WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press and numerous other news organizations declared Joe Biden the nation’s 46th president late Saturday morning.
This came after news organizations declared the former vice president the winner of his native Pennsylvania, putting Biden beyond the 270 Electoral College vote threshold he needed for victory in his race with President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, Trump isn’t conceding to President-elect Biden, promising unspecified legal challenges seeking to overturn the outcome of the race for the White House.
Trump said late Saturday morning that "our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.” His comments have drawn bipartisan criticism from election officials and lawmakers as dangerous attempts to undermine public confidence in the vote.
Trump has seized on delays in processing the vote in some states to allege voter fraud and argue that his rival was trying to seize power — a widely-disputed charge.
The AP called the race for Biden, who held a 34,243-vote lead over President Donald Trump, after it determined that remaining ballots left to be counted wouldn’t allow Trump to catch up. The news agency had already declared Biden the winner in both Michigan and Wisconsin.
Biden held a .51 percentage point lead late Saturday morning. Under Pennsylvania law, a recount is automatic when the margin between two candidates in a statewide race is less than 0.5 percentage points. Biden’s lead over Trump was on track to stay outside of that margin as final votes are counted.
There are roughly 62,000 mail ballots remaining to be counted. Biden has won the overwhelming majority of mail ballots cast in the state.
Biden’s win in Pennsylvania came after Trump jumped out to an early Election Day lead of 675,000 votes and prematurely declared he had won the state.
Over coming days, as local elections officials tabulated more ballots, Trump’s lead dropped sharply, with Biden winning roughly 75% of the mail-in vote between Wednesday and Friday, according to an AP analysis.
Under state law, elections officials can’t process mail-in ballots until Election Day.
Biden, 77, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. Biden achieved pivotal victories in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, onetime Democratic bastions that had 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 in some states. Biden already has more than 74 million votes, more than any presidential candidate before him.
As the vote count played out, Biden tried to ease tensions, promote unity and project an image of presidential leadership for a heated, divided nation.
“We have to remember the purpose of our politics isn’t total unrelenting, unending warfare,” Biden said 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 solve problems, to guarantee justice, to give everybody a fair shot.”
Kamala Harris also made history as the first Black woman to become vice president, an achievement that comes as the U.S. faces a reckoning on racial justice. The California senator, who is also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency, will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government, four years after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.
A record 103 million Americans voted early this year, opting to avoid waiting in long lines at polling locations during a pandemic.
More than 236,000 Americans have died during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 10 million have been infected and millions of jobs have been lost. The final days of the campaign played out against the backdrop of a surge in confirmed cases in nearly every state, including battlegrounds such as Wisconsin that swung to Biden.
The pandemic will soon be Biden’s to tame, and he campaigned pledging a big government response, akin to what Franklin D. Roosevelt oversaw with the New Deal during the Depression of the 1930s. But Senate Republicans fought back several Democratic challengers and looked to retain a fragile majority that could serve as a check on such Biden ambition.
Trump’s tenure pushed Biden to make one more run as he declared that “the very soul of the nation is at stake.”
Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.