After an agonizing four-day stretch beyond Election Day that spilled into the weekend, Joseph R. Biden Jr is projected to become the next President of the United States.
The president-elect defeated President Donald Trump, regaining the White House for the Democratic Party after the businessman and reality television star’s bid for re-election fell short.
The declaration of Biden’s victory by the Associated Press and other major news outlets sparked celebrations in Albuquerque and across the country. Lines of cars cruised Central Avenue in Downtown, the University area, Nob Hill and other neighborhoods along the city’s main artery, with honking horns and waving signs replacing more traditional revelry.
“Human decency is back,” one sign read.
At 9:55 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, the majority of votes cast in Pennsylvania swung for Biden, giving him 20 more Electoral College votes and raising his total count to 273 — three above the threshold needed to be declared the winner of the presidential election.
A caravan of Trump supporters, meanwhile, gathered in Bernalillo at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning destined for a rally in Santa Fe. Presumably, the caravan learned of Biden’s victory on the I-15 drive to the state’s capital for a demonstration with baseless allegations of voter fraud and the theft of the election by the Democratic Party.
Although appearing to gain in many battleground states at the beginning of the count, Trump fell behind as states began to tabulate mail-in votes.
The election’s blue shift — observed mainly in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia — was a result of a phenomenon known as the “red mirage.”
Democrats tended to vote more by mail than Republicans in the 2020 election, and some states and counties either did not begin processing mail-in ballots until Election Day or prioritized the counting of in-person ballots. This created the illusion of Trump’s lead in these areas, which began to clear as the full tally of votes emerged.
In the early afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 4, the New York Times — which relies on data from the Associated Press for election projections — called Wisconsin and Michigan for Biden. Biden gained on Trump’s initial lead throughout the rest of Wednesday night, closing the gap in Georgia and Pennsylvania to less than 100,000 votes.
The Trump campaign responded with legal challenges that intended to halt the counting of votes in states where he still maintained a lead, according to the Associated Press.
“We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at four in the morning and add them to the list, OK?” Trump said in a post-midnight speech at the White House following the election night, falsely characterizing his opponent’s late-night gains as “a fraud on the American public."
All votes reported were either postmarked by Election Day — as in the case of mail-in ballots — or were cast before or on Nov. 3 at in-person polling locations, according to voting registrars across the country. Some states did allow mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 to be counted if they arrived within a certain number of days. No votes cast after Election Day were counted, and all counted ballots were cast legally, according to an Associated Press fact-check.
After losing Wisconsin, Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien announced that they would seek a recount in the state.
“The President is well within the threshold to request a recount, and we will immediately do so,” Stepien said in an official statement after the state was called for Biden.
In Wisconsin, Biden led by approximately 25,000 votes, or a +0.6 margin as of Saturday afternoon. Per Wisconsin law, if the percentage margin is greater than +0.25 but less than +1.0, a candidate can demand a recount if they assume financial responsibility for it. The cost of executing a recount is approximately $3 million. In 2016, a recount in the same state resulted in a shift toward Trump, but only by a net gain of 131 votes.
In Arizona and Nevada, Biden maintained a meaningful, but not comfortable, lead. Nevada hovered at about 86% of estimated votes counted for the duration of Nov. 4. The first batch of results from Maricopa County in Arizona tightened the race, with 59% of the votes going to Trump. Subsequent batches released Thursday morning further eroded Biden’s lead down to less than 70,000 votes.
Besides Maricopa County, Thursday yielded little concrete answers and plenty of tension in all of the undeclared states. Morning stretched into afternoon with still no projected winner in any of the remaining states.
Biden edged ever closer in Pennsylvania as the weekend approached, tightening Trump’s lead to less than 10,000 votes. The race in Georgia entered recount territory as Biden closed the gap to only a 0.1 percentage margin, or about 4,000 votes, by evening.
On Friday, an influx of more mail-in results pulled Biden ahead of Trump in both Georgia and Pennsylvania, ending the day with Biden maintaining a lead of about 5,000 votes and 29,000 votes, respectively.
Then, in the early morning of Nov. 7, Biden gained a decisive lead ahead of Trump in Pennsylvania, delivering him the Electoral College votes he needed. By noon, every major news outlet had projected Biden as the winner of the state.
Alaska, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada had yet to be called by most major news outlets as of Saturday morning. However, even with victories in all those states, Trump had no remaining paths to victory.
Biden’s tight victory in Pennsylvania, by a margin of 34,414 votes, or +0.5 percentage points, delivered him the presidency. Biden became the 46th President-Elect and is scheduled to assume office on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris wrote in a tweet following the results. “Let’s get started.”
At the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, where the Trump rally gathered to protest the election results, cries of “four more years” and “Donald J. Trump is still your president” could be heard under the overcast afternoon sky. He has 74 days remaining in his term.
Bella Davis, Andrew Gunn, Nick Romero, Liberty Stalnaker contributed reporting to this article.
Liam DeBonis is the photo editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LiamDeBonis