Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has defeated Donald Trump to become the 46th U.S. president, unseating the incumbent with a pledge to unify and mend a nation reeling from a worsening pandemic, faltering economy and deep political divisions.
Biden’s victory came after the Associated Press, CNN and NBC showed him winning Pennsylvania and Nevada and gaining more than the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure the presidency.
“I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris,” Biden said in a statement. “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 was at home with his family when he learned he’d won the election, a campaign aide said. The president-elect planned an 8 p.m. New York time address to the nation.
Trump rejected the outcome, saying in a statement immediately after the race was called that the election is “far from over.” He was at Trump National Golf Club Washington, D.C, in Sterling, Virginia, when the networks called the race for Biden.
Biden’s running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, 56, becomes the first Black and Indian-American woman to serve as vice president, a glimpse at a coming generational shift in the party.
Biden, 77, will become the oldest president-elect in U.S. history and the first to oust a sitting commander-in-chief after one term since Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Biden won 290 Electoral College votes, according to the AP, which earlier had called Arizona for the Democrat. Several other networks have yet to call Arizona or Nevada, but Biden still has the Electoral College votes to claim the presidency.
Spontaneous celebrations broke out in front of the White House, in New York City’s Times Square and in Philadelphia as news of the election results were released.
But the incoming president’s goal of uniting the country will be made more difficult by Trump’s unfounded allegations of fraud and with control of the U.S. Senate up in the air, awaiting two runoffs in Georgia in January.
If Republicans hold the Senate, Biden’s agenda of tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations and climate-friendly energy policies could be stymied in Congress. Democrats maintained control of the House of Representatives.
Biden won back the battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — the so-called Blue Wall that delivered the presidency to Trump in 2016. Buoyed by historic turnout, Biden reaped 4 million more votes than Trump nationwide, as of Saturday morning, winning nearly 75 million votes to Trump’s 71 million.
Trump Contests the Results
Trump cast doubt on the outcome throughout the count, claiming widespread voting irregularities without evidence and filing lawsuits to contest the ballot count in some key states where he was behind.
So far, none of Trump’s lawsuits have gained traction or demonstrated that the results of the election can be overturned.
Biden pulled together enough support to sweep aside one of the most unconventional and polarizing presidents in U.S. history, a man who cultivated a fierce loyalty among his supporters — they had taken to chanting, “We love you!” at his campaign rallies — while equating his political rivals and the media to enemies of the state.
Given how close Biden’s margins were, Trump might have won a second term if not for his widely criticized response to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout. The president routinely mused at rallies how he had the election won before the virus reached the U.S. earlier this year.
Trump consistently downplayed the threat of the virus and discouraged even the simplest public health measures to curb its spread, turning mask-wearing into a political issue. For voters, seeing Trump, his wife and his youngest son infected with Covid-19 in early October punctuated his failure to protect the nation as a whole.
Biden has promised that combating the U.S. outbreak will be his highest priority, along with repairing a battered economy. He has proposed a $3.5 trillion plan that relies heavily on deficit spending to create jobs, though a plan that size likely would face resistance in a Republican-led Senate. More than 9.7 million Americans have been sickened and more than 236,000 have died since February.
The president-elect has said he can erase some of Trump’s most controversial decisions on his own, without congressional approval. He plans to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization and reverse Trump’s rollbacks of environmental regulations. He says he will also end the ban on immigration from several predominantly Muslim nations and restore rights for asylum seekers.
Voters responded to Biden’s relative humility and his conventional approach to the campaign, which reflected his 47 years in public life. Biden surrounded himself with many of the same advisers from his past campaigns, and his administration likely would include at least some veterans of Barack Obama’s White House, where Biden was vice president.
On the airwaves, Americans saw a one-sided contest: In August and September, Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee outraised Trump’s team by more than $289 million, fueling a massive advertising effort.