America has chosen Democrat Joe Biden as its 46th president, CNN projects, turning at a time of national crisis to a man whose character was forged by aching personal tragedy and who is pledging to restore calm and truth after Donald Trump’s exhausting and manic single term.
In a victory speech Saturday night in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said he was humbled by the trust America had placed in him and reached out to those Americans who did not vote for him.
“I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance,” Biden said. “This is the time to heal in America.”
California Sen. Kamala Harris, his running mate, who will make history as the first woman, the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent to become vice president, noted the significance of her place on the stage Saturday night.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” Harris said.
Earlier in the day, the vice president-elect posted a video on Twitter of her victory call with Biden: “We did it, we did it Joe. You’re going to be the next President of the United States.”
Trump, who was on the golf course when CNN and other networks called the race for the former vice president, has shown no indication that he intends to concede. While en route to his course in Virginia, he tweeted: “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”
But Biden supporters – whose face masks reflected the extraordinary circumstances of a pandemic-era election poured into the streets across the country in a moment of catharsis to celebrate the President-elect’s victory.
After four years of Trump’s incessant lies, bullying and vilification of his political opponents, the former vice president said he was running to restore the character of the nation and bring dignity back to the White House. Biden, who turns 78 at the end of this month, will become the oldest president when he is inaugurated in January amid the worst public health emergency in 100 years, the deepest economic slump since the 1930s and a national reckoning on racism and police brutality that is still unresolved.
His election will end Trump’s tumultuous hold on Washington and condemn the Republican, who has had a lifelong obsession with winning, to the ranks of chief executives who lost after a single term.
Former President Barack Obama released a statement that served as testimonial to the character of his former vice president and asked Americans to set aside their political differences and give him a chance.
“When he walks into the White House in January, he’ll face a series of extraordinary challenges no incoming President ever has – a raging pandemic, an unequal economy and justice system, a democracy at risk, and a climate in peril,” Obama wrote. “I know he’ll do the job with the best interests of every American at heart, whether or not he had their vote.”
The former President asked every American to “give him a chance and lend him your support.”
“The election results at every level show that the country remains deeply and bitterly divided,” Obama said. “It will be up to not just Joe and Kamala, but each of us, to do our part – to reach out beyond our comfort zone, to listen to others, to lower the temperature and find some common ground from which to move forward, all of us remembering that we are one nation, under God.”
In a cinematic twist, it was Biden’s boyhood state of Pennsylvania that put him over the 270 electoral vote threshold and delivered the White House. Trump had held a wide lead over Biden on the night of the election, but as election officials counted hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots, the race shifted dramatically in Biden’s favor, infuriating Trump and his allies, who knew the President’s path to the White House was over without the commonwealth.
That the Keystone State was the last hurdle in Biden’s path to the White House was a fitting end to a hard-fought race given that the former vice president has long cultivated his image as “middle-class Joe” from Scranton. In a visit that now seems almost prophetic, he had made a final trip to his childhood home in the city on Election Day after spending much of the campaign promising to prioritize the livelihoods of the many working-class voters whom Hillary Clinton lost to Trump in her 2016 bid.
On one of the living room walls in the house where he grew up, he wrote: “From this House to the White House with the Grace of God,” signing his name and the date,”11.3.2020.”
In the final days of the race, Biden’s team redoubled their efforts to rebuild the Democrats’ “blue wall” – and that gambit paid off with Biden winning Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, according to CNN projections, while holding Minnesota, which the President made a priority in his reelection push.
Biden will also win Nevada, CNN projects, widening his Electoral College lead as ballots continue to be counted around the country. Georgia could head to a recount and votes were still trickling in from Arizona, where Biden is maintaining an edge.
Biden currently holds a 279-214 margin in the Electoral College.
As he watched his hopes of reelection being strangled with each tranche of votes in Pennsylvania, Trump lashed out on Twitter during the tense vote count, attempting to undermine democratic institutions with demands like “STOP THE COUNT.”
The President falsely claimed the election was being stolen from him as many mail-in ballots, which were often counted after Election Day votes, landed in the column of his opponent.
Facing a deeply polarized country, Biden had tried to project comity and patience, and his desire to unite America.
“There will not be blue states and red states when we win. Just the United States of America,” Biden said Wednesday afternoon. “We are not enemies. What brings us together as Americans is so much stronger than anything that can tear us apart.”
Part of Trump’s frustration stemmed from the fact that his campaign’s finely tuned ground game did in fact succeed in turning out many more of the so-called “hidden Trump voters” than expected, making the race a much tighter contest than pre-election polls suggested.
Trump continued to cast aspersions on the electoral process – wrongly suggesting that there was something nefarious about the fact that the vote count in key states continued well after Tuesday night, as is customary in US elections.
Meanwhile, his team mounted a series of lawsuits in several states, including Pennsylvania, looking to stop vote counting in some areas while challenging how closely observers can monitor officials counting the votes in others. The Trump campaign also said it would demand a recount in Wisconsin, where Biden led Trump by some 20,000 votes, even though historically a margin of that magnitude is unlikely to be reversed.