After days of waiting and counting, America has a new president-elect.
The Associated Press called the state of Pennsylvania for former vice-president Joe Biden on Saturday morning (7 November), bringing him across the finish line of 270 electoral college votes.
“Keep the faith,” Biden had said in his speech to supporters early Wednesday morning, and his faith, at least, was rewarded. After an election night in which the swing state of Florida went for Donald Trump and in-person election day votes were counted first, it appeared that Trump was ahead. But as early and mail-in votes – which Democrat supporters used because we are in a global pandemic, and which Republicans may have been wary of, possibly because Trump baselessly claimed such votes were subject to fraud – came in, it became clear that Trump’s declaration of victory was premature.
On Friday night, with the race still uncalled, Biden gave another speech. This time, he said that the numbers were going his way and he was going to win. He and his running mate, Kamala Harris — who, having already made history as the first black and Asian American woman to run on a winning ticket, will be the first woman vice president — had already started meeting with pandemic and economic advisors.
Roughly twelve hours later, the race was called.
“America, I’m honoured 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,” Biden tweeted. “I will keep the faith that you have placed in me.”
America has a long road ahead. Trump gave a speech on Thursday in which he claimed, without evidence, that the election was stolen and that he had won on the count of legal votes. He is not expected to concede graciously. His campaign brought forth a variety of lawsuits and challenges over the course of the week, and a Trump campaign legal adviser said on Thursday that she wanted the Supreme Court to step in. On Saturday, he tweeted that he had won the election (which, just to reiterate, he did not) and that he would be bringing forth more lawsuits.
There will be some who hint — as Trump ally and newly re-elected Republican senator Lindsey Graham did on Thursday — that “faithless electors” in Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature should throw the electoral college to Trump because the election was illegitimate (the spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman has already said they will not be doing this). But there is no evidence of fraud, illegitimacy or of ill-gotten gains. There is a Biden electoral college win and, presumably, a Biden presidency.
America – and the world – will have to wait to learn whether Democrats will take back the Senate (it may well come down to two run-off elections, both in the state of Georgia), what Trump will say and do, and what, if anything, will finally make him submit to defeat. The House Democrats are already taking stock of what they did wrong and how, though they kept their majority, they ended up losing seats. There is already much speculation about what a divided government with a Republican-controlled Senate will mean for a Biden administration.
But there will be a Biden administration. Donald Trump’s days in the White House are numbered. We will see now how he spends them.