Joe Biden has won election as the nation’s 46th president, defeating Donald Trump and ending his presidency by winning a series of tight contests across national battlegrounds.
NBC, CNN, ABC and The Associated Press all called the race for Biden shortly before 5:30 p.m. (WAT) Saturday after a grueling vote count that had the country on pins and needles. Fox News called the race for Biden a short while later after declaring him the winner in Pennsylvania and Nevada.
The projections came seconds after Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania grew to more than 30,000 votes after Philadelphia reported about 3,000 ballots. Biden won 85 percent of that count, and more ballots from the city are expected later today.
Counts are still ongoing in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, but Biden has the lead in all four states. Trump would have needed to flip three of them to win the White House.
Biden released a statement shortly after the calls were made, saying he was “honored and humbled” by his victory and calling for unity in a bitterly divided nation.
“In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America,” Biden said.
“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together,” Biden added.
But President Trump released a prepared statement as well in which he refused to concede.
“The simple fact is this election is far from over. Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any state, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor,” Trump said in a prepared statement.
Trump was at his Virginia golf course when Biden was declared the winner of the election.
Biden’s victory was not apparent on election night as Democrats endured a nightmare evening of bigger-than-expected losses in states such as Florida and Ohio and as Biden trailed Trump’s vote totals in the “blue wall” of states that led to his surprise victory in 2016 over Hillary Clinton.
Things improved for the former vice president and his supporters as a wave of mail-in ballots in those states slowly but surely put him in the lead, even as Trump loudly complained while mounting a possible legal battle against the outcome.
Biden was projected as the winner of Michigan and Wisconsin on Wednesday.
Fox News has not projected a winner in the race but is the only network that has called Arizona for Biden.
In an election defined by a collapsing economy and a global pandemic that has killed nearly a quarter-million Americans, Biden offered himself as a steady hand to steer the ship of state through tumultuous seas, made choppier in part by Trump’s own chaotic and combative approach to the nation’s highest office and the virus that spiked across the nation in the weeks leading up to Election Day.
Biden projected empathy and competence, and wins in suburban counties where voters had turned against the president helped bring him across the finish line. Biden argued since launching his candidacy last year that he could win over voters in places such as his hometown of Scranton, Pa. – specifically, white working-class voters who abandoned Democrats for Trump four years ago.
His campaign pledged to restore the soul of the nation, and in the closing weeks of the race, he leaned heavily on his own story of the deaths of his first wife and infant daughter in a car wreck decades ago to convey the empathy he would bring to the office.
Biden, who will turn 78 later this month, will be the oldest man to take the oath of office when he is sworn in next January.
Biden’s victory caps a dramatic comeback for a candidate whose campaign during the Democratic primary seemed doomed to fail. He finished a disappointing fourth in the Iowa caucuses, fifth in New Hampshire’s primary and a distant second in Nevada, behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
But Biden’s fortunes turned on a dime a week later, when he claimed 49 percent of the vote to win South Carolina’s primary on the strength of his support among African American voters. Several candidates vying to be the centrist alternative to Biden dropped out ahead of Super Tuesday, when Biden built a delegate lead he would never surrender.
Once he emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee, Biden reshuffled his campaign leadership. Facing an incumbent president who raised more than $1 billion for his campaign operation, Biden became an unlikely vehicle for Democratic donors enraged by Trump’s handling of the presidency, pulling in record-setting amounts of money. His decision to elevate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) – the first woman and the first person of color who will hold the vice presidency – redoubled donor enthusiasm for Biden’s campaign.
By the middle of October, Biden, never a prolific fundraiser, had raised and spent more money than any presidential candidate in the nation’s history.
On Tuesday, he won more votes than any presidential candidate in history, surpassing the man who plucked him from the Senate 12 years ago to serve as vice president, Barack Obama.
Biden will take office in January with perhaps the most challenging set of crises ever to face a new president – a list longer, even, than those that the Obama-Biden administration confronted in the darkest days of the recession 12 years ago.
Biden must tackle a pandemic at a time when coronavirus cases are surging and Americans feel a rising apathy. He must rebuild an economy shuttered and wrecked by the pandemic’s lockdowns. He will need to rebuild America’s relations with close allies and international bodies. And, perhaps his most difficult imperative, he must heal a nation deeply divided by partisanship, racial animosity and ongoing culture wars stoked by both domestic and foreign influence.
Biden’s mission will be complicated by the fact that he will likely have to work with a Republican-controlled Senate, where Obama was able to work with a Congress entirely in Democratic hands.
Trump’s defeat will consign his presidency to the ranks of those who did not win a second term in office. But he is unlikely to follow in the footsteps of recently ousted presidents such as George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, who retired from politics to become elder statesmen benefiting the common good.
Instead, Trump is likely to be a prolific commentator on his successor’s actions and an active participant in shaping the next generation of a Republican Party that he has molded into a cult of personality.