Achieving a goal that had eluded him for decades, Joe Biden won the presidency on Saturday, defeating President Donald Trump after a drawn out election that came down to a handful of battleground states that spent days counting a record number of mail-in ballots.
Biden was declared the winner of the Electoral College vote Saturday, finally crossing the 270 vote threshold needed after he officially won Pennsylvania. Biden also won the popular vote, completing a remarkable comeback after a four-year hiatus from political office that started with a slow climb out of a crowded primary field and ended with a resounding defeat of a president whose victory in 2016 ushered in a new era of American politics and remade the Republican Party. With Biden’s win, Sen. Kamala Harris also becomes the first woman and person of color to be elected to the vice presidency.
Trump becomes the first incumbent not to win a second term since George H.W. Bush in 1992. Trump’s legacy as a one-term president paves the way for Democrats to argue that his break-the-norms presidency was a historical aberration, one that did not reflect a majority of the voting public’s views on health care, climate change, immigration and other issues.
Trump repeatedly indicated in the weeks before Election Day that he would challenge the results in court if he was not the winner. And in the days since voting concluded, his campaign has filed numerous lawsuits in battleground states where Biden was winning, signaling that the president is unlikely to concede the election any time soon as a series of legal battles over mail-in and absentee ballots in several critical battleground states plays out.
But the Trump campaign and its Republican allies face a high bar to convince state legislatures and the courts that they should intervene. Courts in a number of states have already declined to let cases launched by the Trump campaign move forward.
Meanwhile, Biden’s margin of victory in the popular vote and in the Electoral College is expected to grow as states finish counting a record number of mail-in and absentee ballots. The 2020 election marked the fifth time in the last six elections that the Democratic presidential nominee won the popular vote, though in two of those races, the Republicans who lost the popular vote ultimately won the Electoral College.
In Congress, the Democrats in the House have so far secured 212 seats but are expected to reach the 218 to retain the majority. In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans are dead even, 48-48, as two races remain uncalled and another two, both in Georgia, are headed for a run-off in January.
Biden had expressed confidence in his chances of winning up until the very end of the election. He led Trump in the polls in nearly every major battleground state, from Florida to Michigan to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
The former vice president also polled ahead of or even with Trump in states like Georgia and North Carolina, traditionally Republican states that the Biden campaign hoped to flip from red to blue, though both of those states remain uncalled.
Four years ago, Clinton also led Trump in the polls in the run-up to the election, but wound up falling short. This time, Biden’s leads held in enough states to claim victory, though he lost early in several others where polling suggested a closer race.
Biden has so far won four states that Trump carried in the 2016 election — Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania, worth a combined 57 electoral votes — while also winning every state that Clinton carried four years ago, except Nevada, which remains uncalled though he is in the lead there.
Democrats will likely use Trump’s one-term run as a reason to try to undo his signature achievements, many of which were implemented through executive action and can be more easily changed than if they had been passed by Congress and signed into law. Without a second term to add to his legacy, Trump’s presidency could be remembered most for the yearslong investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, his impeachment by the House, and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.