Joe Biden has won Pennsylvania — and enough other states to win the presidency.
Vox’s election partner Decision Desk called the state, and the race, for Biden on Friday, and Saturday, decision desks at outlets including CNN, NBC, and the Associated Press followed. The state was once the centerpiece of Donald Trump’s hopes for a second term, but as more votes are counted, Biden slowly but surely gained an edge.
As election night turned into election week, Trump’s lead shrank dramatically as mail-in ballots and ballots from more Democratic parts of the state were counted — and Biden took the lead on Friday.
Why did an announcement take so long? The Republican state legislature all but guaranteed the outcome would not be known on election night by refusing to come to a deal with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that would allow local election officials to start counting early voting and mail-in ballots before the day of the election.
While Trump has now falsely claimed the delay in counting mail ballots is evidence of fraud, it’s a situation specifically engineered by Pennsylvania Republicans. Whatever the president might declare, the results are still being tabulated, and local election officials have promised the public that every legitimately cast vote will be counted.
With Trump winning the biggest prizes in the Sun Belt — Florida and Texas — Pennsylvania’s importance became more and more evident over the course of election night. Trump won the state, which awards 20 votes in the Electoral College, by fewer than 50,000 votes against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
But the Electoral College math for Joe Biden has always been fairly simple: If he could flip Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and every other state voted the same way it did in 2016, he would win the presidency. (He’s already won the second two states.) Biden also still has a chance to flip some Trump 2016 states (Arizona and Georgia appear to be the likeliest candidates), but the Rust Belt was and is his clearest path to the White House.
Pennsylvania is also the most likely battleground for legal challenges to the vote, with Republicans suing to stop votes from being counted.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (@AP) _ In a lawsuit filed Tuesday night in a statewide appellate court, Republican US Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania and five other plaintiffs want to block counties from allowing voters whose mail-in ballots were disqualified to vote by provisional ballot.— Marc Levy (@timelywriter) November 4, 2020
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani is purportedly launching a legal fight, and the president has falsely claimed victory in the state. Election officials in Philadelphia, meanwhile, are livestreaming their continuing vote count.
Political observers preached patience in watching Pennsylvania’s results when Trump appeared to have a big lead from in-person voting. That advice looks prescient now.
Finally, here’s how Vox (and other media outlets) will be making calls.