Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has defeated President Trump, denying him a second term after a bitter campaign and dramatic, prolonged vote count in battleground states that sparked a flurry of lawsuits.
The Fox News Decision Desk projected Saturday that Biden will win the state of Nevada and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, giving the former vice president the electoral votes he needs to win the White House.
"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."
He added: "With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation."
Biden's campaign announced that the president-elect and Harris, his running mate, will speak at an event in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware at 8 p.m. ET.
A year and a half after launching his White House bid, Biden secured enough states to put him over the threshold of 270 electoral votes and bring an end to the four game-changing years of the Trump presidency, according to the Fox News projections. For Trump, the defeat comes four years after a stunning upset – when he came from behind in 2016 and outperformed the polls in a victory against Hillary Clinton.
But in a statement Saturday, Trump did not concede and instead vowed to continue to fight.
“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, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor,” the president said.
“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 added.
The president has launched a number of legal challenges over ballot counting in key battleground states, with his campaign filing suits in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada as the states continue to tally ballots sent by mail. Trump, his campaign and surrogates have spread allegations of fraud in the voting and ballot counting in various states, although solid proof of it has not emerged.
In addition, Georgia’s secretary of state signaled Friday that the state is headed toward a recount, given the razor-thin margin of votes there favoring Biden.
Biden, taking to Twitter after the projections, said “America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country. The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not. I will keep the faith that you have placed in me.”
And Biden added “President-Elect” to the description on his Twitter page.
Harris, who will become the first female vice president and first person of color to serve as vice president, tweeted “We did it.” The senator from California’s tweet included a short video of her on a phone call congratulating Biden.
On Friday, the former vice president touted the record-breaking 74 million votes for the Democratic ticket and emphasized that "the people spoke loudly for our ticket."
Biden highlighted that a "record number of Americans of all races, faiths, religions, chose change over more of the same. They’ve given us a mandate for action on COVID, the economy, climate change, systemic racism. They’ve made it clear they want the country to come together."
But many Republicans question the strength of Biden's mandate.
Trump won more than 70 million votes, and as of late Friday night Biden's national popular vote margin over the president stood at just under 3 points.
And while Biden moved closer to winning the White House, the Democrats' chances of retaking the Senate majority remained slim. Democrats did hold onto control of the House but failed to meet expectations of padding their majority.
About an hour after the news networks projected Biden’s presidential election victory, he received a congratulatory call from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader.
With strong focus on coronavirus since the worst pandemic in a century swept across the nation eight months ago, Biden was able to keep the spotlight on the president’s record, largely preventing Trump from making the 2020 campaign a choice election.
Amid national protests and unrest over racial inequity and another nasty Supreme Court nomination battle in the closing days of the campaign, Biden kept his eye on the pandemic and an economy hit hard by it.
Biden, who laid low for the first couple of months after the pandemic forced Americans to self-isolate, was ridiculed by the president, who claimed he was “hiding” in his basement at his home in Wilmington, Del.
But ultimately the strategy worked -- keeping the electorate’s focus on the president's handling of the worsening crisis. Also highlighting Trump’s divisive style of governing, the Democrat pledged to be a uniter willing to reach across the aisle to find common ground.
Biden was able to resist withering attacks by Trump and his surrogates over his record in politics stretching nearly half a century. He also deflected a barrage of attacks targeting him and his son, Hunter, that accused the Biden family of unsubstantiated “corruption.”
The road ahead for the president-elect, who will soon turn 78, will be far from easy.
He must cope with titanic challenges never faced to this magnitude by an incoming commander in chief. Compounding the enormous task ahead, Biden likely will have to deal with a Republican Party that may be in no mood to compromise – and with a progressive base of his own party that will almost certainly try to push the incoming president to the left.
Biden’s victory comes five years after he passed on a White House run, as he reeled from the death of his eldest son, Beau. A year later, Clinton narrowly lost numerous key battleground states to Trump due in part to a drop in support from White working class voters as well as a lack of enthusiasm from Black and Latino voters.
But Biden – who’s long been known as “Middle Class Joe” because of his roots growing up in a working-class family in Scranton, Pa., and later in Delaware, and who served for eight years as vice president under Barack Obama, America’s first Black president -- was able to succeed where Clinton failed.
For Biden, who made unsuccessful White House bids in 1988 and 2008, the third time was the charm.
"The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America America is at stake,” Biden said as he announced his candidacy for president in April of last year, ending months of intrigue and media speculation.
