- Democrat Joe Biden wins White House after securing Pennsylvania, Nevada.
- Kamala Harris to become first Black, South Asian woman elected vice-president.
- CBC News to livestream Biden’s address to the nation later this evening.
Democrat Joe Biden defeated U.S. President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by a historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil.
His victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed the processing of some ballots. Biden crossed the threshold of 270 electoral college votes with a win in his home state of Pennsylvania, and later in the day secured Nevada’s six electoral votes.
Trump refused to concede, threatening further legal action on ballot counting.
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. The strategy proved effective, resulting in pivotal victories in Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Pennsylvania, onetime Democratic bastions that had flipped to Trump in 2016.
PHOTOS | Americans take to the streets after Joe Biden wins presidential election:
Biden, in a statement, said he was humbled by the victory and it was time for the battered nation to set aside its differences.
“It’s time for America to unite. And to heal,” he said.
“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said. “There’s nothing we can’t do if we do it together.”
Biden was on track to win the national popular vote by more than four million, a margin that could grow as ballots continue to be counted.
Trump not giving up
Departing from longstanding democratic tradition and signalling a potentially turbulent transfer of power, Trump issued a combative statement while he was on his Virginia golf course.
It said his campaign would take unspecified legal actions and he would “not rest until the American People have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands.”
Trump has pointed to delays in processing the vote in some states to allege with no evidence that there was voter fraud and to argue that his rival was trying to seize power — an extraordinary charge by a sitting president trying to sow doubt about a bedrock democratic process.
WATCH | Frustrated Trump tries to use courts to hold on to White House:
At the steps of the Georgia State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta, Trump supporters remained defiant. They insisted the election is not over, and that the results have been tainted by electoral fraud.
“None of this surprises us. That’s why we all are here,” said Daniel Labrecque, 26, of Marietta, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta.
“If Joe Biden was elected today, if he became the elect, this ain’t stopping. This ain’t stopping,” he said. “It’s wrong. It’s wrong what is happening to the American people.”
Jeaney Patti, a recent retiree, drove six hours from Pensicola, Fla., to be part of the protest and support president’s decision not to give up.
“I encourage him not to concede,” she said. “Donald Trump won four more years Tuesday. He had the votes. They wouldn’t let poll watchers in. They cheated again.”
Trump is the first incumbent president to lose re-election since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992. It was unclear whether he would publicly concede.
Earlier Saturday Trump left the White House for his Virginia golf club dressed in golf shoes, a windbreaker and a white hat as the results gradually expanded Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania. Trump repeated his unsupported allegations of election fraud and illegal voting on Twitter, but they were quickly flagged as potentially misleading by the social media platform.
One of his erroneous tweets: “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Harris makes history
Kamala Harris also made history as the first Black woman set 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.
In a tweet congratulating Biden and Harris, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the country’s first female leader in Germany, emphasized that Harris would be the first elected female vice-president in the United States.
WATCH | Kamala Harris makes history:
Biden said on Twitter that he was honoured to be chosen to “lead our great country” and vowed to be a president “for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not.”
Biden is set to address the nation from Wilmington, Del., alongside Harris, later this evening.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated both Biden and Harris. “Our two countries are close friends, partners, and allies,” Trudeau said on Twitter, adding that he is looking forward to working with them.
Congratulations, <a href=”https://twitter.com/JoeBiden?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@JoeBiden</a> and <a href=”https://twitter.com/KamalaHarris?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@KamalaHarris</a>. Our two countries are close friends, partners, and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage. I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both.
Pandemic a key issue
Americans showed deep interest in the presidential race. A record 103 million voted early this year, opting to avoid waiting in long lines at polling locations during a pandemic. With counting continuing in some states, Biden had already received more than 74 million votes, more than any presidential candidate before him.
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.
WATCH | Biden supporters celebrate in Philadelphia:
The 2020 campaign was a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which has shuttered schools across the nation, disrupted businesses and raised questions about the feasibility of family gatherings heading into the holidays.
The fast spread of the coronavirus transformed political rallies from standard campaign fare to gatherings that were potential public health emergencies. It also contributed to an unprecedented shift to voting early and by mail and prompted Biden to dramatically scale back his travel and events to comply with restrictions. Trump defied calls for caution and ultimately contracted the disease himself. He was saddled throughout the year by negative assessments from the public of his handling of the pandemic.
Summer of unrest
Biden also drew a sharp contrast to Trump through a summer of unrest over the police killings of Black Americans including Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minneapolis. Their deaths sparked the largest racial protest movement since the civil rights era. Biden responded by acknowledging the racism that pervades American life, while Trump emphasized his support of police and pivoted to a “law and order” message that resonated with his largely white base.
The president’s most ardent backers never wavered and may remain loyal to him and his supporters in Congress after Trump has departed the White House.
The third president to be impeached, though acquitted in the Senate, Trump will leave office having left an indelible imprint in a tenure defined by the shattering of White House norms and a day-to-day whirlwind of turnover, partisan divide and the ever-present threat via his Twitter account.
Biden, born in Scranton, Pa., and raised in Delaware, was one of the youngest candidates ever elected to the Senate. Before he took office, his wife and daughter were killed, and his two sons badly injured in a 1972 car crash.
WATCH | The tragedies and triumphs of the president-elect:
Commuting every night on a train from Washington back to Wilmington, Biden fashioned an everyman political persona to go along with powerful Senate positions, including chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees. Some aspects of his record drew critical scrutiny from fellow Democrats, including his support for the 1994 crime bill, his vote for the 2003 Iraq War and his management of the Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court hearings.
Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign was done in by plagiarism allegations, and his next bid in 2008 ended quietly. But later that year, he was tapped to be Barack Obama’s running mate and he became an influential vice-president, steering the administration’s outreach to both Capitol Hill and Iraq.
While his reputation was burnished by his time in office and his deep friendship with Obama, Biden stood aside for Clinton and opted not to run in 2016 after his adult son Beau died of brain cancer the year before.
Trump’s tenure pushed Biden to make one more run as he declared that “the very soul of the nation is at stake.”