Biden Wins Pennsylvania and the Presidency

We have a President-Elect.

Joe Biden has officially taken the lead in Pennsylvania and is poised to ultimately win it by more than 100,000 votes. That puts him over the 270 Electoral Vote threshold even while we wait for the final results in Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia—all of which are likely to stay in his column as well. North Carolina’s results won’t be known for a week or more but would be icing on the cake if the late ballots flip the state.

UPDATE (1140): As of now, only Decision Desk HQ and Business Insider have taken the plunge and made the call among national outlets. AP will merely say “Biden was on the cusp of winning the presidency.” OTB stands by the call.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, The Presidency, US Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mikey says:

    Quoting the late President Gerald Ford:

    “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

    Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule.”

  2. Jax says:

    Thank the Gods. All of them. 🙂

  3. grumpy realist says:

    …now we just have to get the result to stick….

    If anyone thinks that Trump and his merry men aren’t going to try to WHINE their way into a second term, I have a bridge to sell you.

    The only point of optimism I see is that there’s a heckova lot of Republican senators and congresscritters who got reelected who aren’t going to take kindly to Trump bellowing about fraud….

  4. Mister Bluster says:

    So who is calling this besides OTB Election Central?

  5. JohnSF says:

    Latest figures from a very useful count aggregation site
    PA as of 3min ago: Biden ahead 5,618
    est. remaining ballots 144,737
    Votes breaking for Biden c. 80%

  6. James Joyner says:

    @Mister Bluster: So far just Decision Desk HQ but there’s just zero doubt about the results at this point. I don’t know if they’re just drawing this out for ratings or if there’s a magic threshold.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This fits better here.
    via the Guardian:

    Fox News may soon declare Joe Biden to be the winner of the presidential race, but the network’s anchors have been instructed not to refer to the Democratic nominee as the “president-elect,” according to CNN.

    Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy)

    New: Fox News is instructing its talent not to call Joe Biden the “President-elect” when the network calls the race, according to two memos obtained by @brianstelter and me. The memos say Fox should “stay away” from using the description.
    November 6, 2020

    The memos emphasized that Fox should report moves by Trump’s legal teams to challenge the results. “We will report both sides until there is further guidance,” one memo said.

    Yes but the real reason is they must protect the little trumpies’ feelings.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @grumpy realist: Honestly, I’m just seeing next to zero evidence that Congressional Republicans or the courts are in any way going along with Trump’s nonsense.

  9. JohnSF says:

    Other tallies are:
    GA Biden ahead by 1,097
    est. remnant 5,254

    NV Biden ahead 11,438
    est. remnant 146,757

    AZ Biden ahead 47,052
    est. remnant 309,034

    NC Trump ahead 76,737
    est remnant 190,621

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    (From another thread because: edit function. Sigh.)

    Poor old, old, gaffe-prone, silly, confused, (did I mention super old?) Joe Biden. Silly old, old guy who is really old and sleepy and ooooold.

    He just ran the most disciplined, effective presidential campaign in my life time. He knocked off a sitting president. He will have the biggest vote total – by far – of any president, ever. He did it in the middle of a pandemic. He did it against an absolutely unscrupulous thug of a president and the criminally-compliant GOP.

    So, maybe, just a thought, maybe we could knock off the sleepy Joe bullshit and admit that Joe Biden just fucking crushed it.

  11. Kathy says:

    I am waiting for an official pronouncement.

    But when it comes, Donnie will forever be known as a one-term loser.

  12. Paine says:

    From the Biden campaign:

    “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,” campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.

  13. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:
    Well, a lot of them are saying that every legal vote should be counted and that the courts should decide which votes are legal, which have been the plan for quite some time.

    And if the Republicans in Congress won’t go along with it, then they will have an angry President tweeting at them accusing them of betraying him, and that will surely get a lot of Republican voters in Georgia to turn out for the Senate runoff election…

  14. Jay L Gischer says:

    I expect Trump will never admit he lost. He will go to his grave saying “I wuz robbed”. However, I don’t expect him to put up a big fight.

