MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s municipal clerks are nearly finished counting the state’s ballots, and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has a lead of slightly more than 20,000 votes over President Trump, said Ann Jacobs, the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
Ms. Jacobs said there were 300 votes left to count in the Town of Willow in Richland County, in southwest Wisconsin.
Mr. Biden’s narrow Wisconsin advantage came after several of the state’s large cities, including Milwaukee, Green Bay and Kenosha, reported results from their absentee ballots on Wednesday morning.
Under Wisconsin law, a recount can be requested if the margin between the first- and second-place candidates is less than 1 percent. Whoever requests the state conduct a recount would have to pay for it, unless the margin is less than one-quarter of one percent. Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said in a statement that the campaign planned to “immediately” request a recount.
Mr. Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1 percentage point in 2016, becoming the first Republican to prevail in a presidential race there since 1984. When Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested a recount in that contest, she paid about $2.5 million for a statewide presidential recount that resulted in a shift of about 300 votes.
Extremely narrow margins of victory have been common in recent Wisconsin presidential and statewide contests: In 2018, Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, edged out a victory with a little over 1 percentage point in a race against the incumbent, Scott Walker.
Wisconsin Elections Commission officials are expected to hold a news briefing at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.
Mr. Biden made some small gains across the map in evenly split Wisconsin. He appears to have won two counties that Hillary Clinton lost to Mr. Trump in 2016: Sauk County, a largely rural area in central Wisconsin, and Door County, a vacation spot in northeastern Wisconsin whose year-round residents are older and whiter than the state’s general population. Door County, along with other parts of the region, including Green Bay and the Fox Valley cities of Appleton and Oshkosh, have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks.
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