By Aisha Sembhi
After four days of counting, the results are finally in – Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been declared the President-elect of the United States, defeating incumbent opponent President Donald J. Trump. Alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, he will take office on 20 January 2020.
Biden clinched the victory after the swing state of Pennsylvania was called in his favour at 4:30 p.m. (GMT) on 7 November, giving him a projected 273 electoral votes, allowing his campaign to claim a majority after surpassing the required 270 votes. Several locations, including Trump’s native New York City boroughs Queens and Manhattan, took to the streets in celebration. In his victory speech, Biden made reference to his previous unsuccessful runs for the presidency in 1988 and 2008 in an effort to create unity within the divided electorate; “It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again. I ran as a proud Democrat. I will now be an American president.”
The election saw record-breaking results throughout – Biden is the most voted for presidential candidate in US history, so far gaining over 75 million votes, superseding the 69.5 million ballots for Barack Obama in 2008. Kamala Harris also makes history, as she is set to become not only the highest-ranking woman in US office by assuming the Vice Presidency, but also the first non-white Vice President.
This is also the most expensive US election in history, costing an estimated $14 billion, which is projected to be double the amount spent in 2016. Biden is the first presidential candidate to raise over $1 billion through donors, and will also become the older President ever inaugurated. He began his career in national politics in 1972 becoming the youngest US Senator in history (then aged 30). Upon assuming office, he will be aged 78.
President Trump, the first incumbent President to not be re-elected since George H. W. Bush in 1992, has yet to concede defeat. Instead, he has taken to Twitter to post two tweets disputing the legitimacy of the election results and claim victory himself. His team have introduced a series of legal battles and submitted several allegations of electoral fraud against the Biden campaign, though it is becoming increasingly clear that these challenges are baseless and will not alter the result. Lawsuits filed in Michigan and Georgia, which called for a halting of the count and claimed electoral sabotage respectively, were dismissed by Superior State Courts.
The hostility of the Trump campaign has been attributed to the surge in mail-in votes – whilst some states allow for the counting of these ballots to begin before Election Day, Republican-led state legislatures in the critical states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania (the state result which determined the winner), do not. A majority of these ballots have proven to lean Democrat, therefore gradually erasing Trump’s lead in a number of swing-states which were called days after counting began. Protestors gathered in front of various state capitol buildings to dispute the turnaround, whilst the “Count Every Vote” campaign gained traction in response.
Alongside the nation-wide presidential election is the localised Congressional elections, in which one-third of seats in both the Senate and House of Representatives are up for election. The results as of 9 November are as follows: the Democrats have so far made a single gain in the Senate, though this slim margin has not proven enough to claim the Chamber’s majority, and the Republicans have made gains in the House, though a Democrat majority within this chamber remains likely.
These changes within the legislature pose a number of procedural issues for the incoming Biden administration, advertising the potential to let partisanship reign over US politics for another four years. Biden’s team has implied the President-elect is already making headway with executive orders he intends to introduce immediately after inauguration, including a reversal of Trump’s decisions to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and World Health Organisation, and the introduction of a Covid-19 taskforce to tackle the ongoing pandemic.
Legally, Biden’s presidency has not yet seen total confirmation – electors representing each state will formally cast their vote for the President and Vice President on 14 December. Conventionally speaking, however, the election results are entrenched. Joe Biden is to become the 46th President of the United States.
Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr