Winning the most votes in U.S. presidential election history, former Democratic Vice President Joseph R. Biden has captured the White House in his third time running for the job, defeating incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in the contentious 2020 election.
Once sworn in come January 20 of next year, Biden will become the country’s 46th president.
Trump — elected in 2016 after defeating Hillary Clinton in the electoral college and losing the popular vote by about three million votes — is the first president in more than a quarter century to lose after just one four-year term; George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992.
Biden, 77, secured the victory Saturday once he sealed a win in Pennsylvania, delivering him the state’s 20 electoral votes, surpassing the needed 270 threshold; other states continue to count their votes, and Biden is expected to expand his lead in the electoral college and the popular vote. Biden’s defeat of Trump marks the seventh time in the past eight elections where Democrats have won the popular vote. (George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in the electoral college in 2000 even though he lost the popular vote).
Senator Kamala Harris of California, Biden’s running mate, also made history, becoming the first woman and the first Black person elected vice president. Harris, 56, is also of Indian descent, adding to the historic nature of the first term senator’s meteoric ascent to national office, placing the former state attorney general a heartbeat away from being commander-in-chief of the world’s most mighty military.
Biden, a two-term vice president under former President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017, was also a six-term Delaware senator, serving from 1973 until winning the vice presidency.
A forecast by election expert Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com predicts that Biden, who already leads by about four million votes, might win the national popular vote by more than four percentage points and garner 81.8 million votes once the counting is completed. He’s already collected about 75 million votes, the most in presidential election history; Obama garnered 69 million votes in 2008. Trump’s total in this election is now the second most ever, at about 70 million votes so far. Biden supporters are also touting the fact that the president-elect is poised to win a majority of the popular vote, currently at 50.6 percent to Trump’s 47.7 percent. If Biden wins the remaining states he’s currently leading in, he’ll secure 306 electoral votes, the same amount Trump received in 2016 when he garnered only 46 percent of the popular vote. The drama in counting votes since Election Day on Tuesday, the order in which the states delivered results and the lack of an electoral college landslide obscured for nervous Biden supporters the convincing nature of the Scranton, PA. native’s win. In the end, Trump became just the 10th elected U.S. president to fail in a reelection campaign.
The 2020 presidential contest evolved into a referendum on Trump’s performance as president, not as much a choice election, as many voters delivered their verdict on how the president handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Polls also show that many voters objected to Trump’s bombastic style, insensitivity to racial issues and what they deemed as his trampling of Democratic norms and tendency to embrace authoritarian strongmen like Vladimir Putin on the world stage. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on Dec. 18 of last year for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power related to his solicitations of Ukraine for 2020 election help. Earlier this year, on Feb. 5, the 74-year-old Trump was acquitted by the Senate.
Speaking from Wilmington, Del. on Wednesday, two days before clinching victory for the world’s most powerful job, Biden said “this will not be my victory alone or our victory alone.”
“It will be a victory for the American people, for our democracy, for America,” remarked Biden, who will become the oldest man ever elected president. “And there will be no blue states and red states when we win — just the United States of America.” Biden also ran for president in 1988 and in 2008, when Obama ultimately triumphed in the Democratic primary.
A strong showing for Biden in the Midwestern swing states — he won in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the three so-called “Blue Wall” states Clinton lost — provided a path to an electoral college win that eluded the former secretary of state in 2016. Biden also likely scored a victory in Arizona, a historically Republican state, and is probably poised for success in battleground Nevada, which Clinton won, and in typically deep red Georgia, which Trump won in 2016.
Biden campaigned on beating COVID-19, bringing back jobs to the battered U.S. economy and expanding affordable healthcare. His studious wearing of a mask during the campaign and his preference for remote events became a picture in contrast to Trump, who usually eschewed the face coverings and held big in-person rallies. The race was given a jolt last month, when Trump announced on Oct. 1 that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19; he was later hospitalized at Walter Reed Military Medical Center and released days later.
Trump supporters hail his presidency for (among many other examples) his performance with the economy pre-pandemic, his efforts to curb illegal immigration, his appointment of three conservative Supreme Court justices, his hostility towards “politically correct” culture and for “draining the swamp.” His critics assail the president for, among many other things, having separated children from their parents at the border to deter illegal immigration, abandoning efforts to combat climate change, his “very fine people – on both sides” comment after Charlottesville, his alleged self-dealing with his outside business interests, and for having allegedly paid off a porn star. Trump’s victorious 2016 campaign was also rife with controversy, perhaps most notably when an old “Access Hollywood” video from the mid 1990s surfaced of him bragging about grabbing women by the genitals. His “rapists” and “criminals” comment about Mexicans illegally crossing the border at the launch of the campaign and his apparent mocking of a disabled reporter also marked a new tone in American politics.
Trump campaign general counsel Matt Morgan said Friday “this election is not over.” He also stated that “President Trump will be re-elected.”
In a speech at the White House Thursday night, Trump incorrectly claimed that massive fraud in state elections across the country resulted in his electoral challenges, even though fellow Republicans across the nation over-performed expectations.
“…They can try to steal the election from us if you count the votes that came in late, we’re looking into them very strongly, but a lot of votes came in late,” Trump stated. “I’ve already decisively won many critical states, including massive victories in Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, to name just a few, we won these and many other victories despite historic election interference from Big Media, Big Money and Big Tech.”
Trump is mounting various legal challenges but legal experts have expressed significant doubt over the viability of assorted lawsuits already filed and on Wednesday morning Trump announced his desire to end the counting of votes: “STOP THE COUNT!” he tweeted.
As for speculation that Trump might refuse to depart the building, a Biden campaign spokesman dismissed the seriousness of the threat: “…the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
On Saturday he tweeted: “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”