Updated Nov 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bush v. Gore II looks unlikely

President Trump holds results in the East Room early Wednesday
President Trump holds results in the East Room early today. Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters

With Joe Biden closing in on 270 electoral votes, the Trump campaign filed a flurry of ballot-related lawsuits that legal experts say are unlikely to produce a Bush v. Gore sequel.

The state of play: Biden will win Wisconsin and Michigan, the AP projected. Biden can clear 270 electoral votes by hanging on in Nevada and Arizona — or winning Pennsylvania.

Biden sought to portray himself as president-elect and healer-in-chief in an afternoon speech that included nod to Barack Obama, Trump and swing voters, Axios' Margaret Talev says.

  • Biden said that "power can't be taken or asserted" and he wouldn't let Americans be "bullied," adding, "Every vote must be counted."
  • "I'm not here to declare that we've won," he said. "But I am here to report that when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners."

Biden compared his margins to Trump's narrow 2016 margins, noted how unusual it is to beat an incumbent, and noted the Biden-Harris ticket is on track to eclipse the popular vote totals of any ticket in U.S. history.

  • Americans must stop treating political opponents as enemies, he said. "We are not enemies. ... I will govern as an American president."

Between the lines: Experts say they simply don’t yet see strong vehicles emerging for a scenario where Supreme Court justices decide the next president, although it’s too early to reach firm conclusions while votes are still being counted, Axios’ Sam Baker and Stef Kight report.

  • In Georgia, the Trump campaign said on Wednesday evening that it had filed a lawsuit to require counties "to separate any and all late-arriving ballots from all legally cast ballots," alleging that 53 late absentee ballots had been illegally accepted. The margin in Georgia is among the narrowest of any outstanding state.
  • In Wisconsin, the Trump campaign has already said it intends to seek a recount. The state's 2016 recount ended up only changing 131 votes. Biden's current margin is more than 20,000 votes.
  • In Michigan, the campaign is suing for access to vote-counting operations, and to stop the counting until then. They are filing a similar suit in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, the biggest controversy is the state's decision to count mail-in ballots that were mailed by Nov. 3, but arrived later. A challenge to that extension is already pending at the Supreme Court.

  • Four conservative Supreme Court justices have already expressed deep misgivings about extended ballot deadlines, and the court could take up a challenge to Pennsylvania’s extension at any time.
  • But that’s only likely to happen, experts said, if those late-arriving votes are the tipping point in Pennsylvania — and if Pennsylvania is the tipping point nationwide.
  • While the overall number of mail-in ballots this year is huge, the number of late-arriving mail-in ballots is believed to be pretty small.
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