President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, alongside vice-president elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Source: President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, alongside vice-president elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff.

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US Election 2020

'Let's give each other a chance': US president-elect Joe Biden calls for unity in moving victory speech

Follow the SBS News live blog for the major updates from the 2020 United States presidential election.

President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, alongside vice-president elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Source: President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, alongside vice-president elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff.

Published , updated 8 November 2020, 5:31 pm
By SBS News
7 November 2020, 9:35 pm


With no major updates expected tonight, we're going to wind things down here now.

Since this election has now fully engulfed my brain, I'll no doubt log back in with updates if things take a dramatic turn throughout the night.

Otherwise, you'll have the brilliant Maani Truu early tomorrow morning to guide you through. 

7 November 2020, 9:01 pm

Will we know who's president tonight?

Probably not.

Here’s where we’re at: Joe Biden has 253 electoral votes and Donald Trump has 217. Each candidate needs 270 votes to win.

Things are largely riding on Pennsylvania, which carries 20 electoral votes. If Mr Biden secures an insurmountable lead in this state, he's won the election and we can all switch off our devices forever.

Electoral officials in Pennsylvania stopped the count overnight, saying it would resume by morning. It’s currently 5am there, so we're at least a few hours off that process restarting.
Under Pennsylvanian law, a margin of 0.5 per cent or less between the two candidates requires an automatic recount. Mr Biden is currently sitting at a margin lead of 0.4 per cent.
In other words, he has to surge further still of Mr Trump before Pennsylvania can definitively be called. That's unlikely to happen before tomorrow.

There are four other states to watch closely. Mr Biden can win with Pennsylvania OR two of the following states. Mr Trump needs Pennsylvania AND three of these states to win:

Georgia: Mr Biden is now leading Mr Trump in Georgia by more than 7,000 votes, with 99 per cent of the vote counted.
But Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, said ballots will undergo a recount due to the margin being so small.
Don’t count on Georgia to be the decider, in other words. It looks like they'll be keeping us on tenterhooks for a while.

Nevada: Mr Biden is leading in Nevada by more than 22,000 votes with 87 per cent of the vote counted. The state is counting its votes verrrrrry slowly, as a slew of online memes will tell you. The bulk of the outstanding votes are from Clark County, Nevada's largest county, which has a strong Democratic lean.

North Carolina: Mr Trump is leading North Carolina by more than 76,000 votes, and he is expected to take this state. It’s unlikely to be called until next week.

Arizona: Some media outlets called Arizona for Mr Biden days ago, most notably Fox News. Others have held off. As it stands, Mr Biden is currently up by 29,861 votes in Arizona, and he is largely expected to win it.

7 November 2020, 7:55 pm

Presented without comment

7 November 2020, 6:59 pm

Biden's lead grows to over 7,000 in Georgia

Joe Biden's lead in Georgia has grown from just over 4,000 votes to 7,248.

Mr Biden has pulled in an extra 2,818 votes since the last count was reported a few hours ago.

In Fulton County, which is a Democratic stronghold, Mr Biden has bagged 72.6 per cent of the vote compared to 26.2 per cent for Donald Trump.  

Georgia has 16 electoral votes, which would bring Mr Biden to 269 votes. 

We're still waiting for definitive results from Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and North Carolina, but a winner may not be confirmed in any of these states until tomorrow.

7 November 2020, 6:26 pm

Fiji PM congratulates Joe Biden on election win before result is made official

Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji, has become the first world leader to officially congratulate Joe Biden on winning the US election in a tweet.

The election is still yet to be officially called, with Joe Biden leading Donald Trump at 253 electoral votes to 213.

Mr Bainimarama emphasised the climate emergency and urged the US to rejoin the Paris Agreement, which Mr Biden has said he will do if elected.

You can read more about Mr Biden and Donald Trump's climate policies here.

7 November 2020, 6:09 pm

Three counties on Navajo Nation go all-out for Biden

The Navajo Nation has contributed to an unprecedented swing against Donald Trump in the state of Arizona.

Apache, Navajo and Coconino counties, the three that overlap the American-Indian territory in Arizona's north-east, gave almost 74,000 votes to Joe Biden compared to just 2,010 for Donald Trump, according to The Navajo Times.

The Navajo Nation has been suffering one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infection in the United States, with dozens of communities affected.

In a public health emergency order released on 4 November, officials with the Navajo Department of Health and the Navajo Office of Environmental Health and Protection Program said the nation is “currently experiencing its second wave of COVID-19 cases”.

