Nearly four days after the last votes were cast in the 2020 election, the country finally knows Joe Biden will be the president for the next four years. That makes Kamala Harris the first woman vice president. Biden/Harris easily won the popular vote.
Biden finally clinched victory over President Donald Trump at about 11:30 Saturday morning, when Pennsylvania declared Biden the winner there, raising his projected total to 273 electoral votes. By 3 pm, Nevada was also called in Biden’s favor, increasing his electoral total to 279, to Trump’s 213. Trump is fighting the election process in the courts.
Coincidentally, 48 years ago on Nov. 7, Biden was first elected to the U.S. Senate, at age 29. Kamala Harris makes history by being not only the first woman to be elected to the vice presidency, but the first Black woman and woman of Asian descent to be elected to national office.
On Martha’s Vineyard, the presidential race was no contest. Biden/Harris won eight out of 10 voters who cast ballots in the election. With the pandemic, many Islanders either voted early or mailed in ballots, with record turnouts, ranging from 74 to 87 percent, across the Island.
Midday Saturday, as news of Biden’s projected victory circulated widely, State Representative Dylan Fernandes reflected on the accomplishment of the Biden-Harris ticket. “Biden’s overwhelming victory affirms that despite all of our faults and injustices, America is still a fundamentally decent country,” he told The Times. “We have turned the corner on a dark chapter in American history, and now must renew our focus on progress toward equality in this nation.”
Congressman Bill Keating, D-Bourne, wrote on Facebook Saturday, “Democracy has won, and the American people have won.” He added that there will “be no sigh of relief” until the presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20, but knowing the country will have a president who will fight for all Americans should “give us all the strength to move forward with our heads held high,” regardless of whom you voted for. He added that Vice President–elect Harris will make history as our first female vice president, our first Black vice president, and our first South Asian American vice president.
“We are facing tough days ahead, but Joe Biden and Kamala Harris know that there is no challenge or obstacle that America can’t overcome by working together,” Keating wrote. “Let the healing begin.”
Harvard Law professor and frequent Vineyard visitor Laurence Tribe tweeted, “YES! Finally TEARS OF JOY! May Beau’s spirit envelop and guide his dad, my friend JOE BIDEN, the 46th President of the United States. God Bless America.”
Carla Cooper, vice chair of the Democratic Council of Martha’s Vineyard and member of Indivisible MV, said she is “elated and relieved” to see the election results. She said the thought of another four years of division and hate was a “terrifying prospect,” and is proud that “decency won today.”
“Decency, compassion, justice, and now we have a lot of work to do to unify and bring people together and to heal,” Cooper said. “It’s time to find a way to combat that kind of propaganda, because it has infected our society, it has infected our people.”
On Harris being elected the first woman vice president, Cooper said, “It is way past time for a woman to be in a position of power like that, and for it to be a woman of color is beyond my wildest dreams. I am so excited for women today.”
She said America owes a debt of gratitude to Black women in this country for delivering this victory.
For now, Cooper said, she hopes people can “breathe and appreciate the moment,” and said now is not the time to get comfortable, because there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We have to all come together for the challenging times, but also need to come together as a community, and celebrate as well,” she said.
Dukes County Commissioner Keith Chatinover said every second of the Trump administration has been “abhorrent,” but is happy there will no longer be a “facist in the White House.”
Chatinover said with the victory now comes the work of a Biden administration focusing on progressive policies. “The work now begins to pull him to a place where we need to be. I set aside a bunch of my disagreements that I had with him because we needed him to win and we needed a unified party, but the time has now arrived,” Chatinover said. “Pulling to the left. It’ll be fun.”
In an email to The Times, Linda Chastang, part-time Oak Bluffs resident and former chief of staff to John Lewis, wrote, “This has been an unusual election, as unusual as has been the past four years. The election, however, has been good for us, good for America, and good for democracy. Voters turned out. They stood in long lines in advance of Election Day to make sure nothing would get in the way of their votes counting. No inflammatory rhetoric. No mail glitches. Nothing got in the way of people voting and their votes counting. The work of those in the flesh and in spirit on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Bloody Sunday, on the Freedom Rides, and on the ground during Mississippi Freedom Summer — it is paying off! The work of Black Lives Matter and Fair Fight — it is all paying off!
“Under the leadership of Biden and Harris, our government will look like, feel like, and act like the best in us. It will be compassionate, comfortable, caring, civil, and calm. It will promote decency and project dignity. Its priorities will be your priorities.”
At just after 1 pm, former President (and Edgartown resident) Barack Obama posted his congratulations on Facebook: “I could not be prouder to congratulate our next President, Joe Biden, and our next First Lady, Jill Biden.
“I also couldn’t be prouder to congratulate Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff for Kamala’s groundbreaking election as our next Vice President.
“In this election, under circumstances never experienced, Americans turned out in numbers never seen. And once every vote is counted, President-elect Biden and Vice President–elect Harris will have won a historic and decisive victory.”
Obama spoke of the challenges Biden faced in his campaign, and what he will face when he assumes office: “When he walks into the White House in January, he’ll face a series of extraordinary challenges no incoming President ever has — a raging pandemic, an unequal economy and justice system, a democracy at risk, and a climate in peril.
“I know he’ll do the job with the best interests of every American at heart, whether or not he had their vote. So I encourage every American to give him a chance and lend him your support. The election results at every level show that the country remains deeply and bitterly divided. It will be up to not just Joe and Kamala, but each of us, to do our part — to reach out beyond our comfort zone, to listen to others, to lower the temperature and find some common ground from which to move forward, all of us remembering that we are one nation, under God.
“… Our democracy needs all of us more than ever. And Michelle and I look forward to supporting our next President and First Lady however we can.”
This story had contributions from George Brennan, Rich Saltzberg, Brian Dowd, Lucas Thors, and David Steiner.