Concluding a grueling 19-month election battle, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. came out victorious after a days-long marathon of vote counting across the country.
Born in Pennsylvania, Biden grew up in a family that struggled from job loss and severe financial uncertainty before moving to Delaware where his father became a car salesman and helped bring the family into the middle class.
Biden graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965 with degrees in political science, history, and a minor in English. He went on to the Syracuse University Law School which he graduated with a J.D. in 1968.
After serving as a public defender and city councilmember, Biden won his first election to the United States Senate from Delaware in 1972. During this election, Biden’s wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident. For the next three years, he commuted between D.C. and Delaware each day in order to care for his two sons who survived the car accident.
In 1977, Biden married his current wife, Jill. His Senate career continued through 2008. During his time in the Senate, Biden ran for president in 1988 and 2008, both times unsuccessfully.
In 2008, Barack Obama selected Biden to be his vice-presidential running mate. Biden would go on to oversee significant budget and spending projects as Vice President, including the recovery from the 2008-2009 recession. Biden also was the driving force behind the administration’s public support for legalizing same-sex marriage.
Near the end of the Obama presidency, Biden was considered a likely candidate for the 2016 election. However, Biden once again experienced a major family tragedy when his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46. It has been widely reported that this loss made him decide not to run in 2016 to allow for time to grieve privately back home.
In April of 2019, Biden formally announced his campaign as a Democrat for the presidency. Although initially a favorite to win the primary, the Democratic field became very crowded and Biden fell behind. After placing fourth, fourth, and third in the first three primary races, respectively, Biden’s campaign was widely considered to be nearly over. The former Vice President held out, however, placing his bet on southern states to revive his bid for the presidency.
With strong support from African-American voters in southern states, Biden’s campaign was indeed revitalized, and he quickly ascended to the top of the field. When the battle came down to Bernie Sanders and Biden, Joe Biden continued to grow his lead, and Senator Sanders eventually dropped out of the race.
The general election between Biden and President Trump took off just after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the virus would become the central issue of the election. President Trump urged reopening and cast doubt on masks and the severity of the virus, while Biden took a more cautious approach, holding socially-distanced rallies and urging mask usage.
Other central issues of the election included economic recovery, racism, trade, and climate change.
Election day took place November 3, but over 80 million Americans had cast ballots before then. Early voting had stronger turnout, and mail-in voting was far higher than ever before.
Because of mail-in votes, the results on election night were quite ambiguous. Trump held a strong lead in many states that he was not expected to win, while Biden held a lead in some traditionally “red” states. This was due to the counting process in various states. Some states counted all in-person ballots first, which skewed Republican, while other states counted all mail-in ballots first, which skewed Democratic. Biden was able to pull off wins in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona, all of which were states that Trump won in 2016. The deciding victory came 4 days after the election, when the AP and many other news agencies called Pennsylvania for Joe Biden, taking him over the necessary 270 electoral votes and winning him the presidency.
Joe Biden will be inaugurated the 46th President of the United States on January 20, 2021, and Kamala Harris will be inaugurated as the vice president, making history as the first woman to hold the vice presidency, as well as the first woman of color to hold the office.
President Trump made many baseless claims of election fraud in the nights following the election and has filed many lawsuits contesting the results in various states, but as of the time of this writing, those are not expected to significantly affect the outcome of the election, and many have already been denied by federal judges.