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At This Point In Time, Presidential Race Is Too Close To Call

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Welcome to the day after the election. And as was predicted, we still do not have a result in the race for the presidency of the United States. We do know that race is very tight and millions of votes are still to be counted. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson is with us to explore everything that's happening right now. Mara, thanks for being here.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Happy to be here.

MARTIN: Just give us an update. What's the state of play right now?

LIASSON: The state of play is that according to The Associated Press, Joe Biden has 238 electoral votes so far. Donald Trump has 213. You need 270 to win. And there are a lot of big, competitive swing states that haven't been called yet. First of all, three blue wall states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, have not been called. Georgia and North Carolina haven't been called either. We know, overnight, that Joe Biden won Arizona. That means he has now flipped one of the states that Donald Trump won in 2016. Actually, it's a state that a Democrat hasn't won in a very long time. So he needs two of the three blue wall states, Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania, to win. And now, Donald Trump would also need two of those three states if he's going to win. So that's where things stand. Votes are still being counted, millions of votes outstanding.

MARTIN: All right. So no clear result yet, but nevertheless, both candidates made statements last night. We're going to play a couple of clips. Let's start with the president. First, set this up. What did he say, Mara?

LIASSON: The president declared victory falsely. What you're about to hear is not true. But he went on to say that he feels that the election - that his supporters are being disenfranchised. Here's what he said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: So our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation. This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud on our nation. We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.

MARTIN: Mara, where is the fraud he's talking about?

LIASSON: Well, we don't know where the fraud is. He has to find it and go through the proper rules in each state and laws to contest it if it's contestable. He said he wants all voting to stop. All voting has stopped. We think what he meant is he wants all counting to stop. He went on to say, we don't want them to find any more ballots. What they're actually doing right now in many states is counting all the ballots. And I thought what was really interesting to me about this statement was when Vice President Mike Pence got up to speak after the president spoke, he said while the votes continue to be counted, we're going to remain vigilant. That's a very different message than the president. And he closed by saying that he believes, quote, "we are on the road to victory." So Vice President Pence very notably not echoing the false statement of the president that he's already won.

MARTIN: Right. We should just underscore this again. For a presidential candidate to announce that he has won an election before the votes have been counted and finalized is extraordinary and dangerous.

LIASSON: Extraordinary. And now the big question is, do Republicans echo the president's call or do they say that every vote should be counted?

MARTIN: So let's talk about Joe Biden's response to that.

LIASSON: Right. Joe Biden came out, and as he has said all along, he wants all votes to be counted. He said he was optimistic. He said it's not over till it's over. Here's a little bit about what Biden said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE BIDEN: We're going to have to be patient until we - the hard work of tallying votes is finished. And it ain't over till every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.

(SOUNDBITE OF CARS HONKING)

LIASSON: So that's the message you're going to hear from Democrats. As I said, Biden did win Arizona. It means he still has several paths to wins. Democrats didn't get the big blue wave they wanted. They didn't get an outright repudiation of Donald Trump. But they feel satisfied so far, at least, with the rejection of the president that they appear to have, although it's going to take a couple days to find out.

MARTIN: Let's just get more granular if we can. I mean, the Democrats have really had high hopes for Florida and for Texas. Those did not pan out, did they?

LIASSON: Well, those were - they always have hopes for Florida and they're perennially disappointed. Texas was kind of a late addition to the battleground. Some Democrats had high hopes for that. But all along, the Biden campaign said the race was a lot closer than the public polls suggested it was. And it turned out that that was true. They still - at least in Wisconsin, we're seeing the vote come in and that state is turning a little bit bluer. And the fact that Joe Biden flipped a state that Donald Trump won in 2016, Arizona, that was a big moment last night. He could have won, could still win just with the three blue wall states. But he made Donald Trump's path a little harder.

MARTIN: So you said - we're looking at the npr.org map, which is - I strongly recommend. It's been incredibly helpful, incredibly up to date. And it does show Wisconsin in a tint of blue. That means it's leaning towards Joe Biden but not definitive at all. Pennsylvania, though, is tinted red, and that is a state both candidates would like to secure.

LIASSON: Right. Pennsylvania is an example of how we are a very polarized country and we also are very polarized in the way we decided to vote this time. Democrats voted by mail. Republicans voted in person. In-person votes are generally counted earlier. And Pennsylvania looks like it's tight. But lots and lots of mail-in votes have yet to be counted in Pennsylvania.

MARTIN: NPR's Mara Liasson with the update. Thank you, Mara.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.