Joe Biden won the battleground prizes of Michigan and Wisconsin on Wednesday, reclaiming a key part of the ``blue wall'' that slipped away from Democrats four years ago and dramatically narrowing President Donald Trump's pathway to reelection.
A full day after Election Day, neither candidate had cleared the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. But Biden's victories in the Great Lakes states left him at 264, meaning he was one battleground state away from crossing the threshold and becoming president-elect.
Biden, who has received more than 71 million votes, the most in history, was joined by his running mate Kamala Harris at an afternoon news conference and said he now expected to win the presidency, though he stopped short of outright declaring victory.
``I will govern as an American president,'' Biden said. ''There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America.``
It was a stark contrast to Trump, who on Wednesday falsely proclaimed that he had won the election, even though millions of votes remained uncounted and the race was far from over.
The Associated Press 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 votes.
Trump's campaign requested a recount, though statewide recounts in Wisconsin have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes. Biden led by 0.624 percentage point out of nearly 3.3 million ballots counted.
Pennsylvania remained too early to call Wednesday night.
It was unclear when or how quickly a national winner could be determined after a long, bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy. But Biden's possible pathways to the White House were expanding rapidly.
After the victories in Wisconsin and Michigan, he was just six Electoral College votes away from the presidency. A win in any undecided state except for Alaska _ but including Nevada, with its six votes _ would be enough to end Trump's tenure in the White House.
Trump spent much of Wednesday in the White House residence, huddling with advisers and fuming at media coverage showing his Democratic rival picking up key battlegrounds. Trump falsely claimed victory in several key states and amplified unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Democratic gains as absentee and early votes were tabulated.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said the president would formally request a Wisconsin recount, citing ``irregularities`` in several counties. And the campaign said it was filing suit in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia to demand better access for campaign observers to locations where ballots are being processed and counted, and to raise absentee ballot concerns.
In other closely watched races, Trump picked up Florida, the largest of the swing states, and held onto Texas and Ohio while Biden kept New Hampshire and Minnesota and flipped Arizona, a state that had reliably voted Republican in recent elections.
The high-stakes election was held against the backdrop of a historic pandemic that has killed more than 232,000 Americans and wiped away millions of jobs. The U.S. on Wednesday set another record for daily confirmed coronavirus cases as several states posted all-time highs.
Trump, in an extraordinary move from the White House, issued premature claims of victory _ which he continued on Twitter Wednesday _ and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting. It was unclear exactly what legal action he could try to pursue.'
Vote tabulations routinely continue beyond Election Day, and states largely set the rules for when the count has to end.
Dozens of Trump supporters chanting ``Stop the count!'' descended on a ballot-tallying center in Detroit, while thousands of anti-Trump protesters demanding a complete vote count took to the streets in cities across the U.S.
Protests _ sometimes about the election, sometimes about racial inequality _ took place Wednesday in at least a half-dozen cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and San Diego.
Trump appeared to suggest those ballots should not be counted, and that he would fight for that outcome at the high court. But legal experts were dubious of Trump's declaration. Trump has appointed three of the high court's nine justices _ including, most recently, Amy Coney Barrett.