Five days of nail biting and vote-counting came to a resolution Saturday afternoon. At 11 a.m., the Associated Press called the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for Joseph R. Biden – the former vice president, now president-elect. After falling short in his first two bids for the office in 1988 and 2008 – he has not only emerged victorious in his third attempt, but he has also earned the most votes of any presidential candidate in American history.
As Election Day ballots flooded the polls on Tuesday night, Donald Trump jumped to a commanding lead in vital battle ground states. Slowly, the red mirage that many political scholars and officials had predicted began to form. Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Pennsylvania started to show gaps forming between the candidates that favored Trump.
With months of campaigning behind them, the two retired to their respective homes in Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, Delaware. Months of President Trump’s campaigning against mail-in ballots pushed the majority of his supporters to go to the polls on Tuesday, while most of Biden’s supporters had mailed their ballots or stood in line weeks before the Nov. 3 deadline.
As almost 100 million early votes were cast, it was no surprise that vote counting leaked into the following days. Instead of only two types of ballots, there were now three – and more of the early votes than ever before. Each state had different laws about when and how to proceed with the counting, but many counted the Election Day ballots first.
So, what exactly was the red mirage? With Trump advocating against mail-in and early voting, he was predicted to jump to an early lead in most states. But, as every mirage does, that lead was destined to dissolve when mail-in votes began to be counted. Those votes were
dominated by Biden supporters by an overwhelming margin, about 23 to 76 percent, according to the New York Times. When the time came for mail-in ballots to be counted, that lead dwindled.
Florida, arguably one of the most efficient swing states in this cycle, returned its results on Tuesday night. It showed a Trump victory by a much larger margin than he won it in 2016, a 3 point win that bolstered confidence within the president’s circle. However, this confidence began to fall as they watched Wisconsin and Michigan, which Trump had won in 2016, slowly turn blue. By Wednesday morning, the two states had rejoined the blue curtain and were called for Biden.
But the election was far from over. Pennsylvania, a must-win state for both campaigns, was showing a 600,000 vote lead for Trump – the math seemed to be against the former vice president. The lead there, once more, began to be cut as Democratic strongholds such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh counted their mail-in ballots. By Thursday, Biden had closed the gap and taken a narrow lead.
That was not the turning point of the election week, though. Tuesday night had shown a Biden lead in Arizona, a state that had not voted a Democrat into the highest office in the land since 1996. As more votes poured in, that lead has dwindled and Trump has begun to catch up to the president-elect. Although the state was called for Biden from many outlets, there are some that still had not projected a winner as of Saturday.
Georgia was a hard hit to the president’s reelection bid. After jumping out to a commanding lead in a state that had not voted blue since 1992, Biden closed the gap. By Friday, Biden had found a lead in the traditionally conservative state. With only 1 percent of votes still outstanding, Biden had flipped Georgia to a Biden lead.
As of Saturday morning, Joseph R. Biden was called the winner of the 2020 election. But there are still caveats to the victory. President Trump and his team filed lawsuits in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia – all of which have been thrown out or ruled against by judges in those states. He has also called for a recount in Wisconsin and Georgia..
Throughout the week, and in months leading to the election, Trump has tried to sow doubt in the security of the election. Between claiming unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud to a conspiracy against his own campaign, the president has indicated that he does not plan to concede the election. On Thursday night, he held a briefing in the White House where he doubled down on these claims, saying he will take the election to the U.S. Supreme Court and allow them to decide the outcome of the election.
“The simple fact is this election is far from over,” Trump said in a statement to the press Saturday afternoon. “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.”
The president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Guiliani, has also fought against the news outlet’s decision to project Biden as the president-elect. In a statement of his own, he made the claim that the election would be decided in court.
“Networks don't get to decide the election,” Giuliani said. “Courts do.”
While he is correct in saying that networks do not decide elections, he is incorrect in his statement that courts decide elections. The outcome of elections is decided by the American people, unless the candidates reach a tie. In that case, the decision falls to the U.S. Congress to elect the president and vice president.