US Election 2020: How Trump plans to cling onto power as Biden leads

Donald Trump is inching closer towards defeat today after losing Wisconsin and Michigan after prematurely declaring overall victory in the nail-biting presidential election that he quickly claimed is rife with ‘fraud’ and ‘surprise ballot dumps’.

As Trump’s chances at victory of re-election shrank on Wednesday, his campaign laid out their tactics to cling on to the presidency – ranging from recounts to multiple lawsuits in battleground states.  

The Trump campaign have already demanded a recount in Wisconsin and they have filed lawsuits in both Michigan and Pennsylvania to demand better access for campaign observers to locations where ballots are being processed and counted. 

The campaign is also seeking to intervene in an ongoing Supreme Court case that deals with whether ballots received up to three days after the election can be counted in Pennsylvania.

The actions reveal an emerging legal strategy that the president had signaled for weeks, namely that he would attack the integrity of the voting process in states where the result could mean his defeat. 

Despite the measures to ensure Trump doesn’t go down without a fight, his campaign insists they are still confident of an election victory – even though both Wisconsin and Michigan flipped in favor of Biden on Wednesday afternoon. 

So what will Trump’s tactics mean for the battleground states? 


The Trump campaign demanded a recount in Wisconsin after Biden won the state with 20,000 votes on Wednesday afternoon.  

‘The President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so,’ Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement in relation to Wisconsin.

‘There have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results.’ 

Statewide recounts in Wisconsin have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes. Biden leads by .624 percentage points out of nearly 3.3 million ballots counted. 

In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes, a breakthrough that along with wins in Michigan and Pennsylvania helped hand him his first term in the White House. 

Trump’s own party, however, made it more difficult for candidates to get a recount in both Wisconsin and Michigan in the aftermath of his 2016 Electoral College win.  

In Wisconsin, a losing candidate can ask for a recount if the margin stays within 1 per cent. If the difference between Biden and Trump remains under 1 percent, Trump will be able to request said recount and must do so by 5pm on the first business day following the vote canvass. 

Trump will have to pay for the recount if the margin remains larger than .25 percent, but his money will be refunded if the winner flips. If the Trump campaign’s recount request were to be granted, it would need to be completed within 13 days. 


In Michigan, Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit Wednesday afternoon, claiming that they weren’t given proper access to polling stations to oversee the process, which they argue means they can’t trust it. 

‘As votes in Michigan continue to be counted, the presidential race in the state remains extremely tight as we always knew it would be. President Trump’s campaign has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law,’ campaign manager Bill Stepien said. 

‘We have filed suit today in the Michigan Court of Claims to halt counting until meaningful access has been granted. We also demand to review those ballots which were opened and counted while we did not have meaningful access.

‘President Trump is committed to ensuring that all legal votes are counted in Michigan and everywhere else.’

It is not yet clear if the Trump campaign will demand a recount in Michigan or other states, like he has in Wisconsin. 

In Michigan, a recount is triggered if candidates are within 2,000 votes from each other.

Still, the Trump campaign could pay for a recount, as the law – which was also revised in 2016 – allows for one if the losing candidate has a reasonable chance of winning.

The recount would have to be requested within 48 hours of the vote canvass. The deadline to finish the count is 30 days after it starts. 


Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has also filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania to temporarily halt ballot counting until there is ‘meaningful transparency’.

Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement on Wednesday 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 in the state.

There have been no reports by law enforcement of fraud or any type of ballot concerns out of Pennsylvania. 

The state had 3.1 million ballots mailed out that take time to count, and an order allows them to be counted up until Friday if they are postmarked by November 3. 

In Pennsylvania, a recount is automatic if the margin of victory is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage point.

Two other avenues for requesting recounts include requiring at least three voter signatures that attest to an error in the vote tally and going to state court to file petitions alleging fraud and error.



Automatic recount: No

Recount law: A full or partial recount can be requested if the margin of victory is less than or equal to 1 percentage point.

Deadline: For presidential elections, the request must be made by 5 p.m. on the first business day after the state’s vote canvass.

Who pays: The candidate requesting the recount, if the margin is more than 0.25 percentage point of the total vote. 


Automatic recount: Yes

Recount law: A recount is required if the margin of victory is less than or equal to 2,000 votes.

Deadline: Request for a recount should be made within 48 hours of the vote canvass.

Who pays: The candidate requesting the recount. 


Automatic recount: Yes

Recount law: A recount is automatic if the margin of victory is less than or equal to 0.5 percentage point. Two other avenues for requesting recounts include requiring at least three voter signatures that attest to an error in the vote tally, and going to state court to file petitions alleging fraud and error.

Deadline: By 5 p.m. on the second Thursday following the election, for automatic recounts. If a recount is requested, the deadline is five days after the election. Who pays: The candidate requesting the recount. 


Automatic recount: No

Recount law: A candidate who has been defeated can request a recount, regardless of the margin of victory.

Deadline: A recount must be requested within three business days after the state’s vote canvass.

Who pays: The candidate asking for the recount.

Trump’s potential path to victory: Where his campaign thinks he can still secure victories

Trump lost Wisconsin on Wednesday afternoon after Joe Biden forged ahead with 20,000 votes, or a 0.6 percent victory, in the key battleground state. 

The only votes that are not yet counted in Wisconsin are from a small township that is home to 300 people, according to the state’s Election Commission Administrator. 

