As Pennsylvania continues to count ballots, former Vice President Joe Biden has been slowly encroaching on President Donald Trump’s early lead in the state.
The remaining mail-in ballots are expected to favor the Democratic nominee, with the potential to turn Pennsylvania blue and push the former Penn presidential professor of practice across the 270 vote threshold to claim victory. Ballots are taking longer to count than in previous years due to an unprecedented surge of mail-in voting, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told ABC News Wednesday night that the "overwhelming majority" of ballots are expected to be counted by Thursday.
Pennsylvania, the largest electoral prize still up for grabs, has counted 89% of estimated votes as of 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, according to The New York Times. The state has counted 71% of mail-in ballots as of 9:15 p.m., of which 77% were cast for Biden, the Inquirer reported.
Although Trump took a strong lead in Pennsylvania on Election Day when in-person results were tallied, the vote count is now trending towards Biden in a “blue shift," as mail-in votes are more likely to favor the Democratic nominee. Mail-in ballots that were postmarked by Nov. 3 will still be tallied as long as they arrive at their respective election office before Nov. 6.
Philadelphia, which leans heavily Democratic, received more than 350,000 mail-in ballots by Election Day, and has more than 100,000 left to count, WHYY reported on Wednesday evening. Lisa Deeley, the chairwoman of the Philadelphia City Commissioners, told NPR they worked through the night of Nov. 3 to count votes.
Statewide, Trump has captured 50.7% of the vote compared to Biden’s 48.1%, with 11% of the vote remaining to be counted. There are currently about 160,000 votes separating the two candidates as of 12:30 a.m. on Thursday.
With The Associated Press and Fox News having already put Arizona in Biden's column, Pennsylvania is a must-win for Trump, who currently has 214 electoral votes in the face of Biden's 253 votes, or 264 if counting Arizona. Following AP’s assessment, a win for Biden in Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, or Georgia would lead to a Biden presidency.
Trump, however, has already falsely claimed victory in Pennsylvania at a press conference at the Philadelphia International Airport Wednesday afternoon, WHYY reported.
Trump has repeatedly accused Philadelphia city commissioners of unfairly obstructing their poll watchers from observing the ballot count, a claim which the Inquirer deems false. The Trump campaign announced Wednesday it was suing Pennsylvania to stop the vote count and prevent "Democrat election officials from hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers," Deputy Campaign Manager Justin Clark told The Associated Press.
The campaign has also called on the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling allowing the state to count ballots received by Friday, the Inquirer reported.
“This race is going to come down to Pennsylvania,” Campaign Manager Bill Stepien told the Inquirer on a conference call Wednesday night.
Pennsylvania is part of the “blue wall” — a group of states that are traditionally carried by the Democrats, but flipped for Trump in 2016. Biden has already won back the “blue wall” states of Michigan and Wisconsin, and held onto Minnesota, which was carried by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Throughout his campaign, Biden has made it a priority to reclaim the "blue wall," with less of a focus on ambitious wins in red-leaning states like Georgia and Florida, the Times reported. It is possible his strategy may have paid off as he closes in on 270 electoral votes.
“We believe when the count is finished, we’ll be the winner,” Biden said at a Wednesday afternoon appearance in Delaware.