Several media outlets called Pennsylvania for Joe Biden on Saturday, effectively handing the former vice president the White House with the state’s critical 20 electoral votes and making him the 46th President of the United States.
Pennsylvania was a must-win for President Donald Trump, as there was no way for him to reach 270 electoral votes without it. Even if he were to win every other outstanding state—Nevada, North Carolina, Georgia and Alaska—it wouldn’t be enough to secure re-election.
Trump had prematurely declared victory in Pennsylvania on Wednesday even as millions of votes had yet to be counted. Bill Stepien, the president’s campaign manager, said in a press call that “We are declaring a victory in Pennsylvania. This is not based on gut or feel. This is based on math.” This was followed by Eric Trump tweeting that his father had won the state.
But his edge in the state continually eroded after election night, largely due to the counting of mail-in ballots from heavily Democratic areas like Philadelphia and its suburbs. Biden officially took the lead in Pennsylvania on Friday morning and continually built on his advantage throughout the day.
At the time the race was called, Biden was ahead of Trump by 34,458 votes according to the Associated Press.
Head-to-head polls conducted before Election Day showed Biden leading Trump by a little over 5 percentage points on average in Pennsylvania, according to FiveThirtyEight. The Democratic nominee was shown with 50.3 percent of the vote as of November 2, while Trump had 45.2 percent of the vote.
Four years ago, the eyes of the country turned to Pennsylvania as it was considered a must-win for Hillary Clinton after Trump’s victories in other swing states. Trump won Pennsylvania by roughly 44,000 votes in 2016, flipping the state red after it voted Democratic in the six elections prior—including Barack Obama in both his presidential bids.
This year, both candidates made the state a priority. According to Politico, the two campaigns and national parties spent more than $54 million in advertising in Pennsylvania. The amount of money being invested there is more than any other state except Florida.
Biden and Trump spent time in Pennsylvania over the weekend in a final push to shore up strength in the key battleground state. Both candidates stressed the important role the state plays in deciding who will occupy the White House next year.
Trump called Pennsylvania “the state that will save the American dream” during a campaign stop in Bucks County on Saturday. Later that day, Trump told thousands of supporters gathered at an airport hangar in Reading that “if we win Pennsylvania, it’s over. It’s over. Let’s do it.”
Biden hosted two events in Philadelphia on Sunday in one final push to shore up his strength in Pennsylvania. During one of his speeches, Biden noted how critical the Keystone State was to the outcome of the race.
“Every single vote matters,” he told a crowd gathered at Sharon Baptist Church. “The power to change this country is literally in your hands.”
Due to its critical role in the election, Pennsylvania has been dubbed “ground zero” for election litigation this cycle.
In the weeks before Election Day, state and federal judges ruled on legal battles involving poll watchers, drop boxes and vote-counting deadlines. One case even reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices voted 4-4 to reject Pennsylvania Republicans’ request for an expedited appeal on a lower court ruling that allowed mail-in ballots to be counted if they’re delivered up to three days after Election Day.
The day after the election, the Trump campaign announced they would be filing multiple lawsuits in Pennsylvania.
The lawsuits targeted the state’s rules for election observers and mail-in ballots, as well as intervening in an ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case regarding the state’s mail-in ballot deadline. The Trump campaign and Republicans also filed a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar’s allegedly “unilateral actions to extend the voter ID deadline set by law, circumventing state law and bringing more chaos and uncertainty to the process.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said the Trump campaign’s legal efforts to stop ongoing ballot counting in the state were “simply wrong.”
“It goes against the most basic principles of our democracy. It takes away the right of every American citizen to cast their vote, and to choose our leaders,” Wolf said during a press conference Wednesday evening. “Our election officials at the state and local level should be free to do their jobs without fear, without intimidation, without attacks. These attempts to subvert the democratic process are simply disgraceful.”
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