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WATCH LIVE: Georgia secretary of state provides evening update on vote count

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tens of thousands of still-uncounted ballots — many in counties where Democrat Joe Biden was in the lead — are what’s making the Georgia contest between President Donald Trump and Biden too early to call.

The news conference is expected at 5:35 p.m. ET. Watch live in our player above.

Trump and Biden were locked in a tight contest Thursday to secure the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Georgia is a must-win state for Trump, who has a narrower path to victory than Biden.

Trump prematurely declared he was winning it early Wednesday morning. Yet by Thursday afternoon his lead over Biden had narrowed to about 9,500 votes.

The details

Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, Gabriel Sterling, said during a news conference Thursday afternoon that there were still 47,277 ballots left to be tabulated.

That figure included about 18,000 outstanding ballots in the Atlanta area, where Biden racked up large margins. There were also about 17,000 in Chatham County, a Democratic-leaning area that is home to the city of Savannah.

Additionally, Biden’s vote margins grew after a handful of rural pro-Trump counties processed mail ballots cast in his favor, an analysis by the AP showed.

There is a potential that the race could go to a recount. Under Georgia law, if the margin between Biden and Trump is under half a percentage point of difference, a recount can be requested.

Georgia’s political profile

Georgia has long been a Republican stronghold. Voters there haven’t swung for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992. Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by 5 percentage points in 2016. And the state’s government is dominated by the GOP.

But the party’s grip has loosened. As older, white, Republican-leaning voters die, they are being replaced by younger and more racially diverse cast of people, many of whom moved to the booming Atlanta area from other states — and brought their politics with them.

Overall, demographic trends show that the state’s electorate is becoming younger and more diverse each year. Like other metro areas, Atlanta’s suburbs have also moved away from Republicans. In 2016, Hillary Clinton flipped both Cobb and Gwinnett counties, where Biden is currently leading.

In 2018, Democrat Stacey Abrams galvanized Black voters in her bid to become the country’s first African American woman to lead a state, a campaign she narrowly lost.

Many political analysts say it’s not a question of if, but rather when Georgia becomes a swing state.

That much was clear in the closing weeks of the campaign as Biden, his running mate. Sen. Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama barnstormed the state. Trump, too, visited the state to play defense.