MADISON, Wis. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. pulled into a narrow lead in Wisconsin early Wednesday after absentee ballots were counted from the cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay.
Mr. Biden’s lead in the state is about 11,000 votes statewide out of more than three million cast — though absentee ballots remain to be counted and reported from Kenosha a Democratic city with an absentee electorate expected to skew Democratic.
Green Bay’s counting had been delayed by slow ballot-counting machines, and one machine ran out of ink early Wednesday, further delaying the process until more could be brought from City Hall.
Nevada, where Joseph R. Biden Jr. held a narrow lead early Wednesday, will not announce any new updates on election results until 9 a.m. Pacific time on Thursday, state election officials said.
So far, all in-person votes and all mail-in ballots through Nov. 2 have been counted, the election division of the secretary of state’s office said in a tweet on Wednesday morning. Mail-in ballots received on Election Day, mail-in ballots received over the next week and provisional ballots still need to be counted.
“Ballots outstanding is difficult to estimate in Nevada because every voter was sent a mail ballot,” the election division wrote. “Obviously, not all will vote.”
As of the most recent update on Wednesday, Mr. Biden held a narrow lead in the state, one of the most contested in the presidential race. It has been shading blue in recent elections as its electorate becomes more diverse, but President Trump has fought hard to flip the state. Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016 by just over 2 percentage points, 10 points less than Barack Obama’s margin of victory in the state in 2008.
Democrats hope that their efforts in recent years to better reach Latino voters in the state will help them win there again. But the coronavirus pandemic has hammered Nevada’s economy, crippled its tourism industry and sent its unemployment rate soaring, and some Democratic strategists worry that would-be Democratic voters will be more focused on immediate concerns, like feeding their families, than voting.
Isabella Grullón Paz and Sydney Ember contributed reporting.
As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, eight states that will decide the next president remained uncalled, as did a handful of Senate races that will determine who controls the chamber.
The eight states are Alaska (3 electoral votes), Arizona (11), Georgia (16), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), Pennsylvania (20), Wisconsin (10) and Maine’s Second Congressional District (1).
Joseph R. Biden Jr. has 227 confirmed electoral votes and would need 43 more to win. President Trump has 213 confirmed electoral votes and would need 57 more to win.
Six Senate races were uncalled in five states: Alaska, Georgia, Maine, Michigan and North Carolina.
Georgia has two races, both involving Republican incumbents whom Democrats hope to unseat. One, between Senator David Perdue and Jon Ossoff, might be decided in the next few days or might go to a runoff in January, depending on whether a Libertarian candidate gets enough votes to keep both major-party candidates below 50 percent. The other race will require a runoff between the incumbent, Kelly Loeffler, and Raphael Warnock, a Democrat.
For Joseph R. Biden Jr., it has always been about Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. From the start of his presidential campaign until the final day of the race, Mr. Biden maintained his bet that winning the White House would come down to rebuilding the Democrats’ once-solid “blue wall” in those three states that crumbled in 2016.
As of early Wednesday, Mr. Biden had the edge in Arizona and he remained competitive in Georgia. But even if he wins both of those states, he would still need to prevail in at least one of the blue-wall states.
Final returns in all three states are expected to take days, and President Trump tried early Wednesday to set the narrative that Democrats were trying to “steal the election” — a groundless assertion. But the Biden camp wasn’t about to take the bait.
“We believe that we are well-positioned in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin,” Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, said on Monday in a briefing about election night. “We know those states in particular are coming in later, but we think we’re going to win those states. That is our clearest path to victory.”
Alicia Parlapiano in Washington
See Nevada results
Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s team on Wednesday described as “outrageous” President Trump’s stated desire to stop the counting of votes before several key states had delivered final results.
“It is a naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens,” Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, said in a statement. She added that the president’s comments were “unprecedented” because never before had a commander in chief sought to strip Americans of their voice in an election.
