Division, anxiety prevail as U.S. presidential race drags on
-- The Trump campaign has already mounted several legal challenges related to vote counting in some battlegrounds and requested a recount in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin.
-- The tight race, appearing to reflect the deep political division in the United States, is also adding fuel to anxiety among Americans who are also concerned about what it will lead to.
-- As the vote counting drags on, the United States added a record-breaking 120,000-plus new COVID-19 cases in a single day on Thursday, setting a new milestone since the outbreak began in the country.
Three days after Election Day, anxiety is brewing in the United States as vote counting continues in several battleground states, while the country's political divide widens and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen heading into the winter.
NO WINNER YET
As of Thursday night, Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the White House race with 253 electoral votes, while sitting President and Republican nominee Donald Trump has taken 213, according to CNN.
The Wall Street Journal and Fox News have predicted a higher number of electoral votes for Biden at 264, awarding him Arizona, a previously Republican stronghold carrying 11 electoral votes. To win the presidential election, a candidate needs at least 270 electoral votes of the 538 in total.
U.S. media have not called the race for Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada.
"We continue to feel very good about where things stand," Biden said from Wilmington, Delaware, alongside his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris from California, on Thursday afternoon.
Speaking from the White House briefing room on Thursday evening, Trump continued to cast doubt on the electoral process. But he did not provide any evidence to back up the allegations of election fraud.
The president also told reporters that there is "going to be a lot of litigation" over the election and suggested that the cases may end up in the Supreme Court, where conservatives have a solid 6-3 majority, including three justices nominated by him.
The Trump campaign has already mounted several legal challenges related to vote counting in some battlegrounds and requested a recount in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin, which Biden has been forecast to win by a margin of less than one percentage point.
Noting that the Supreme Court is "primarily an appellate court," Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, wrote in an opinion piece published by NBC News that "the only way the Supreme Court could step in here is to review what a lower state or federal court already decided."
DIVISION AND DEMONSTRATIONS
"Whatever the ultimate outcome of this election, this is a deeply divided country along political and cultural lines alike," tweeted Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think tank.
The tight race, appearing to reflect the deep political division in the United States, is also adding fuel to anxiety among Americans who are also concerned about what it will lead to.
Thousands of National Guard troops across the country have been activated to assist in the election and prepare for potential post-election violence, local media reported.
Also, demonstrations have taken place in many cities, including Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia and Seattle, while protesters have sprung up outside polling places in states that have not yet been called.
It was reported on Wednesday night that a group of people smashed windows of businesses in the downtown area of Portland, Oregon. Police arrested 12 people, including two on weapons charges.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has activated the National Guard to help maintain peace.
"Two groups gathered in downtown Portland last night," Brown said in a statement on Thursday. "Unfortunately, a second group of self-styled anarchist protesters, some armed, also marched downtown last night, with no discernible goal other than to cause violence and vandalism."
In Phoenix, Arizona, pro-Trump protesters, some of whom were armed, gathered outside a vote-counting center on Wednesday night, after Fox News called the "Grand Canyon State" in favor of Biden, which has drawn ire from the Trump campaign, as counting remains ongoing.
"We're on track to win Arizona. We only need to carry, I guess, 55 percent of the remaining vote," Trump said on Thursday.
In cities across the country, many have been bracing themselves for possible civil unrest, with hotels, office buildings, coffee shops and restaurants boarded up.
"I think it's going to be a bit nerve-wracking to see how people act," a Washington, D.C. resident identifying himself as James told Xinhua after casting his ballot at a voting site on Tuesday.
"I'm hoping everything remains peaceful, and I hope it's a very clear victor," he said. "But I'm also prepared to stay inside for weeks."
As the vote counting drags on, the United States added a record-breaking 120,000-plus new COVID-19 cases in a single day on Thursday, setting a new milestone since the outbreak began in the country. Thursday marked the second day in a row the country recorded over 100,000 coronavirus cases.
Daily new confirmed coronavirus cases across the country have surged 45 percent over the past two weeks, to a record 7-day average of nearly 90,000, showed tallies compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The raging pandemic has led to a record number of votes cast early before Election Day and sent by mail.
Biden has made the pandemic a central issue of his presidential bid and harshly criticized Trump's handling of the public health crisis, which has infected more than 9.6 million people in the United States, with nearly 235,000 deaths. The president has fiercely defended his response and measures and sought to shift blame elsewhere.
According to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate, a majority of Biden voters -- about 6 in 10 -- said that the pandemic was the most important issue facing the United States, but Trump's supporters were more focused on the economy and jobs.
As the election continues to overwhelm other things, it remains unclear how the country will address the pandemic, which has become a partisan topic, as winter nears.
"We're in for a whole lot of hurt. It's not a good situation," Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said several days before Election Day. "All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly."
Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, also said the United States needs to make an "abrupt change" in its public health practices and behaviors, expressing concern that the White House is focusing on "the economy and reopening the country."