While news outlets had not called the race for Mr Biden, he was making up considerable ground in Pennsylvania and Georgia and holding onto leads in Arizona and Nevada. The four states’ combined 43 Electoral College votes would clinch a victory for the Democratic former vice president if he wins them.
As Thursday rolled into Friday, Mr Trump had amassed 69,651,725 votes popular votes nationwide. That’s more than 4m more than the 65,853,514 popular votes that his Democratic foe from 2016, Hillary Clinton, received in the last election.
And it’s roughly 6.5m more popular votes than Mr Trump himself received in 2016, when he lost the popular margin to Ms Clinton but eked out an Electoral College victory by carrying the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
Mr Trump’s tally of nearly 70m votes — which is expected to inch upward even more in the coming days and weeks as many states continue counting absentee and provisional ballots — is more than former President Barack Obama received in his landslide 2008 victory over the late Arizona Senator John McCain.
Some projections show Mr Trump could lose the overall popular vote to Mr Biden by a margin of roughly 8.5m votes when all ballots have been counted nationwide. That margin is roughly equivalent to the one between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election that is widely considered one of the most lopsided elections in modern US history.
It is important to note that overall vote totals for Mr Biden and Mr Trump are more reflective of an ever-increasing US voter-age population than anything else.
Mr Biden led Mr Trump in the popular vote by less than 3 percentage points by Friday morning, although that margin was expected to grow to as many as 4 or 5 percentage points by the end of the nationwide count, according to several election experts.
Mr Trump has not conceded the election, as he has levied a spate of unfounded accusations of voter fraud in several key swing states.
Breaking a 36-hour silence after prematurely declaring victory on Wednesday, the president continued spewing unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud and illegal ballot-counting as he addressed Americans from the White House on Thursday evening.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” the president claimed, falsely alleging local elections officials had accepted ballots after Election Day and were padding the stats for his Democratic opponent.
Several news outlets and election forecasters have said it is clear Mr Biden is on the verge of sealing an Electoral College victory and thus the presidency.
The Trump campaign has provided no evidence for its claims that the votes being tabulated from absentee ballots were cast fraudulently. States like Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania have taken longer to call because of absentee ballots. But that’s only because it takes workers longer to count those votes — which in several midwestern states they were not allowed to begin processing until the day after the election — not because of “voter fraud.”
For days now, Mr Trump and his camp of political loyalists have cast doubt on the vote-counting process because the president led on Election Night in the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania before they started counting the rest of their absentee ballots.
Michigan and Wisconsin have been called for Mr Biden, and Georgia and Pennsylvania have been trending that way since Wednesday.
Defying those ongoing election results, Mr Trump claimed on Thursday he had "won the state" of Michigan and "did likewise" in Wisconsin — both false statements.
“We were winning a lot and then our numbers started getting whittled away in secret,” the president complained.
The Trump campaign’s baseless claims of a stolen election and rampant voter fraud contrast sharply with the message from Mr Biden, the Democratic nominee who appeared by Thursday on the precipice of victory.
The Democratic former vice president has urged Americans to be “calm” as state and local election officials across the country continue counting and reporting ballots that were legally cast on or by Election Day on Tuesday.
“Democracy is sometimes messy, so sometimes it requires a little patience,” Mr Biden told reporters gathered in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware in brief remarks on Thursday. “But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that has been the envy of the world.”
America and the world were waiting on Friday on the outcome of five states — Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Arizona — which will determine the next occupant of the Oval Office.
“In America, the vote is sacred. It's how people in this nation express their will,” Mr Biden said.
“And it is the will of the voters, not anything else, that chooses the president of the United States of America.”
The Associated Press has already called Arizona for Mr Biden, placing him at 264 electoral votes, six shy of the threshold required to win the White House. But the margin there has tightened since that projection made early Wednesday morning and several other news outlets have not made the same call.
Even if Mr Trump manages to take the lead in Arizona, he would still need to win Pennsylvania, where he has had a dwindling lead as officials continue tabulating mail-in ballots. If Mr Biden overtakes Mr Trump in Pennsylvania and that race is called, that would give him 273 Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency — even if he were to lose in Arizona, Nevada and Georgia.
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