This story has been updated.
Joe Biden has hit the magic number: He has over 270 electoral votes, and with it, the presidency. The former vice president’s win ends four years of an administration many critics said defied and defaced the norms of American democracy.
The Associated Press called Pennsylvania for Biden and Harris at 11:25 a.m. Saturday — Biden and Harris have 290 electoral votes. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), of Black and Indian descent, is the first woman of color to be elected vice president.
Votes are still being counted in Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arizona but Biden held significant leads in all three. AP called Arizona for Biden Tuesday night and Nevada for Biden Saturday afternoon. Biden also holds a 7,000 vote lead in Georgia, and the state is headed toward a recount.
The former senator visited Cornell a few times over his career, most notably in 2017 to deliver the senior convocation address. In his speech, Biden admitted that he almost attended Cornell Law School, but he withdrew his application because “I couldn’t get enough financial aid,” he said. “Y’all think I’m kidding, but I’m not.”
Even Cornell Dairy Bar celebrated the self-proclaimed ice cream fan that year with a new flavor, “Big Red, White, and Biden.”
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 tweeted congratulating Biden and Harris on Friday morning after a different news desk (Decision Desk HQ) called the race, writing “congratulations to everyone who worked and fought for a better government.
Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), fresh off his own victory, affirmed his support to have every vote transparently counted, then congratulated Biden in a Saturday afternoon statement.
“However, out of respect and in deference to the moment, I extend my congratulations to President-elect Biden,” the statement read. “We are ready to come together, work as one and help all Americans through the difficult times ahead.”
Professors also rejoiced at the news on Twitter.
Prof. Alexandra Cirone, government, tweeted (in all caps) “We have a female vice president!”
Corey Ryan Earle ’07 celebrated the occasion by sharing the photos of Biden eating his ice cream cone at the 2017 senior convocation address.
Biden has spent most of his adult life in public service. Aside from serving as the vice president, he was a United States senator from Delaware for over 30 years. He chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987 to 1995, presiding over the confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas and former Judge Robert Bork. Bork was infamously denied confirmation by the Senate. Biden also chaired the 1991 Anita Hill hearings. His lack of support for Hill received sharp criticism during the election cycle.
Biden’s ascent to the presidency has been an unexpected road. He previously ran for the Democratic ticket in 1988 and 2008, but quickly abandoned those campaigns after failing to receive much support in the primaries. Biden, 77, is the oldest president-elect in U.S. history, and has thought of this moment for a while, also musing about possible runs for president in 1980, 1984 and 2004.
After nearly half a century in politics, Biden, long a staunch moderate, has adopted one of the most progressive platforms in American presidential history. Biden is perhaps most notorious for his authorship of the 1994 Crime Bill, which led to the explosion of mass incarceration and predominantly affected people of color in America. He has since called this bill “a mistake.”
The Biden campaign’s presence on the Cornell campus had a sputtering start. Among a crowded primary field of Democratic candidates, the veteran politician was not initially number one for most Cornell students. Even close to the election, the campus campaign group failed to attract enthusiastic student supporters, as had been previously seen with candidates like Hillary Clinton.
Affordable college is one of the Biden campaign’s policy priorities. According to his website, Biden plans to promote tuition-free public college policies for students whose family incomes are below $125,000.
Biden has also postured himself as the antidote to an irreverent mishandling of the devastating pandemic. In a Thursday address from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden cited the continued steady spread of the infection across the nation, with 121,000 new cases reported as of Nov. 5.
In the same speech, Biden maintained his and Harris’s commitment to patience during the vote count, “I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working. The count is being completed, and we will know soon.”
Biden’s win occurred as Democrats underperformed in down-ballot races. Democrats failed to take official control of the Senate and lost seats in their House of Representatives majority. Control of the Senate now rests in Georgia — the state will elect two senators in runoff races on Jan. 5.
Before the race was called, Trump continued to broadcast lies regarding voter fraud through his Twitter and at a Thursday White House press conference, insisting that he won with “legal votes.” On Saturday at 10:36 a.m., before AP called the race, Trump tweeted (in all caps) that he “Won this election, by a lot!”