Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the 2020 presidential election, defeating incumbent President Donald Trump in a closely watched battle, particularly in the swing state of Pennsylvania.
The Associated Press called the race on Saturday morning after Biden was projected to win Pennsylvania, giving him more than the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to claim the White House. Biden crossed the threshold in the state after more than three days of nationwide uncertainty, as election officials sorted through surges of main-in ballots that delayed the counting process.
Biden offered himself to the United States as a leader who “seeks not to divide, but to unify” a country in the midst of a pandemic and socio-economic unrest.
He used his acceptance speech as an olive branch to American citizens who did not vote for him or his running mate. Biden asked to be given a chance.
“I sought to restore the soul of America,” Biden said at a Saturday evening victory speech in Delaware, “and to make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home.”
He stressed uniting the nation and bringing a divided America back together.
“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, to lower the temperature, to see each other again, to listen to each other again, to make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy,” Biden said. “We are not enemies. We are Americans.”
Biden’s campaign strategy came as an appeal to Americans wanting a return to a more traditional presidency and tired of Trump’s divisive leadership. This proved effective and resulted in victories in Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as Pennsylvania that elected Trump in the 2016 election.
Biden’s running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, also made history on Saturday, She will be the first woman to serve as vice president, and she will be the first Blakc woman and Asian American to serve in the office.
On Saturday night, Biden introduced Harris to the crowd as “a president for all Americans.”
“Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before,” Harris said. “You chose hope and unity, decency, science and yes, truth.”
Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania and raised in Delaware, Biden was one of the youngest candidates elected to the Senate. He eventually became chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees. While he was highly revered as a politician, some aspects of his record drew scrutiny from other Democrats. His support for the 1994 crime bill, vote for the 2003 Iraq War and his management of Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court Hearings have been points of critique.
This year was not the first time voters across the country saw Biden’s name in the mix as a presidential hopeful. Biden’s 1998 presidential campaign was ended after plagiarism allegations, and his 2008 bid ended quietly. That year, he was chosen as Barack Obama’s running mate, and he became Vice President of the United States, steering the administration’s outreach to both Washington and Iraq. In 2016, Biden opted not to run after his son Beau died of brain cancer the year before.
President Trump is the first incumbent president to lose since George H.W. Bush in 1992. Trump has so far refused to concede, threatening further legal action on ballot counting in states across the country. In speeches given since last Tuesday and in various tweets, Trump has accused counties of ballot counting abuse. Many of Trump’s tweets have been flagged by Twitter with warning signs reading, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”
Trump’s refusal to concede has no legal implications, but it could further add to the daunting task ahead for Biden and Harris in uniting the country after a divisive election.
This election also saw the largest number of voters in a United States presidential election in history, reflecting Americans’ deep interest in the race. A record 103 million voted early this year. While some states were still counting over the weekend, Biden received more than 75 million votes, which is more than any presidential candidate in history.
Biden received calls of congratulations from world leaders and former presidents.
“Joe’s got what it takes to be President and already carries himself that way,” Obama said.
Some conservative lawmakers rejected the declaration of Biden’s victory, while some Republicans offered congratulations.
“It’s time to come together,” Representative Will Hurd of Texas tweeted. “America has spoken and we must respect the decision.”
Neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel nor House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy commented on Saturday.
Biden urged both sides to begin working together and avoiding political gridlock during his speech on Saturday evening.
“The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control,” Biden said. “It’s a decision. It’s a choice we make, and if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.”
The tally of votes by The Associated Press remains preliminary until certified by individual states. The Electoral College votes in December, and final results are announced in Congress in January.