US Elections: Biden predicts victory as his lead grows

"They made it clear they want the country to come together, not continue to pull apart," Biden said.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE AND CARLOS BARRIA)
Joe Biden and Donald Trump
Democrat Joe Biden appeared poised for victory in the U.S. presidential election on Saturday as vote counts in key states leaned his way, while President Donald Trump showed no sign of conceding despite his increasingly bleak chances.
With Americans increasingly anxious for a result four days after Tuesday's election, Biden has the math largely on his side with a 253-to-214 lead in the state-by-state Electoral College vote that determines the winner, according to Edison Research. On Friday he took the lead in Pennsylvania, whose 20 electoral votes would put him over the 270 threshold needed for victory.
Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, said the votes still to be counted in his state were likely to be in the 77-year-old former vice president' favor.
"The counts are ongoing, but there isn't any good news for the president's campaign anywhere in the pockets of votes that remain," the Democrat told CNN on Saturday.
Trump, 74, has been defiant as his chances fade for securing a second four-year term. He has made repeated and unfounded claims of electoral fraud, while his campaign pursues lawsuits that legal experts say are unlikely to alter the election outcome.
The Republican president continued his unsubstantiated allegations on Saturday morning, alleging on Twitter that tens of thousands of votes were illegally received at 8 p.m. on Election Day, "totally and easily changing the results in Pennsylvania and certain other razor thin states."
As with previous posts by the president since the election, Twitter flagged the tweet as containing information that is disputed and misleading.
State elections officials across the country say there has been no evidence of fraud.
Americans have been waiting longer than any presidential election year since 2000 to learn the winner, with vote counting slowed by a record number of mail-in ballots. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted many to avoid voting in person on Tuesday.
In remarks on Friday night, Biden predicted he would win but did not declare victory. Television networks held off from projecting a winner because votes are still being counted and margins are close in the four states that will determine the result.
"The numbers tell us ... it's a clear and convincing story: We're going to win this race," Biden said from his home state of Delaware, adding that he and his running mate Kamala Harris were already meeting with experts as they prepared to start their administration on Jan. 20.
Biden's lead in Pennsylvania widened to 28,833 votes by mid-morning on Saturday, with 96% of the count complete, and in Nevada he led by 22,657 votes with 93% of the count finished.
His slim lead in Georgia, a typically Republican-leaning state, had him ahead by 7,248 votes with the count 99% complete. A recount is likely in the state because of the close margin.
In Arizona, Biden's lead narrowed to 20,573 votes with 97% of the tally completed. Trump's campaign has been optimistic that Arizona will end up in the president's column.
With thousands of votes still to count, it was not clear when the contest would conclude, though further updates were expected on Saturday.
The divisions in the country were clear in Americans' responses to the vote counts and the delay.
While Biden backers danced in Philadelphia's streets on hearing their candidate had pulled ahead in their state, armed Trump supporters in Phoenix and Detroit said the election was being stolen. Dozens of rallies were planned for Saturday under the banner "Stop the Steal."
Some 30% of Republicans accept Trump's claim that he won the election, though a bipartisan majority of Americans do not, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published on Thursday.
Although the popular vote does not determine the outcome, Biden leads Trump by 4.18 million votes nationwide out of a record 147 million cast. He said on Friday that Americans had given him a mandate to tackle the pandemic, the struggling economy, climate change and systemic racism.
"They made it clear they want the country to come together, not continue to pull apart," said Biden, making his third bid for the White House in a political career spanning five decades.
Trump has nothing on his public schedule for Saturday. He said in a statement issued by his campaign on Friday that "all legal ballots must be counted and all illegal ballots should not be counted," while accusing Democrats of resisting that call.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has ordered county election boards in Pennsylvania to follow a state directive to separate mail-in ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day from other ballots. Pennsylvania's chief elections official, Kathy Boockvar, has said late-arriving ballots are a tiny proportion of the overall vote in the state.
A senior Senate Republican aide told Reuters on Saturday that the Trump campaign has been urging Republican senators to help promote the idea that fraud has been rampant.
Several Republican lawmakers have warned Trump not to make unsubstantiated claims, however, and one party official expressed doubt that the campaign's lawsuits would have any success.
"This race is over, and the only person who doesn't see it is Donald Trump," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Few Republicans have openly criticized Trump’s repeated claims of election fraud.
In a blow to the president, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a source familiar with the situation.
More than 236,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, which continues to sweep the country.