Biden will ultimately carry the swing state Trump won in 2016. Ten electoral votes are up for grabs.
4:15 a.m. Biden’s campaign manager slams Trump’s victory claim and demand to stop counting votes, in a statement reported by U.S. media outlets. “The counting will not stop. It will continue until every duly cast vote is counted. Because that is what our laws — the laws that protect every Americans’ constitutional right to vote — require,” Jen O’Malley Dillon is quoted as saying.
3:50 a.m. Trump boasted earlier that he was up by 600,000 votes in Pennsylvania, arguing his lead was insurmountable. But the state’s governor, Democrat Tom Wolf, has insisted that every ballot must — and will — be counted.
3:35 a.m. U.S. media reports suggest a software issue is holding up the counting in Georgia — the outcome of which could have a major impact on who wins the White House. The New York Times estimates 130,000 votes for Biden in the state remain uncounted.
3:30 a.m. Biden has won Maine, according to AP. That gives him another four electoral votes in a race where it seems every one might matter.
3:15 a.m. Trump’s speech sends Dow Jones futures diving over 400 points, or 1.6%, while S&P futures slip 0.5%.
2:55 a.m. AP calls Arizona for Biden, backing up FOX’s early call. This makes him the first Democrat to win the southwestern state since Bill Clinton — and marks the first state to flip sides from the 2016 election.
2:50 a.m. U.S. Treasury yields quickly fell as Trump claimed he would “go to the Supreme Court” to stop the voting. The benchmark 10-year yield was down 0.1 of a percentage point, trading at 0.77%.
Earlier, the Nikkei Stock Average closed up 1.7%.
2:25 a.m. Trump speaks off the cuff at the White House, telling supporters to get ready for a celebration and claiming that he’s won states that have not yet been called, including Georgia and North Carolina. “This is a fraud on the American public,” he says of delays in declaring the winner.
“As far as I’m concerned, we already have won,” Trump says.
“We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 a.m. in the morning and add them to the list.”
2:05 a.m. Trump is expected to speak at any moment. While we wait, here’s a tweet from the attorney general of Pennsylvania, a crucial state that remains up in the air. It sounds like the result there may not be known anytime soon.
1:35 a.m. Meanwhile, Oregon earlier tonight became the first state in the nation to approve the use of psilocybin, also known as hallucinogenic mushrooms, according to the AP.
1:20 a.m. Rhode Island’s four electoral votes go to Biden, according to multiple outlets. With Trump’s tweets suggesting he’s ready to declare himself the winner, Biden fired back a little while ago.
1:08 a.m. AP calls Texas and its 38 electoral votes for Trump. Democrats were not counting on the typically solid red state to turn blue, but there had been signs they might be making inroads.
12:49 a.m. Trump accuses Democrats of trying to steal the election, despite his apparent position of strength at the moment. Twitter slaps a warning about possible misinformation over the tweet.
In a separate tweet, Trump says he intends to make a statement tonight, writing, “A big WIN!” Ahead of the election, many critics had expressed concern that the president might declare victory early, before the results in key states are clear.
12:45 a.m. Biden speaks at a drive-in election event, with his wife Jill. “We believe we’re on track to win this election,” he says, asking for patience while mail-in votes are counted.
“Keep the faith guys,” Biden says as supporters honk their horns. “We’re going to win this.”
12:35 a.m. After a long wait, AP agrees with FOX: Trump has won Florida, repeating his victory there in 2016.
12:30 a.m. Biden is expected to speak at any moment. Let’s see what he has to say.
12:20 a.m. State by state results keep coming: AP calls Iowa and Montana for Trump, with Minnesota going to Biden. Georgia, a state Trump won in 2016, is tilting toward Biden, according to the New York Times.
12:10 a.m. U.K. bookmakers make Trump the favorite to win the election. Ladbrokes puts the odds on the president being re-elected at 8/13, with Biden at 6/5. Biden appears to have picked up Hawaii and Virginia.
12:05 a.m. Broadcasters NBC, ABC and CNN join FOX in calling Ohio for Trump.
