For much of election night 2020, the presidential race looked like a repeat of four years earlier.
Until it didn’t.
Polls showed in the days leading up to Nov. 3 a series of close races in battleground states, with Joe Biden clinging to steady leads in the states he needed to cross the 270 electoral -vote threshold. Early on election night, Florida trended red, depriving Democrats of an early knockout blow. Same with Texas. And Ohio. Then North Carolina appeared to slip out of reach for Democrats, while the early results out of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania showed favorable numbers to President Donald Trump.
For both parties, the early results felt like déjà vu from 2016.
Then, the Democrats flipped the first state of the election late on election night, when Fox News placed Arizona in the “blue” column. It was also apparent that Minnesota, which the Trump campaign hoped to flip, would remain blue by a comfortable margin. Biden emerged victorious in Minnesota over President Trump by a 52.6%-45.4% margin.
The Democrat won with a historic turnout in Minneapolis and northeast Minnesota. Greater Minnesota again voted in droves in support for President Trump, especially in southern Minnesota, where Trump bested Biden in all but four counties, and in northwest Minnesota, where nearly every county voted for the president. Still, it appears Biden managed to garner just enough rural support in the Midwest and Pennsylvania to be declared the winner by media outlets on Saturday, Nov. 7.
“You cannot win the presidential race if you ignore rural voters,” former Iowa governor and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
The tide began turning in Biden’s favor by the morning after the election. The former vice president took the leads in Wisconsin and Michigan and closed the gaps in Pennsylvania and Georgia. By Nov. 5, he was ahead in all four states. Biden’s victory has not been officially recognized by President Trump or federal agencies in charge of the transition. Additionally, Trump’s campaign had launched lawsuits in several states, alleging voter fraud. However, Biden was leading by more than 50,000 votes in Pennsylvania, 20,000 votes in Wisconsin and more than 10,000 in Georgia. Barring legal challenges, he’ll likely be awarded 306 electoral votes.
During his acceptance speech in his hometown of Wilmington, Del., Biden signaled a bipartisan tone ahead of his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021.
“I will govern as an American president,” he said. “I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did.”