AP MORNING WIRE
Good morning. In today’s AP Morning Wire:
- Biden on cusp of US presidency after Wisconsin, Michigan victories.
- More partisan gridlock expected as US election deeply splits Congress.
- US sets coronavirus record; England, Italy go into new lockdowns.
- Misinformation: Trump, allies spread falsehoods to cast doubt on election.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR – GLOBAL NEWS COORDINATION, LONDON
AP PHOTO/CAROLYN KASTER
Biden on brink of presidency, rebuilding ‘blue wall’ in race for the White House; Trump tries to press his case in court in some key swing states
“I will govern as an American president. There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America.” Words spoken by Joe Biden as he is on the cusp of victory in a bitterly contested U.S. presidential election.
Biden has marched closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to carry the White House, securing victories in the “blue wall” battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Michigan, and narrowing Donald Trump’s path to reelection.
With just a handful of states still up for grabs, Trump tried to press his case in court in some key swing states, It was unclear if any of his campaign’s legal maneuvering over balloting would succeed in shifting the race in his favor.
Biden’s victories in the Great Lakes states left him at 264 electoral votes, meaning he was one battleground state away from becoming president-elect.
Trump, with 214 electoral votes, faced a much higher hurdle. To reach 270, he needs to claim all four remaining battlegrounds: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Nevada.
Trump huddled with advisers, fuming at media coverage showing his rival picking up battlegrounds and used his Twitter feed to falsely claim victory in several key states and amplify unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about Democratic gains as absentee and early votes were tabulated.
With millions of votes yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 71 million votes, the most in history. The former vice president said he expected to win the presidency but stopped short of declaring victory outright.
Legal Challenges: As Biden inches closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, Trump’s campaign has launched a legal strategy attacking the integrity of the voting process in states where the result could mean his defeat. Democrats scoffed at the legal challenges the president’s campaign filed in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, Mark Sherman reports.
EXPLAINER–States of Play: A handful of critical states remained in play in the tightly contested race and the AP examines why they could still go to either Biden or Trump. Brian Slodysko has this report on Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
EXPLAINER–Why AP called Michigan for Biden: The Democrat won this electoral battleground. It’s the third state Trump carried in 2016 that the former vice president has flipped, narrowing Trump’s path to re-election. The AP declared Biden the winner after conducting an analysis of votes and remaining ballots left to be counted. It showed there were not enough votes left in Republican-leaning areas for Trump to catch Biden’s lead.
Follow all election developments from AP here.
Protests: Dozens of angry Trump supporters converged on vote-counting centers in Detroit and Phoenix as returns went against the president in the two key states of Michigan and Arizona. Thousands of anti-Trump protesters demanding a complete count of the ballots, meanwhile, took to the streets in cities across the U.S. The protests came as the president repeatedly insisted — without evidence — that there were major problems with the voting and the ballot counting.
Protests — sometimes about the election, sometimes about racial inequality — took place in at least a half-dozen cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Houston, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and San Diego, Mike Householder and Tim Sullivan report.
Florida: The post-mortem underway in Florida is especially wrenching for Democrats, as second-guessing has begun amid another high-profile loss at the ballot box. Some Democrats were unsurprised by their loss in the state to Trump, saying that Biden’s weakness with the Hispanic community, particularly in Miami, may be a symptom of deeper problems. After so many disappointing elections, many Florida Democrats are still asking themselves what is going wrong. Trump won the state by fewer than 4 percentage points, Bobby Caina Calvan and Brendan Farrington report.
Global Reaction: The delay in knowing the U.S. election winner has been jarring to a world weaned on American speediness. Leaders generally refrained from commenting but the particularly fractious contest has sparked concerns overseas that America’s sharp divisions will endure long after a winner is declared. Gloating was heard in some countries on the receiving end of U.S. criticism about how they run their elections. But others see the slow vote-counting as a living example of how democracy works, John Leicester reports.
AP PHOTO/TIMOTHY D. EASLEY
US election splits Congress, sets up more partisan gridlock; With presidency in reach, Democrats grapple with disappointment
Congressional elections have scrambled seats in the House and Senate but ultimately leave Capitol Hill much as it was — deeply split and on course for further policy schisms at a time of multiple national crises.
Voters resisted big changes despite the heated race for the White House. The outcome dampens Democratic demands for a bold new agenda, emboldens Republicans and almost ensures partisan gridlock regardless of who wins the presidency, Lisa Mascaro reports.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on track to keep control of the House, but she saw her Democratic majority shrink and her leadership called into question.
Republicans appear likely to maintain control of the Senate after fending off an onslaught of energized challengers, though a few races remain undecided.
Democrats’ Disappointment: They went went into Election Day hoping to seize the White House and majorities in both chambers of Congress in a victory that would demonstrate an unmistakable repudiation of Trump and his Republican Party. It didn’t work out that way. There was no clear Democratic wave. Republicans held key Senate seats that Democrats hoped to flip, and the GOP may ultimately shrink the Democrats’ House majority. Many Democrats hailed Biden’s potential victory but acknowledged he would lead an electorate still bitterly divided, Bill Barrow and Steve Peoples report.
