WILMINGTON, Del./WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (Reuters) — President Donald Trump's reelection campaign said on Wednesday it was seeking a partial recount of Wisconsin's presidential election results, as part of its long-shot attempt to reverse President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
While staying out of the public eye, the Republican Trump has persisted in venting his anger on Twitter, where he made claims of election fraud, some of which were unsupported by evidence and others demonstrably untrue.
Trump's unfounded claims about the election having been rigged are failing in courts, but opinion polls show they have a political benefit, with as many as half of Republicans believing them, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
His campaign on Wednesday transferred $3 million to Wisconsin to cover the costs of recounting votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties, two heavily Democratic areas, less than the $7.9 million it would have cost for a full statewide recount.
Biden, a Democrat, won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes to lead Trump 49.5% to 48.8%.
Trump's refusal to concede the Nov. 3 election is blocking the smooth transition to a new administration and complicating Biden's response to the coronavirus pandemic when he takes office on Jan. 20.
In the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the overall election winner, Biden captured 306 votes to the Republican Trump's 232. He won the popular vote by more than 5.8 million.
To remain in office, Trump would need to overturn results in at least three states to reach the threshold of 270 electoral votes. That would be unprecedented.
The president is also clinging to hope that a manual recount ordered by the state of Georgia can erase Biden's 14,000-vote lead there and is also challenging results in the swing state of Michigan.
Trump on Wednesday falsely claimed that the number of votes counted in heavily Democratic Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, had surpassed the number of residents.
"In Detroit, there are FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE. Nothing can be done to cure that giant scam. I win Michigan!" he tweeted.
In Detroit, there are FAR MORE VOTES THAN PEOPLE. Nothing can be done to cure that giant scam. I win Michigan!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2020
City records show that 250,138 votes were cast there in the presidential election. That is a little more than a third of the city's population, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau is 670,031.
States face a Dec. 8 deadline to certify election results in time for the official Electoral College vote on Dec. 14.
Congress is scheduled to count the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, which is normally a formality. But Trump supporters in the Senate and House of Representatives could object to the results in a final, long-shot attempt to deprive Biden of 270 electoral votes and turn the final decision over to the House.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday showed about half of Republicans believe Trump "rightfully won" but the election was stolen from him.
Seventy-three percent of all voters polled agreed Biden won while 5% thought Trump won. But when asked specifically whether Biden had "rightfully won," 52% of Republicans said Trump rightfully won, while only 29% said that Biden had rightfully won.
Election officials from both parties, around the United States, have said there was no evidence of vote tampering, and a federal review drew the same conclusion.
Biden and his senior advisers have said that Trump's defiance could jeopardize efforts to contain surging COVID-19 cases and inhibit vaccine distribution planning in a country where more than 248,000 people have died from the pandemic.
Biden will meet healthcare workers on the front lines of the crisis in a virtual roundtable from his home state of Delaware on Wednesday.
As he battles to save his presidency, Trump will stay in Washington over next week's Thanksgiving holiday, rather than travel to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, a spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump said.
Trump on Tuesday fired the top U.S. cybersecurity official, who had irked Trump by refusing to support allegations of election fraud.
Chris Krebs was removed as head of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. His work in protecting the election from hackers and battling disinformation about the vote won praise from lawmakers of both parties, as well as election officials around the country.
Taking their cue from the president, Republicans across the country have sought to cast doubt over the results.
In Michigan, where Biden won by 145,000 votes, two Republicans on the Wayne County board of canvassers tried to hold up Biden's victory in that state on Tuesday, only to relent hours later.
In a county that includes the majority-Black city of Detroit and that voted overwhelmingly in favor of Biden, the two board members initially voted to block certification of the results.
But the Republicans reversed their decision after more than two hours of angry public comment, voting to certify results with the caveat that the Michigan secretary of state conduct an audit.
At a federal court hearing in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann appeared skeptical of Trump's request to block officials from certifying Biden's win in that state by more than 80,000 votes.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Delaware, John Whitesides and Simon Lewis in Washington; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)