12:01 a.m. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who won in South Carolina against a well-funded Democratic challenger, says he has had two calls from the president tonight. “He’s going to win. To all the pollsters out there, you have no idea what you’re doing,” Graham says at his victory party.
Tuesday, Nov. 3
11:55 p.m. FOX, once again quick with its trigger, calls Ohio for Trump after giving him Florida. If these results hold, that would be two huge wins for the president, who also carried both states and their combined 47 electoral votes in 2016. But other media outlets still consider these races too close to call.
11:50 p.m. Google searches for “how to move to Canada” and “emigrating to Canada” have soared more than 600% in the last few hours in the U.S., amid the tight race.
11:30 p.m. After calling Florida for Trump, FOX again jumps ahead of the pack and chalks up Arizona’s 11 votes for Biden. The president carried the state in 2016.
11:25 p.m. Nate Silver, editor-in-chief of polling site FiveThirtyEight, tells U.S. network ABC that it might take days for the election to be resolved.
11:13 p.m. FOX is the first major U.S. network to call Florida and its critical 29 electoral votes for Trump. Other media outlets are still holding off, however.
11:10 p.m. U.S. stock futures turn volatile as the election results show Biden and Trump neck and neck. Nasdaq futures jumped over 3% at one point, enough to trigger a trading halt mechanism. S&P futures swung between gains and losses before climbing nearly 2% in the early afternoon, Tokyo time.
11:05 p.m. American networks are calling another batch of states: California, Oregon and Washington go to Biden, while Idaho goes to Trump. All are in line with expectations.
11:00 p.m. New Hampshire stays blue, with Biden picking up its four electoral votes, according to AP and other outlets. Clinton won the state narrowly in 2016. Most networks are calling Utah and its six votes for Trump.
10:40 p.m. Trump has won Missouri, AP projects. He also carried the state and its six electoral votes in 2016.
10:32 p.m. The Chinese yuan is falling, with the race between Trump and Biden going down to the wire in key battleground states — Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania among them. Bloomberg data shows the offshore yuan down as much as 0.7% to 6.7270 per dollar, with investors apparently factoring in the possibility of a second Trump term and continued pressure on Beijing.
10:30 p.m. U.S. networks are saying the Democrats will retain control of the House.
10:20 p.m. Republican Bill Hagerty, Trump’s former ambassador to Japan, has won his Senate race in Tennessee, according to AP. Meanwhile, the news agency has put New Mexico and its five electoral votes in the Biden column.
10:01 p.m. AP calls Kansas for Trump. The president’s key ally Sen. Lindsey Graham projected to win reelection from South Carolina.
9:52 p.m. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweets that the battle for Florida is “over,” and that the president won.
9:40 p.m. AP predicts Biden will win Colorado, one of the more contested states. Clinton won the state by 4.9% in 2016.
9:12 p.m. Young Republicans in New York boo at a watch party when their heavily blue state is called for Biden.
9:03 p.m. AP calls the states of Nebraska, Louisiana, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota for Trump. New York for Biden. Once again, no surprises.
8:57 p.m. With over 70% of votes counted in the swing state of North Carolina, Biden leads Trump 51.7%- 47.2%. The state was won by Trump by 3.6% in 2016.
8:50 p.m. Americans across the country are holding watch parties to follow the election results. In this Republican watch party in New York, the crowd burst into loud cheers for conservative FOX anchor Tucker Carlson.
8:40 p.m. AP calls Arkansas for Trump. The president won the state by 26 percentage points last time.
8:33 p.m. While votes are still being counted, Biden looks to be making gains in Ohio and Texas, two major states Trump won in 2016. With over 50% of votes counted, Biden is leading Trump by double digits. The state, with 18 electoral votes, was won by Trump by 8 points in 2016. No Republican candidate for the presidency has ever won election without winning Ohio.
8:17 p.m. CNBC projects Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to keep his seat in Kentucky.
8:03 p.m. AP calls Rhode Island, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts for Biden. Oklahoma, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee for Trump. CNN gives the District of Columbia to Biden. No surprises.