In a speech early Wednesday, Mr. Trump asserted without evidence that the election was being taken from him and that he wanted to put the outcome in the hands of the Supreme Court. He also falsely said that he had already won the election, claiming victory in states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan that are still counting votes. Ms. O’Malley Dillon said the count would continue and that if Mr. Trump made good on his threat to go to court, the Biden campaign had legal teams on standby.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will stand for the right of all Americans to have their votes counted — no matter who they voted for,” she said. “And we remain confident that when that process is completed, Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.”
Reid Epstein in Madison, Wis.
See Wisconsin results
In his remarks early Wednesday, President Trump asserted without evidence that the election was being taken from him and said he would go to the Supreme Court, but it was unclear what sort of Supreme Court challenge he had in mind.
“We want all voting to stop,” said Mr. Trump, who has argued for weeks that every ballot should be counted by midnight on election night, even though that is not possible.
There is no legal argument to compel states to stop counting ballots that were properly filled out and submitted on time. Because of the high volume of mail-in ballots this year, the counting of votes may not be completed for several days, including in some battleground states. Lawyers with both parties had been expecting a possible move by the Trump campaign or allied Republicans to renew a bid to get the Supreme Court to stay a decision by Pennsylvania’s high court to allow election workers to count all ballots postmarked on Nov. 3 or earlier for three days after Election Day. That had not happened as of Tuesday night.
Republicans had also filed suits in state and federal court on Tuesday challenging Pennsylvania election officials’ move to allow counties to contact voters whose mail-in ballots were rejected because of mistakes to give them the opportunity to fix those ballots or cast provisional, replacement ballots. State and federal judges were scheduled to hear arguments on Wednesday, as well as complaints from Mr. Trump’s campaign that its elections observers were not being given enough access to the counting process for potential challenges to Democratic votes.
As of early Wednesday, it was unknown how many such votes may have been cast, and whether it could be significant enough to affect the outcome in Pennsylvania.
But Democrats were prepared for other legal maneuvers from Republicans. Mr. Trump’s campaign has planned its legal strategy for months, and it was always devised to address the very scenario that emerged overnight Tuesday — one in which election night returns showed Mr. Trump winning in states in which mail ballots threatened to tip the balance to Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Reid Epstein in Madison, Wis.
See Wisconsin results
Nate Cohn in New York
I don’t think people have fully internalized how Democratic these mail and absentee ballots will be in MI/PA/WI. It’s close, but these ballots will be overwhelmingly blue.
Nate Cohn in New York
This is vaguely reminiscent of 11 p.m. in 2016 … but in reverse (and in slow motion): Biden’s the narrow favorite in PA, WI, MI, AZ, NV, GA, and it could take a while.
Television news networks spent a demanding election night reporting state-by-state results with prudence and context.
Then President Trump got involved.
In an appearance at the White House early Wednesday, Mr. Trump claimed — without evidence — that the election was being taken from him by “a very sad group of people.” The baseless remarks had anchors worked up at major networks, some of which cut away from his speech before he was finished.
“This is an extremely flammable situation, and the president just threw a match on it,” the anchor Chris Wallace told viewers on Fox News.
Referring to Mr. Trump’s false claims that he had won states like Georgia and North Carolina, neither of which had finished counting votes, Mr. Wallace said: “He hasn’t won these states. Nobody is saying he’s won the states. The states haven’t said that he’s won.”
Every major network carried Mr. Trump’s remarks live around 2:30 a.m. Eastern time. NBC and MSNBC did not wait for him to conclude before breaking in.
“We are reluctant to step in, but duty-bound to point out that when he says, ‘We did win this election, we’ve already won,’ that is not based in the facts at all,” Brian Williams said on MSNBC.
CBS aired Mr. Trump’s appearance with a graphic on the screen declaring: “CBS NEWS IS NOT PROJECTING A WINNER IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE.” The anchor Norah O’Donnell later told viewers that Mr. Trump was “castrating the facts” with his unfounded claims.
Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, said on ABC: “It’s a bad strategic decision. It’s a bad political decision.”
In Australia and Indonesia, crowds gathered around televisions in restaurants and cafes, trying to get a glimpse of American states turning red or blue. In Iran, the hashtag #Elections_America was trending on Persian Twitter, while in Japan, Fuji Television spent a good portion of Wednesday morning covering the election with graphics that mixed old-school cardboard cutouts with video-game-like avatars.
All over the world, as results trickled in across the American electoral map, it made for confounding, fascinating must-watch drama. The stakes are global, and so was the audience, glued to the sort of blanket news coverage most often reserved for elections closer to home.
“It’s kind of like the World Cup finals,” said Moch Faisal Karim, an international relations professor at Binus University in Indonesia.
The intense worldwide interest reflects the still-considerable power of America and the unpredictability that has shaped the last four years. President Trump has been a global disrupter in chief, seeking to redefine relations with American allies in Europe and Asia, working to blunt the rise of China and cozying up to autocrats in North Korea and Russia.
After surprise upon surprise during his first term, much of the world is desperate to know if the Trump era will continue, or if the United States will shift back toward the more traditional course that Joseph R. Biden Jr. has promised.
But while many viewers would have liked nothing more than a quick resolution, there instead was uncertainty and angst.
HARLINGEN, Texas — The empty chairs and uneaten red-white-and-blue cupcakes at the barbecue restaurant where Republicans in Cameron County, Texas, hosted their poll watching party may have reflected the devastation that the coronavirus has wrought in this region — one of the worst-hit in the nation — but not President Trump’s performance on Tuesday night.
In this reliably left-leaning slice of South Texas, nestled against the border with Mexico, Mr. Trump saw far more support than he did in 2016, when he garnered only 18 to 32 percent of the vote in the four counties that make up the Rio Grande Valley.
As results rolled in after midnight on Wednesday, it appeared that support for Mr. Trump’s re-election had grown by as much as 12 percentage points in some areas. And in a conservative state where Democrats have made steady gains, South Texas Republicans were hoping to take their community in the opposite direction — and having some success.
“More people are waking up,” said Kelly Gonzalez, who attended the Republicans’ party with her husband, Marco Cantú, her 1-year-old daughter, Hevyn, and her 7-year-old son, Noah. All were clad in Trump gear from head to toe.
“Everyone here is born and raised a Democrat,” Ms. Gonzalez said. But her opinion of liberals — particularly young ones — had changed in the past four years. “It’s like, ‘Give me this, give me that,’ and they don’t want to work for it.”
The support that the president saw in the Rio Grande Valley mirrored his performance among Latinos elsewhere, though the group is still only a minority of voters.
“We’ve seen the Latinos come out in a very strong way,” said Minerva Simpson, a district leader for the Texas Federation for Republican Women, one of the hosts of the party. “I’ve never seen a movement like that in my culture, and it’s all for Trump.”
“We were silent,” she added, “and now nobody’s being silent.”
Some attendees pointed to the response of the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., to rioting and looting during nationwide protests this year, or his support of transgender rights, as reasons they could not support him.
They also said they liked President Trump’s focus on business, and on providing people with equal opportunities for advancement. Many said they supported a moderate immigration platform — one that included a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and either citizenship or legal permanent-resident status for longtime undocumented immigrants.
But they said they felt some security on the border, near where they live, was in order. Janie Majors, a retired administrative assistant, said she became a Republican in her 20s after researching the party, rather than going along with what she had been taught.
“That’s how I broke free,” she said.
Mark Kelly, an astronaut and retired Navy captain, defeated Senator Martha McSally, Republican of Arizona, on Tuesday, as voters rejected Ms. McSally’s bid for a Senate seat in what has been a traditionally conservative state for the second consecutive election cycle.
