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Joe Biden projected to become 46th president of the United States

Politics

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(CNN) — America has chosen Democrat Joe Biden as its 46th president, CNN projects.

Biden, who turns 78 at the end of this month, will become the oldest president when he is inaugurated in January in the midst of the worst public health crisis in 100 years, the deepest economic slump since the 1930s and a national reckoning on racism and police brutality that is still unresolved.

In a cinematic twist, it was Biden’s boyhood state of Pennsylvania that put him over the 270 electoral vote threshold and delivered the White House. Trump had held a wide lead over Biden on the night of the election, but as election officials counted hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots, the race shifted dramatically in Biden’s favor.

The Keystone State was the last hurdle in Biden’s path to the White House.

On one of the living room walls in the house where he grew up, he wrote: “From this House to the White House with the Grace of God,” signing his name and the date,”11.3.2020.”

In the final days of the race, Biden’s team redoubled their efforts to rebuild the Democrats’ “blue wall” — and that gambit paid off with Biden winning Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, according to CNN projections, while holding Minnesota, which the President made a priority in his reelection push.

As he watched his hopes of reelection being strangled with each tranche of votes in Pennsylvania, Trump took to Twitter during the tense vote count, with demands like “STOP THE COUNT.”

The President claimed the election was being stolen from him as many mail-in ballots, which were often counted after Election Day votes, landed in the column of his opponent.

Facing a deeply polarized country, Biden had tried to project comity and patience, and his desire to unite America.

“There will not be blue states and red states when we win. Just the United States of America,” Biden said Wednesday afternoon. “We are not enemies. What brings us together as Americans is so much stronger than anything that can tear us apart.”

Biden again asked for patience from his supporters on Thursday afternoon. “Stay calm. The process is working,” he said in Wilmington, Delaware. “Each ballot must be counted. … Democracy is sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience, as well. But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that is the envy of the world.”

Part of Trump’s frustration stemmed from the fact that his campaign’s finely tuned ground game did in fact succeed in turning out many more of the so-called “hidden Trump voters” than expected, making the race a much tighter contest than pre-election polls suggested.

Ultimately, Biden carved out his route to 270 Electoral College votes by holding most of the states that Clinton won and adding Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to his column. Ballots are still being counted in the key states of Nevada and Arizona.

Trump continued to cast aspersions on the electoral process — suggesting that there was something nefarious about the fact that the vote count in key states continued well after Tuesday night, as is customary in US elections. Meanwhile, his team mounted a series of lawsuits in several states, including Pennsylvania, looking to stop voting in some areas while challenging how closely observers can monitor officials counting the votes in others. The Trump campaign also said it would demand a recount in Wisconsin.

A career-long quest realized

The victory of Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., who forged a 50-year career as a senator and vice president from his Delaware homestead, is a full-circle moment that comes more than 30 years after his first presidential campaign. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will make history as the first woman, the first Black person and the first person of Southeast Asian descent to become vice president.

Biden faces a huge task in uniting the country and addressing America’s disillusionment with establishment figures like him, which led to the current President’s political rise as an outsider who was elected on a wave of populism in 2016.

Biden is pledging to restore America’s “soul,” which he says was compromised by Trump’s divisive approach, and to purge the President’s “America First” foreign policy and rebuild Washington’s traditional position of global leadership.

Democrats dreaming of a “New Deal” style era of reform on health care, the economy, climate change, race and possibly even expanding the Supreme Court will see their ambitions tempered by their lack of gains in the balance of power in Congress and the need for the Biden administration to halt a pandemic that is getting worse.

A future dominated by a pandemic and uncertainty

A country weary of nearly a year of lockdowns, separation from family and friends, and economic deprivation will need to be mobilized to adopt aggressive new steps to conquer a pandemic that Biden argued the Trump administration essentially gave up fighting.

The much-anticipated arrival of a vaccine that experts hope would be widely available in 2021 is a potential ray of hope, though it will be many months before life is back to normal. That means that Biden’s first year — the time when a new President’s power is maximized — will be dominated by the coronavirus.

And it remains uncertain whether Biden’s pragmatic instincts, his lonely belief that a new era of cooperation is possible with Republicans, and his desire to preserve a winning coalition that included moderates and Never Trumpers could lead to early clashes with Democratic progressives.

Biden’s task is complicated by inheriting a political climate intensely polarized by Trump’s presidency. After months of predictions by the President that the election will be “rigged,” Trump’s supporters see the Democrat’s victory as illegitimate, confounding his hopes of forging national unity.

A battle for the future ideological direction of the Republican Party between the President’s partisans and more traditional conservatives in the post-Trump era could sow further discord in Washington.

The-CNN-Wire
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