Jack Herbert listens to a speaker at a Save Democracy rally on November 4, 2020 in Portland, Oregon AFP
The US presidential election could be settled Thursday as a handful of battleground states complete their vote counts.
Democrat Joe Biden has racked up 264 of the 270 electoral votes that he needs -- if Arizona is included, which Donald Trump's team says could still swing in his direction. Without Arizona, he has 253.
Republican President Trump only has 214 electoral votes.
Expected to report Thursday are Georgia (16 electoral votes), North Carolina (15), and Nevada (6).
However, mail ballots sent on or before election day in North Carolina can be counted until November 12.
Biden could reach the magic number to gain the White House with a win in any of the three, while Trump needs to capture all three to stay competitive.
- Nevada -
Nevada, where Biden is favored, could put him precisely at the number needed to win. Early Thursday he was leading Trump by less than 8,000 votes of the 1.17 million cast so far, with 14 percent of the vote left to tally.
- North Carolina -
In North Carolina, Trump had a comfortable 77,000-vote lead after 95 percent of the ballots, about 5.38 million, had been tabulated.
- Georgia -
In Georgia Thursday morning, Biden lagged Trump by 18,590 votes with about 99 percent (4.85 million) counted. But he could pull in the lion's share of the final votes, making that race neck-and-neck.
Georgia, which has not voted for a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton in 1992, was expected to finish its count by noon Thursday (1700 GMT).
- Pennsylvania -
Two other states are also outstanding: Pennsylvania, with a prize of 20 electoral votes, and Alaska, with three. Neither is expected to finalize its count before Friday, though Pennsylvania was expected to announce more results on Thursday. Trump was expected to win Alaska.
- Arizona -
One wild card that could upset these calculations: Arizona. Based on projections, some US media declared Biden the winner of the southwest state's 11 electoral votes early Wednesday.
But other media remain cautious as a significant portion of the vote had not yet been counted. Late Wednesday Trump remained some 68,000 votes behind Biden with 88 percent of the vote, some 2.87 million ballots, counted.
- Paths to victory -
Much of the delay has resulted from a flood of mailed-in ballots due to the coronavirus -- and those votes have tended to favor Democrats.
If Biden's lead in Arizona holds, and he wins Nevada or Georgia, he can claim victory.
Should Trump hold North Carolina and Georgia but lose Arizona, he must take Nevada as well as Biden's home state of Pennsylvania to win.
Simply winning Pennsylvania -- where Trump leads but faces a possible onslaught of pro-Biden mailed ballots -- will not be enough for the president.
Much to Trump's chagrin, Pennsylvania has decided to allow mailed ballots sent by Election Day but received up to three days afterward to be counted due to coronavirus complications. Authorities expect to complete the count by Friday.
Another factor that could keep the battle alive: the Trump campaign has sued to disqualify late-arriving mailed ballots in Pennsylvania, has demanded a recount in Wisconsin, and could file lawsuits or recount demands in other states including Nevada and Georgia.