Democrats now have a net gain of one additional Senate seat, having flipped Colorado but lost Alabama to Republicans. The party still has a path to a majority in the chamber, but it has narrowed considerably over the course of election night.
Mr. Kelly, who built a national profile as a gun safety advocate after the shooting of his wife, former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, ran as a pragmatic outsider. At the center of his campaign was the bet that he could appeal to voters in the rapidly changing state — especially the crucial voting blocs Ms. McSally had alienated, including women, younger voters and Latinos, who have become increasingly powerful parts of the Arizona electorate in recent years.
Ms. McSally, who lost her first bid for the Senate in 2018, had been appointed to the seat that had been held by Senator John McCain, who had died that year. But she tied herself directly to President Trump and abandoned the centrist reputation she had carefully built as a congresswoman, leaving voters to once again reject her political ambitions.
Because he won a special election, Mr. Kelly could be sworn in as early as Nov. 30. State election law stipulates a final canvass of the balloting be completed by the end of November, barring legal challenges. The McSally campaign did not concede defeat, and instead issued a statement earlier in the evening that charged Fox News was “irresponsible” for calling the race.
Alicia Parlapiano in Washington
See Alaska results
Michael Grynbaum in New York
Chris Christie, who worked with Trump on debate prep, criticized the president’s White House speech on ABC: “It’s a bad strategic decision. It’s a bad political decision.”
Michael Grynbaum in New York
Chris Wallace, on Fox News, reacted to Trump’s speech by saying: “This is an extremely flammable situation and the president just threw a match into it. He hasn’t won these states.”
Emily Cochrane in Bangor, Maine
See Montana results
Despite spending millions of dollars in Texas and fashioning it as the center of their offensive campaign to expand their majority, Democrats failed to make significant gains in the state.
In multiple districts where Democrats had hoped to flip a seat and make inroads toward the goal of making Texas more competitive, Republican incumbents and candidates in open seats were able to beat back their challengers. Most House Democrats in the state, however, were able to hold on to their seats.
Senator John Cornyn, one of the state’s two Republican senators, easily defeated M.J. Hegar, a former Air Force pilot, despite Democrats’ pouring money into the race and singling it out as a possible target for regaining the Senate majority.
Representative Chip Roy, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, successfully held off a challenge from Wendy Davis, a Democrat who gained national attention in 2013 for filibustering an anti-abortion bill and later ran for governor.
In the Houston suburbs, where Representative Pete Olson’s retirement led to a competitive race, Sheriff Troy Nehls of Fort Bend County, a Republican, defeated Sri Preston Kulkarni, who narrowly lost to Mr. Olson in 2018.
It was still possible for one Democrat to pick up a seat in the state early Wednesday: Candace Valenzuela, a Democratic school board member who would be the first Afro-Latina member of Congress, is running in the 24th Congressional District.
In Georgia, which is shaping up to be a pivotal state in the presidential race, state officials warned against drawing any conclusions from the results that are currently posted.
“We are only showing partial returns right now so there’s not enough to clearly say that the state is going for one candidate or another,” Jordan Fuchs, the Georgia deputy secretary of state, said early Wednesday.
In Fulton County, the state’s most populous county and home to Atlanta, a burst water pipe in a room being used to process ballots at the State Farm Arena, the basketball stadium being used by elections workers, delayed the counting of about 50,000 ballots Tuesday morning.
Because absentee ballots are manually opened and placed into a scanner before tabulating, they require extra time. In some cases, ballots kicked out by scanners as ambiguous must be reviewed by special adjudication panels. Richard Barron, the director of elections for Fulton County, said this week that of a batch of 40,000 ballots processed by his office, approximately 700 required review.
Delays in counting ballots were being reported in other metro counties as well. Some ballots placed in drop boxes on Tuesday could not be collected until after polls closed at 7 p.m.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had said that he hopes results from most races in the state will be available Wednesday.
