Highlights From the Transition: Biden Wins Georgia and Trump Wins North Carolina as the Final States Are Called

With his victory in Georgia, President-elect Joe Biden has won a total of 306 electoral votes, flipping five states in the process. The Trump campaign lost a legal challenge to the election results in Michigan and withdrew one in Arizona.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to supporters, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by the historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. narrowly defeated President Trump in Georgia, and Mr. Trump won North Carolina, as the two final states were called on Friday, a week and a half after Election Day.

Mr. Biden now has 306 electoral votes and Mr. Trump has 232. Mr. Biden became president-elect when he won Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes on Saturday, passing the required 270-vote threshold.

The victory for Mr. Biden in Georgia — a once reliably Republican state whose politics have shifted to the left — means that he flipped five states Mr. Trump won in 2016. The others were Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Mr. Trump did not flip any state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

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All told, Mr. Biden won 25 states and the District of Columbia, home to a combined 57 percent of the country’s population. Mr. Trump won the other 25 states. With more than 78 million votes nationwide, Mr. Biden also beat Mr. Trump in the popular vote by more than 5.3 million votes.

Mr. Biden’s margin in Georgia currently stands at just over 14,000 votes or 0.3 percentage points. Mr. Trump’s margin in North Carolina is more than 73,000 votes or 1.3 percentage points.

Mr. Biden’s late surge in Georgia, thanks to his dominance in Atlanta, Savannah, and the increasingly Democrat-friendly suburbs around both, transformed what had seemed to be a safe Trump state in early tabulations last week into one of the closest contests in the nation.

Mr. Trump spurred near-record turnout in the rural southwestern parts of the state bordering Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, the white outer suburbs and small cities, and the Appalachian northwest, which touches deep-red Tennessee. Mr. Biden was powered by high turnout among Black voters in Atlanta and flipped some white voters in the suburban counties that ring the city.

Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state overseeing Georgia’s elections, came under fire this week from fellow Republicans when the Trump campaign and the Georgia Republican Party demanded a hand recount. On Friday, the state began one. State officials say it is unlikely to change the results.

Georgia’s election drama is far from over: Both of the state’s Senate races are going to January runoffs that will determine whether Republicans retain control of the chamber

In North Carolina, Black voters shattered early-voting records in the lead-up to Election Day. But despite a late get-out-the-vote push by Democrats to motivate Black and Latino voters, Mr. Trump — who visited North Carolina a half-dozen times toward the close of the campaign — was more effective in motivating his base of white working-class and rural voters.

Mr. Trump defeated Mrs. Clinton in North Carolina in 2016 by fewer than four percentage points, but the state has been reliably red for decades: Since 1976, the only Democrat to prevail has been Barack Obama, in 2008.

That Mr. Biden flipped Georgia, a state last won by a Democrat in 1992, was dramatic, but it was years in the making: Mr. Trump defeated Mrs. Clinton there in 2016 by five percentage points, a far slimmer margin than Republicans enjoyed in previous presidential elections.

Examine ballot. Recite name. Sort into the bin. Repeat 5 million times. Georgia’s audit is underway.
An election official sorting ballots during an audit in Rome, Ga. on Friday.Credit…Ben Gray/Associated Press

MARIETTA, Ga.— The arduous slog of recounting nearly 5 million Georgia ballots by hand got off to a smooth and rather a mundane start on Friday, as auditors began the process of checking basic math, and some voters’ intentions, in a race in which President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. leads President Trump by more than 14,000 votes.

It continued even as Mr. Biden was declared the winner of the state and its 16 electoral votes on Friday afternoon.

The Georgia count, technically an audit, is a logistically challenging lift occurring in each of the state’s 159 counties. Local officials must submit new counts by Wednesday night, two days before the statewide certification deadline of Nov. 20.

The Trump campaign can then request a third tally — a formal recount — if Mr. Biden leads by less than half a percentage point. As of Friday afternoon, he was ahead by 0.3 percentage points.

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, ordered the audit after the Trump campaign and the state Republican Party demanded a hand recount, claiming that ineligible and even dead people voted. Mr. Raffensperger has said that while his office would investigate accusations of irregularities, the overall process had been legitimate.

Mr. Biden’s legal team said on Friday that they were confident that the audit would reinforce the results of a race that has been called for him.

“We agree with the secretary of state that there is no reason whatsoever to believe that any widespread irregularities will be found,” Patrick Moore, a lawyer for the Biden campaign, said. “The Trump campaign has been loud, but so far they have not pointed to any concrete proof of any irregularity or wrongdoing.”

In Cobb County, even as election officials certified the initial count on Friday — Mr. Biden won by more than 56,000 votes — the recount got underway.

Poll workers gathered in a cavernous room as a county employee barked out instructions. “The first thing you’ve got to do with these boxes is figured out what the name of it is,” the employee said.

At each table, workers opened taped-up boxes and removed stacks of ballots sealed in plastic bags. At one table, a man held a sheaf of ballots, declared the name of the candidate on each, and handed it to a woman standing across the table who double-checked him, then placed the ballot in a bin with the candidate’s name.

Any ambiguous ballots — including five or six boxes’ worth that have already been set aside and adjudicated once — will be sent to a county adjudication panel consisting of a Democrat, a Republican, and a representative from the county election board that will meet publicly on Saturday.

If there is a discrepancy in the total after this new count, the total would be recertified.

Observers were allowed to watch on Friday from an area separated off by tape. Three or four of them were concerned citizens of a conservative bent. Despite the careful and meticulous process he was watching, one Cobb County resident, Hale Soucie, 28, said he remained concerned that the count was corrupt.

“This is kind of just, you know, a show,” he said.

NYTimes / Balkantimes.press

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