Former Vice President Joe Biden, who based his candidacy on the promise of uniting a polarized nation, defeated Donald Trump to win the presidency, which meant rejecting an incumbent president for the first time since the defeat of George H.W. Bush in 1992. Biden is scheduled to take the oath of office on January 20, 2021.
The total number of votes is not yet official and Trump has not yet yielded, but the AP has called the election for Biden. He seems to have won more than 74 million votes – the most votes of any American candidate ever. (Voter turnout was so high that even in the event of defeat, Trump outnumbered Barack Obama’s vote). Biden is the oldest person to be elected to the White House, and he will be only the second Roman Catholic president in American history, the first since John F. Kennedy was elected 60 years ago.
Kamala Harris, Biden’s candidate, will be the first woman in the office of Vice President and the first woman of color.
Although not all states have yet been called, Pennsylvania tended solidly toward Biden, as the postal votes were counted overnight and into the weekend on Thursday, giving the Democratic challenger more than the 270 votes needed. More importantly, Trump could not win Electoral College without Pennsylvania, even if other states still in play (or in contention) on Saturday would fall back on him. President Trump’s team has filed a flood of complaints about election fraud, and several states are on the way to recounts – but in the absence of a historic turnaround, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. will be America’s 46th President.
Biden’s victory came when the coronavirus outbreak invaded homes and hospitals, killing more than 237,000 Americans and dominating news coverage across the country. Many of the states on the battlefield faced their own deadly spikes, with polls showing that Americans disapproved of Trump’s handling of the virus. At the same time, the pandemic’s severe financial impact on businesses and families prevented the president from running on a previously strong economy.
“For four years there was chaos, and for six months he was incompetent,” said Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, chairman of the Hispanic Congressional Committee. “With the pandemic, there are an actual number of dead bodies, and people can see the damage he has done to American families. The pandemic made President Trump’s incompetence, lack of preparedness and his disinterest in governance visible to all.
The pandemic was a top priority for voters throughout the entire term of the general election, but the issue of racial injustice became almost impossible to ignore after the video of the assassination of George Floyd by Minneapolis police was repeatedly played, leading to protests that spread to the streets. The President responded to the demonstrations and the vigorous Black Lives Matter movement by promoting a message of law and order. Initial analyses indicated that the tactic was largely unsuccessful.
The overlapping national crises gave Biden an argument for his candidacy, which gained resonance as racial and coronavirus issues began to accumulate. And while the death of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg boosted Republicans longing for a sixth seat on the Supreme Court, the fact that the majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, had already secured confirmation from Amy Coney Barrett on election day meant that the Court was no longer a hot topic for many conservative voters.
Biden’s first words during his April 2019 announcement video were: “Charlottesville, Virginia,” quoting the place where white racists marched and killed a woman, which prompted Trump to declare that there were “very good people on both sides.
Throughout the campaign, the former vice president said the stakes were a “battle for the soul of the nation,” with the line emblazoned on his campaign bus.
“He read this better than so many others – including even some of the advisers around him – about what this election was about,” Felice Gororordo, national Catholic co-chair of Biden and a member of the campaign’s finance committee, told Washington Newsday. “Trumpf has only exacerbated the divisions that already exist, especially in recent months. The social unrest that resulted from the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and, sadly, many others, helped to intensify the contrast between the two