Joe Biden has been named President-elect of the United States after bagging the required 270 electoral college votes needed to definitively win the contest.
Saturday’s win in Pennsylvania gave Biden 20 votes, pushing him to 284 votes with official poll callers AP and Fox News, and 273 with rival forecasters CNN and The New York times.
Biden first pulled ahead of President Trump in Pennsylvania on Friday, and steadily increased his lead throughout the day and overnight. Trump – who has warned he will not concede to Biden, shared a supporter’s claim the state’s largest city of Philadelphia had ‘rotten’ electoral processes after it helped hand Biden a win.
Speaking on Friday night, Biden said he and Kamala Harris – who becomes the highest ranking woman ever to win office in the US – were on course to ‘win this race’. He added: ‘What’s becoming clear each hour is that a record number of Americans, of all races, faith, religions, chose change over more of the same.’
Meanwhile, counting is continuing in Georgia, where Biden increased his lead over Trump to 7,000 ballots in a state that traditionally votes for Trump’s Republican party. Officials say the margin of 0.1% is so small a recount will be needed before a winner can be declared.
A win in Georgia would give him an extra 16 electoral college votes, and see 77 year-old Biden – the oldest president ever elected – further extend a seemingly insurmountable lead over President Trump.
Biden’s win came hours after Trump made a rambling statement in the White House making unfounded claims that the election was being stolen from him because of fraudulent votes, prompting condemnation from within his own party.
His campaign released another statement Friday, saying: ‘This election is not over’ and warning that Biden’s lead on him was a ‘false projection’ caused by vote rigging. Team Trump have offered no solid evidence to back up their allegations.
The new president-elect has vowed to undo some of Trump’s policy decisions as soon as he is inaugurated in January, including rejoining the Paris Accord on climate change, as well as the World Health Organization.
Biden won the election in a tighter-than-anticipated race, which saw Trump hold on to Texas and Florida, despite claims they were potentially historic wins for the Democrat party. He became only the second Democrat to flip Arizona in 70 years, according to Associated Press and Fox News forecasts.
Rival forecasters CNN and The New York Times have yet to call Arizona, but the Pennsylvania win pushed Biden to victory regardless. US presidential elections do not award winners based on the country’s overall vote, with each state instead allotting a set number of electoral votes to whoever wins the race in their area.
Biden also took back Wisconsin and Michigan – both states Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016. and also held onto traditionally Democrat states including California, Oregon, Washington, New York, New Hampshire and Colorado.
President-elect Biden made a cheery appearance with wife Jill in Wilmington, Delaware, shortly after midnight on Wednesday, saying ‘Keep faith guys, we’re going to win this.’
But he was forced to strike a far more forceful tone just hours later, when President Trump prematurely named himself victor of the contest. His team said they were ready to contest any attempt to call the election early with their lawyers.
Biden kicked-off election day by visiting his childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was mobbed by fans. He signed his name on its living room wall, writing: ‘From this house to the White House with the grace of God. Joe Biden.’
The president-elect then moved on to nearby Philadelphia, where he said he ‘felt good’ about winning Pennsylvania – the key swing state believed to be vital to this year’s result.
Biden’s wife Jill, 69, spent the day campaigning in another swing state – Florida – and was snapped chatting to reporters and voters in St Petersburg.
Biden’s victory appears to be an indictment of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, which had infected 9.33 million Americans and killed more than 232,000 by election day.
That saw many voters who had opted to vote for the Republican president in 2016 instead switch their allegiances to Biden, in the hopes of ending the crisis sooner.
Speaking at one of his final campaign events in Pennsylvania Monday, Biden vowed to defeat Covid-19, telling supporters: ‘Donald Trump waved the white flag of surrender to this virus
‘I’m never gonna raise the white flag of surrender. We’re gonna beat this virus, and we’re gonna get it under control, I promise you. But the first step to beating the virus is beating Donald Trump.’
The former Delaware senator faces a daunting start to his time in office, with coronavirus continuing to kill hundreds of Americans a day while ravaging the nation’s economy.
Biden won after voters rejected President Trump’s suggestion that his rival was senile. Americans who cast their ballot for him – including many Republicans appalled by what they saw as Trump’s erratic and provocative behavior – backed Biden’s plans to finally ‘listen to the scientists’ to tackle Covid-19.
Trump’s credibility on Covid took a huge hit last month when he, his wife Melania and son Barron were all diagnosed with the virus.
Trump spent three nights in hospital, and recovered with the help of an antibody therapy treatment not currently available to ordinary Americans. He has since continued to play down the seriousness of Covid, and repeatedly insisted the raging outbreak was easing off.
Trump’s attitude is in stark contrast to President-elect Biden. He has pledged to order widespread lockdowns if necessary, and impose a nationwide mandate forcing people to wear masks.
Trump’s failed campaign warned such lockdowns would further damage the ailing US economy. Unemployment figures rocketed as high as 15% at the height of the first wave of Covid earlier this spring, and tens of thousands of businesses permanently closed as a result.
Last week’s third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) figures – showed the US economy had grown by a record-breaking 33.1% during the third quarter of 2020. But economists warn the US economy is still in far worse shape than it was pre-Covid.
Many Americans also voted for Biden and Harris in the hope of ending ongoing unrest sparked by Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality.
President Trump was accused of further stoking tensions in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police in May. Numerous cities across the US, including New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Los Angeles were hit by rioting and looting.
Trump was condemned for responding to the crisis by declaring ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’ That phrase was notoriously uttered by racist Miami Police Chief Walter Headley during 1967 race riots.
The outgoing president was further ridiculed after clearing crowds of protesters with pepper balls to pose on the steps of a damaged Washington DC church in June while holding a Bible.
He did not say a prayer or make any kind of attempt to calm ongoing unrest.
Biden called Trump ‘One of the most racist president’s we’ve ever had’ at their final debate on October 22, a claim the president vociferously denied.
Biden vehemently denied Trump’s claims he wanted to ‘defund the police’ as his rival worked to paint himself as tough on law and order. He made a well-received virtual appearance at George Floyd’s funeral, saying: ‘Now is the time for racial justice. That’s the answer we must give to our children when they ask why.
‘Because when there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America.’ Biden also condemned rioting and looting.
The veteran politician’s own losses – his wife Neila and their baby daughter died in a car crash in 1972, and his son Beau was killed by brain cancer in 2015 – gave his words a sincerity that appealed to many voters.
Many leading police unions – including those representing the New York Police Department and officers in Biden’s home state of Delaware – backed Trump for president. Biden now faces the challenge of winning over law enforcement officers and Black Lives Matter protesters.
President-elect Biden’s campaign was not without its missteps. He was accused of keeping a low profile for much of the campaign and let Trump damage his own re-election chances with untrue and reckless proclamations that the US was ‘turning the corner’ with Covid.
Biden also sparked fury after telling African-American voters that if they picked Trump, ‘You ain’t black.’ He later apologized for the remark.
In September, Biden wrongly claimed coronavirus had killed 200 million Americans – two thirds of the country’s population, rather than the estimated 200,000 people who had been killed at the time.
And at a rally on Saturday, he missed two cues to come on stage from former president Barack Obama, before mispronouncing ‘healthcare’ as ‘badakathcare.’
But voters overlooked those blunders in favor of dumping one of the most controversial and drama-fueled governments in US history.
Biden has denied claims from well-placed sources saying he has privately conceded his age means he will likely only serve a single term as president.
And hundreds of millions of Americans will now be watching eagerly to see if the next four years brings the return of calm diplomacy to the White House.
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