“The number of new cases has been on an upward trajectory during the two months within and surrounding the Navajo Nation, including record-high numbers for the United States reported on Sunday, November 1, 2020,” the order said.


7 November 2020, 4:51 pm

Joe Biden extends lead in Georgia

Joe Biden has extended his lead over Donald Trump in Georgia.

New votes from Chatham County, the fifth-largest in the state, have given the Democratic candidate a lead of 4,430 votes over Mr Trump, with 99 per cent of the state's votes counted.

Georgia marks the closest race of any of the major remaining states, and is still too close to call. 

7 November 2020, 4:47 pm

Supreme Court denies immediate halt of Pennsylvania count

A US Supreme Court justice on Friday denied a request by Pennsylvania's Republicans to immediately halt the counting of ballots arriving after Election Day - referring the challenge to the full court to consider on Saturday.

Samuel Alito ordered Pennsylvania in the meantime to continue keeping the late-arriving ballots separate, affirming a decision already made by the state's top elections official Kathy Boockvar, who told CNN they were unlikely affect the outcome in any case.

The last-ditch petition for an emergency injunction - filed as Democrat Joe Biden solidified his lead and was poised to defeat President Donald Trump - targeted thousands of ballots.

The petition appeared broadly aimed at delaying the eastern state's vote tally from being finalised, which would effectively hand the election to Mr Biden.

A delay could give the high court time to reopen the broader case of the legality of the late ballots.

Even if the court does issue a stay on counting, it might not make a difference. Election analysts say the number of late ballots could be far fewer than Mr Biden's lead over Mr Trump in the state.


7 November 2020, 4:23 pm

What's Donald Trump up to?

Donald Trump has been active on Twitter today, continuing to push his false claim that the election is rigged against him.

To reiterate, there is no evidence of voter fraud

Mr Trump is claiming such due to the high number of postal ballots, which reflected the desire of voters to avoid risking exposure to COVID-19 in crowded polling stations on election day.

7 November 2020, 3:34 pm

White House chief of staff tests positive to COVID-19

Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows has been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Two senior administration officials told The Associated Press that Mr Meadows had tested positive for the virus.

Mr Meadows travelled with the president in the lead-up to 3 November.

His last public appearance was early Wednesday morning as Mr Trump falsely declared victory in the vote count. He was not wearing a mask.

7 November 2020, 2:56 pm

'We're going to win this race': Biden

Speaking from Delaware, Joe Biden says the Democrats “are going to win this race”.

"My fellow Americans, we don't have a final declaration of victory yet, but the numbers tell us it's clear. Tell us a clear and convincing story. We are going to win this race," Mr Biden said, with his running mate Kamala Harris standing nearby.

“We’re on track to over 300 electoral votes.”

The former vice president slammed Donald Trump’s record on the coronavirus pandemic, noting hundreds of thousands of Americans have died due to his “failure to get the pandemic under control”.

He also called for patience as the votes are counted.

“Democracy works. Your vote will be counted. I don’t care how many people try to stop it. I will not let it happen,” he said.

“In America, we hold strong views, we have strong disagreements, and that’s okay. Strong disagreements are inevitable, and healthy, in a democracy.”

7 November 2020, 2:46 pm

Don't expect a final result from Pennsylvania soon

If you were hoping Pennsylvania would be done and dusted within the next few hours, we're here to crush your dreams.

Electoral officials in Pennsylvania just announced that staff will not be counting overnight local time - meaning we probably won't hear anything new from this state for the next 10 hours at least.

A fresh batch of just over 3,000 votes have been called, however - 2,436 for Joe Biden and 733 for Donald Trump.

Mr Biden's lead over Mr Trump has now grown to 28,833 votes. 

7 November 2020, 2:08 pm

Joe Biden to speak soon from Delaware

Good afternoon! Gavin Fernando here - I'll be bringing you updates throughout the afternoon as the election results are slowly and painfully drip-fed to us.

Joe Biden is expected to give an address from Delaware sometime in the next 30 minutes.

Don't expect a victory speech. It's more likely that Mr Biden will talk about his views on the race, as his lead over Donald Trump grows in several key states, including Pennsylvania and Georgia.

It’s also likely Mr Biden will again call on the American public to respect the voting process.

While we're waiting on the former vice president, here’s a good piece by Jarni Blakkarly on the legal challenges that have been launched by Republicans since 3 November.

7 November 2020, 1:24 pm

More than 72 hours later, here's where we are at

And that's a wrap for me, Maani Truu, today.

Much to the disappointment of my suffering sleep schedule, we still do not have a call on who will be the next president of the United States.

