PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania’s vote-counting is creeping along and President Donald Trump’s lead over Joe Biden continues to shrink.
It’s now down to about 49,000 votes, or just under 1 percentage point — down from nearly 13 points on Wednesday. But there are nearly 209,000 outstanding mail ballots left to be counted.
So far, about 76 percent of the mail ballots have broken for Biden, while 23 percent have been won by Trump. If that pace continues — and it’s a big if — Biden would take the lead.
Earlier in the day, Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar told CNN that the victor of the presidential race “definitely could” be announced Thursday. But at a press conference later in the day, she signaled she was less certain that would happen.
“The counties are continuing to count,” she said. “It’s very close in Pennsylvania, right? There’s no question. And so that means it’s going to take longer to actually see who the winner is.”
As of about 9:20 p.m., the Department of State said there were nearly 73,000 mail ballots still to be counted in Philadelphia, and roughly 36,000 in Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh. Both areas are heavily Democratic.
Philadelphia election officials said they are working around the clock to finish tallying the vote, but have declined to give an exact time when they expected to be finished.
Provisional votes, as well as military and overseas ballots, also still must be counted. Boockvar declined to provide an exact number of provisional ballots that remain. A large number of outstanding ballots in Allegheny County will not be tallied until Friday.
Democratic elected officials and operatives in Pennsylvania think that Biden will ultimately win because the mail ballots have so overwhelmingly trended in his direction so far. The Trump campaign believes it will prevail because a share of the remaining mail ballots are in red counties.
Trump appears to be performing better over the last day in mail ballots, with his support rising from 21 percent as of Wednesday to 23 percent on Thursday. But even at that current rate, Biden would still jump ahead of him if the current pace remains.
The Trump campaign announced three separate press conferences Thursday across the street from the Convention Center in Philadelphia, where mail ballots are being tallied, featuring Pam Bondi and Corey Lewandowski. Liberal activists calling for the vote to continue as well as Trump supporters have rallied in the streets throughout the day.
Both Trump backers and progressive groups have sent out text messages to call on their supporters to converge on downtown Philadelphia.
Trump’s campaign won a small victory in court Thursday when a judge issued an order permitting the campaign’s observers to watch the vote count in the city at a closer range. Election officials have appealed the ruling, saying it “jeopardizes both the safety of the City Defendants’ canvass, plus the privacy of voters.”
Philadelphia is live-streaming their tallying online. City officials on Thursday said they temporarily paused counting to comply with the court order and reconfigure the room where they are counting votes. It quickly resumed.
Trump on Thursday railed again against Philadelphia, sought to raise doubts about the integrity of the election and falsely claimed that Democratic election officials in battleground states were “finding ballots all of a sudden.”
For months prior to Election Day, though, it was clear that Trump voters disproportionately planned to vote in person after the president demonized mail voting, while Biden supporters disproportionately expected to vote by mail. In Pennsylvania, nearly 1.7 million registered Democrats cast mail ballots, compared to 620,000 Republicans, according to the latest data.
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