For the first time since 2000, Americans woke up on Wednesday without knowing the name of their next president after a record turnout vote whose counting continued in seven key states, which did not prevent Donald Trump from consider himself the winner against Democrat Joe Biden.
The election attracted the highest turnout since women had the right to vote: 160 million Americans voted, an estimated turnout of 66.9%, up from 59.2% in 2016, according to the US Elections Project .
Many states are overwhelmed by the deluge of letters sent by mail. In some cities, opening the envelopes and scanning these ballots could take several days.
"If everything continues at this rate, we will have the total results in the next two days," Al Schmidt, head of the city of Philadelphia, a large reservoir of Democratic votes in the key state of Pennsylvania, told CNN on Wednesday morning. .
The two candidates spoke briefly overnight. At around 2:20 a.m., President Trump gave a confused statement from the White House where he threatened to take the Supreme Court to stop the count, implying where he himself is ahead in the results. partial.
"Honestly, we won the election," said the Republican president, then referring to a "fraud" without delivering any concrete evidence. "We are going to go to the Supreme Court, we want all votes to stop."
Camp Biden denounced "scandalous" and "unprecedented" presidential remarks.
"It is a deliberate attempt to deprive American citizens of their democratic rights", reacted the campaign team of the Democrat, ensuring to be ready to "fight" in justice if Donald Trump seizes the Supreme Court.
"This argument has no basis, no," commented Republican Chris Christie, former federal prosecutor and governor, who advised Donald Trump on the preparation of the presidential debates.
Joe Biden, 77, said himself "optimistic" and on track to win the ballot, calling on Americans to be patient. "Keep the faith, we are going to win!", Launched the former vice-president of Barack Obama in front of the sympathizers Democrats gathered in his stronghold of Wilmington, in Delaware.
The specter of long days of uncertainty and bitter legal battles now haunts the world's leading power, already shaken by major health, economic and social crises.
The name of the president who will be sworn in on January 20 is suspended from the results of several key states.
A potentially more complex scenario than in 2000, when the election depended on Florida alone. At the time, it was the Supreme Court which had ended, more than a month after the election, by intervening to put an end to the recount procedures and to agree with the Republican George W. Bush.
- Biden wins Arizona -
One certainty: the democratic wave, hoped for by some in the Biden camp, who were caught dreaming of historic victories in Georgia or Texas, did not take place.
The outgoing president has retained Florida, lying many polls, as well as Texas, a conservative stronghold that once seemed threatened, and Ohio, won since 1964 by all the candidates who also acceded to the presidency.
But the path to winning a second term remains narrow: he still has to win most of the other key states that contributed to his surprise victory in 2016.
In the American system, the president is elected by indirect universal suffrage: the voters designate, state by state, large voters. A candidate must obtain at least 270 of the 538 voters. On Wednesday morning, the outgoing president (213) was slightly behind the Democrat (238).
Joe Biden had several scenarios to clinch the victory. He was given the winner by some media in the crucial state of Arizona, won by Donald Trump in 2016, although the count is not yet complete. He seemed to be in good shape in Nevada.
If this is confirmed, he will now have to win at least two or three of the disputed industrial North (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin) and East (Georgia, North Carolina) states, all of which were won by Donald Trump there is four years.
But in these states, the counting continued on Wednesday.
In the industrial north (Wisconsin and Michigan), in the early hours of the morning, the gap between Donald Trump and Joe Biden narrowed, as election officials counted the ballots that arrived by mail.
But in those states, as well as in Pennsylvania, analysts believed the remaining ballots to be opened would be mostly for the Democrat.
In Pennsylvania, Donald Trump had nearly 700,000 votes in total on Wednesday, but there were 1.4 million mailed ballots to count. Now Joe Biden has won 78% of the ballots by mail counted at this point.
This is particularly where Mr. Trump would like to involve the Supreme Court.
Before the ballot, the Supreme Court had already received several appeals relating to postal votes. The Pennsylvania Republicans had asked him in particular to prevent the counting of ballots mailed before Tuesday evening but which would arrive within three days of the election.
The high court had refused to rule urgently but, if the result is close, it will have to examine the merits of the case and say whether or not to invalidate the ballots arrived between Wednesday and Friday.
As was widely anticipated, Democrats have retained control of the House of Representatives. But their hopes of tipping the Senate, now Republican-controlled, to their side were fading.
The Democrats took two seats from the Republicans (Colorado, Arizona), but lost one in Alabama. The previous majority was 53 Republicans versus 47 Democrats and Affiliates.
Unsurprisingly, the two septuagenarian candidates quickly won most of the states that were promised to them. Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Idaho and Tennessee, among others, for Donald Trump. California, Virginia, New York, Colorado, Delaware for Joe Biden.
Across the country, the vote took place without major incident or episodes of intimidation, as had been feared for several days. A tangible sign of the country's anxieties, businesses in several large cities, including Washington, Los Angeles and New York, had barricaded themselves in anticipation of possible post-election violence, which ultimately did not occur.
For months, Donald Trump has raised the specter of a "radical left" ready to transform the world's leading power into a "large-scale Venezuela".
Joe Biden, supported by Barack Obama, is increasing the warnings against the potentially devastating consequences on democratic institutions of a second term Trump, crushed as "the worst president" in recent United States history.
This pure representative of the moderate wing of the Democratic Party also made the election a referendum on the Republican management of the pandemic.