    He’s done fundraising on it, so he has money. So he will put up some legal battles, but my guess he’ll want to drive media coverage of those legal battles, to assure the donors that he’s using their money, but he won’t spend all the money he’s raised for it, not by a long shot. He will pocket the money, and walk away.

  15. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: I keep thinking back to the SNL skit right before the 1992 election where Dana Carvey as Bush Sr. gets down on his hands and knees and says to the camera, “Please vote for me. Wouldn’t want to be a one-termer. Wouldn’t look good in the history books.”

  16. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Can campaign funds be used to mount legal challenges about the election in the courts? Logically it would seem permissible. Asking for an enemy.

  17. Nightcrawler says:

    I’m going to wait until it’s official to pop a champagne cork, but it does look very promising.

  18. Kathy says:


    Much like an elite athlete who wins silver at the Olympics, a one-term president is seen as a worse lower than those who never won a single term or athletes who didn’t win any medals.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: It’s a legitimate campaign expense.

  20. Michael Cain says:


    I am waiting for an official pronouncement.

    Various dates when each state’s chief election official certifies the votes (Georgia will almost certainly be conducting a recount). Or December 14th, when the electors vote in their states. Or December 23rd, when the individual states’ electoral results must be delivered to the appropriate officials. Or January 6th, when the new Congress counts the votes and deals with any objections that are made.

    Anything other than those is just a high-probability estimate of how things will play out.

  21. Scott F. says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I would add one major point that seems to have been lost in the hullabaloo. Sleepy Joe managed to bring a woman (a woman of color no less) to the second highest seat in the land for the first time in our country’s history! Historic acts don’t typically get labeled as old and tired.

  22. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: Ironically, Bush Sr.’s reputation has increased over time and he’s now often seen as having been a pretty good president. There are some modern historians who like one-termer Polk, though unlike Bush Sr. he never ran for reelection, possibly due to failing health, as he died a few months after leaving office. He never suffered the indignity of being voted out.

  23. James says:
  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Scott F.:
    Very good point. The man just took Georgia with a Black woman as his running mate.

    But, but, but the gaffes! Oh wait, there weren’t any.

  25. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Congratulations to Biden, and to Harris…the first colored woman to hold her position in our Government.
    The cynic in me will believe this at noon on January 20th. Barr has been strangely quiet. Trump has made it abundantly clear that he expects his 3 SCOTUS appointees to bail him out.
    The optimist in me is amused that legal challenges are being spearheaded by Rudy, who is clearly senile.

  26. James Joyner says:

    AP has made the call now.

  27. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: James and Steven would both know better than me, but yes, I’ve seen reference to that before in prior elections. And I saw something that Trump might have started a separate fund (maybe a PAC?) that collected money specifically for legal defense.

  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    Their Twitter feed disagrees???

  29. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Damn. I had hopes there for a split second 😉

    Fortunately, it doesn’t look as though the election will be as close as Bush the younger v Gore. In that occasion, the results in Florida determined the winner. In this case, Biden will likely have a win with or without Pennsylvania, making the incentive for even partisans to flip the state for no gain rather ridiculous.

  30. Scott says:

    The real important question is where the Trump Presidential Library is going to be located.

    Here are some suggestions:

    – Trump Plaza Hotel – Atlantic City. Unfortunately, it is due to be demolished in 2021

    – Mar-A-Lago. Elevation above sea level: About 16 ft. Rising sea levels and increasing intense hurricanes. Seems like a good location.

    – A server farm somewhere in Utah: Since there is going to be a massive amount of shredding, the only thing left will be electronic records, including tweets

    – Troy State University. For obvious reasons.

  31. Franklin says:

    Absolutely, congrats to Biden.

    But I’m also taking a moment here to congratulate Senator Harris. She has just taken women one step closer, and indeed one heartbeat away from the most powerful position on Earth.

  32. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: There’s also a huge difference in optics here. The states are already being called for Biden, or very nearly so. In Bush v. Gore, Bush actually won the initial count, the networks called the election for Bush, and Gore conceded–then later un-conceded. And when SCOTUS halted the recount and forced the state to accept the results as is, Gore had not led at a single point. It was still blatant and outrageous election theft. But the Republicans had the public narrative on their side–the idea that Bush won and then Gore came along and tried to change the results. That wasn’t accurate, but it was a narrative that Republicans were able to exploit, simply because of the order of events.