Biden entered a record-setting, jam-packed field of contenders for the nomination and repeatedly took attacks from his more progressive rivals over his stance on the issues and his record during his four-plus decades as a senator from Delaware and vice president in the Obama administration. During summer and fall 2019, Biden was in the line of fire as the front-runner in the race.
Biden, who had struggled with fundraising since his campaign launch, saw his standing in the polls deteriorate at the end of last year and early this year, as progressive champion Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, soared. The former vice president appeared on the ropes in February, after disappointing showings in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, the first two contests in the presidential nomination calendar.
But a landslide victory in the South Carolina primary on the last day of February, followed by sweeping victories three days later in the coast-to-coast Super Tuesday contests, vaulted Biden back to front-runner status.
Most of his rivals quickly dropped out of the race as moderates and establishment Democrats rallied around Biden. After a continued streak of primary victories in March and early April, Sanders – Biden’s last rival for the nomination – ended his bid and endorsed his rival.
Biden entered a general election contest against Trump badly behind the GOP incumbent in the crucial fundraising and campaign organization metrics. At the same time, the White House race instantly was upended as the pandemic swept the nation, forcing millions to self-isolate and shuttering major parts of the economy, triggering the worst recession since the Great Depression eight decades ago.
As Biden was working to unite the Democrats following a bruising primary, the general showdown between him and Trump instantly became a referendum on the president’s handling of the pandemic and the economy, giving Biden a race he could win.
Biden spent the remainder of the spring, summer and fall continuously pillorying the president’s efforts to combat the coronavirus and revive the economy, and spelling out his proposals.
The president had been raising money for his reelection ever since he took over the White House in January 2017, and he enjoyed a massive early fundraising advantage. As Trump started airing ads on TV in the key battlegrounds, Biden remained dark. The Democrat didn’t make his first major ad buy on television until the middle of June.
But thanks in part to a surge in fundraising in late spring through summer, including record-shattering campaign cash hauls in August and September, Biden dramatically outraised the president as the general election heated up -- and he outspent Trump on TV ads the past three months. In the digital ad wars, Biden also enjoyed a slight spending advantage.
Biden held his own in both presidential debates – disproving the repeated attacks by Trump and his campaign questioning the 77-year old nominee’s mental acuity. And, Trump’s brief hospitalization after contracting COVID-19, as well an autumn surge in the coronavirus in key states across the country, kept the campaign’s spotlight firmly on an issue that did no favors for the president’s reelection chances.
The final stretch of the campaign saw Biden playing offense and the president on defense – with most of the campaign stops in states Trump narrowly captured in 2016.
Biden’s closing themes were the same as those he used when he announced his candidacy.
"The heart and soul of this country’s at stake,” Biden told Florida voters during a stop in Broward County last week as he promised to bring compassion and empathy back to the White House.
And, Biden continued to emphasize his goal to unite the nation, repeatedly stressing that “I’m running as a proud Democrat but I’ll govern as an American president to unite and to heal. I’ll work as hard for those who didn’t support me as those who do. That’s the job of the president: a duty of caring, caring for everyone.”
Taking aim at the president’s war of words with many of the nation’s leading public health officials, Biden highlighted that “we choose hope over fear, we choose unity over division, and we choose science over fiction, and yes, we choose truth over lies.”
Biden now has two and a half months to assemble a cabinet and top officials who instantly will have to cope with the biggest challenges ever faced by an incoming president and administration – from the worst pandemic to strike the world in a century, and the worst economic recession to grip the nation since The Great Depression eight decades ago.
Biden will be squeezed from both sides – by reeling Republicans who may look to run the same playbook that stymied President Obama and Biden as they took over in the White House in 2009. But, he’ll also face pressure from his left flank.
The left will be looking for top progressives to land leading roles in Biden’s administration, and will be pushing hard to implement their agenda on the economy, social justice, civil rights and judicial reform, and on combating climate change.
Firebrand lawmakers on the left – such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York – kept the peace during the general election, but with the Democrats’ common foe now defeated – infighting may soon commence, with the left scrutinizing every move by a politician firmly planted in the center-left of the party.
Also hovering over Biden: questions over his durability and whether he’ll run for re-election in four years. The last thing the president-elect needs at the onset of his tenure in the White House is to be collared with lame-duck status.
Biden hasn’t ruled out seeking a second term. Asked in August if he was open to running for re-election, he said “absolutely,” in an interview with ABC News.