Trump US election
Protesters denounce Trump's attempts to stop vote counting (Image: PA/Charles Guerin)

The past 48 hours have been rollercoaster of emotions as US polls closed and presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Donald Trump began gaining and losing leads in battleground states across the US.

It continues to be a tense race, with Trump supporters swarming voting centres in Arizona and Michigan.

The fight for the key states of Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania continues — though Biden has made slight gains on Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia in the last few hours. Nevada is also yet to be called.

As we go to press, it looks like Biden needs six more electoral college votes or any one of the remaining states to win, according to AP data.

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Trump is already showing signs of being a very sore loser, launching lawsuits to stop vote counting and threatening to take an election challenge to the US Supreme Court. 

Here’s a quick recap of key moments (with time references in AEDT):

‘It ain’t over till every vote is counted: Biden takes the lead

5pm, November 4: In an address from his home state of Delaware, Biden — who was emerging as the lead in Wisconsin, and projected as the winner in Arizona — was cautiously optimistic. 

“After a long night of counting, it is clear that we’re winning enough states to reach 270 electoral votes to reach the presidency,” he said.

“I’m not here to declare we’ve won … but we believe we will be the winners.”

Biden stressed that the presidency was the will of the people and that he and Trump were not enemies. 

“It ain’t over till every vote is counted,” he said. 

It was later revealed that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner called Rupert Murdoch to complain about Fox News calling Arizona for Biden when just 73% of the vote had been counted.

‘Frankly, we did win’: Trump claims a false victory 

6pm: In stark comparison to his opponent, Trump made a false claim of victory shortly after Biden’s address.

“Frankly, we did win this election … Millions and millions of people voted for us tonight,” he said.  

He promised to go to the Supreme Court to challenge the election and stop vote counting, arguing that measures introduced to make voting easier during the pandemic — such as increased absentee voting — are unconstitutional and open to fraud. 

“This is a fraud on the American public … We don’t want them to find any ballots at four o’clock in the morning and add them to the list,” Trump said. 

European media outlets questioned the state of democracy in the US following Trump’s claim to victory.

Leads ‘start to magically disappear’

Trump soon jumped back on Twitter to sew seeds of doubt around the mail-in ballots after losing the lead in Michigan.

Many of his tweets have been hidden by Twitter as content which “is disputed and might be misleading”.

“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key states, in almost all instances Democrat run and controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted,” Trump wrote

Trump seemed to have forgotten he has spent much of his campaign telling supporters to avoid mail-in ballots, which would explain the late Democratic lead as blue votes are processed.

Wisconsin called

7am, November 5: Wisconsin called for Biden. He is projected to have successfully reclaimed the state from the Republicans. In 2016, Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win Wisconsin since 1984. 

Trump quickly called for a recount. His campaign filed more lawsuits, calling for a temporary halt in the counting in Michigan and Pennsylvania until they can review the ballots which have already been processed.

At more than 72 million votes at time of writing, Biden has collected more votes than any candidate in US history. More than 150 million people have cast a ballot this election. 

Michigan called

10am: Biden claimed a projected victory in Michigan

Georgia lawsuit added

11am: Trump announced yet another lawsuit to stop the counting of ballots, this one in Georgia where his lead is slipping. Even Trump seemed to see the futility of the suits, asking what good “meaningful access” — allowing his campaign to see the votes already processed — would do.

His campaign alleged 53 late absentee ballots had been illegally added to a stack of on-time absentee ballots in the state.

The hashtag #TrumpMeltdown started trending on Twitter, while vote challengers appeared at a Michigan vote centre chanting “stop the count“.

Sportsbet declares a victor

12pm: Despite states still tallying their votes, betting site Sportsbet called Biden as a winner just before midday AEDT, paying out $23 million to punters.

Senate still neck-and-neck

With just four seats yet to be called in the Senate, neither party has emerged as a victor. The Republicans hold 48 seats, while the Democrats hold 46 (with two seats held by independents who caucus with the Democrats).

High emotions

4pm: Biden closes in slightly on Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania. It remains close in Georgia too, with Trump ahead just 0.7% at time of writing.

Along with the “stop the count” Trump supporters in Michigan, people have turned up at Arizona voting centres demanding to be let inside to watch the count. At the time of writing, Biden is in the lead.