Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden won the presidential race in a deeply divided United States. His running mate, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, will become the first woman, the first Black American and the first American of Asian descent to serve as vice president
Several television networks called Biden’s win on Saturday morning as voters narrowly rebuffed Republican incumbent Donald Trump’s tumultuous leadership and embraced Biden’s promise to fight the coronavirus pandemic and fix the economy.
Meanwhile, President Trump has made repeated claims of electoral fraud, immediately accused Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner.”
“This election is far from over,” he said in a statement.
Biden’s projected victory came after four days of nail-biting suspense over the outcome of Tuesday’s election, with the counting of votes in a handful of battleground states still going on thanks to a flood of mail-in ballots.
As the news broke, loud cheers erupted in the halls of the hotel where Biden aides were staying and around the country.
“Worth every minute,” of the wait, a Biden aide said, as campaign staff exchanged elbow bumps and air hugs in the lobby.
Cheers and applause was heard in neighborhoods in Washington, D.C..
The networks’ declaration that Biden had won came amid internal concerns within Trump’s team about the strategy going forward and pressure on him to pick a more professional legal team to outline where they believe voter fraud took place and show evidence pointing toward it.
One Trump loyalist said Trump simply was not ready to admit defeat even though there would not be enough ballots thrown out in a recount to change the outcome. “There’s a mathematical certainty that he’s gong to lose,” the loyalist said.
When Biden enters the White House on Jan. 20, the oldest person to assume the office at age 78, he likely will face a difficult task governing in a deeply polarized Washington, underscored by a record nationwide voter turnout in a fight to the finish.
The former vice president had a 273 to 214 lead in the state-by-state Electoral College vote that determines the winner, having won Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to put him over the 270 he needed to secure the presidency, according to Edison Research.
To secure the win, Biden faced unprecedented challenges. These included Republican-led efforts to limit mail-in voting at a time when a record number of people were due to vote by mail because of the pandemic, which has killed more than 235,000 people in the United States.
Both sides characterized the 2020 election as one of the most crucial in U.S. history, as important as votes during the 1860s Civil War and the 1930s Great Depression.
For months, officials on both sides raised the spectre of the United States not being able to pull off a fair vote. In the end, however, voting at the polls proceeded with limited disruption as millions lined up patiently to vote. Thousands of election monitors from both parties worked for four days to ensure the votes were being counted.
The election drama is likely to play out for weeks, if not months. Trump, 74, is contesting the vote in the courts, but legal experts said his challenges had little chance of affecting the outcome.
Biden’s victory was driven by strong support from groups including women, African Americans, white voters with college degrees and city-dwellers. He was more than four million votes ahead of Trump in the nationwide popular vote count.
Biden, who has spent half a century in public life as a U.S. senator and then vice president under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, will inherit a nation in turmoil over the coronavirus pandemic and the related economic slowdown as well as disruptive protests against racism and police brutality.
Biden has said his first priority will be developing a plan to contain and recover from the pandemic, promising to improve access to testing and, unlike Trump, to heed the advice of leading public health officials and scientists.
Biden also has pledged to restore a sense of normalcy to the White House after a presidency in which Trump praised authoritarian foreign leaders, disdained longstanding global alliances, refused to disavow white supremacists and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the U.S. election system.
Prior to the election, Trump had refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost to Biden – and he stuck to that approach. He falsely declared victory long before counting was complete.
Before Biden’s victory projection and with Trump’s re-election chances fading as more votes were counted, the president launched an extraordinary assault on the country’s democratic process from the White House on Thursday, falsely claiming the election was being stolen from him.
Offering no evidence, Trump assailed election workers and alleged fraud in the states where results from a dwindling set of uncounted votes pushed Biden nearer to victory.
“This is a case where they’re trying to steal an election,” Trump said on Thursday.
Urging patience as votes were counted, Biden responded on Twitter: “No one is going to take our democracy away from us. Not now, not ever.”