With millions of votes still uncounted and results in half a dozen states yet to be called, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign is seeking to tamp down anxiety among his supporters that the results of Tuesday’s razor-tight presidential election could lead to a 2016 redux.
“After a long night of counting, it’s clear that we’re winning enough states to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency,” Biden told supporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m not here to declare that we’ve won,” Biden continued, but once the votes have been cast, “we believe we will be the winners.”
Noting that his own margins in Wisconsin and Michigan are currently wider than President Donald Trump’s final margins of victory in 2016, and are expected to grow, Biden called on Americans to—once the election is finalized—heal the wounds of a bitter campaign to address the crises facing the nation.
“It’ll be time for us to do what we’ve always done as Americans—to put the harsh rhetoric of the campaign behind us,” Biden said. “To hear each other again and respect and care for one another.”
“To make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”
The state of the race is tense. While the Associated Press has called a handful of battlegrounds in Biden’s favor—including Arizona and Wisconsin, both brought back from President Donald Trump’s win column from four years ago—a flurry of seemingly spurious legal challenges by the president’s campaign and a drawn-out counting process in Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have dashed hopes of a swift resolution.
Still, the Biden campaign has been publicly and privately adamant that there remains a strong pathway to 270 electoral votes—albeit one that might take at least another day to be called by the independent press.
Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon, on a morning call with reporters and supporters on election security, said, “Joe Biden is on track to win this election, and he will be the next president of the United States.”
The Trump campaign, making good on the president’s campaign-trail promise not to accept election results that didn’t result in a second term, has had a scattershot response to the continued delays in the result. In states like Arizona and Nevada, the president’s team has pushed for vote counting to continue; in states where he is barely ahead, including Pennsylvania, they had called for all new ballot counting to cease. Minutes before Biden’s remarks, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien made the unprecedented decision to claim victory in Pennsylvania, where nearly a million ballots remain uncounted, citing “math.”
“We are declaring a victory in Pennsylvania,” Stepien told reporters. “This is not based on gut or feel. This is based on math.”
The Biden campaign had prepared in the closing days of the campaign for the possibility that Trump would take advantage of the slowdown caused by a record-breaking number of mail-in and absentee ballots to stir up trouble in the election. But while the former vice president’s team has kicked its much-vaunted campaign legal team into fear on the first day after the election, the public message for supporters has been calm and consistent: “keep the faith.”
“We’re winning the election, we’ve won the election, and we’re going to defend that election,” said Bob Bauer, the campaign’s top legal adviser, during the morning briefing.
That message has been enough to soothe many supporters, though some in the campaign’s orbit are expressing frustration that the richest campaign in modern history didn’t have more accurate polling data. Promising public and private numbers showing states like Texas as within Biden’s reach, they vented to The Daily Beast, complaining about spending a king’s ransom in places where Trump has won fairly handily—at the expense of other states.
“The real loser, as we all know, is pollsters—again,” one top fundraiser told The Daily Beast on Wednesday morning. “As a donor, I’m pissed as hell. Two hundred million dollars-plus was probably spent on Texas, Georgia, and Florida.”