Biden wins White House, vowing new direction for divided U.S.

Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by the historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil.

His victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes in an extraordinary close election that delayed the processing of some ballots. Biden crossed 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania.

Biden, 77, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. The strategy proved effective, resulting in pivotal victories in Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Pennsylvania, onetime Democratic bastions that had flipped to Trump in 2016.

Biden was on track to win the national popular vote by more than 4 million, a margin that could grow as ballots continue to be counted, but the margins in battleground states were narrow.

Trump seized on delays in processing the vote in some states to allege voter fraud and argue that his rival was trying to seize power—an extraordinary charge by a sitting president trying to sow doubt about a bedrock democratic process.

As the vote count played out, Biden tried to ease tensions and project an image of presidential leadership, hitting notes of unity that were seemingly aimed at cooling the temperature of a heated, divided nation.

“We have to remember the purpose of our politics isn’t total unrelenting, unending warfare,” Biden said Friday night in Delaware. “No, the purpose of our politics, the work of our nation, isn’t to fan the flames of conflict, but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to give everybody a fair shot.”

Kamala Harris also made history as the first Black woman to become vice president, an achievement that comes as the U.S. faces a reckoning on racial justice. The California senator, who is also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency, will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government, four years after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992. It was unclear whether Trump would publicly concede.

Earlier Saturday Trump left the White House for his Virginia golf club dressed in golf shoes, a windbreaker and a white hat as the results gradually expanded Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania. Trump repeated his allegations of election fraud and illegal voting on Twitter, but they were quickly flagged as potentially misleading by the social media platform.

One of his tweets: “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Biden was spending Saturday morning with family and advisers at home in Wilmington, Delaware, his campaign said.

Americans showed deep interest in the presidential race. A record 103 million voted early this year, opting to avoid waiting in long lines at polling locations during a pandemic. With counting continuing in some states, Biden had already received more than 74 million votes, more than any presidential candidate before him.

More than 236,000 Americans have died during the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 10 million have been infected and millions of jobs have been lost. The final days of the campaign played out against the backdrop of a surge in confirmed cases in nearly every state, including battlegrounds such as Wisconsin that swung to Biden.

The pandemic will soon be Biden’s to tame, and he campaigned pledging a big government response, akin to what Franklin D. Roosevelt oversaw with the New Deal during the Depression of the 1930s. But Senate Republicans fought back several Democratic challengers and looked to retain a fragile majority that could serve as a check on such Biden ambition.

The 2020 campaign was a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which has shuttered schools across the nation, disrupted businesses and raised questions about the feasibility of family gatherings heading into the holidays.

The fast spread of the coronavirus transformed political rallies from standard campaign fare to gatherings that were potential public health emergencies. It also contributed to an unprecedented shift to voting early and by mail and prompted Biden to dramatically scale back his travel and events to comply with restrictions. Trump defied calls for caution and ultimately contracted the disease himself. He was saddled throughout the year by negative assessments from the public of his handling of the pandemic.

Biden also drew a sharp contrast to Trump through a summer of unrest over the police killings of Black Americans including Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and George Floyd in Minneapolis. Their deaths sparked the largest racial protest movement since the civil rights era. Biden responded by acknowledging the racism that pervades American life, while Trump emphasized his support of police and pivoted to a “law and order” message that resonated with his largely white base.

The president’s most ardent backers never wavered and may remain loyal to him and his supporters in Congress after Trump has departed the White House.

The third president to be impeached, though acquitted in the Senate, Trump will leave office having left an indelible imprint in a tenure defined by the shattering of White House norms and a day-to-day whirlwind of turnover, partisan divide and the ever-present threat via his Twitter account.

Prior to the pandemic, with a booming economy, Trump seemed an easy favorite to win reelection.

Biden, born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and raised in Delaware, was one of the youngest candidates ever elected to the Senate. Before he took office, his wife and daughter were killed, and his two sons badly injured in a 1972 car crash.

Commuting every night on a train from Washington back to Wilmington, Biden fashioned an everyman political persona to go along with powerful Senate positions, including chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees. Some aspects of his record drew critical scrutiny from fellow Democrats, including his support for the 1994 crime bill, his vote for the 2003 Iraq War and his management of the Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court hearings.

Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign was done in by cases of plagiarism and lies about his academic record, and his next bid in 2008 ended quietly. But later that year, he was tapped to be Barack Obama’s running mate and he became an influential vice president, steering the administration’s outreach to both Capitol Hill and Iraq.

While his reputation was burnished by his time in office and his deep friendship with Obama, Biden stood aside for Clinton and opted not to run in 2016 after his adult son Beau died of brain cancer the year before.

Trump’s tenure pushed Biden to make one more run as he declared that “the very soul of the nation is at stake.”

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

24 thoughts on “Biden wins White House, vowing new direction for divided U.S.

