Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to be declared the winner of the presidential election after pulling ahead in Pennsylvania and Georgia. The Associated Press, the New York Times and the major TV networks are all likely to make official calls this morning.
Decision Desk HQ, which reports election data for several news outlets, called the Pennsylvania race and the presidential election for Biden just before 9 a.m. Friday. Other major news outlets — including the AP, on which Salon relies — have not yet projected a winner.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace told viewers that there is “every reason to believe” Biden would increase his lead in Pennsylvania and would be “the next president even without any of the other states.”
CNN has reported that additional Secret Service agents have been dispatched to Biden campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware and airspace was restricted over his home in anticipation that he will be declared president-elect at some point today.
Multiple news outlets have reported that Trump has told people he has no plans to concede. Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates responded to the reports by predicting the president would be escorted from the White House if he refuses to leave.
“As we said on July 19th, the American people will decide this election,” Bates said in a statement. “And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
Biden is expected to address the nation tonight, according to the network, and his team plans to “move quickly” into the transition phase. The campaign has “no plans” to wait for any of Trump’s legal challenges to play out.
Biden has already received more than 73 million votes nationally, the most in history, with millions of votes left to count in Democrat-heavy states like California and New York. The former veep has predicted for days that the final tally would be in his favor.
“We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Sen. Harris and I will be declared the winners,” Biden said on Thursday.
In a sign that President Trump is unlikely to concede anytime soon, his campaign has already issued a statement claiming, “This election is not over” and protesting the “false projection of Joe Biden as the winner.” The statement argued that there were “irregularities” in Pennsylvania and Nevada, though the campaign’s legal challenges have thus far fallen flat. The campaign also predicted a recount in Georgia and an “outright” win in Arizona. As the statement indirectly admits, however, at this point Trump would have to overturn the apparent results in at least three states in order to prevail.
Shortly after the statement was issued, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told reporters that there would likely be a recount in the race. Biden now leads by just over 1,000 votes in Georgia, with nearly all the votes counted. Trump held a narrowing lead in that state until early Friday morning.
Biden has also taken a lead in Pennsylvania, as was long expected by political observers. His current edge of roughly 6,000 votes in the Keystone State is likely to grow significantly, with about 25,000 absentee ballots in the Philadelphia metro area still being counted.
A victory in Pennsylvania alone would put Biden over the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the presidency, with or without a victory in Arizona, which the AP and Fox News called for him on Tuesday. That race has tightened since Wednesday, but Biden remains ahead by more than 45,000 votes. Most of the outstanding votes reportedly come from Maricopa County, which encompasses the Phoenix metro area and has leaned slightly Democratic so far.
Biden also leads in Nevada by around 11,000 votes, with much of the remaining ballots left to be counted coming from Democratic-leaning Clark County, the state’s major population center in and around Las Vegas. At this writing, it appears probable that Biden could end up with as many as 306 electoral votes, if his narrow margins in Arizona and Georgia hold up. In what could be construed as historical irony or pure coincidence Trump won the Electoral College by precisely the same margin, 306 to 232, over Hillary Clinton four years ago.
Trump, meanwhile, continues to lead by about 75,000 votes in North Carolina. That race remains too close to call, with many outstanding ballots left to be counted. No final count there is likely until early next week.
Trump racked up early wins in Florida, Ohio and Iowa on Tuesday night, putting the election in doubt and setting up a potential 2016 repeat. But Biden later scored wins in Michigan and Wisconsin, which were key to the president’s 2016 victory, as mail-in ballots were counted. The mail-in vote has overwhelmingly favored Biden in most states, which Trump suggested was suspicious during a news conference at the White House on Thursday. The president has spent months sowing doubts about mail voting, although there is little or no evidence that process has ever been subject to significant fraud. Mail-in votes now appear to have put Biden over the top in Pennsylvania, giving him the trifecta he needed to avoid the same fate suffered by Clinton in 2016.
Unlike Clinton, however, Biden is also on track to win traditionally red states like Arizona and Georgia for the first time in decades.
Biden’s long-expected victory comes after Trump has made repeated and blatantly false claims of voter fraud in states where Biden has won or holds the lead. The president has also attempted to declare victory, via Twitter, in states that had not been called, and where he now appears to have been defeated. Trump has also demanded that officials “stop the count,” though there is no legal reason to halt the counting of valid votes. Furthermore, doing so would not help Trump now, since Biden leads in all but one of the outstanding states.
Although some Republicans have echoed Trump’s false claims about the vote count, other GOP lawmakers have begun publicly speaking out against his inflammatory rhetoric.
“The president’s allegations of large-scale fraud and theft of the election are not substantiated,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said on Friday. “I’m not aware of any significant wrongdoing here.”
“There is no defense for the President’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who said he cast his vote for Ronald Reagan. “America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before.”
Republicans rumored as potential 2024 presidential contenders, on the other hand, seem to be backing Trump, including former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
“If last 24 hours have made anything clear, it’s that we need new election integrity laws NOW,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., another likely 2024 candidate, said on Twitter.
Unlike Trump, Biden has urged voters to “stay calm” since Tuesday night.
“I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working,” he said Thursday. “It is the will of the voters. No one, not anyone else who chooses the president of the United States of America.”
Trump’s campaign has launched multiple lawsuits in states he is expected to lose. Despite his supporters’ wild and unsubstantiated claims, none of those court challenges are likely to result in significant changes in the vote count — let alone a Supreme Court showdown — especially since it appears that Biden will win a conclusive Electoral College majority, as well as an overwhelming victory in the popular vote.
Seeing his lead fade, Trump tweeted at 2:30 a.m. on Friday that the “Supreme Court should decide” the election winner.
But judges in Michigan and Georgia have already rejected the campaign’s challenges, which would have done little to affect the vote count anyway.
Many of Trump’s complaints stem from the fact that it is taking days to count an influx of mail-in votes, but Republican-led legislatures in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan actively prevented officials from being able to begin vote counting until on or just before Election Day. Trump has also lashed out over rules in states like Pennsylvania that allow mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day to be accepted up to several days later. Those votes have not yet been included in the counts that now show him trailing, and are not likely to be a significant factor.
“None of Trump’s small-bore lawsuits have been able to stop the count, and of course there is no basis to do so,” said Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine.
Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer said the suits were legally “meritless” and only intended to “create an opportunity” for the Trump campaign “to message falsely about what’s taking place in the electoral process.”
Some Trump allies have also floated the idea of Republican-led state legislatures appointing electors that would override the popular vote result in their states to back Trump but Republican legislative leaders in Pennsylvania again rejected that idea on Friday.
“We have said it many times and we will happily say it again,” state Senate leader Jake Corman and House leader Kerry Benninghoff, said in a joint statement. “The Pennsylvania General Assembly does not have and will not have a hand in choosing the state’s presidential electors or in deciding the outcome of the presidential election.”