    For the right-wing courts to side with Trump at this point, they would have to actually overturn the results that already public. Will they do it? I personally doubt it, but I’m not taking anything for granted. Still, it clearly would be several steps beyond anything they’ve done before.

    The GOP has been engaged in a slow assault on democracy for decades. But they prefer to be sneaky about it, rather than do it in plain view. Their usual gambit is to suppress the vote beforehand, so that by the time the results are announced the impact is baked in. (In fact they did just that this year. I’m convinced it’s part of the reason for Democratic underperformance relative to the polls.) It’s the difference between picking someone’s pocket and committing armed robbery.

  33. Franklin says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I missed your post which included a shout out to Harris, not just for women, but pointing out that a colored person has not held the position of VP.

  34. Bill says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    @James Joyner:
    Their Twitter feed disagrees???

    This twenty-six minute old article at AP doesn’t either

  35. James Joyner says:

    @James: @Bill: @Daryl and his brother Darryl: That’s odd. I was out for a walk and Apple News’ electoral map, which is labeled as being driven by AP data, had Biden with Pennsylvania. Dunno.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: Wanting it to be over? Lots of people in that camp. Time to move onward with life and let this hanging story catch up with us.

  37. Barry says:

    James, I think that a lot of senior editors have those stories written, but are hesitant to press ‘upload’.

  38. inhumans99 says:

    Folks who are bringing up the PA article from AP news org…if PA goes to a recount it is almost 100% guaranteed to work in Biden’s favor, as my understanding is that it is like sighting a unicorn if a recount goes against the person who was initially ahead in the count.

    I think James can stand his ground and there is no need to edit this post. Even if the state goes to a recount the numbers as they stand now show Biden won the state. The only edit needed would be if a recount broke for Trump…but there is no indication from the spokesperson of the state updating folks on the ballot count that they would go along with any shenanigans.

    Biden still has this in the bag, it looks like he can even lose AZ (which might have indeed been prematurely called) and still win this thing. The GOP can ask folks on the Democratic side to eat crow if Trump takes AZ (and I will throw in GA) but someone can correct me here, Biden still gets 270+ Electoral votes so that is all she wrote folks even if GA and AZ go for Trump, yes?

    It will be somewhat humorous to see the GOP try to rub GA and AZ in our noses before it catches up to them that their guy still lost.

  39. Scott F. says:

    I’d say Mar-A-Lago is the most likely site of the future Trump Library. He could visit there when on furlough from Pensacola Federal Prison.

  40. Scott says:

    @Scott F.: I had Riker’s Island as a potential site.

  41. Kingdaddy says:

    @Kylopod: Polk wanted to serve one term as president so that he could push a war with Mexico without worrying about re-election. Not the greatest resume, from that perspective.

  42. Kingdaddy says:

    @Kathy: For all the damage he has done to this country, the word loser should apply constantly to him, because he hates it so very much. The loser ex-president in the Loser wing of the recently-renamed Loser Penitentiary.

    Man, do I need to vent.

  43. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Apple does not have a happy history with maps.

  44. @Michael Reynolds: Spot on. There ain’t no substitute for quiet plodding competence. You’d think it would be more appreciated in candidates for POTUS, not just in terms of running the campaign, but in terms of doing the actual job!

  45. Kathy says:


    I used the word loser with malice aforethought. How else?

  46. Lounsbury says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He just ran the most disciplined, effective presidential campaign in my life time. He knocked off a sitting president. He will have the biggest vote total – by far – of any president, ever. He did it in the middle of a pandemic. He did it against an absolutely unscrupulous thug of a president and the criminally-compliant GOP.

    So, maybe, just a thought, maybe we could knock off the sleepy Joe bullshit and admit that Joe Biden just fucking crushed it.


    Yes he did.

    He threaded a needle.

    He never gave in to Twitter Panic.

    Nor confusing Twitterati as the larger public.

    Discipline. Strategy and Discipline in executing it.

  47. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Very good point. The man just took Georgia with a Black woman as his running mate.

