Joe Biden 'apparent winner' with narrow lead over Donald Trump, ABC News reports; president's campaign intends to request WI recount
KENOSHA, Wisconsin -- ABC News is reporting that former Vice President Joe Biden is the apparent winner of Wisconsin Wednesday afternoon.
With 100% of precincts reporting, ABC News reported that Biden held about a .5% lead over President Donald Trump in Wisconsin. At last count, Biden was leading the total vote count with 1,630,389 to Trump's 1,609,879 votes, a difference of a little more than 20,000 votes.
Because the vote is very close and has not yet been certified, ABC News said it is not projecting a winner, but said Biden is the apparent winner of the state.
*Counties are colored red or blue when the % expected vote reporting reaches a set threshold. This threshold varies by state and is based on patterns of past vote reporting and expectations about how the vote will report this year.
The vote tallies in so-called "Blue Wall" states had been watched closes leading up to and through Election Day. Wednesday afternoon, ABC News projected Biden as the winner of Michigan as well.
In Kenosha County, where Trump narrowly outpaced Clinton in 2016 with 47.5% of the vote to her 47.2%, the president is leading Biden. With 95% of the expected vote reporting, Trump leads Biden 50.7% to Biden's 47.6%.
After shattering early voting records, Wisconsin voters from the rural north to the urban southeast came out in force on an unusually warm Election Day, even as coronavirus cases hit a new daily high and political tensions ran high in the battleground state.
Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin's chief election official, said Wednesday all but 300 ballots have been counted in the state, and dismissed accusations from the Trump campaign that their counting was in any way flawed.
"There's no opportunity to count a ballot that did not go through that incredibly meticulous process to make sure that it was issued correctly, to make sure that it was counted correctly and it also has to go through those three steps of canvass at the municipal, the county and the state level before we have certified results," she said.
The Trump campaign is saying it plans to 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. 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," Bill Stepien, Trump 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement.
In Wisconsin, if a race is within 1 percentage point, the trailing candidate can force a recount.
Biden's campaign said they are confident that he will win the state after the recount as well.
The shift began overnight in Milwaukee, the state's largest Democratic stronghold, which gave Biden a net gain of about 9,000 with its mail-in votes. When the 169,000 mail-in votes from the city of Milwaukee were reported in the early hours of Wednesday, Biden led Trump by 182,896 in the city.
Mail-in ballots from Kenosha County and Brown County, which includes the city of Green Bay, grew Biden's lead to about 20,000. The mail-in ballots in those counties also leaned heavily democratic.
Trump had held a steady edge before the mail-in ballot tallies came in.
Trump held one of his final rallies in Kenosha Monday night, but perhaps the bigger impact coming from residents' reaction to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the ensuing protests for justice and the at times violent unrest.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said in a tweet early Wednesday, "Our clerks and election workers are continuing to do their important work after millions of Wisconsinites cast their ballots to make their voices heard. An election doesn't end when an elected official says they won - it ends when every vote has been counted."
Wisconsin is one of the states that is not allowed to start counting mail-in ballots until Election Day.
There were few reports of major problems Tuesday, as more than 2,400 polls opened as planned with few shortages in workers. Behind the scenes, work started right as polls opened at 7 a.m. to count the more than 1.9 million absentee ballots that arrived before Election Day. Democrats and Republicans watched eagerly Tuesday night, including the family of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot by Kenosha police earlier this year.
The campaigns of both President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden were closely watching absentee and in-person voting for any irregularities, and each has a path to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. Biden's is appreciably wider.
The former vice president is competitive in all the battleground states Trump carried in 2016 and has put a handful of traditional Republican states, including Georgia and Arizona, in play. That has Trump scrambling to defend a wide swath of territory and putting the incumbent's hopes for reelection on two of the most populous swing states, Florida and Pennsylvania.
In Wisconsin, where the GOP-led Legislature drew some of the nation's most pro-Republican maps, the GOP will not have enough votes to override a potential redistricting veto by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who won election in 2018.
Republicans needed to flip three seats in the Assembly and three in the Senate in Tuesday's elections to achieve a two-thirds majority in each chamber. That would give them enough votes to override any Evers veto, allowing them to advance their agenda at will. As of Wednesday morning, the GOP had flipped one Senate, appeared on the way toward flipping another. But the three Democratic Assembly incumbents Republicans had targeted were all leading their challengers.
Longtime Democratic Rep. Ron Kind has survived a stiff challenge from a former Navy Seal to win his 13th term in Congress. Election returns show Kind defeated Derrick Van Orden to retain his seat representing western Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District. The race was tight throughout Tuesday night into Wednesday. Van Orden won most of the district's rural counties, but Kind toook Eau Claire and La Crosse counties, the district's the two major population centers. The La Crosse native and former Harvard quarterback has represented western Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District since 1997.