Attention shifted on Thursday to a handful of states where the presidential result remained too close to call but where Joseph R. Biden Jr. seemed to have an advantage, and to the courts, where the Trump campaign had filed a barrage of lawsuits challenging the validity of the count.
The vote counting created mirror-image dramas across the United States: The former vice president’s lead over President Trump in Arizona dwindled, while in Georgia and Pennsylvania, Mr. Biden slowly eroded Mr. Trump’s leads.
Georgia and Pennsylvania are expected to release another round of results Thursday morning, and Nevada, where Mr. Biden leads by less than 8,000 votes, is expected to release results around noon Eastern time. Arizona is set to release more results Thursday night.
In Arizona, after 62,000 votes from Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, were added to the tally early Thursday, Mr. Biden led Mr. Trump by about 68,000 votes, or less than three percentage points. But Mr. Trump faced a steep uphill battle to close the gap.
After a campaign that exposed the deep rifts in a country more polarized than at any time in modern memory, each announcement of new vote totals stoked varying degrees of relief, outrage and anxiety from the competing factions.
Mr. Biden, projecting confidence but stopping short of declaring victory as Mr. Trump did on election night, sought to strike a conciliatory note when he spoke to supporters on Wednesday afternoon.
But he also had a warning for the Trump team.
“Power can’t be taken or asserted,” he said. “It flows from the people. And it’s their will that determines who will be the president of the United States, and their will alone.”
Mr. Biden’s supporters were buoyed by new tallies in Georgia, where Mr. Trump’s lead narrowed to less than 19,000 votes — with most outstanding votes in blue-leaning counties.
And while Mr. Biden has several routes that would allow him to secure the necessary 270 electoral votes, Mr. Trump also needs to win Pennsylvania.
That battleground state, with the largest trove of electoral votes still up for grabs, had hundreds of thousands of outstanding mail-in ballots to count as Mr. Trump’s lead narrowed to about 136,000 votes Thursday morning.
Georgia is critical to the balance of power in the Senate as well. As the votes were tallied, Senator David Perdue, the Republican incumbent, was on the cusp of falling below 50 percent, which would trigger a runoff in January.
Georgia already faces a runoff for its other Senate seat, now held by a Republican, Kelly Loeffler. If Democrats were to win both, and Mr. Biden prevails in the presidential race, the Democrats could capture control of the Senate, with a bare margin of 50 seats, and the vice president casting a tie-breaking vote.
With Mr. Trump’s political path growing more precarious, his team turned to the courts, filing lawsuits and demanding a recount in Wisconsin.
The Trump campaign’s bid to stave off defeat stretched from the Supreme Court, where the campaign intervened in a case challenging Pennsylvania’s plan to count ballots received for up to three days after Election Day, to individual counties where the campaign showed a willingness to fight over even the smallest batch of votes.
The political tensions started to spill into the streets, with protests in Minneapolis, Seattle, Phoenix, Philadelphia, New York City and Portland, Ore.
While mostly peaceful, with chants demanding that every vote be counted, store windows were shattered in Portland as some protesters grappled with the police. In Minneapolis, demonstrators shut down a freeway and dozens were arrested.
At least 58 people were arrested in connection with demonstrations in New York after a day of peaceful marches turned into a chaotic night of clashes.
At the same time, supporters of Mr. Trump descended on vote-counting facilities in several contested states.
They had a different demand.
“Stop the count,” they yelled outside a facility in Detroit.
But inside, the democratic process continued to play out as election workers — socially distanced and wearing masks — went about their job: counting the votes.
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