Democrat Joe Biden has defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, placing himself to lead a nation gripped by the historic pandemic and a conflux of social and economic turmoil.
His victory came after more than three days of ambiguity as election officials danced through a wave of mail-in votes that blocked the processing of some ballots. Biden passed 270 Electoral College votes with a decisive win in Pennsylvania.
Biden, 77, staked his nomination less on any notable political ideology than on protecting a broad coalition of voters around the idea that Trump posed an existential threat to American justice. The strategy proved useful, resulting in pivotal victories in Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania, one-time Democratic bastions flipped to Trump in 2016.
Biden was on track to win the national popular vote by more than 4 million, a margin that could grow as ballots continue to be counted.
Trump seized on delays in concocting the vote in some states to allege voter fraud falsely and argue that his rival was trying to take power — an unusual charge by a sitting president trying to sow doubt about a democratic process.
As the vote count played out, Biden tried to ease anxieties and project an image of administrative leadership, hitting notes of unity that was apparently aimed at cooling the temperature of a heated, divided nation.
“We have to remember the purpose of our politics isn’t total, unrelenting, unending warfare,” Biden announced Friday night in Delaware. “No, the purpose of our politics, the work of our nation, isn’t to fan the flames of conflict, but to resolve problems, to ensure justice, to give everybody a fair shot.”
Kamala Harris also made history as the first Black woman and Asian American woman (of Indian origin) to become vice president, which comes as the U.S. faces racial justice. The California senator, who is also the first person of South Asian origin elected to the vice presidency, will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government, four years after Trump crushed Hillary Clinton.
Trump is the first binding president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992. It was not clear whether Trump would publicly accept defeat.
Americans showed a deep interest in the administrative race. A record 103 million voted early, opting to bypass waiting in long lines at polling locations during a pandemic. Biden had already received more than 74 million votes with counting resuming in some states, more than any presidential candidate before him.