CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Republican President Donald Trump prematurely declared victory in the 2020 presidential race in North Carolina over Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, early Wednesday.
Votes were still being counted in North Carolina - along with other key battleground states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia. The Associated Press called Wisconsin for Biden Wednesday afternoon but Trump's campaign has already signaled they want a recount.
Trump, who spoke to his supporters from the White House, said the counting of new votes must end despite there being tens of thousands of votes left uncounted in multiple states. In North Carolina, the State Board of Elections reported 117,000 outstanding absentee ballots left to be counted.
"North Carolina, big victory with North Carolina," said Trump.
Trump vowed to ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on the inconclusive election. He cried foul over the election results, calling the process "a major fraud on our nation." But there's no evidence of foul play in the cliffhanger.
"We'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court — we want all voting to stop," Trump said. In fact, voting had ended by the time Trump spoke. Only counting of ballots remained.
The Associated Press is not calling the presidential race yet because neither candidate has secured the 270 electoral college votes needed to claim victory.
Joe Biden spoke to supporters at an outdoor car rally in Wilmington, Del., early Wednesday morning. He projected confidence that he can still win the election and insisted every vote would be counted.
Moments later, Trump tweeted, claiming Democrats were trying to steal the election. Twitter flagged the tweet, indicated it might be misleading about the election.
After a historic wave of early voting across the nation, voters had one last chance to cast a ballot on Election Day. Absentee ballots in North Carolina must have been postmarked by Tuesday, November 3 in order to be counted in the final results. Completed absentee ballots were NOT accepted in person at polls on Election Day in North Carolina. More than 4.5 million North Carolinians voted ahead of Election Day, which is more than 60% of registered voters in the state. The State Board of Elections said they had hope to have 97% of all ballots counted by the end of the night and successfully reached that mark.
In North Carolina, polls opened at 6:30 a.m. and mostly closed at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of a few polling places approved to stay open later due to interruptions in voting. In South Carolina, polls were open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Election Day.
According to the most recent NBC News/Marist poll, which was released on October 30, Biden held a six-point lead over Trump among likely voters, at 52-46. Among registered voters, Biden's lead was 51-46. The gap has closed a little since July, when Biden held a seven-point advantage over Trump.
Both Trump and Biden's campaigns have kept North Carolina at the top of mind in recent weeks. The president has been to North Carolina at least a half-dozen times for campaign rallies, while Biden has rallied voters on multiple occasions. Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden's choice for vice president, have made multiple trips to North Carolina since September.
Dr. Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College, says North Carolina is crucial to Trump's path to victory. Since 1976, North Carolina has only voted Democrat once, when former President Barack Obama won by the narrowest of margins over John McCain.
"If North Carolina is not in their win column with 15 electoral votes, it is very difficult for me to imagine a path to 270 to capture the White House and the presidency,” Bitzer said.