AP PHOTO/PATRICK SEMANSKY
US sets record for coronavirus cases; England, Italy enter new lockdowns
”Where we are is in an extremely dire place as a country. Every metric that we have is trending in the wrong direction.” That’s how a public health expert at George Washington University described these perilous times in America.
The U.S. set another record for daily confirmed coronavirus cases as several states posted all-time highs, underscoring the vexing issue confronting Trump or Biden as a pandemic surges with the holidays and winter approaching.
The spiking cases and hospitalizations around the country reflect the challenge that the winner of the presidential race will face in the coming months, Lindsay Tanner reports.
Britain: As coronavirus infections and deaths surge, last-minute shoppers came out in force and thirsty drinkers enjoyed their final pints in a pub as England prepared to enter a four-week lockdown. Britain is joining large swaths of Europe in imposing new restrictions to save health care systems from being overwhelmed. England-wide, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and shops selling non-essential items such as books and sneakers are closed from today until at least Dec. 2, Pan Pylas reports from London.
Italy: Four regions are going under a “red-zone” lockdown, with severe limits on when and why people can leave their homes. Premier Giuseppe Conte announced the “very stringent” restrictions on Lombardy, Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta in the north and Calabria in the south. The lockdown aims to tamp down a surge in COVID-19 infections and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. The lockdown, covering 16.5 million of Italy’s 60 million residents, includes Milan, begins Friday and lasts at least two weeks, Frances D’ Emilio reports from Rome.
Spain Poverty: The most vulnerable in Spain have not only been exposed to more contagion but they are already suffering greater economic fallout from the pandemic. With Spain deep into a resurgence of the virus, many of its poorest are still waiting for subsidies they were promised, including a basic income scheme that the ruling left-wing coalition has made a flagship of its social protection policies. Experts warn that insufficient social spending, too much red tape, job losses from tourism and a digital gap will only widen Spain’s economic inequalities between rich and poor, Aritz Parra reports from Madrid.
- India’s outbreak has risen by more than 50,000 cases amid a resurgence of infections in the capital, New Delhi.
With the outcome of the U.S. presidential race still in limbo, Donald Trump and his supporters seized — and spread — online misinformation about legally cast absentee and mail-in votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
They used the blatant falsehoods to bolster the president’s unfounded declaration on live television early Wednesday that Democrats are trying to “steal the election” from him.
The baseless allegations exploit public confusion over how elections are managed as Americans look for answers about election results, misinformation experts say, Amanda Seitz, David Klepper and Ali Swenson report.
Social Platforms: Ahead of the election, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube promised to clamp down on election misinformation, including unsubstantiated charges of fraud and premature declarations of victory by candidates. And they mostly did just that — though not without a few hiccups.
But overall their measures still didn’t really address the problems exposed by the 2020 U.S. presidential contest, critics of the social platforms contend, Matt O’Brien and Mae Anderson report.
Sharpie Pens: In what has come to be known as #Sharpiegate, social media posts circulated Wednesday claiming election officials in Arizona’s Maricopa County provided voters with Sharpie pens that canceled out votes, specifically those for Trump. The false claim came as Joe Biden was named the winner in the battleground state. Arizona election officials disputed the posts, saying using a Sharpie would not invalidate a ballot. In fact, officials said that voting centers used Sharpies so the ink would not smudge when ballots were counted, Beatrice Dupuy reports.
Other Top Stories
Eta is moving over Honduras as a weakened tropical depression but is still bringing the heavy rains that have caused deadly landslides and drenched the country’s east and northern Nicaragua. The storm is advancing so slowly and dumping so much rain that much of Central America remains on high alert. At least four people in Nicaragua and Honduras have been killed in landslides. The long-term forecast calls for Eta to spin back out into the Caribbean later today and then reform as a tropical storm on Friday — possibly reaching Cuba on Sunday and southern Florida on Monday.
Philadelphia’s district attorney has vowed to make his own decision about whether to charge two young officers in the shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr. and not to rely solely on the police investigation. The city released police body camera video and other evidence in the death last month. The evidence shows that Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man, was killed outside his house within one minute of the officers’ arrival, Krasner said. Family members have said they called 911 to seek help as he went through a mental health crisis. Police said he ignored commands to drop a knife when they fatally shot him.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and four of his Cabinet members are in quarantine after meeting with a visiting envoy who later tested positive for coronavirus. The Cambodian health ministry says all the tests so far were negative but their quarantine was a precaution. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto tested negative when he left Hungary on Monday and negative again while in Cambodia. He tested positive upon his arrival in Thailand late Tuesday.
Asian shares advanced after stocks rallied on Wall Street as investors embraced the upside of more gridlock in Washington, sending the S&P 500 index up 2.2% while the outcome of the U.S. presidential election remained in limbo. Hong Kong’s benchmark led the region, gaining 2.6%, while shares also rose by more than 1% in Tokyo and South Korea.