Biden and Trump could end up both claiming to be president-elect at the same time in a contested race, according to reports

  • President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden could both end up declaring victory in the presidential election in certain scenarios.
  • Axios reported that Joe Biden's team plans on clearly claiming victory by addressing the nation and appointing staff if media outlets assess his victory as a mathematical inevitability.
  • This is not the same as formally winning the Electoral College, which can take far longer, and is subject to challenge.
  • Axios also reported over the weekend that Trump hopes to declare victory as early as Tuesday night early results seem to show him ahead.
  • The two scenarios could coincide, leading to both candidates arguing that the presidency is theirs.
  • Axios said that Biden's camp is wary of a repeat of the 2000 election, in which Democratic candidate Al Gore did not aggressively claim victory.
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This year's election could see both President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden declare victory in the US presidential race during the same time.

The scenario emerged off the back of reports from the Axios news website. Sources from both camps described circumstances under which their candidate intends to act as if victory is theirs.

Declaring victory is not the same as finally winning the Electoral College votes necessary to become president, a process which takes far longer.

News networks have historically called the race for a winning candidate on or close to the night of the election — but the process this year is fraught with ambiguity, partly because of the volume of early voting.

Per an Axios report on Sunday, Trump hopes to declare himself as the winner as early as Tuesday night if early results show that he's ahead.

A report on Tuesday described a more reserved plan from Biden: to move to claim victory if news organizations begin to call the race based on their data and projections.

Axios reported that in such a scenario, Biden plans on addressing the US as its incoming president, and then move quickly to announce staffing decisions as if his taking office was already certain.

Axios reported that the reason for Biden's team ensuring that they move quickly is based on the indication that Trump will contest results in court.

It leaves open the possibility that both men could claim to have won, while votes are still being counted and individual resulted are being fought over in the courts.

The shadow of Bush v Gore

Axios reported that Biden's camp came to their plan by considering the outcome of the 2000 presidential election.

In that contest, Democratic candidate Al Gore conceded to George Bush, but then retracted his concession as Bush's lead in Florida narrowed.

A decision on a recount in the state ultimately went to the Supreme Court, leading to a Bush victory.

Axios noted that "George W. Bush declared victory in that contested election, putting the Democrat on the defensive while Bush acted like the winner."

Biden's campaign manager, Jen O'Malley Dixon, told reporters on Monday: "We're going to use our data, our understanding of where this is headed, and make sure that the vice president is addressing the American people."

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