As senior members of the Republican Party continue to fall behind US President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the result of the election, many observers are baffled why they won’t concede what most see as the inevitable.
However their focus isn’t just on the January 20 Inauguration Day, but on a key date little more than a fortnight before then.
On January 5, the state of Georgia is holding a ‘run-off’ election for its two Senate seats.
It currently looks as though Democrats will have 48 seats in the next Senate, while Republicans will have 50.
The former tally includes two independent senators, Angus King and Bernie Sanders, who caucus with the Democrats.
So, how did Georgia, with fewer than five million voters propel the race for control of the Senate into overtime?
The state has an unusual requirement that candidates must receive a majority of the vote to win an election, and if no one does so, the top two finishers advance to a ‘run-off’.
Many Republicans fear that if Mr Trump doesn’t feel supported he will become disengaged and this will translate to a less energised voting base.
The Republicans would then face the very real prospect of losing the run-off elections and control of the Senate.
Further fuelling those fears is the potential impact a disenchanted Mr Trump would have on the Republicans’ ability to raise funds.
Trump campaign launches flurry of lawsuits
Mr Trump’s campaign took another step in its legal strategy to upend his US election loss by filing a lawsuit in Michigan.
Meanwhile, officials in Georgia have announced a recount as president-elect Joe Biden focuses on laying the foundation of his incoming administration.
Mr Trump’s team went on Wednesday (local time) to federal court to try to block Michigan, a midwestern battleground state he won in 2016, from certifying the November 3 election results.
He trails by roughly 148,000 votes, or 2.6 percentage points, in unofficial vote totals there.
Mr Biden has a slimmer lead of just over 14,000 votes, or 0.3 points, in Georgia, a southern state not carried by Democrats since 1992.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a hand recount of all ballots cast there expected to begin this week and completed in time to certify the results by a November 20 deadline.
“It’ll take every bit of the time that we have left, for sure. It’s a big lift,” Mr Raffensperger said.
Mr Trump’s refusal to concede the election has seen his party instead lodge a flurry of lawsuits in pivotal states to try to back up his unsupported claims of widespread voting fraud.
The suit was filed a day after Mr Biden called Mr Trump’s failure to concede an “embarrassment”.
Judges have tossed out several of the Trump lawsuits and legal experts say the litigation has scant chance of changing the election outcome.
While acknowledging there was “no silver bullet” that would overturn the election, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Wednesday’s developments were part of a process that could pave the way for a second Trump four-year term.
Earlier, Mr Trump’s camp said it had evidence a handful of dead people in Georgia voted in last week’s election.
Mr Biden last Saturday clinched victory in the election as he won a series of battleground states to exceed the 270 electoral votes needed in the state-by-state Electoral College.
He is winning the national popular vote by more than five million votes, with some states still counting.
In the meantime, Mr Biden is waiting for the Trump-appointed General Services Administration administrator, Emily Murphy, to recognise him as the winner of the election and president-elect.
Ms Murphy is person tasked with officially affirming Mr Biden has won the election on behalf of the Trump administration.
She needs to sign a letter to release funds to the Biden transition team through a process called ascertainment.
This would mark the first formal acknowledgment from the Trump administration that Mr Biden has in fact won the election, and also unlock access to national security tools to streamline background checks and additional funds to pay for training and incoming staff.
Biden chooses chief of staff
Mr Biden isn’t letting Mr Trump’s refusal to accept the election result stop him from preparing to take the reins of office.
He has appointed top Democratic official Ron Klain as his chief of staff and assistant to the President.
Mr Klain is one of Biden’s closest confidants and first worked for the Democrat in 1989 when he was a US senator.
He was in charge of the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola health crisis in 2014, when Mr Biden was vice-president.
A fierce critic of Mr Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Klain was expected to be a key figure in Mr Biden’s response to the health crisis.
Mr Biden planned to meet with advisers on Wednesday who are helping him prepare to take office on Inauguration Day, January 20.
Trump’s first public appearance beyond golf courses
Mr Trump placed a memorial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, his first public appearance other than two golf outings since Mr Biden was projected the winner.
While he made no remarks at the cemetery, in Twitter posts he kept up his narrative of voter fraud, referring to “a mountain of corruption & dishonesty” while assailing pollsters.
He holds a lead in North Carolina and Mr Biden is ahead in Arizona in addition to Georgia.