Trump also lost Michigan in the late afternoon with Biden ahead by 1.2 percentage points.  

While Trump is currently leading in Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina, winning all three will not be enough to claim a clean victory. 

Top Trump campaign officials are predicting that Trump will win Arizona by 30,000 votes when everything is tallied, despite the state flipping overnight and Biden currently ahead by more than 93,000 votes.

Wins in all of those states would give Trump the electoral votes to secure re-election even if he loses both Michigan and Wisconsin. 

Biden only needs to secure Michigan and Nevada, which he is predicted to do, to reach the 270 electoral college votes he needs to claim the White House.

The Trump campaign’s path to victory details how the President can’t be beaten in Georgia and North Carolina where he maintains 50.3 percent and 50.1 percent of votes respectively.

Their path to victory also includes securing Pennsylvania where more than one million ballots are still left to be counted, which the campaign says are mainly from conservative counties.

Trump campaign officials are predicting he’ll win Pennsylvania by 40,000 votes. 

Despite Arizona going to Biden overnight, the Trump campaign believes the traditionally Republican state will flip back by day’s end when a final batch of mail-in ballots are counted.

Trump’s campaign is also predicting he’ll win Nevada by 5,500 votes due to mail-in votes even though it is forecast to go to Biden given Democrats have secured the state in every presidential election since 2004. 

In Nevada, any candidate can request a recount for any reason – but it has to be a full recount of the state. The candidate who requests the recount must pay for it, but like in Wisconsin, the candidate can get his or her money back if the race results flip.

Requests must be filed within three days of the state’s canvass and a recount must be completed within 10 days. 

The Trump campaign has already said it will contest Arizona after Biden flipped the state that has reliably voted Republican in recent elections. 

Despite the overwhelming uncertainty, Trump held a victory party on Tuesday night and said at the White House: 'Frankly we did win this election. We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at four in the morning and add them to the list.'

Despite the overwhelming uncertainty, Trump held a victory party on Tuesday night and said at the White House: ‘Frankly we did win this election. We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at four in the morning and add them to the list.’

The lawsuits and demands for recounts follow Trump’s tweets first thing Wednesday when he immediately cried fraud and claimed his overnight majority had ‘magically disappeared’ thanks to ‘surprise ballot dumps’ in Democrat states. 

‘Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the ‘pollsters’ got it completely & historically wrong!’ he said.

‘How come every time they count Mail-In ballot dumps they are so devastating in their percentage and power of destruction?’

The Trump campaign has already said they expect the matter to end up in the courts. editor at large, Piers Morgan, tweeted on Wednesday that the US should prepare for ‘weeks of mayhem’.

‘Trump’s on the ropes but he’s going to fight this endgame ferociously. Anyone who thinks this election is over is living in cloud cuckoo land. Prepare for weeks of mayhem,’ he said.  

Despite the overwhelming uncertainty, Trump held a victory party on Tuesday night and said at the White House: ‘Frankly we did win this election. We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at four in the morning and add them to the list.’ 

He said he would take the election to the Supreme Court to stop the counting but it was unclear exactly what legal action he might try to pursue.  

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign said they expected to have declared victory by this afternoon.

‘Joe Biden is on track to win this election and he will be the next president of the United States,’ campaign manager Jennifer O’Malley Dillon told reporters. ‘We believe we are on a clear path to victory by this afternoon.  

Biden, briefly appearing in front of supporters in Delaware overnight, urged patience, saying the election ‘ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.’

‘It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election,’ Biden said. ‘That’s the decision of the American people.’


President Donald Trump saw his early lead in key state likes Wisconsin and Michigan vanish overnight as mail-in ballots were counted.

Votes cast on Election Day are counted first, followed by the mail-in ballots.

Those mail-in ballots were expected to break for Joe Biden as Democrats urged their supporters to cast their ballots early. Trump, in contrast, pushed his backers to go to the polls on Election Day.

Mail-in ballots generally take longer to count as they have to be checked against voter rolls to confirm it’s a legal ballot from a registered voter – just as when someone who votes in person has to confirm their identity with a poll worker before receiving a ballot.

For example, in Wisconsin, the mail-in ballot envelopes need to be checked against poll books and checked for voter signature, voter address and witness signature requirements before they’re opened. After they’re unsealed, ballots must be smoothed out before they’re fed into tabulating machines. If any ballots are damaged or the machine won’t accept them because they’re too rumpled or creased, the ballot will need to be re-created by poll workers in a time-consuming process dictated by state law, according to local reports.

Additionally, states were dealing with a heavier than usual volume of mail-in ballots because so many voters used that option due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of those mail-in ballots came from cities, which tend to contain more Democratic voters.

In Michigan, for example, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson predicted turnout would likely top 5.26 million – the most in state history – and many voters used mail-in ballots.

Several thousand outstanding ballots remained in Detroit on Wednesday, a heavily Democratic area expected to break for Biden, thereby increasing his vote count in the state.

In Pennsylvania, Trump led in early returns but Biden was expected to make up ground as mail-in ballots, particularly in the heavily Democratic areas of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, were counted.

State law forbids election officials from counting those ballots until Election Day. That and the large number of ballots led to the extended counting time.

Pennsylvania received roughly 10 times as many mail-in ballots this year than in past elections, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said. She said Wednesday there were more than 1.4 million mail-in ballots still to be counted and those votes are expected to heavily favor Biden.

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