    Keeping in mind that there still is little data that suggests VP’s have much of an effect at all, I do remember all of the folks who warned that not picking someone from the Midwest would greatly threaten Biden’s chances in that area.

    Beyond that, given their health issues, I’m really happy that both Jimmy Carter and Rush Limbaugh are still alive to take in this moment (albeit for different reasons).

  48. dazedandconfused says:

    The Trumpster’s carefully cultivated sense of entitlement to power makes me wonder if this is the end or the end of the beginning. Heard Eric and Don Jr’s call for total war and Bannon has called for Fauci’s execution. Bribing some re-counters seems something all three might do.

    Just for myself, I won’t be feeling sure until Biden’s hand is on John Robert’s bible.

  49. Lounsbury says:

    @mattbernius: Here I shall say mea culpa, mea culpa.

  50. Kylopod says:


    there still is little data that suggests VP’s have much of an effect at all

    I don’t think it’s provable one way or the other. For example, I think Pence helped Trump win in 2016 by helping consolidate the evangelical vote and by providing a sense of normalcy and stability that the other two on his short list, Christie and Flynn, would not have. This is pure speculation on my part, and I fully admit I have no proof. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. We just don’t know, as there are too many variables to sort out.

  51. inhumans99 says:


    As of today (with the PA news, recount or not the #s favor Biden all the way) Bannon and most of Trump’s family just became irrelevant and they know it. These critters do not stress me out at all.

    The time to put the fix in and make sure your guy wins was prior to the election, not after…relying on the “courts” to let you steal the election was a pretty lame strategy. No one of any importance in the GOP is willing to back Trump or Bannon’s play. The reality of the situation has just not caught up with folks like Bannon who are still dazed and confused based on what just happened at the ballot box this week (see what I did there:) ).

    Bannon and Giuliani had their shot to influence the outcome of the election and they took their shot with the Hunter Biden Laptop story…they missed the shot and here we are today with Biden getting prepared to be sworn in on January 20, 2021. They had to take the shot but like the dude who hit on that newswoman on-air while she reporting on the wildfires some time back their invitation to take the prettiest girl to the prom failed.

  52. Paine says:

    This is no more than a dumb trivia question but would this make DJT the first major party candidate in the modern presidential era to lose the popular vote more than once? A quick looks shows William Jennings Bryant lost three time but that was 100+ years ago.

  53. Kylopod says:

    @Paine: Thomas Dewey and Adlai Stevenson each ran two times, and lost (popularly and electorally). I don’t know whether you consider that “modern.”

    Now, Trump is the first president to lose the popular vote twice, since 19th-century examples John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Harrison.

  54. JohnSF says:


    …where the Trump Presidential Library is going to be located


  55. mattbernius says:


    Here I shall say mea culpa, mea culpa.

    And once again demonstrate that you are a gentleman (assuming my guess at your gender is correct)!


  56. CSK says:

    To use one of Trump’s favorite phrases, “many people are saying” that he is a loser.

  57. Brian njure says:

    @grumpy realist: that’s y a good democracy never fluctuates even after what,love you Americans,

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The trump library will be a bookmobile. A very small bookmobile.

  59. Franklin says:

    I just have to say … lame duck never sounded so delicious.

  60. JohnMcC says:

    @Kylopod: Probably you know that Mr Bannon is supposed to be responsible for maneuvering Trump into taking on Mr Pence. There was an unscheduled delay in Indiana on the campaign aircraft and some face-time that hadn’t been planned for with Pence/Trump and presto! — the VP candidate Bannon wanted was chosen (going by memory here).

  61. Kylopod says:

    A little more trivia for political nerds.

    * Trump is not just the 4th president to lose reelection in the past hundred years, but his defeat is only the 2nd time in 120 years that a party has been cast out of the White House after just a single term (the other example is Carter).

    * Biden is the first candidate to win the presidency without Florida since 1992, the first to win without Ohio since 1960, and the first Dem to win without Iowa since 1976.

    * Assuming Georgia goes to Biden, this makes Biden only the second Democrat to win both Georgia and Vermont (the first was Bill Clinton in 1992). Also, it would leave Dubya as the only Republican ever to win Georgia twice.

