NBC News (WILMINGTON, Del.) — Joe Biden became president-elect Saturday after winning the pivotal state of Pennsylvania, NBC News projected
The former vice president amassed 273 Electoral College votes after winning Pennsylvania’s 20 electors, according to NBC News, surpassing the 270 needed to win the White House and defeat President Donald Trump.
Biden’s victory capped one of the longest and most tumultuous campaigns in modern history, in which he maintained an aggressive focus on Trump’s widely criticized handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. A majority of voters said rising coronavirus cases were a significant factor in their vote, according to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters.
Biden regularly criticized Trump as unfit for office and positioned his campaign as a “battle for the soul of America.” He promised from the outset of his run to heal and unite the country if he won, and made central to his closing message a pledge to represent both those who voted for him as well as those who didn't when he got to the White House.
As president, Biden will immediately be confronted with a bitterly divided nation in the throes of a pandemic that has already killed 236,000 Americans. Trump has exacerbated the split by minimizing the effects of the pandemic, and has not even said whether he would recognize the outcome of the election.
He will also have to corral a fractious Democratic Party with unresolved tensions between its progressive and centrist wings.
Biden, who will turn 78 later this month, making him the oldest person ever elected to the presidency, first ran for the nation’s highest office more than 30 years ago. A longtime moderate, he has stressed bipartisanship for decades, and his long Senate career was typified by his willingness to work across the aisle with Republican colleagues.
Heading into Saturday, Biden led Trump 253 to 214 in the projected Electoral College vote tally tracked by NBC News. Biden had higher vote totals in four key states — Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania. But all four remained rated by NBC News Decision Desk as too close to call.
Biden will be sworn in as the 46th U.S. president on Jan. 20. Harris will become the first female, first Black and first Asian American vice president. In addition to the projected Electoral College vote, Biden also won the popular vote, and he set a record for winning the most votes of any candidate in U.S. history.
Trump has repeatedly and erroneously declared victory, including in states where Biden is the projected winner. The president has also repeated unfounded conspiracy theories and tried to cast doubt on the integrity of the tabulation process.