Grueling vote count ends in Biden victory

Grueling vote count ends in Biden victory
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Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist MORE has won the White House after a grueling vote count that kept the nation on edge for five days until the Democratic nominee was finally projected to become the 46th president of the United States shortly before 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.

It was a harrowing few days for Democrats, and the outcome was not always certain.

The race for the White House was far closer than the polls and election forecasters predicted. President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE turned out millions more voters than he did in 2016 and the networks did not feel comfortable enough to call the race in Biden’s favor until four days after the polls closed.

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Expanded access to mail and absentee balloting due to the coronavirus pandemic resulted in counting delays in key battleground states where the vote totals seesawed for days, with Trump bolting out to early leads based on in-person voting and Biden eventually triumphing because of a surge in mail ballots.

The vote count is still ongoing in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, but Biden leads in all of those states. There will be a recount in Georgia. If Biden hangs on, he will capture 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble MORE by that exact same Electoral College vote count in 2016.

Biden is on track to flip two traditionally red states in the Sun Belt — Arizona, which has not gone for the Democratic nominee since 1996, and Georgia, which has not gone for the Democratic nominee since 1992.

Biden is also on pace to rebuild the Democratic “blue wall” across the Rust Belt and Midwest with victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. In 2016, Trump became the first GOP presidential candidate in decades to win those states.

As of noon on Saturday, Biden had nearly 75.5 million votes nationwide, the most for any candidate in history.

“In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted, proving once again that democracy beats deep in the heart of America,” Biden said.

Trump is unlikely to officially concede. His campaign has been flooding the battleground states with lawsuits and making unsubstantiated claims about irregularities and fraud in the vote count.

“The simple fact is this election is far from over,” Trump said. “Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor.”

Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania, which Trump must win, appears insurmountable. There will be recounts in Georgia and Wisconsin, where Biden leads. It is exceedingly rare for recounts or court challenges to dramatically alter the outcome in a state. Trump would need the outcomes to be reversed in three states.

When it is all over, Trump will become the first president since George H.W. Bush in 1993 to lose his reelection bid.

Speaking on Friday night, Biden said his victory was big enough that he could claim a “mandate” to govern.

But Biden’s coattails did not help Democrats running down ballot, and he will likely be leading a divided government at a time when managing the coronavirus pandemic will be his top priority.

Democrats failed to pick up several key Senate seats they were expected to win in Maine and North Carolina. They also fell short in red states where they had massive spending advantages and where polls showed tight races, including Alaska, Montana, Texas and South Carolina.

Democrats will need to win two special elections in Georgia in January just to reach 50 seats in the Senate to make Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami A sad reality: In a season of giving, most will ignore America's poor Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall MORE the tiebreaker.

Biden leads in Georgia by only about 4,000 votes. While he is expected to become the first Democrat to carry the state in decades, Georgia is still traditionally red and has not had a Democratic senator since former Sen. Max Cleland lost his reelection bid in 2003.

Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Gosar censured as GOP drama heightens Perdue on possible run for Georgia governor: 'I'm concerned about the state of our state' Kemp makes pitch to conservatives, independents in new campaign ad MORE (R-Ga.) currently has nearly 100,000 more votes than Democrat Jon Ossoff. That race will go to runoff because Perdue will not quite reach the 50 percent mark. Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerSenate GOP worries Trump could derail bid for majority Perdue mulling primary challenge against Kemp in Georgia: report McConnell backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race MORE (R-Ga.) will face off against Democrat Raphael Warnock.

And Democrats were shocked to discover that the House was in play in 2020 after most election forecasters predicted Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise The GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous MORE (D-Calif.) would grow her caucus by a dozen members or more.

Instead, Republicans have picked up a half-dozen seats so far and are expected to win several more. Pelosi will have only a narrow majority when the new Congress is gaveled in next year.

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Finger-pointing has already exploded in the House, with moderates accusing liberals of turning off ordinary Americans and costing Democrats seats in swing districts.

Democrats also failed to pick up any state legislatures, while Republicans flipped two. That could have huge consequences for the next decade of elections as redistricting takes place next year.

And while Trump lost the White house, he appointed three Supreme Court Justices in his one term.

The president also turned out more than 70 million people in 2020, the second-largest vote total in history behind Biden.

The president was expected to lose badly among women, and his support was expected to erode among white working-class voters across the Midwest and Rust Belt, but Trump held his own.

The president also significantly improved his standing among Latino and Black voters, provoking introspection among Democrats, who consider both to be significant elements of their coalition.