7:40 p.m. AP calls Virginia for Biden. Clinton won the state by 5 points in 2016, so the early call suggests the former vice president is performing well.
7:31 p.m. AP says Trump wins West Virginia. The president won the state by more than 40 points in 2016.
7:15 p.m. Japan’s equity benchmark Nikkei Stock Average opened higher on Wednesday morning, at one point rising over 500 points, or 2%, following an Election Day rally on Wall Street as investors hoped a clear winner would emerge.
7:01 p.m. CNN makes its first projection, giving the red state of Indiana to Trump. The president won the state in 2016 by 19 percentage points. AP calls the blue state of Vermont for Biden. Former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the state by 26 points. AP also gives Kentucky to Trump. But all eyes are on Florida, with 29 electoral college votes. Experts agree that the president will suffer a major setback for reelection if he loses the state.
6:40 p.m. While the world watches Americans cast their ballots, U.S. presidents are not directly elected by popular vote. Instead, they are chosen by 538 so-called electors through a process known as the Electoral College.
Each state has a certain number of electors based on population. Based on Tuesday’s polls, the electors then are expected to cast a vote based on the popular vote of each state.
So even if a candidate wins a state’s vote by a wide margin, he or she is only awarded the electoral votes for that state. Sometimes, this results in a president winning an election despite losing the popular vote as was the case in the 2000 and 2016 elections.
It takes 270 electoral college votes for a candidate to win the presidency.
Tuesday’s results give the country a projected winner as the electors don’t actually cast their votes until more than a month after citizens vote. This year, electors are scheduled to cast their votes on Dec. 14. This gives election officials time to resolve any controversies before the electors vote.
While electors are not required by the U.S. Constitution to follow their state’s popular vote, many states’ laws do. Though it’s rare, electors have challenged those laws and voted for someone else.
The electoral votes then must arrive within nine days to president of the Senate and the new Congress counts the electoral votes on Jan. 6.
The President-elect and Vice President-elect are then sworn in on Jan. 20.
6:10 p.m. Trump and Biden get Twitter endorsements from family and friends aimed at turning out the vote.
6:05 p.m. Polls have closed in Kentucky and Indiana. A stage has been set up in Wilmington, Delaware where Biden is expected to address the nation later in the night. Security is tight.
5:00 p.m. One hour until the first polls close on the East Coast. Never a dull moment in front of New York’s Trump Tower.
4:00 p.m. Will there be post-election unrest? Our reporters go live from Trump Tower.
3:30 p.m. As voters headed to polling stations across America, key buildings stepped up security measures anticipating possible unrest. Here are some scenes from Election Day.
2:45 p.m. What will the election mean for the tech industry? Silicon Valley correspondent Yifan Yu asks Robert Atkinson, president of Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, world’s top ranked tech policy think tank.
2:30 p.m. Biden has been leading pre-election national polling since September 2019, with a steady double-digit advantage over Trump. The latest average polling numbers on tracking site RealClearPolitics (Oct. 25 – Nov.2) has Biden leading Trump nationally by 51%-44%, a 7-point difference.
Polling in swing states have been much closer.
1:30 p.m. A federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to sweep facilities by 3 p.m. Eastern time, including in battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Florida, to ensure that no ballots have been held up and that they are immediately sent out for delivery. The decision is seen as a win for Biden, many of whose supporters have opted to vote by mail this year.
1:15 p.m. “We’re gonna have a great day. And we’re going to have — much more importantly — we’re gonna have a great four years,” Trump told reporters at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia early Tuesday afternoon, upon his return from campaigning in key swing states.
“Winning is easy, losing is never easy. Not for me. It’s not,” Trump said, saying he is not yet thinking of how to do a concession speech when asked by a reporter.
The president talked up his experience going college in Pennsylvania, a battleground state both he and Biden are trying to win over, and again sowed doubt over the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which no evidence suggests are more likely to be associated with fraud.
1:00 p.m. Biden visits his childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Election Day. He signs one of the living room walls, writing: “From this house to the White House with the grace of God. Joe Biden 11-3-2020.”
