Historic, divisive, and still now undecided, the 2020 presidential election has been a roller coaster.
With Election Day over and with the presidency still unclear, attention turns now to ballot counting in a handful of key battleground states.
This story will be updated throughout the day with the latest results.
With presidency in reach, Dems grapple with disappointment
Updated 4:17 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats went into Election Day hoping to reclaim the White House and majorities in both chambers of Congress in a victory that would demonstrate an unmistakable repudiation of President Donald Trump and a Republican Party remade in his image.
It didn't work out that way.
More than 12 hours after polls closed, Biden held a narrow lead in some key states with hundreds of thousands of votes yet to be counted, and he has a comfortable advantage in the national popular vote. But as of midday Wednesday, there was no clear Democratic wave.
Republicans held key Senate seats that Democrats hoped to flip, and the GOP may ultimately shrink the Democrats' House majority. And even if Trump were to ultimately lose, the closeness of the presidential contest raised the prospect that a Biden presidency would have difficulty enacting progressive priorities or quickly move past the cultural and partisan fissures of the Trump era.
“The Trump coalition is more stubborn and resilient and capable than maybe we anticipated,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly, a six-term Democratic lawmaker from Virginia. “The country is even more polarized and divided.”
Trump team says it's suing to stop Pennsylvania vote count
Updated 3:41 p.m.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s campaign said Wednesday that it is suing to temporarily stop the vote count in Pennsylvania, claiming lack of “transparency.”
Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement that the campaign is “suing to stop Democrat election officials from hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers.” He said the campaign wants “to temporarily halt counting until there is meaningful transparency and Republicans can ensure all counting is done above board and by the law.”
Clark also said the campaign would seek to intervene in an ongoing Supreme Court case involving the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots.
There have been no reports of fraud or any type of ballot concerns out of Pennsylvania. The state had more than 3.1 million mail-in ballots that take time to count, and an order allows them to be counted up until Friday if they are postmarked by Nov. 3.
The Associated Press has not yet called Pennsylvania. Democrat Joe Biden currently has 248 electoral votes, while Trump has 214. It takes 270 to win the presidency.
Trump sues for Michigan ballot access, asks for a Wisconsin recount
Update 2:34 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Michigan state court demanding access to locations where ballots are being counted in one of the undecided states that could determine whether President Donald Trump gets another four years in the White House.
The campaign said it is calling for a temporary halt in the counting until it is given “meaningful access” in numerous locations and allowed to review ballots that already have been opened and processed. Trump is running slightly behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden in Michigan.
The campaign also said it would ask for a recount in Wisconsin, a state The Associated Press called for Biden on Wednesday afternoon. Campaign manager Bill Stepien cited “irregularities in several Wisconsin counties.”
Former GOP stronghold of Arizona hands big wins to Democrats
Update 2:23 p.m.
PHOENIX (AP) — A changing electorate in Arizona handed historic victories to Democrats in the former Republican stronghold, with Joe Biden becoming only the second Democratic presidential candidate since 1948 to win the state. Retired astronaut Mark Kelly’s win gave the party both Senate seats for the first time in nearly 70 years.
The extraordinary turn of events had been building in a state long associated with late Sens. Barry Goldwater and John McCain, who were the Republican nominees for president in 1964 and 2008, respectively.
Democrats benefited from Arizona’s changing demographics, with more young people and Latinos registering to vote, an influx of new residents and unease among some suburban women about President Donald Trump.
Trump and his allies made an aggressive, but ultimately futile, push to hold on to Arizona, which he won by 3.5 percentage points in 2016.
Biden wins Wisconsin in fight for White House
Update 2:32 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The fate of the United States presidency hung in the balance Wednesday as Democratic challenger Joe Biden picked up a win in Wisconsin while fighting President Donald Trump in other battleground states that could prove crucial in determining who wins the White House.
Neither candidate cleared the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, and the margins were tight in several other battleground states. Top advisers for both Biden and Trump on Wednesday morning expressed confidence that they respectively had the likelier path to victory in the outstanding states.
The AP called Wisconsin for Biden after election officials in the state said all outstanding ballots had been counted, save for a few hundred in one township and an expected small number of provisional ballots.
Trump’s campaign has requested a recount. Statewide recounts in Wisconsin have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes; Biden leads by 0.624 percentage point out of nearly 3.3 million ballots counted.
Biden to address results; Trump to request Wisconsin recount
Update 1:30 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden will address the election results Wednesday afternoon, even as it remains too early for The Associated Press to call the presidential race.
The Democratic presidential candidate will issue a televised address in Wilmington, Delaware. He’s been watching the returns come in with family from his home there.
Biden’s campaign manager expressed confidence in an eventual win for Democrats during a call with reporters earlier Wednesday, pointing to their projections of the outcome in Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
But the AP is not calling the presidential race yet because neither candidate has secured the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory. The AP called Arizona for Biden, but several key states remain too early to call: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Nevada.
The Trump campaign issued a statement Wednesday saying it would request a recount in Wisconsin.