But here's a quick rundown of where we are at:

There are four key states we are still waiting on results from that could decide the election: Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Georgia (16 electoral votes), Arizona (11 electoral votes), and Nevada (six electoral votes).

Votes are trickling in from these states with Democratic challenger Joe Biden needing to win Pennsylvania or two of the other states to hit 270 electoral college votes, handing him the presidency.

President Donald Trump would need a lot more to secure a second-term, with his campaign launching a number of legal challenges over the results.

Meanwhile, Mr Biden is expected to address the nation shortly. My colleague Gavin Fernando will bring you the updates from his speech as soon as it happens. Thanks for reading this morning.

7 November 2020, 1:07 pm

Almost 70,000 more vote results reported in Arizona, Joe Biden hangs on to lead

There's just been a big dump of new results from Arizona, with 38,000 recorded for Donald Trump and 31,000 for Joe Biden.

Mr Biden is still in the lead, but his margin has decreased to just under 30,000 votes. About 97 per cent of the votes from the state, which has 11 electoral votes at stake, have now been counted.

The results of another approximately 65,000 votes are expected to be reported tomorrow, local time. 

7 November 2020, 12:55 pm

All eyes on Pennsylvania as Joe Biden's lead increases

We sound like a broken record at this point, but it's all about Pennsylvania today.

Another update has seen Joe Biden's lead increase to more than 21,000 votes over President Donald Trump. 

President Trump had an early lead in the state but overnight in Australia it flipped to favour the Democratic challenger. Throughout today the margin between candidates has been steadily growing as counting centres slowly update their tallies.

Once again, we are following Pennsylvania closely because of it's 20 electoral college votes. If Mr Biden is declared the victor in the state, he takes the White House with a total of 273 electoral votes.

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7 November 2020, 12:31 pm

There's always a Tweet

Ah, there's always a Tweet, isn't there ...

A 2016 Tweet from President Donald Trump has resurfaced in which he stresses the importance of being able to "lose with dignity". Read into that what you will.

7 November 2020, 12:26 pm

Why is US vote count taking so long?

We are now at 72 hours without a result from the US election - an outcome that was always a possibility due to record numbers of early and postal votes spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. 

But that hasn't stopped many across the world from wondering: why is it taking so long?

The AFP newswire has filed a handy explainer to answer this very question. Here's what they had to say

Competitive states take longer

California, the nation's most populous state, was quickly called for Joe Biden after polls closed on election day. But such calls are in fact projections by news outlets rather than official results, meaning that it takes longer to get an accurate picture in narrowly divided states.

States also have diverse deadlines on receiving absentee ballots, especially those coming from the military or other citizens living overseas.

For example, North Carolina has held off on counting at least 171,000 ballots - which could make the difference - as by law it accepts votes that arrive by mail through 12 November so long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

Deluge of mail-in ballots

With concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, states accustomed to limited numbers of absentee votes have been deluged with ballots mailed by citizens who do not want to risk voting in person.

Some 65.2 million of the record 160 million Americans who voted this year did so by mail, according to an estimate of the US Elections Project.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican-led legislature rejected an effort to let authorities count ahead of Election Day, contributing to the scenario in which its biggest city Philadelphia - a Democratic stronghold - reported returns last.

Legal challenges

The Trump campaign has seized on the delay to demand a halt to counting in states where it is behind, notably Pennsylvania whose Republican Party approached the US Supreme Court.

Republicans had been fighting for months against allowing Pennsylvania to count ballots postmarked by Election Day if they arrive by Friday, local time.

In Wisconsin, where Biden eked out a narrow victory, the Supreme Court ruled that only votes received by Election Day would count.

Most states allow rival parties to observe counting but challenges on the rules have taken time, with President Trump's supporters taking particular issue with Philadelphia's rule that watchers stay at least 4.5 meters away due to coronavirus risks.

7 November 2020, 12:06 pm

While our eyes were on the election, the US recorded more than 125,000 new COVID-19 cases

The coronavirus pandemic has not taken a break while we wait for the results of the US election.

On Friday, local time, as the country watched votes trickle in and waited for Joe Biden to appear, more than 125,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded across the United States, according to The Atlantic's COVID Tracking Project - a new daily record. 

Another 1,186 people died nationally from the disease.

An important reminder of the importance of this election, which is taking place in the midst of skyrocketing COVID-19 cases across the country. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the US has recorded more than 9.7 million coronavirus cases and 236,00 deaths, according to the John Hopkins tally. This is more than any other country.