Election 2020

Biden Wins: Pennsylvania Called After Four Days of Suspense

President Trump’s legal team is challenging the results in several states.

This article is part of Election 2020: America Votes, FP’s round-the-clock coverage of the U.S. election results as they come in, with short dispatches from correspondents and analysts around the world. The America Votes page is free for all readers.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris leave the stage after addressing the nation at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 6. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States, according to projections from major news networks and the Associated Press, after carrying Pennsylvania and delivering a final blow to President Donald Trump’s electoral firewall of Rust Belt swing states.

Biden had trailed in early returns from Pennsylvania—seen as necessary for Trump to retake the White House—but his lead became apparent Thursday night as mail-in voters heavily favored the Democratic challenger, allowing him to carry the battleground state Hillary Clinton lost four years ago. The victory in the Keystone State gave Biden 273 electoral votes, just clearing the threshold needed to win the White House. 

CNN and NBC News were the first networks to call the presidential race just before 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. They were followed by the rest of the major networks and wire services.

The news comes after a chaotic few days after Election Day when Trump and his surrogates repeatedly—and without evidence—claimed that fraudulent mail-in ballots had put Biden ahead in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, and Georgia. With votes still being counted, Biden clings to a narrow lead in Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, which could ultimately give him a large majority of the Electoral College.

Speaking on Wednesday evening, as his path to victory appeared to narrow, Trump drew criticism from Democrats and some Republicans in Congress for alleging from the White House podium that his opponents were “trying to steal an election.” Trump would become just the 11th incumbent U.S. president not to win reelection, and the first to lose in nearly 30 years, since George H.W. Bush in 1992.  

But state officials found no evidence for those claims, and Trump’s legal efforts to stop the count, including lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan, were unsuccessful. Trump, who was at his golf club in Virginia when the call was made, did not immediately respond to Biden’s victory. 

“I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” Trump tweeted before hitting the course. 

In the days after Election Day, Biden, the former vice president, had appealed for calm but expressed confidence in the outcome as he overtook Trump in key swing states. Biden’s victory also carries historic significance: His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become both the first female vice president and also the first Black and South Asian politician to serve in the job. 

After the networks called the victory, Biden issued a conciliatory message. “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,” Biden tweeted in the minutes after the race was called.  

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to be the first world leader to congratulate the new president-elect, tweeting, “Congratulations, @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. 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.”

Biden’s projected victory sparked an outburst of jubilation in several major U.S. cities, including the banging of pots and pans and the sound of fireworks.

Jack Detsch is Foreign Policy’s Pentagon and national security reporter. Twitter: @JackDetsch

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