WQCS Header Background Image
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

As Biden Edges Closer To Victory, Trump Campaign Challenges Vote Counts

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We know this moment requires a lot of patience as we wait for the votes to be finalized in several states, so we're going to start with what we do know at this hour. Joe Biden leads the popular vote by millions and is closing in on 270 electoral votes. He won Michigan and Wisconsin yesterday, two of the so-called blue wall states Trump flipped in 2016. Early on in the counting, Michigan, when it looked like Donald Trump was ahead, he demanded that officials stop counting votes. Trump supporters gathered outside a counting center in Detroit and repeated the president's demand.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED TRUMP SUPPORTERS: (Chanting) Stop the count. Stop the count. Stop the count. Stop the...

MARTIN: Stop the count, they're chanting. But in Arizona, where Trump is trailing, the president and his supporters want the opposite.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED TRUMP SUPPORTERS: (Chanting) Count the votes. Count the votes. Count the votes. Count the...

MARTIN: The president's campaign is challenging the vote counts and has filed lawsuits in Michigan and in other swing states. And we're going to start with NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson this morning. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: What exactly is the Electoral College count right now?

LIASSON: Well, since AP has declared Michigan and Wisconsin for Biden, Biden now has 264 electoral votes. He needs 270 to win. So he just needs one more state for those six extra votes to go over the top. Nevada is leaning Biden's way. Democrats are optimistic about Pennsylvania and Georgia, and we're still waiting for North Carolina.

MARTIN: So does President Trump still have a path to victory at this point?

LIASSON: He has a path to victory. It's very narrow. Right now he has 214 electoral votes. He would need to win pretty much all the remaining states - Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Nevada. He also could be successful in one of the many legal challenges that his campaign is filing. You played a little sound about that. They've launched a flurry of lawsuits. It's unclear how far they'll go or whether they'll be successful. And as you heard, some of them are aimed at pausing remaining vote counts. Like in Michigan and other states, Trump wants the vote count to continue. He even tweeted yesterday, we hereby claim the state of Michigan. That's not exactly how it works.

MARTIN: Right. So let's talk about Wisconsin. President Trump has asked for a recount there. I mean, Joe Biden has been declared the winner. But it was close, right?

LIASSON: It's close. And if the margin is 1% or less, the trailing candidate can ask for a recount. Now, former Republican Governor Scott Walker says the margin right now, which is tens of thousands of votes in Biden's favor, will be really hard to make up, even in a recount.

MARTIN: The former vice president spoke yesterday. He said that he expects to win. What are Democrats telling you at this point about this moment?

LIASSON: Well, it's almost as if they're dueling headlines. The first one is, "Biden On Track To Win Election." The other one is "Terrible Outcome For Democrats," which is really astounding. Maybe only Democrats could fail to celebrate this kind of victory. But although Biden is...

MARTIN: Right. Terrible why - because they didn't get the congressional seat?

LIASSON: Well, I'll explain - you know, even though this - his victory looks pretty solid, he didn't really have coattails. This wasn't the resounding victory Democrats had hoped for. They got a rejection of Trump, not a full-blown repudiation, lots of down-ballot disappointment. They don't seem to have flipped state Houses. They didn't pick up seats in the House of Representatives. Every poll got that wrong. Maybe it shows that ticket splitting is not as extinct as we thought it was because this year, as opposed to 2018, voters had another way to express their disappointment with the president. They could vote for Joe Biden. They didn't have to vote for a Democratic House candidate.

And of course, Democrats also wanted to win back control of the Senate. That didn't happen. Republicans are pretty happy about what happened in Congress. Maybe the happiest man in Washington today is Mitch McConnell because if Trump loses, he will be the most important Republican in the country with a kind of veto power over the entire Biden agenda.

MARTIN: We should also point out Mitch McConnell is not exactly rushing to the president's defense in terms of the comments the president made, which you outlined - the president falsely claiming victory in certain states. His Republican colleagues aren't...

LIASSON: No. And actually...

MARTIN: ...Showing up.

LIASSON: No, there are not a lot of Republicans who are echoing the president's claims that this election is full of fraud and it's been stolen. Mostly, it's just members of the Trump campaign or advisers like Rudy Giuliani and Pam Bondi who are carrying that charge. Even Mike Pence, the vice president, has been careful not to echo the president on his complaints about the election. Maybe this is the line that Republicans finally won't cross for Donald Trump.

MARTIN: NPR's Mara Liasson. Thank you, Mara.

LIASSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.