Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden captured Michigan and Wisconsin on Wednesday to bring him to the brink of winning the presidency, while President Trump’s campaign moved aggressively on legal fronts in the key states where he lost or is losing ground, demanding a recount in Wisconsin and a temporary halt to ballot-counting in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
There was no winner of the presidential contest more than a day after polls closed Tuesday night. Mr. Biden led in electoral votes, 264 to 214, with 270 needed to win.
But the Democrat’s victories in Michigan and Wisconsin on Wednesday afternoon meant that he needs only one more undecided state to gain the White House. Nevada, which will resume vote counting Thursday, loomed as the prize that would put him over the top.
The former vice president, appearing with running mate Sen. Kamala D. Harris in Wilmington, Delaware, said his victory is inevitable when all the votes are counted.
“I’m not here to declare that we won,” Mr. Biden said. “But I am here to report when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners.”
Amid a rapid flurry of lawsuits, the Trump campaign also planned to send a team to monitor Arizona’s vote count.
Officials believe the final total there will reverse the outcome in favor of the president after news outlets called Arizona’s 11 electoral votes for Mr. Biden.
Just after 2 a.m. Wednesday, in what was to have been an election night victory party at the White House, the president vowed to take his legal battles all the way to the Supreme Court to defeat what he called Democratic fraud.
“This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country,” the president said. “We were getting ready to win this election and, frankly, we did win this.”
Among four unresolved states with a total of 60 electoral votes, Mr. Biden was leading in Nevada, which has six electoral votes, just enough to give victory to the former vice president.
Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said the campaign is confident that Mr. Biden will be elected president once all the votes are counted.
“Joe Biden is on track to win this election, and he will be the next president of the United States,” Ms. O’Malley Dillon said. “We think this is already a foregone conclusion.”
With the president’s 500,000-vote lead in Pennsylvania eroding as more mail ballots are counted, Trump campaign officials declared victory in the state even as they filed suit to temporarily stop the count.
They predicted that the results in Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia will deliver a second term for Mr. Trump in the coming days. If the president does win those states, he will have 276 electoral votes.
“By the end of this week, it will be clear to the entire nation that President Trump and Vice President [Mike] Pence will be reelected for another four years,” campaign senior adviser Jason Miller said.
Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said of the Democrats, “They’re not going to steal this election.
“Do you think we’re stupid? Do you think we’re fools?” Mr. Giuliani said in Philadelphia. “You know something? The Democrats do think you’re stupid and they do think you’re fools.”
Hours before major networks called Wisconsin for Mr. Biden on Wednesday afternoon, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said the president was “well within the threshold to request a recount.” Mr. Trump trails in the state that he won in 2016 by less than 1 percentage point, or about 20,000 votes.
“There have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results,” Mr. Stepien said.
Campaign officials cited 13,500 misprinted absentee ballots in two Wisconsin counties being transcribed to clean ballots with the help of National Guard troops. They also pointed to poll workers, rather than voters, in Milwaukee County using red pen to “cure” incorrect or missing information on a large number of absentee ballots.
But former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, called the president’s 20,000-vote deficit a “high hurdle” for a recount to overcome. He noted that two recent statewide recounts, in 2011 and 2016, resulted in vote swings of only 300 and 131, respectively.
In Michigan, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit to stop the counting of ballots until its representatives are granted “meaningful access” to monitor the process. The president, who won the state four years ago, also is trailing there by less than 1 percentage point.
“President Trump’s campaign has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law,” Mr. Stepien said.
Mr. Biden’s campaign also predicted he would win Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes when the counting of more than 2.5 million mail-in ballots is completed by the weekend.
Mr. Trump held a lead of fewer than 370,000 votes Wednesday night, with fewer than 900,000 mail-in ballots yet to be counted. Officials said the mail-in ballots have been breaking about 77% for the Democrat.
Mr. Stepien countered that he is so sure of the outcome in Pennsylvania that he was declaring victory for the president in the state.
“This is not based on gut or feel; this is based on math,” Mr. Stepien said. “We have a high degree of certainty that the margin won’t be close.”
Trump officials said they were using conservative estimates of the uncounted ballots in Pennsylvania, granting Mr. Biden 95% of the 300,000 remaining votes in Philadelphia and 70% elsewhere in the state. Based on a high number of uncounted votes in pro-Trump counties, Mr. Stepien said, the campaign projecting that Mr. Trump will win the state by at least 40,000 votes.
Alaska, with three electoral votes, also has yet to be called, but the state has backed the Democratic presidential candidate just once in its history: Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
Also on Wednesday night, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit seeking to pause ballot-counting in Georgia, where the president’s lead dwindled to about 60,000 votes.
Neil Makhija, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, called the president’s legal battles “complete moonshots.”
“I do not think they will be successful, nor do I think the election will come down to one state,” he said.
The president spent part of the day tweeting about alleged unfairness of election officials “finding” more votes for Mr. Biden, as the counting of mail-in ballots continued in unresolved states.
“They are finding Biden votes all over the place — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our Country!” the president tweeted.
But his top campaign officials emphasized the need to keep counting in pro-Trump regions of Arizona and Pennsylvania, saying they were confident that the president ultimately will win both states.
Brett McGurk, a former Trump administration Middle East envoy, commented on Twitter, “Trump says stop counting where I’m winning but keep counting where I’m losing. Biden says count all the votes regardless. One position is consistent with the principles of democracy. The other is not at all. It’s that basic.”
Chris Walton, chairman of the Milwaukee County Democrats, said the Trump camp’s attempts to challenge or raise doubts about the outcome are in for a reality check.
“Just because you don’t understand how the system works, it doesn’t mean that some form of crime or corruption is being done,” Mr. Walton said. “That means you are just not smart enough to know what is happening. In no single election has every single vote been counted on election night. This is just not how it goes.”
The Trump campaign filed suit to stop the counting of ballots in Pennsylvania until its representatives are granted “meaningful” access to monitor the process. It also sued to prevent state election officials from extending a deadline for certain voters to provide proof of identification for absentee and mail-in votes.
“Democrats are scheming to disenfranchise and dilute Republican votes,” Trump deputy campaign manager Justin Clark said. “President Trump and his team are fighting to put a stop to it.”
He said the state’s “unhinged, radical left Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar has tried her hardest to bake in a back door to victory for Joe Biden with late, illegal ballots in collusion with the partisan state supreme court.”
The campaign is suing to stop Democrat election officials from “hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers — observers whose only job is to make sure every valid ballot is counted, and counted once.”
It said the monitors are required to stand at least 25 feet away, where they can’t see much.
• Tom Howell Jr., S.A. Miller and Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.
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