“Despite ridiculous public polling used as a voter suppression tactic, Wisconsin has been a razor thin race as we always knew that it would be,” campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement. “There have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results. The President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so.”
Officials have not released a final tally yet in the state.
As it stands, Biden has 238 electoral votes, while Trump has 214.
How Joe Biden can still win Pennsylvania
Update 1:22 p.m.
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania woke up Wednesday to President Donald Trump holding a significant advantage over Joe Biden in the initial votes counted so far: about 650,000 votes.
But Democrats and some Republicans said Wednesday morning that Biden still has a chance, and might even be something of a favorite to win the state, if narrowly.
If he does, it could nearly seal the election for him. Here's why he has a path, and what wrinkles remain as the vote count continues.
— There are a huge amount of mail ballots still to count
— On the other hand: The in-person vote is still unclear
— Biden can win without Pennsylvania
— Remaining questions include challenges and recounts
After tense night, election mystery remains for media
Update: 10:45 a.m.
After an extraordinary night of shifting vote counts and a rebuke of President Donald Trump, news organizations kept vigil Wednesday as Americans waited to learn who their next president would be.
For weeks, media outlets had warned that Americans would need patience on election night and beyond, and that turned out to be their most accurate prediction.
“We don't know who the next president of the United States will be,” CNN's John Berman told viewers shortly before 10 a.m. EST on Wednesday.
The overnight hours featured the stunning scene of journalists immediately refuting Trump after he stood behind a White House podium and complained it was “a major fraud on our nation” that he hadn't been declared the winner.
NBC News' Savannah Guthrie broke into Trump's statement to tell viewers that several of Trump's statements were untrue. “The fact of the matter is we don't know who won the election,” she said.
CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell said Trump was “castrating the facts” by “falsely claiming that he has won the election and disenfranchising millions of voters whose ballots have not been counted.”
“This is an extremely flammable situation and the president just threw a match into it,” said Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace.
Biden takes a slim lead over Trump in key battleground state of Michigan
Update: 10 a.m.
The nation awoke to uncertainty Wednesday, as Joe Biden captured a slim lead in Michigan and began slowly closing the gap with President Trump in other key battlegrounds as election officials warned it could be days before the outcome of the presidential race is clear.
As the vote count resumes under the specter of an exhausting legal brawl, the fate of the election rests on a couple million uncounted ballots in a handful of states including Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia.
Hours after Trump tried to declare victory in the early morning by falsely claiming that he had built an insurmountable lead, the slow counting of mail votes and in-person ballots in Democratic Party strongholds showed the race in those places is very much a toss-up.
Michigan and Wisconsin officials expressed confidence that most of their count would be completed Wednesday, but in other states, including the key battleground of Pennsylvania, the tallying could stretch on for days.
In Michigan, Biden captured a slim lead of approximately 10,000 votes as tallies were updated from the state's major metropolitan areas, which were believed to lean Democratic. Election officials said hundreds of thousands of outstanding ballots from the state's largest cities would likely be reported by the end of the day.
Wisconsin was another toss-up, with Biden amassing a lead of 20,000 votes by early morning and state Democratic Party leaders expressing optimism the lead would only grow.
Pennsylvania also hung in the balance, with the 700,000-vote lead Trump amassed when he tried to claim victory threatened by the 1.4 million mail-in ballots that had yet to be counted. More than 270,000 of them are from Philadelphia, which is expected to heavily favor Biden.
Razor-thin margin separates Biden, Trump in Wisconsin race
Update 8:30 a.m.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — President Donald Trump and Joe Biden were locked early Wednesday in a razor-thin race in Wisconsin as vote-counting stretched into the predawn hours and the nation’s eyes turned to the same Midwestern battlegrounds that decided the election four years ago.
With nearly all votes counted, Biden had a lead of sixth-tenths of a percentage point over Trump, a margin narrow enough to allow Trump to request a recount if it stands.
More than 1.9 million people voted early, either by mail or in person, because of the coronavirus pandemic. That flood of ballots extended the counting past 4 a.m. Wednesday. Those ballots take longer than a regular ballot to process, and the counting could not begin until the polls opened Tuesday, delaying the reporting of results.
After totals were updated Wednesday morning, Biden expanded his lead to more than 20,000 votes out of nearly 3.2 million cast.
Trump led earlier in the night, fueled by in-person voting results, but the 169,000 outstanding ballots from Milwaukee and ballots from other cities broke heavily for Biden.
“When all votes are counted, we’re confident that Joe Biden will win Wisconsin," tweeted Ben Winkler, chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Biden outperformed Hillary Clinton's totals from 2016 in urban areas while Trump did better in small towns and rural areas than he did four years ago.
EXPLAINER: A long night, or more, before president is known
Update: 10:35 p.m.
WASHINGTON (AP) — There’s a fair chance Americans won’t know the winner of Tuesday’s presidential election while it's still Tuesday — or maybe even Wednesday.
The main reason? Many states have made it easier to request a mail ballot amid the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about crowded polling places. But mail ballots generally require more time to process than ballots that are cast in person.