Both side have spent most of the last few days of campaigning in the Keystone State. In 2016, Trump narrowly won the state by less than 1 percentage point. But he also made history, for Pennsylvania voted for a Democratic president for the last six elections.
12:30 p.m. First Lady Melania Trump votes in person at a community center in Palm Beach, Florida, about two miles north of Mar-a-Lago. The secret service cleared out the facility for the First Lady, who wore no mask.
Her husband voted early days ago.
11:48 a.m. Here is the latest from New York’s Chinatown.
11:40 a.m. Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweets that she voted.
11:30 a.m. U.S. stocks are on an Election Day rally. The Dow Industrial Average gained over 680 points, or 2.5%, at one point. The S&P 500 gained 2.3% and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 2.2%.
In an election note released Monday, Wall Street firm BlackRock noted that a scenario under which the Democrats win the White House, the House and the Senate may have the most impact across fiscal policy, investment, taxation, regulation and trade. “A Democratic sweep would tip us to a more pro-risk investment stance,” the world’s largest asset manager said.
10:30 a.m. Trump tells Fox & Friends that he will declare victory “only when there’s victory,” and that “there is no reason to play games.” The president says the crowd size at his events are unprecedented and that he sees a “very solid chance at winning.”
9:30 a.m. Almost 100 million people, equivalent to roughly the entire population of Vietnam, voted early in the 2020 U.S. election, according to Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida. About 35.7 million votes were cast in person while 63.9 million came from mail-in ballots.
8:00 a.m. One notable store that is not boarded up: The Gucci store in Trump Tower.
5:00 a.m. The first polling places open in the state of Vermont. The first polls close on the East Coast at 6:00 p.m.
Here are the times when voting closes in some of the key states:
— 7:00 p.m. Georgia. If Biden wins Georgia, it will be the first time a Democrat has carried the state since 1992 and a big boost to the former vice president. Trump won here by five points in 2016.
The Senate races in Kentucky and South Carolina involve Republican heavyweights Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, respectively.
— 7:30 p.m. North Carolina and Ohio.
— 8:00 p.m. Florida and Pennsylvania. Maine has a Senate race that is key to the Republicans holding on to their majority in the upper house.
— 9:00 p.m. Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin. Key Senate races in Arizona, Michigan, Colorado and Texas.
— 10:00 p.m. Iowa and Nevada
Monday, Nov. 2
9:00 p.m. Trump and Biden spent their final day of the campaign in key battleground states. Both spent time Monday in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
7:00 p.m. Stores across New York are boarded up on Monday, as the city braces for possible protests following the election. This summer, many shops in New York and other cities across the country were vandalized and looted during protests over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Following monthslong shutdowns driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers can ill afford more damage to their businesses. Here are some scenes from New York.
6:40 p.m. Like Trump, Biden spends part of his last day campaigning in Pennsylvania, pitching himself as a “union man” and slamming the president in a strongly worded tweet.
5:50 p.m. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Monday, probably the last of its kind ahead of election day, Biden appeared to hold a narrow lead over Trump in Florida.
The election is expected to come down to six swing states. Florida, with 29 electoral votes, is the biggest prize. The others are Pennsylvania with 20 votes, Michigan with 16 votes, North Carolina with 15 votes, Arizona with 11 votes and Wisconsin with 10 votes.
The Reuters poll shows Biden with a 50%-46% lead over Trump in Florida, a wider gap than the 49%-47% in the previous poll.
Here are the numbers for the other battleground states:
Pennsylvania: Biden 49%, Trump: 47%
Michigan: Biden 52%, Trump 42%
North Carolina: Biden 49%, Trump 48%
Arizona: Biden 49%, Trump 47%
Wisconsin: Biden 53%, Trump 43%
5:00 p.m. In the last 40 years, all U.S. presidents bar one have been elected to two consecutive terms. The exception, George H.W. Bush, was booted out of office by Bill Clinton, whose campaign theme: “It’s the economy, stupid,” resonated with voters frustrated by a recession.
4: 24 p.m. In a tweet aimed at swaying voters in the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania, Trump criticized the former Democrat vice president as soft on China.