UPDATE BY: AP | Reuters

US President Donald Trump has won Texas and its 38 electoral votes despite a furious, late push by Democrats to turn America’s biggest red state blue.

An avalanche of early votes fed Democrats’ high hopes of ending decades of losses in Texas, where polls showed Joe Biden running unusually close. But Trump carried Texas for a second straight year.

Trump won Texas by 9 percentage points in 2016 and all but took a win here for granted. He didn’t swing through Texas for campaign rallies or swamp television airwaves, and his conservative allies on the ground scoffed at Biden’s chances as a far reach.

Trump also won Florida and its 29 electoral votes, the biggest prize among the perennial battlegrounds and a state crucial to his reelection hopes.

A victory in Florida means re-election is within Trump’s grasp. A loss in the state would have made it nearly impossible for Trump to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to retain the White House.

Electoral College votes are assigned to each state, in part based on their population.

Biden still has multiple paths to the 270 electoral votes he needs without Florida despite having spent lots of time and money trying to flip the state that backed Trump in 2016.

Other competitive swing states that will help decide the election, including North Carolina, remained up in the air.

Biden won California, Oregon and Washington state, while President Donald Trump won Idaho.

California, Oregon and Washington are all liberal states, while Idaho is conservative.

California has 55 electoral votes, the biggest haul of any state. It’s also the home of Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris. She served as the San Francisco district attorney and the state’s attorney general before winning election to the Senate in 2016.

Trump won Ohio and its 18 electoral votes, holding on to a battleground state where the race against Biden had tightened in recent months.

The Republican nominee comfortably carried the Midwestern state four years ago, but polls heading into the final weeks showed Biden well within range, forcing the president to spend more time in the state than anyone expected.

Trump also won four of Nebraska’s five electoral votes, while Biden won one electoral vote from the state. Biden’s win in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Omaha, is a flip from 2016, when Trump narrowly won it against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Early wins

Soon after the polling time ended, AP reported that President Trump had won Kentucky, and Biden had carried Vermont.

There were also some predictable victories for each candidate, with Trump taking Alabama, Mississippi and Oklahoma and Biden winning Massachusetts, his home state of Delaware and Virginia, a former battleground that has become a Democratic stronghold.

Trump also took West Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Meanwhile, Biden won Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico, New York, the District of Columbia and Colorado.

Record-setting polling

Voters, many wearing masks and maintaining social distancing to guard against the spread of the coronavirus, experienced long lines in a few locales and short waits in many other places. There were no signs of disruptions or violence at polling sites, as some officials had feared.

The winner — who may not be determined for days — will lead a nation strained by a pandemic that has killed more than 231,000 people and left millions more jobless, racial tensions and political polarisation that has only worsened during a vitriolic campaign.

Control of the Senate is at stake, too: Democrats needed to net three seats if Biden captured the White House to gain control of all of Washington for the first time in a decade. The House was expected to remain under Democratic control.

A new anti-scaling fence was erected around the White House, and in downtowns from New York to Denver to Minneapolis, workers boarded up businesses lest the vote lead to unrest.

With the worst public health crisis in a century still fiercely present, the pandemic — and Trump’s handling of it — was the inescapable focus for 2020.

For Trump, the election stood as a judgment on his four years in office, a term in which he bent Washington to his will, challenged faith in its institutions and changed how America was viewed across the globe.

Rarely trying to unite a country divided along lines of race and class, he has often acted as an insurgent against the government he led while undermining the nation’s scientists, bureaucracy and media.

At the White House on Tuesday night, more than 100 family members, friends, donors and staff were set to watch returns from the East Room.

Trump was watching votes come in upstairs in the residence with a few close aides. Most top campaign officials were monitoring returns from a “war room” set up in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Biden spent the day last-minute campaigning in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was born, and in Philadelphia with a couple of local stops in Wilmington, Delaware, where he was spending Election Night.

The president began his day on an upbeat note, predicting that he’d do even better than in 2016. But during a midday visit to his campaign headquarters, he spoke in a gravelly, subdued tone.

“Winning is easy,” Trump told reporters. “Losing is never easy, not for me it’s not.”

Trump left open the possibility of addressing the nation on Tuesday night, even if a winner hadn’t been determined. Biden was also scheduled to give a nighttime speech from Wilmington.

“I’m superstitious about predicting what an outcome’s gonna be until it happens […] but I’m hopeful,” said Biden. “It’s just so uncertain […] you can’t think of an election in the recent past where so many states were up for grabs.”

With the coronavirus now surging anew, voters ranked the pandemic and the economy as top concerns in the race between Trump and Biden, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate.

Voters were especially likely to call the public health crisis the nation’s most important issue, with the economy following close behind. Fewer named health care, racism, law enforcement, immigration or climate change

The survey found that Trump’s leadership loomed large in voters’ decision-making. Nearly two-thirds of voters said their vote was about Trump — either for him or against him.

The momentum from early voting carried into Election Day, as an energised electorate produced long lines at polling sites throughout the country.

Voters braved worries of the coronavirus, threats of polling place intimidation and expectations of long lines caused by changes to voting systems, but appeared undeterred as turnout appeared it would easily surpass the 139 million ballots cast four years ago.

No major problems arose on Tuesday, outside the typical glitches of a presidential election: Some polling places opened late, robocalls provided false information to voters in Iowa and Michigan, and machines or software malfunctioned in some counties in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas.

The cybersecurity agency at the Department of Homeland Security said there were no outward signs by midday of any malicious activity.

The record-setting early vote — and legal skirmishing over how it would be counted — drew unsupported allegations of fraud from Trump, who had repeatedly refused to guarantee he would honor the election’s result.

Referendum on Trump

Supporters of both candidates called the election a referendum on Trump and his tumultuous first term. No US president has lost a re-election bid since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Among the most closely contested states that are expected to determine the outcome are Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia, with Democrats hoping that Biden may even threaten Trump in states that once seemed certain to go Republican such as Ohio, Iowa and Texas.

Trump is seeking another term in office after a chaotic four years marked by the coronavirus crisis, an economy battered by pandemic shutdowns, an impeachment drama, inquiries into Russian election interference, US racial tensions and contentious immigration policies.

Biden is looking to win the presidency on his third attempt after a five-decade political career including eight years as vice president under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

Biden has promised a renewed effort to fight the public health crisis, fix the economy and bridge America’s political divide. The country this year was also shaken by months of protests against racism and police brutality.

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