Democrat Joe Biden has narrowly overtaken Donald Trump in Georgia and now leads the key battleground state, putting the White House within his reach.
It is the first time the Democratic candidate has led in the south-eastern state, which is still too close to call despite 99 per cent of votes being tallied, and hasn’t gone blue since it backed Bill Clinton in 1992.
Biden, 77, needs to win just one more state to be able to claim victory in the knife-edge US presidential election, which has come down to five key states.
Trump, 74, has no path to the White House if he doesn’t win Georgia, where state election officials expressed optimism they would finish counting on Friday.
Biden’s lead in Georgia rose above 1,000 votes by 11am GMT as the Democrat held razor-thin leads in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, while the incumbent Republican president was clinging to North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
To claim victory, a candidate needs at least 270 of 538 votes under the Electoral College system.
As of Friday morning, Biden had 264 and Trump had 214, according to some tallies following Tuesday’s vote.
Some observers have already projected Biden as the winner of Arizona to give him 264.
Based on that count, he would reach the magic number of 270 with a win in either Georgia (16 electoral votes) or Nevada (six electoral votes), or by flipping Pennsylvania and taking its 20 electoral votes.
Networks such as CNN and NBC News have not yet declared a winner in that state, making it 253-214 for Biden.
For Trump to retain the White House, he must hold his leads in Pennsylvania and North Carolina (15 electoral college votes), regain and hold Georgia, and overtake Biden in Arizona or Nevada. However, his odds are slim.
If Biden defeats him to become the country’s 46th leader, Trump will become the first incumbent president to lose a re-election bid since fellow Republican George HW Bush in 1992, who was defeated by Clinton.
The shift in Georgia came hours after Trump appeared at the White House to falsely claim the election was being “stolen” from him.
Trump had seen his lead steadily shrink in Georgia as officials worked through tens of thousands of uncounted votes, many from Democratic strongholds such as Atlanta.
The Georgia secretary of state reported late on Thursday there were about 14,000 ballots still to count in the state.
The state also will have to sift through votes from military personnel and overseas residents as well as provisional ballots cast on Election Day by voters who had problems with their registration or identification.
Biden has also been chipping away at Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania, where officials hope to finish counting ballots on Friday.