Joe Biden claimed a “mandate for action” on a series of issues, including COVID-19, climate change, and systemic racism, in a brief address on Friday night.
Biden did not declare victory, as the networks have yet to call the race, but said that once the votes are counted he will be the winner.
“We’re going to win this race with a clear majority of the nation behind us,” Biden said. “The people spoke.. they spoke loudly for our ticket.”
Biden took the lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia early on Friday, which would give him electoral votes to claim the presidency.
The networks followed the tally all day, holding off on calling the race even as Biden’s margin in Pennsylvania grew to 27,000 votes. The state’s 20 electoral votes would put Biden over the 270-vote threshold needed for victory.
Biden held a narrower margin in Georgia, just about 4,000 votes as of Friday evening. The state seems likely to remain uncalled for some time, as a recount seems likely.
Meanwhile, President Trump continued to refuse to go quietly.
“I had such a big lead in all of these states late into election night, only to see the leads miraculously disappear as the days went by,” he tweeted on Friday evening. “Perhaps these leads will return as our legal proceedings move forward!”
Trump had said that he would pursue “every aspect of the law” in challenging the vote counting process. His campaign said that it was looking into “irregularities” in Pennsylvania and other issues in Georgia and Nevada.
Asked about the possibility that Trump would not concede, Biden spokesman Andrew Bates issued a statement on Friday morning: “As we said on July 19th, the American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
Trump appeared on Thursday at the White House briefing room, claiming without evidence that the election was being stolen from him and promising to overturn the result in court.
“I easily WIN the Presidency of the United States with LEGAL VOTES CAST,” Trump tweeted at 2:22 a.m. on Friday. “U.S. Supreme Court should decide!”
Biden also held leads in two states that remain uncalled: Nevada and Arizona. In Nevada, Biden’s margin grew to about 22,000 on Friday afternoon when ballots were added from Clark County.
Maricopa County in Arizona also reported a large batch of new returns on Friday night, which cut Biden’s margin to about 30,000 votes. The Associated Press and Fox News called the state for Biden on election night, but the broadcast networks and CNN held off.
That led to a discrepancy in the electoral vote counts. According to the A.P. and Fox News, Biden held 264 on Thursday night, needing only six votes to win. But the other outlets put his tally at 253. A win in Pennsylvania would put him over the top in either count.
Trump was leading in two other states that had yet to be called: North Carolina and Alaska. In North Carolina, Trump’s margin held steady at around 77,000 votes. Trump was winning Alaska by a 2-to-1 margin, but mail ballots were not expected to be processed there for about a week.
Biden was declared the winner of Michigan and Wisconsin on Wednesday afternoon, which put him on the brink of claiming the White House.
The Trump campaign filed a series of legal challenges in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Nevada, but counting continued.
“STOP THE COUNT!” Trump tweeted on Thursday, along with several other tweets that were flagged by Twitter for containing potentially misleading information.
Trump has claimed fraud at the polls since giving an address at the White House at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday. At the time, he said he would go to the Supreme Court to try to stop the ballot counting. “This is a major fraud on our nation,” Trump said. “We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list.”
Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager, called the president’s claims “outrageous, unprecedented and incorrect.”
Earlier on election night, Biden told his supporters to keep the faith, and said that he was on a path to victory.
“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who won the election,” Biden said. “That’s the decision of the American people.”
The Trump campaign was livid at Fox News for being the first to call Arizona on Tuesday night, claiming it was far too early to do so. The campaign blasted Arnon Mishkin, the head of the network’s decision desk, and protesters in Phoenix chanted “Fox News sucks.”
Until that point in the evening, things had been going well for Trump. He took Florida by an unexpectedly wide margin, with a strong showing among Latino voters in Miami-Dade County.
Biden’s clearest path to victory throughout remained winning back the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that Hillary Clinton lost in 2016. The initial tallies showed Trump leading each of those states, but as mail ballots were counted the total shifted toward the Democrat.
Trump’s supporters were encouraged by his unexpectedly strong showing on Tuesday, after he had trailed behind behind — sometimes by double digits — in polls throughout the campaign.
“It is moving into a direction that is much more favorable to the president than anticipated,” said Reince Priebus, a former White House chief of staff, on CBS early on Tuesday evening. He added that contrary to conventional wisdom, the “enormous high voter turnout is not hurting Trump, it’s helping President Trump. So far that’s the case.”
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., was dispatched to reassure Democrats who feared that Trump would be reelected. In an appearance on ABC on Tuesday, he said he was hopeful that Democrats still had multiple paths to 270 electoral votes.
“Elections aren’t called on election night,” Coons said. “It’s often days after election night when all the votes are counted.”
Biden was called the winner of Minnesota and New Hampshire, two states that Clinton narrowly won in 2016. Trump won Iowa and Ohio, reclaiming states that he won four years ago.
Many of the states were called as soon as polls closed there.
As polls closed on the West Coast at 11 p.m. Eastern, Biden was declared the winner in Washington, Oregon and California. Hawaii also went to Biden. Trump was called the winner in Idaho and Utah.
Trump was declared the winner of Missouri at 10:31 p.m., and of Kansas when polls closed there at 10 p.m. Biden was declared the winner of Colorado at 9:36 p.m.
The A.P called a number of states at 9 p.m., when polls closed there. Biden was declared the winner in New York and New Mexico. Trump was called the winner of North Dakota, South Dakota, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Wyoming. None of those outcomes was a surprise.
Trump was declared the winner of Indiana at 8:52 p.m., and of Arkansas at 8:30 p.m. Biden was declared the winner of Virginia soon after polls closed there at 7 p.m. He was also declared the winner of the three electoral votes in Washington, D.C.
Trump was declared the winner of Tennessee, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Alabama when polls closed in those states at 8 p.m. Biden won Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Earlier, Trump was also declared the winner of Kentucky, West Virginia and South Carolina and Biden was called the winner of Vermont.
CBS News anchor Gayle King summed up the national mood in the opening moments of the Eye’s “America Decides” election coverage by observing: “People just want this to be over — which in this case is spelled O-V-A-H.”
Unlike earlier elections, in many states the vast majority of voters cast ballots before Election Day. Some 101 million votes were cast early, and the final tally appeared that it would exceed 150 million.