WASHINGTON D.C., Nov 4, 2020, Kyodo. U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were neck-and-neck in Tuesday’s election that will decide whether the Republican incumbent will be granted four more years to push ahead with his unilateralist “America First” policy, Kyodo News reported.
With many key battleground states too early to call, Trump, 74, tweeted that he is “up BIG,” while Biden, the 77-year-old former vice president, called for patience in light of the complexity that has emerged over vote counting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We knew, because of the unprecedented early vote and the mail-in vote, it was going to take a while,” Biden said in a televised message after midnight. “We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying the votes is finished.”
But he also said he believes he is “on track to win this election,” noting that he is confident that he has flipped Arizona, a battleground state that voted for Trump in the previous election in 2016, and “feeling really good” about some battleground states in the Midwest.
According to U.S. media, Trump has captured more than 20 states, including the battleground states of Florida and the Midwest state of Ohio. Biden has taken more than 15 states including California, as well as the District of Columbia.
In the race to secure 270 Electoral College votes, Trump has so far won 210 and Biden 220, according to CNN.
The election has become a de facto referendum on Trump’s first term, which has been overshadowed this year by the novel coronavirus pandemic, its impact on the economy and a flare-up of civil unrest over accusations of police brutality against black people.
His “America First” policy has also brought sweeping changes to the country’s global standing and rattled alliance and trade relationships.
As the virus continues to rage on, Americans, wearing masks, were seen lining up outside polling stations to cast their ballots, adding to the unprecedented level of over 100 million early votes already cast by mail and in-person in what is expected to become a record overall turnout.
With Trump repeatedly questioning the legitimacy of widespread voting by mail, which he claims will lead to voter fraud, concerns linger that he may prematurely declare victory if he appears to be ahead in early tallies, without waiting for the completion of mail-in ballot counting.
In contrast to Trump’s Republican base, whose turnout in large numbers for in-person voting on election day had been expected, Democratic voters were considered more likely to avoid crowded polling places and cast ballots by mail as a safety measure amid the ongoing pandemic.
On Tuesday morning, Trump said in a phone interview with Fox News that he would declare himself the winner of the election “only when there’s victory” and that “there’s no reason to play games.”
But Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he is defeated. He said during a visit to a campaign headquarters just outside the capital later Tuesday, “Winning is easy. Losing is never easy. Not for me, it’s not.”
To win the presidency, either of the candidates needs to secure at least 270 of the 538 Electoral College votes allocated to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The candidate who wins the popular vote in a state captures that state’s electoral votes, usually in a winner-take-all manner.
A losing presidential candidate typically concedes shortly after the outcome is known.
Trump, a real estate developer-turned-reality TV star who had never held public office before, was sworn in as president in 2017 following a stunning victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Over the past four years, Trump has proved himself to be an unpredictable leader who flouts diplomatic and political norms while fueling division among the public with his controversial tweets and remarks on racism, immigration and protests.
His behavior has been criticized as erratic and provocative, often resulting in diplomatic friction including with some of the United States’ closest allies.
Under his “America First” policy, Trump pulled the country out of international agreements, implemented protectionist trade measures and pressured allies in Asia for not paying enough of the costs associated with hosting U.S. troops in their countries.
Biden, whose political career spans nearly half a century, including his two vice-presidential terms under Barack Obama, has been seen as a steady hand who would bring what some experts call “normalcy” back to the White House.
Slamming Trump’s failed leadership over the pandemic, which has cost the lives of more than 230,000 people and millions of jobs in the country, the former vice president has emphasized that he has concrete plans to bring the outbreak under control. He also plans to invest heavily in a clean-energy economy to tackle climate change and create jobs.
On the diplomatic front, Biden has pledged to reverse some of Trump’s major policy decisions, including the country’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization.
He is also seeking to strengthen alliances with countries including Japan and South Korea, and to work with allies and partners to address China’s alleged unfair trade practices and other behavior deemed as going against international rules.