Biden victory clear despite possible recounts
The call from national media outlets to declare Democrat Joe Biden the presumptive winner of the presidential election came with "extreme caution," said one political expert on Saturday.
The Associated Press reported that Biden's victory as 46th president of the United States came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed processing. Biden crossed the winning threshold of 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania.
"It was a result that seemed pretty clear over the last 12 hours," said Nick Clark, associate professor of political science, Susquehanna University, on Saturday afternoon. "They were being extra cautious with the vote margins being so close in some states where there's likely to be a recount. To me it's a clear victory for Biden."
Clark said the election has been conducted fairly despite claims from President Donald Trump. There's been no evidence of illegal ballots or counting, he said.
"I'm quite proud of how the election has been conducted across the country given the circumstances, given the pandemic," said Clark. "The county level had more to deal with this year. It's required a lot of patience, but it's been above the board."
It was not too early to call the race, said Clark, but, "It might be too early for Democrats to celebrate. The president is not going to concede. He will fight it, but there's no basis for any of it."
Courtney Burns, Bucknell assistant professor of political science, said she is concerned about the transition of power.
"I am a little concerned that the transition won't be as clean as it was in the past," said Burns. "I'm hearing from lots of people that he won't concede the election. If he doesn't then there are potential concerns for a transition that is less smooth."
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., in a statement, congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory.
"It’s now time to unite and heal our Nation so we can build back better," Casey said. "Coming together as one Nation, we can defeat the virus, rebuild our economy for workers and families and provide a brighter future for our children.”
The sentiment was not shared among some of the president's supporters, including U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-12.
“The citizens of the United States, not media outlets, determine the outcome of elections," said Keller in a statement. "With recounts and legal challenges expected, we must let the process play out. Count every legal vote.”
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., in a statement said, “President Trump and former Vice President Biden have run hard, spirited campaigns that have inspired record civic engagement. I applaud both of them for their desire to serve our nation."
He said the announcement by the media is a projection.
"A final outcome will be reached when the election process concludes, which is after all legal votes have been counted, litigation is resolved, and any recounts are completed," said Toomey. “Democracy succeeds only when all sides can trust that the election process is fair and transparent. Given the extremely close result, the American people must be assured that the process is being conducted with integrity. This means campaign representatives must have meaningful access to observe whether the law is being followed. I strongly encourage all state and local officials to ensure that this happens as the election process is completed.”
Union County Democratic Committee Chair Richard Thomas said the news makes him "very, very happy."
"When it gets down to a point where the numbers are trending consistently, it's not hard to predict," said Thomas.
Thomas said Trump's attitude is not unexpected.
"He's self-centered and immature," he said. "You can disagree with someone on a political level and still treat them as a human being, but I don't think he's capable of that. He was an idiot in the '80s and the '90s, and he hasn't changed. If you have to drag him out kicking and screaming, so be it. Good riddance."
Clark and Burns also noted the significance of Harris as vice president.
"Obviously, it's historic," Clark said. "She's our first female vice president, and she's now first in line to become president. She's in a position that no other female has been in before. And she's a person of color. It makes it even more historic."
Burns said it is important having the first female vice president.
"The real importance is the representation for women and girls and people of color seeing someone like them rising to such a power position," said Burns. "It can't be understated. It's incredibly important."
A subset of the population may have felt unmotivated with the choices of Trump and Biden, but could have been inspired by Harris, she said.
"We know that black women are important voters for the Democratic party, so that may have been a motivating factor," said Burns.
Burns expects Harris to serve as a prominent advisor to Biden in criminal justice and health care reform. She also expects her to be placed in charge of the COVID-19 task force.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.