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McConnell, Election Watchers Push Back On Trump Victory Lap

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

With President Trump prematurely claiming victory early Wednesday, both a top Kentucky election watcher and the Senate's leading Republican say the outcome is still up to battleground states.

"There is no such thing as an election night winner. That's just not a thing," University of Kentucky election law expert Joshua Douglas says. "That's a media projection, based on unofficial totals, exit polling, and other data."

The name of the game now, according to Douglas, is patience as states each work through their own counting procedures. And there are ballots left to tally. As of 1 PM Wednesday, Douglas said it's the vice president who has improved his standing since Tuesday night.

"Right now, I'd certainly prefer in Joe Biden's shoes than Donald Trump's shoes, in terms of the path toward victory, but let's all take a deep breath, let's be patient, and then we'll see who's actually won this based on the votes counted," Douglas adds.

So far, despite Trump's statements to the contrary, the signals from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are largely in line with Douglas's assessment that leaders and anxious voters need to hold off on declaring a win in the presidential contest.

"We have to adapt to whatever the rules are in given states," McConnell told reporters Wednesday. "It's not up to the federal government to determine how that's done."

A number of closely contested states are still calculating their results and Douglas predicts the country will have a "decent understanding" of who is the winner within a few days. Still, the UK professor warns the president's rhetoric is cause for alarm.

"I'm very concerned about the president's statements, both late last night and today on Twitter, where he's making up lies about the voting process and declaring that he won when it's not the candidate who decides who won. It's the voters," he tells WUKY.

McConnell, on the other hand, sounded unfazed by the president's comments.

"It's not unusual for people to claim they won the election. I can think of that happening on numerous occasions," the Republican leader said. "But claiming you win the election is different from finishing the counting, what we're going to see here in the next few days, both in the Senate races and the presidential race, is each state will ultimately get to a final outcome."

Critics say Trump's statements about winning and taking the matter to the Supreme Court amount to an attempt to hijack the electoral process.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.