After days of meticulous vote tabulation in several battleground states, Joseph R. Biden has become the 46th U.S. president, defeating incumbent Republican President Donald J. Trump.
Biden received more votes than any presidential candidate in history in an election that saw historic turnout and that was largely viewed as a referendum on Trump. California Senator Kamala Harris, Biden’s running-mate, also made history, becoming the first woman and first person of color elected vice-president.
Their platform pledged to rebuild the nation’s economy, slow climate change, tackle the worsening COVID pandemic and eliminate systemic racial inequalities. Biden, a career politician who has run for president twice before, based his campaign on restoring decency and national unity to the country.
The announcement that Biden had won caused spontaneous celebrations to erupt in the streets across major cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
UB students also celebrated.
“It’s a great day to be an American,” said Patrick Lynn, chairman of UB Bulls for Biden-Harris. “The beacon of hope and democracy that we represent across the world lives on! I understand this is not the easiest time for many Trump supporters, believe me. I get it; 2016 was not easy [for us Clinton supporters]. But, it’s time we come together as a country and realize it’s time to heal our wounds and work together.”
Lynn said he felt “uneasy” on election night, but is “proud” to see Biden and Harris take office.
The Biden-Harris ticket secured 290 electoral votes, 20 votes above the 270-vote threshold needed to claim the presidency, according to the Associated Press, which for decades has called presidential elections.
The AP announced Biden’s victory at 11:40 a.m. after awarding Biden Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes. Biden won the state by a razor-thin 0.5% margin.
The AP calls an election the moment a trailing candidate no longer has a path to victory.
Although the AP announced the race in Biden’s favor, four states remain to be called: Alaska, North Carolina, Georgia and Nevada. Biden leads by small margins in the latter three states. Biden overcame Trump’s Election Day leads in key swing states as election officials worked through the night to process a pandemic-driven surge of mail-in ballots.
America’s voter turn-out, which typically trails behind that of many developing countries, is the highest it’s been since 1900. An estimated 159.8 million Americans voted in the 2020 presidential election, according to NBC News projections from Wednesday morning. Of those votes, 94 million were cast before Election Day.
Biden has surpassed Obama’s record for the most votes cast for a U.S. president, amassing over 800,000 more votes than his former running mate’s 69,500,000 votes in 2008, according to the Federal Election Commission. Biden has gained more than 74,900,000 votes, and counting, as of Saturday evening.
Biden, at 77, is the oldest president-elect in U.S. history.
Meanwhile, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris became the first Black person, first person of South Asian heritage and first woman elected to the country’s second-highest office.
Biden supporters in New York City celebrated the historic win by gathering in Washington Square Park. On Friday, Trump supporters in Phoenix, Raleigh and Detroit protested outside state government buildings. In Pittsburg, Biden supporters and Trump supporters have repeatedly clashed since Wednesday.
President Trump has tweeted allegations against election officials, who he claims “illegally” received “tens of thousands” of votes after Election Day. He also accused officials of enabling voter fraud in swing states like Pennsylvania and Nevada.
Some of the president’s closest advisors say he is seeking various legal avenues to challenge the election results and is unlikely to concede the election to Biden, according to Politico.
Lynn recognized there is no constitutional stipulation which requires Trump to concede and said the president has “every right” to question the legitimacy of mail-in-ballots. He does, however, reject what he perceives as Trump's efforts to “spread lies” and “cast doubt” on America's democratic processes.
“One minute he says, ‘stop the count,’ the next he says, ‘keep counting,’” Lynn said. “He says and does whatever he wants in order to meet his narrative. The minute something doesn’t work out in his favor, he screams corruption. Again, legal action is fine, he can question the results all he wants–– [the] courts will disprove his cases immediately.”
President Trump’s attorneys have demanded a recount in Wisconsin and will likely seek them elsewhere.
Biden, who has secured 50.6% of the popular vote as of Saturday afternoon, said he would work to mend America’s stark political divides as president.
In October’s presidential debate, Biden promised to be “an American president” for “all people.”
He reaffirmed that pledge to the American people in a victory tweet Saturday.
“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.”
Biden and Harris are scheduled to address the nation at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Elizabeth Napolitano is the senior news editor and can be reached at Elizabeth.Napolitano@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @LizKNapolitano.
Elizabeth "Liz" Napolitano is the senior news editor for The Spectrum. She's an optimistic pessimist who found her love for journalism in Ecuador. She likes late night walks and reading Twitter threads in their entirety.