    1. Integrity and character. Really??This is a guy that plagiarized and lied about his education to try and get ahead. Trump is truly a polarizing figure. This was never a vote for Biden but nothing but an anti Trump vote. Even with the pandemic if Trump hadn’t been so boorish in the first debate he would be preparing for a second term. This vote was was so close. Joe has no plans whatsoever and the next 4 years will be very underwhelming. He has been a 3 time loser on the national stage. Get ready for a bunch of nothing.

    2. If Biden is your idea of integrity and character, you need to check the dictionary and raise your bar.

  1. Totally agree with John C. – Larry also. This is probably the worst outcome with the worst amount of fraud ever. I don’t care which side of the aisle you’re on if you’re not concerned about the amount of fraud in this election you deserve what is coming with a bogus Administration.
    Our Democracy is definitely in doubt.
    You haven’t questioned yourself on how many down-ballot Republicans won and Republican seats gained in the house? You’re out of your mind if you think fraud is not more rampant in this election

  2. Anyone who thinks ballotting was legitimate in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania is kidding themselves. But go ahead in have confidence in Biden/Harris as your Savior from the horrors of a man who loved America and respected its founding Judea-Christian principles. (NOTE: I did NOT say ours was “a Christian Nation,” for those of you looking to pounce. It was not founded as such, but WAS founded on Judea-Christian values, which have served it well. But if you want Venezuela’s values, economy, and fate, hang on while Biden / Harris proceed apace.)

    Realistically, though. anyone who thinks Biden “saved” the United States from anything needs to read Pat Buchanan’s take on the election…and prepare themselves for the horrors that will ensue from the evil cabal that foisted this career idiot upon us through voter fraud. Thank God indeed…but not for Biden/Harris, but for the firewall that will [hopefully] remain the United States Senate:

    1. Trump supporters and especially Trump supporters who think that he’s a godly person are completely delusional. Trump played you and you’re too ignorant to realize that Trump is nothing but a false idol. Maybe pick up a bible and read what it has to say about false idols. Jesus would be ashamed of every single one of you.

  3. Trump supporters are so predictable lol. Just repeat the lies he’s been saying for weeks. Sorry not sorry that you all lost this one. Good luck in 4 years. Hopefully you guys vote for a sane Republican and not a want to be facist.

    1. You can blame yourself for Trump even being President. If he had run against anyone other than Hillary he would never have been President. Anyone on the Hillary bandwagon was very misguided.

    2. Thanks Larry, but if you voted for Trump over Hillary I actually blame you. She should’ve run a better campaign for sure, but do not act like they’re even close to the same level of awfulness as candidates.

  4. Donald J. Trump tweet from 23-Dec-2016:
    “Vladimir Putin said today about Hillary and Dems: “In my opinion, it is humiliating. One must be able to lose with dignity.” So true!”
    ……. LOL!

  5. All you Trumpsters are the same, POOR LOSERS like your Trump. You are correct though, this election wasn’t about Biden, so you can talk him down all you want. This election was about getting rid of the person who has destroyed America’s image in the world, alienated us from our long time Allies, and made America the laughing stock of the world. America is no longer a World Leader, no longer looked up to by any Country because of Trump.
    Trump is a domineering dictator, it is his way or the highway. A Leader knows how to compromise, negotiate, speak with courtesy and respect for others in a dignified manner. Trump is a bully, and all he knows is to belittle and bully everyone into submission.
    Trump doesn’t know how to negotiate, he thinks he is always right. He did not listen or take advice from anyone, not even his own country. He knows very little about anything, but thinks he knows everything. Trump’s Egomania, paranoia, impulsive, immature adolescent behavior, and lack of empathy, lack of respect for others is inexcusable for a President.
    Many Americans didn’t vote for Biden, but AGAINST Trump because he has ruined and divided America. We will make America great again by getting rid of Trump.

    1. So what will Biden compromise on? Because we already saw Biden’s approach to compromise for eight years. You’re right that Trump is an embarrassment as a public leader of the United States, but don’t pretend that Biden is some arbiter of the public. He’s just as divisive as Trump.

    2. Every election is basically 50/50. Trump didn’t start the division nor ruin America. 50% of the people will say Trump’s arrogance divided the country. The other 50% will say the constant undermining of his presidency divided America. Biden’s call for unity ring very hollow after what has gone on the past 4 years. Enjoy the month long honeymoon cause it’s not gonna last long. Had the pandemic not come along the economy would be roaring and he would have another 4 years. Biden is gonna age 10 years over the next four years and that won’t look pretty

    3. Dictator?? Last I looked he was elected in 2016 and came within about 50k votes spread over 3 states of being elected again. Seems like we also have a Senate and Congress that also have a say in our government. I’m sure Germany and Italy would have preferred this type of “Dictator” in 1939.

  6. Can only hope that the Georgia senate races prevent a Biden Harris administration from achieving their ideals of wealth distribution and victimhood. Not a Trump fan, but it’s a sad day for democracy when the people attempt to vote themselves the property of others.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}