The victory—that came after recapturing Wisconsin—makes Kamala Harris the first woman to be vice president and gives her a critical role in a closely divided Senate.
After a five-day process of meticulously counting in-person and absentee ballots, it is now official: Joe Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States.
The victory over President Donald Trump also ushers in a first, with Kamala Harris becoming the first Black, Indian-American, and woman elected vice president of the United States.
The former vice president is now President-elect Biden after winning the popular vote in enough states to secure the 270 Electoral College votes needed to become president. The Biden-Harris ticket not only won the vote but smashed a turnout record, garnering nearly 75 million votes.
Media projections of Biden’s victory came after his vote total overtook Trump’s in Pennsylvania by a margin certain to be out of reach in the remaining ballots to be counted. Biden claimed Wisconsin early Wednesday morning, denying Trump back-to-back upsets in the Democrats’ vaunted “blue wall” that also included Michigan. Despite the 20,539 unofficial margin in Wisconsin, Trump nonetheless pledged to seek a recount next week.
“America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country,” tweeted Biden shortly before noon EST. “The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not. I will keep the faith that you have placed in me.”
A campaign statement said he and Harris were “honored and humbled” by the trust they had received from the American people.
“In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted, proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of American,” read the statement. “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It is time for America to unite and to heal.”
Beyond its historical significance of Harris becoming vice president, she can have a major role in the future of the country while it attempts to navigate the worsening coronavirus pandemic and address some of the harmful policies implemented by the Trump administration. As vice president, Harris would become president of the Senate and cast tie-breaking votes in favor of Democrats.
Trump said in a statement on Twitter he would not concede to President-elect Biden. Instead, he promised unspecified legal challenges.
World leaders rushed to congratulate Biden and Harris.
“Congratulations, @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. Our two countries are close friends, partners, and allies. We share a relationship that’s unique on the world stage,” tweeted Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. “I’m really looking forward to working together and building on that with you both.
Initial reaction from Wisconsin Democrats was brief and jubilant.
“And so it is, “ Tweeted Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, attaching a news clip of Biden’s victory bringing an end to the presidential race.
“Exhale,” wrote state Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler.
From Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison): “Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Donald, you’re fired! Joe, welcome on board.”
Wisconsin’s margin for Biden may best be indicative of the difference between the two men on the seriousness with which they take the coronavirus outbreak. Wisconsin set another record on Friday for most number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day. A record number of COVID-19 patients are in Wisconsin hospitals and on ventilators.
“Donald Trump waved the white flag, surrendered to the virus,” Biden said at an Oct. 30 event in Milwaukee. “Unlike Donald Trump, we’re not going to surrender to this virus. I put in place a plan with this pandemic responsibly. I’ve set it up back in May, and then again in June, and in July, the way we can bring this country together around testing, tracing and masking.”
Biden also promised Wisconsin voters he would reverse the Trump administration’s trade policy impact on the state’s embattled agriculture and manufacturing sectors, noting how the state has lost more dairy farms than any other.
“Since the start of the trade war, Wisconsin has seen a mass lay off surge by 25%. And even before COVID hit, Wisconsin saw big declines in manufacturing jobs,” Biden said. “After Trump rolled out his irresponsible tax giveaways, Harley Davidson slashed 800 manufacturing jobs, repurchased almost $700 million of its own stock so the corporate heads could get and make a lot more money, and none of it went to the employees, and then shifted some of its production overseas; so much for helping.”
In Biden, many voters saw a more earnest desire to address the pains that rack the nation, most likely because of the deep pain endured by Biden throughout his life. He lost his first wife and young daughter in a car crash. He lost one of his sons to brain cancer. Biden himself has undergone surgeries for life-threatening brain aneurysms.
Biden’s journey to the presidency has been an on-and-off endeavor since June 1987, when he first announced his candidacy for the 1988 Democratic Party nomination, a pursuit boosted by serving as Barack Obama’s vice president prior to Trump’s shocking election in 2016.
Biden’s hopes for an ambitious legislative agenda rest on the outcome of Georgia’s US Senate races which both appear headed to runoff elections on Jan. 5. While a split Congress would be a formidable obstacle, the president-elect will try to leverage his relationships from 36 years as a senator from Delaware to enact a platform prioritizing health care, COVID-19 relief, and infrastructure investments.
Once Wisconsin’s election results are certified, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s slate of electors will meet in the state Capitol on Dec. 14 to formally cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for Biden. The results of the Electoral College vote will be counted and announced to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.
Biden will be sworn into office Jan. 20.