KEY POINTS
  • Joe Biden is projected to win the U.S. presidential election, according to NBC News, a watershed moment in a deeply divided nation that is facing multiple crises.
  • The call in the race came four days after Election Day, and during close counts in multiple battleground states.
  • President Donald Trump's campaign has mounted several legal challenges over how the ballots are being tabulated.

WASHINGTON – Joe Biden is projected to win the U.S. presidential election, according to NBC News, a watershed moment in a deeply divided nation that is facing multiple crises.

The call in the race came four days after Election Day, and during close counts in multiple battleground states. President Donald Trump's campaign has mounted several legal challenges over how the ballots are being tabulated.

Biden will win the White House with at least 279 electoral votes, according to NBC. He will carry all of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states that propelled Trump's dizzying rise to the White House four years ago.

Biden's election amounts to a rejection by millions of voters of Trump's divisive governance, and an embrace of Biden's pledge to bring a more civil, compassionate and steady leadership to the White House. The race, decided by narrow margins in a range of swing states, drove record turnout that will see both Biden and Trump garner more than 70 million votes. Biden has a still growing lead of more than 4 million in the nationwide popular vote.

Biden's victory also represents what he characterizes a mandate given to the incoming administration to chart a new approach to the nationwide coronavirus crisis, which has claimed the lives of more than 233,000 Americans and shows no signs of abating. Trump has consistently downplayed the severity of the pandemic and denied the reality of rising caseloads.

"I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris," Biden said in a statement Saturday after his projected victory. "In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America."

"With the campaign over, it's time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It's time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there's nothing we can't do, if we do it together," he continued.

Trump, after days of baseless lies that state election officials conspired to steal the race from him, was at his Virginia golf club when Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes took Biden across the finish line. In a tweet Saturday morning, he claimed in defiance of ongoing results that, "I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!"

It is unclear if or when the president will concede the race to his rival. In a statement released by his campaign, the president claimed "this election is far from over" as he fights uphill legal battles in close electoral states.

"Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor," Trump said in the statement.

Several states took days to count a record number of mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. Those votes skewed heavily in Biden's favor after Trump repeatedly urged his supporters to cast ballots in person.

A historic election

With Biden's election, his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris has made history -- becoming the first woman, the first Black American and the first Asian-American to be elected vice president.

Harris shared a video of herself beaming, on the phone with Biden on Saturday.

"We did it, Joe," she said. "You're going to be the next president of the United States."

Biden, who turns 78 later this month, will also make history as the oldest person ever to assume the presidency. Trump, who is 74, frequently tried to make it into a serious issue during the bare-knuckled campaign battle the two men fought over the past year.

Biden will also be one of the most experienced presidents ever to be inaugurated, having served in the U.S. Senate for more than 30 years, and as vice president under President Barack Obama for eight years, from 2009-17.

Biden's experience at the highest levels of government was cited often by voters this year as one of the reasons they trusted him to lead the nation through the coronavirus crisis, the ensuing economic crisis, and a landmark moment in race relations in the United States.

On a personal level, pluralities of voters told pollsters that they believed Biden possessed the right temperament for what is arguably the world's most demanding job.

In many ways, Biden's election was predictable -- he had maintained a steady lead over Trump in national and battleground state polls throughout the campaign.

But memories of 2016, when Trump won an Electoral College majority despite trailing in the polls and losing the popular vote, haunted Democrats this year, and gave Republicans reason for optimism until the last moment. Indeed, races in several states were tight even as Biden was on pace to win the popular vote.

In a country that is more deeply divided along political and racial lines today than at any time in the past 50 years, Biden has promised to govern as a unifier.

"I'm a proud Democrat, but I'll govern as an American president to unite and to heal, and I'll work as hard for those who didn't support me as for those who did," Biden said at a campaign event in Florida in the last week of the campaign.

Biden will carry at least 279 electoral votes, while Trump will get 214 or more, according to NBC. Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina are still too close to call.

How Biden got here

Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was born on Nov. 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the eldest of four children. His early life was marked by his strict Catholic school education and the financial hardships and job losses his father suffered. The family moved from Pennsylvania to Delaware when Biden was 10, and his father eventually became a successful used car salesman.

Biden graduated from the University of Delaware and Syracuse University Law School, before embarking on a short-lived career in private practice. After a brief stint in local politics in Delaware, Biden ran for the U.S. Senate in 1972 and won an upset victory.

His life changed forever in December of that year, when Biden's wife and daughter were killed in a car crash, which his two young sons, Beau and Hunter, survived.

He married his second wife, incoming first lady Jill Biden, an English teacher, in 1977. They have a daughter, Ashley.

Biden served in the Senate for more than 35 years, where he chaired the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee in the late 1980s and later, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In 2008, then-Democratic president candidate Barack Obama tapped Biden to be his running mate, citing Biden's deep knowledge of foreign policy and his experience legislating.

Biden served as Obama's vice president for eight years, and the two men forged a close bond.

"Joe, time and time again, has shown himself to be a man of principle and character and he's going to be a great president," Obama said at a Biden campaign rally in late October. "He made me a better president, and he's got the character and the experience to make us a better country."