Trump says he’ll take election fight to Supreme Court as Biden keeps narrow lead

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President Donald Trump said early Wednesday there had been fraud in election results in his battle with Joe Biden, vowing to take a fight to the Supreme Court as the former vice president had the edge in electoral votes.

Critical battleground states were too early to call as voters and markets waited for firm results. But Trump, appearing at the White House, said “We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.” He said “we want all voting to stop.”

The first of the major battleground states , Arizona, went for Biden, as other key states, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, still had to count millions of votes.

Shortly after 3 a.m. Eastern, Biden had 238 electoral votes to Trump’s 213, according to the Associated Press. To win, a candidate needs 270.

An election lawyer noted after Trump’s statement that there isn’t a path for such a challenge at the Supreme Court.

Speaking to supporters in Wilmington, Del., Biden counseled patience as votes rolled in, but projected confidence.

“Keep the faith, guys, we’re going to win this,” he said. https://graphics.wsj.com/marketwatch/elections-2020/?embed=1&format=homepage&view=us

After a bitter election campaign fought over the damage wrought to the economy by the coronavirus pandemic, Biden won states including Connecticut, Delaware and New Jersey, as well as scoring victories in Illinois and Virginia.

Trump won the key state of Florida, as well as Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia and other states in the South, the Associated Press projected. The president also put Indiana, Wyoming and the Dakotas in his column, AP said.

Braving the lingering threat from the virus, voters cast ballots in person around the nation, reportedly facing long lines in states including Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania, though Americans had already smashed early-voting records, a sign of the fervor around the Trump-Biden contest.

As Election Day dawned, Biden had a clear lead over Trump in national opinion polls and a smaller edge in surveys of battleground-state voters who are likely to decide the election.

U.S. stock futures dropped Wednesday morning as returns were pouring in, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YM00, -0.17% down about 330 points.

“This is setting up a very messy scenario, with the Supreme Court possibly getting involved in the next few days. This all is clearly risk-negative and dollar-positive to me, at least in the short term,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi. The U.S. dollar DXY, 0.35% rose.

Trump and Biden crisscrossed the country in the final days of the campaign, driving home disparate messages about the challenges facing the nation and remedies to fix them.

Senate control also hangs in the balance in Tuesday’s election, with Democrats battling to reclaim the chamber from Republicans. Should Biden win the White House and Democrats take the Senate while holding the House of Representatives, the party would have an easier time enacting major economic aid or tax increases.  

Democrats flipped one Senate seat as John Hickenlooper defeated Republican incumbent Cory Gardner in Colorado. But Republicans flipped one too, in Alabama. Other competitive Senate races such as in Maine were not yet called by the AP as of around 2 a.m. Eastern. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, was re-elected to his seat. The Kentucky Republican defeated challenger Amy McGrath.

As MarketWatch has written, continued Republican control of the Senate if Biden wins may limit the size of any new coronavirus aid bill.

Read: Don’t count on a ‘blue sweep’: Markets are starting to get jittery over the possibility of another divided government in Washington post-election.

The Senate is now controlled 53-47 by Republicans. To win control, Democrats need to net four seats, or three if Biden wins the White House.

Read: In key Senate races, Democrats have fundraising advantage over Republicans.

See: Road to 270 electoral college votes: Biden has options, Trump walks narrow path.

Calling a winner was by no means a given on Tuesday night or early Wednesday. Pennsylvania’s chief election official warned last weekend that the outcome of the race there likely won’t be known on election night.

Now read: Could Election Night 2020 drag on for days, or even weeks? These states may offer clues.

Also see: 5 things to do on election night instead of freaking out. ‘Worry isn’t going to get the election result that we want.’

The 2020 campaign has played out amid the crushing blow dealt by the coronavirus to the U.S. economy. By most measures, as MarketWatch has written, the country remains in a deep recession even as the economy has recovered faster than expected from the pandemic. Unemployment is near 8%, more than twice the pre-crisis level but down sharply from 14.7% in April.

Read: Here’s where the economy stands as the U.S. chooses between Trump and Biden.

With U.S. coronavirus cases past 9 million, Biden has hammered Trump for what he says is the mismanagement of the crisis, while Trump has claimed the country is “rounding the corner” on the pandemic. Trump himself was hospitalized for three days with the virus, and frequently lays blame for it on China, where it emerged late last year.

In debates with Biden, Trump has stressed that the U.S. economy shouldn’t be shut down again. Biden has said he won’t rule out shutdowns but has emphasized that he’ll “shut down the virus, not the country.” The former vice president has spoken of the need for a nationwide mask mandate, while Trump touts his “Operation Warp Speed” effort to develop vaccines. 

Trump also has talked up a middle-class tax cut if he wins another term, while blasting Biden’s own ideas. The former vice president’s plans include raising taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year, to fund increased spending on infrastructure, health care and education. Trump floated a middle-class tax cut two years ago, but a plan never materialized, though corporate tax rates were cut.

Biden, 77, is making his third run for the White House. The former vice president has told voters he’d heal a deeply divided country.

Trump frequently cast the race in economic terms, arguing without evidence that Biden’s tax plans, for example, would cause an economic catastrophe for the country and decimate investors’ portfolios.

If elected Biden will inherit a struggling economy and huge government budget deficits, as well as face pressure from the left wing of the party to pursue a progressive agenda.

Read: If Biden wins, experts expect to see the first woman Treasury secretary in history.

The 74-year-old Trump is hoping for a come-from-behind victory. On the stump, the president frequently touts stock-market records, replacing or abandoning international trade deals he believes are bad for the U.S., and the appointment of three Supreme Court justices.     

Trump is facing voters who have negative views of his overall performance. In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, more voters viewed Trump unfavorably than favorably, even as they gave him higher marks for his handling of the economy. On his management of the pandemic though, 57% disapproved.

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