With no winner in the 2020 race and votes still being counted in several battleground states, President Trump entered the East Room of the White House at 2:21 a.m. on Wednesday and asserted without evidence that the election was being taken from him by “a very sad group of people.”
“This is a fraud on the American public,” he told a crowd of supporters, in a reckless and unsubstantiated string of remarks about the democratic process. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win the election.”
The president said he wanted to stop the counting of votes and put the outcome of the election in the hands of the Supreme Court. “We want all voting to stop,” he said.
“We will win this,” he continued. “As far as I am concerned we already have won it.” He had not, in fact, won the battleground states he claimed as victories, like North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Many states were still counting votes and had not reported any vote totals.
His remarks were an escalation of his monthslong effort to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the race and previewed what is expected to become a protracted legal battle. Before Mr. Trump’s false claims, his campaign was already fund-raising off the uncertain outcome. A 12:03 a.m. plea asked for money to help “protect the integrity of this Election.”
They also stood in contrast to remarks made earlier in the evening by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who urged his supporters to have patience until all the votes were counted.
“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare the winner of this election,” Mr. Biden tweeted. “It’s the voters’ place.”
An early call of Arizona for Mr. Biden by Fox News was another check on any legitimate claim that Mr. Trump had won, or was even the likely victor in the race. And that call appeared to have enraged him. He told supporters that he had been watching Arnon Mishkin, the leader of the network’s decision desk, who appeared just after 12:30 a.m. and insisted Mr. Trump could not win the state.
“We have a lot of life in that and somebody declared that it was a victory,” Mr. Trump said. “Maybe it will be. I mean that is possible. But certainly there were a lot of votes out there that we could get because we’re now just coming into what they call Trump territory.”
Less than an hour after he left the stage, The Associated Press called Arizona for Mr. Biden.
Danny Hakim in Raleigh, N.C.
See North Carolina results
At a small election night victory party at a hotel in downtown Tucson, Ariz., Mark Kelly, a Democrat, told supporters that he expected to emerge victorious in Arizona’s U.S. Senate special election against Senator Martha McSally, a Republican.
Fox News called the race for Mr. Kelly, a former astronaut, around 9:30 p.m. local time, but The Associated Press and other news organizations had not yet done so. Several hours later, with 77 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Kelly led Ms. McSally by just over nine points, 54.6 percent to 45.4 percent.
In front of a crowd of about 100 reporters and supporters, Mr. Kelly stopped just short of declaring victory.
“I’m confident that when the votes are counted, we’re going to be successful in this mission,” he said.
Mr. Kelly thanked his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman who survived a 2011 assassination attempt. He said she taught him about public policy and public service, and also “to never ever give up.”
Ms. McSally launched her political career in the wake of the shooting of Ms. Giffords, running three times for her old congressional seat before securing a win.
Mr. Kelly highlighted his support for the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, as well as his pledges to secure the border, part of the bipartisan message that he employed throughout the campaign.
“Some of you watching tonight did not vote for me,” he said. “That’s OK. I’m going to be your senator, too.” He invoked the name of John McCain, whose seat he expects to fill. If his victory is confirmed, Mr. Kelly will be up for re-election in 2022, when the term of Mr. McCain, who died in 2018, would have ended.
The McSally campaign did not concede defeat, and instead issued a statement that charged Fox News as “irresponsible” for calling the race. The McSally campaign’s statement echoed complaints from the Trump campaign, which had publicly criticized Fox for declaring Joseph R. Biden Jr. the winner of the state in the presidential race.
“There are more than 1 million votes to be counted with no Election Day votes yet reported,” Ms. McSally’s campaign spokeswoman Caroline Anderegg said.
Ms. McSally lost a 2018 U.S. Senate race against Kyrsten Sinema before being appointed to Mr. McCain’s seat after his death. Her defeat would be the first time in modern history that a candidate has lost both of a state’s Senate seats to the opposing party.