  62. Kylopod says:

    @JohnMcC: It’s been reported in some sources that Trump’s preferred choice was Christie, but Jared vetoed it due to their personal history with Christie having locked up Jared’s dad.

  63. Hal_10000 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    So, maybe, just a thought, maybe we could knock off the sleepy Joe bullshit and admit that Joe Biden just fucking crushed it.

    The thing Biden did, both in the primaries and in the general, was concentrate on very basic politics. He didn’t try to a twitter slay queen. He didn’t get wrapped up in stupid non-troversies of the day. He stayed focused on his basic decency and Trump’s basic indecency. He was … well, boring … at a time when America was really looking for fricking boring.

  64. Jc says:

    @James Joyner: I think so as well. I think deep down in places republican senators don’t like to talk about at parties, they were hoping trump to lose

  65. a country lawyer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: And half of the books haven’t been colored yet.

  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    A very small bookmobile.

    With no books. Maybe the size of a golf cart. (Hand, not motorized. Or is the thing I’m thinking of called a bag cart?)

  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jc: I’m not sure they even care enough to hope that Trump lost. I mean, it’s not like they intended to govern during the next four years or anything, is it?

    And they still get to prevent anyone else from governing (barring the Dems running the table in GA runoffs, IIUC). Win-win!

  68. Paine says:

    I’m seeing/hearing a number of conservatives throw around the word “democracy” at they grapple with what is going on. I guess it’s “We’re a republic” when the topic is structural inequities that disenfranchise liberal voters but “We’re a democracy” when it comes to the sacredness of their own vote.

  69. Michael Cain says:

    @Paine: Biden’s going to win the national popular vote by what? Six million? Seven million?

  70. Kingdaddy says:

    My favorite Schadenfreude quote of the day, from Lawyers, Guns, and Money:

    At this point I almost have a certain perverse admiration for the ratfucking Republican legislators in PA/MI/WI who ensured Trump’s hopes for re-election would be slowly tortured to death for 60 hours rather than quickly announced on November 3.

  71. OzarkHillbilly says:
  72. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Per the figures at The Guardian’s site, Biden’s ahead by almost 4 million (3,955,000). Some states are also further behind their count than Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Arizona, but have been called because the margins were insurmountable.

    But I’d be surprised if it were more as much as 5 million.

  73. DrDaveT says:

    My perverse amusement for the moment comes from these numbers:

    Biden’s current margin in PA: 14,000

    PA votes for Libertarian candidate Jorgensen: 76,000

  74. Sleeping Dog says:


    The Trump Library will be one of those take one, leave one boxes you see in front yards.

  75. Paine says:

    @DrDaveT: Same situation in Wisconsin. Jorgenson’s numbers exceed the difference between Biden and Trump. I’ll send her a fruitcake for Christmas.

  76. Barry says:

    @grumpy realist: “The only point of optimism I see is that there’s a heckova lot of Republican senators and congresscritters who got reelected who aren’t going to take kindly to Trump bellowing about fraud….”

    I think that the key is that there are a whole lot of GOP officials in DC and the states for whom this is a really convenient end to Trump.

  77. Barry says:

    @DrDaveT: “Biden’s current margin in PA: 14,000

    PA votes for Libertarian candidate Jorgensen: 76,000”

    So for once the Libertarian Party had a positive effect on the US political system.

  78. Unsympathetic says:

    @DrDaveT: They’re not Democratic voters – Democrats aren’t interested in earning their vote. Shame isn’t a thing.. so the count of votes they never had a chance of acquiring aren’t really relevant to this discussion.

    @OzarkHillbilly: Trump and his supporters do need a lot of safe spaces – repeatedly.

    The thing that gets missed from discussions of how drawn-out this process has been is.. The Republican legislatures in PA, WI, and MI refused to support bills proposed to allow the mail-in ballots to be processed before election day.

  79. mattbernius says:

    Get elected by the Greens, get rejected by the Libertarians.

    Both sides now know that feeling.

  80. charon says:


    But I’d be surprised if it were more as much as 5 million.

    Maybe. CA is very big, very blue and very slow to count/report.