Joe Biden's campaign yesterday vowed to kick "trespassers" out of the White House as Donald Trump clung to power despite the Democratic candidate's lead increasing in critical swing states.
The election result was still officially in the balance last night, but there were signs that Mr Biden was preparing for the US presidency as Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, declared that the war was "won".
A major split emerged in the Republican Party, with senators and party grandees chastising Mr Trump for claiming the election was being stolen, while the US president's sons and loyalists called for support.
There were reports from Fox News that some White House aides were urging Mr Trump to concede, even as others encouraged him to fight on, with the president himself showing no sign of backing down.
Mr Biden was due to address the nation last night, should the result be called by US television networks as the five states that would decide the winner continued to count votes.
As counting approached a fifth day, the Trump campaign continued to pursue lawsuits as the US and the world watched on, awaiting the ultimate declaration of the victor.
Yesterday, Mr Biden overtook Mr Trump in the vote counts in Georgia and Pennsylvania while retaining his leads in Arizona and Nevada.
Mr Trump remained ahead in North Carolina.
Pennsylvania alone would be enough to send Mr Biden over the mark of 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency.
Winning all four states in which he commanded a lead would take Mr Biden to 306 votes, a higher figure than either of George W Bush's election victories in 2000 and 2004.
Georgia announced a recount due to the tightness of the vote margin between the two candidates.
For much of yesterday, Mr Biden and his senior campaign officials kept away from the cameras as they watched the vote counts tip in his favour.
However, there was some pushback on the president's false insistence he had won.
"As we said on July 19, the American people will decide this election. The United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House," said Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman.
CNN reported that "national defence airspace" had been cleared above Mr Biden's home and his secret service detail was being expanded. In another sign that Mr Biden was preparing to become the 46th US president, it was reported he was working on plans for his transition into office.
As the evening approached, Mr Trump had not appeared before the cameras but continued to push his grievances over Twitter and through statements issued by his campaign.
"We will pursue this process through every aspect of the law to guarantee that the American people have confidence in our government. I will never give up fighting for you and our nation," he said.
The claims of wrongdoing have been widely disputed, not just from Democrats but increasingly from Republicans, who have begun to go public with their criticisms.
Mitt Romney, the Utah senator who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, said Mr Trump was within his rights to seek investigations into "irregularities" but condemned his attacks on the electoral process.
"He is wrong to say the election was rigged, corrupt and stolen, doing so damages the cause of freedom here and around the world... and recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions," Mr Romney said.
John Bolton, Mr Trump's former national security adviser said: "We Republicans are facing a character test. All candidates are entitled to pursue appropriate election law remedies if they have evidence supporting their claims.
"They should certainly not lie. The first Republican president was called 'Honest Abe' for a reason."
The Trump campaign released a statement condemning the media's convergence for implying Mr Biden was about to win after he pulled ahead of the president in Pennsylvania.
The statement was headlined "This election is not over," and said: "Biden is relying on these states for his phony claim on the White House, but once the election is final, President Trump will be re-elected."
Should Mr Biden be confirmed as the winner of the election, he will enter the White House on January 20, 2021, on inauguration day.
The race for the final Senate seats looked set to run until January, given election rules that meant two close Senate races in Georgia could go to a run-off.
Should the make-up of the Senate be tied, then the vice-president, who if Mr Biden wins would be Kamala Harris, would cast the deciding vote.