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Suzanne Lynch’s US Election Diary: When will Biden declare victory, how will Trump respond?

Democratic candidate makes inroads into president’s lead in Georgia and Pennsylvania overnight

Joe Biden is closing in on victory this morning as the race to count votes in Georgia and Pennsylvania continued overnight.

Donald Trump’s lead in Georgia, which looked assured on election night, continued to shrink throughout the evening as votes came in from the counties around Atlanta and Savannah and had diminished to just 1,200 votes by 7am (Irish time) on Friday.

In Pennsylvania, it was a similar story. Biden has gradually eroded the president’s lead in the key swing-state as mail-in ballots have been counted. With votes still left to be announced around the Philadelphia area, it looks like Biden is heading for victory.

In Arizona, the race is still too close to call for most networks after a fresh tranche of about 70,000 votes was released on Thursday night. While Trump closed the gap with Biden, it was not enough to get the president over the line in the state, but about 300,000 ballots remain outstanding, and more results will be announced on Friday morning.


Despite all signs that former vice-president Biden is poised for victory, Trump used an unscheduled appearance in the White House briefing room to peddle unproven allegations about election fraud. Without evidence, he denounced mail-in ballots, which have been used by millions of Americans in this election, as "corrupt".

“We were winning,” he said, “and our numbers started miraculously getting whittled away in secret”.

The president had not addressed the public throughout Wednesday and most of Thursday.

But shortly after Biden made his address to the nation in Delaware, the White House announced a hastily organised press conference. The president declared to the nation: “We can’t have an election stolen like this,” vowing to bring his fight to the Supreme Court.

Following criticism from the president's family that the Republican Party was not doing enough to defend the president, several prominent Republicans took to the airwaves and social media on Thursday evening.

Senator Ted Cruz – once a presidential candidate rival to Trump but now a staunch supporter – declared on Fox News that election observers were being denied access in Democratic cities across the country.

"The reason you don't want observers there is because you're doing something you don't want to be observed," he told Sean Hannity. "I am angry. The American people should be angry . . . by clouding the vote process in a shroud of darkness, they are setting the stage to potentially steal an election."

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy was even more direct on Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham’s show. “President Trump won this election, so everyone who is listening: do not be quiet, do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.”

The question that now remains is when and how Biden will declare victory, and how Mr Trump will respond. The Washington Post was reporting that the secret service was ramping up protection for Biden ahead of a possible victory speech as early as Friday.

Mr Trump’s message and demeanour on Thursday night suggests he is not going down without a fight.

Quote of the day

"Our goal is to defend the integrity of the election. We'll not allow the corruption to steal such an important election or any election, for that matter.  And we can't allow silence – anybody to silence our voters and manufacture results" – Donald Trump in the James S Brady briefing room on November 5th, 2020, alleging fraudulent behaviour in the US election.

Recommended reading

A quick take on the legal cases now under way by the Trump administration as the US president turns to the courts to try and challenge the election.

In the tumult of the past few days, you may have missed that many states had ballot initiatives that will have far-reaching consequences.

Patrick Smyth has a comprehensive overview of some of the most interesting – from a vote to reintroduce gray wolves on state lands in Colorado (Eamon Ryan, take note) to the legalisation of marijuana in a number of states.

Diarmaid Ferriter brings some historical perspective to his analysis of the Trump presidency. "Perhaps it was hoped by those appalled by him that celebrity and shallowness would not withstand the weight of the office, but that was a serious underestimation of what power would do to amplify his well-flagged traits".

Jamelle Bouie writes in the New York Times: "The liberal hope for the 2020 presidential election was a decisive repudiation of Donald Trump and the Republican Party. This is no longer on the table."