Democrat Joe Biden has won the presidential election, the Associated Press projected on Saturday, after the former vice president captured a number of battleground states to pass the 270 electoral votes needed to deprive President Trump of a second term.
Biden reached 290 electoral votes to become America’s 46th president after the AP projected a Biden victory in Pennsylvania and Nevada, though Trump’s campaign has vowed to contest results in a number of states. Biden has won 74,857,880 individual votes to Trump’s 70,598,535 as of Saturday afternoon.
“I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect [Kamala] Harris,” Biden said in a statement. “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.” Harris, currently a California senator, is the first woman elected to the vice presidency.
The Trump campaign was defiant on Saturday as multiple networks called the presidential race for Biden.
“The simple fact is this election is far from over. Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts,” the campaign said in a statement. “Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.”
Trump claimed he had won the election roughly an hour before networks declared a Biden victory.
I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2020
“I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
It has taken longer than usual to tabulate votes in a number of key states due to the large number of mail-in ballots cast by voters seeking to avoid polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic. The surge in mail-voting will likely lead to a number of legal challenges, meaning Trump, who has not conceded, could continue to fight in the courts for weeks.
The “safe harbor” deadline, the last possible date for states to choose electors to ensure their votes are counted by Congress, is December 8.
The state of Georgia will carry out a vote recount because of the small margin of Biden’s lead. The Trump campaign also announced Wednesday afternoon it would demand a recount of votes in Wisconsin, which it is allowed to do in the event that the margin of victory is within 1 percentage point.
“Despite ridiculous public polling used as a voter suppression tactic, Wisconsin has been a razor thin race as we always knew that it would be,” Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement on Wednesday.
He continued: “There have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results. The President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so.”
Four years ago, Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes. The president’s win there, as well as in Michigan and Pennsylvania, which form the so-called “blue wall,” helped him land his first term in office.
Wins in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona, which voted for Trump in 2016, helped bolster Biden, who becomes only the second Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1948.
The Trump campaign revealed Wednesday it had filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Michigan to temporarily halt counting of ballots. In Michigan, the campaign argued it wasn’t given “meaningful access” to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, though a judge later dismissed the case.
A judge in Georgia on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit from the Trump campaign after finding there was “no evidence” to back up the campaign’s claims that 53 late-arriving ballots had not been properly stored and may have been mixed in with timely ballots. Elections officials testified that all of those ballots had been received on time.
A number of states may take days to finish tabulating results due to state laws that prevented them from counting ballots ahead of Election Day, as in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Michigan only began processing mail-in ballots on Monday.
Some court decisions allowed a number of states to extend deadlines to accept mail-in ballots, as in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, also lengthening the amount of time it would take to receive results.
In Pennsylvania, with 99 percent of votes reported, Biden leads 49.7 percent to 49.2 percent. In North Carolina, where 99 percent of votes have been reported, Trump leads by 50.1 percent to 48.7 percent. In Nevada, Biden leads by roughly 22,000 votes with 87 percent of votes reported.
The Trump campaign has signaled it will contest election results in a number of states. Early Wednesday morning, the president tweeted, “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!”
He later said, “We will win this and as far as I’m concerned, we already have won it.”
Later on Wednesday, Trump’s campaign declared victory in Pennsylvania, though AP and other news outlets had deemed the race too close to call.
Trump put up a stronger-than-expected fight, compared to what polls had shown ahead of Election Day.
FiveThirtyEight, a website run by polling analyst Nate Silver, had heavily favored Biden, giving Trump just a 1-in-10 chance of holding the presidency. The president needed a bigger-than-normal polling error in his favor to win, Silver explained, “but the real possibility that polls are underestimating Trump’s support is why he still has a path to win reelection.”
But Trump’s wins in Florida and Texas served as an early indicator that the race would be tighter than polls had shown, and was not likely to be resolved quickly.