President Donald Trump overcame an early lead by former Vice President Joe Biden on Election Day to claim a slim victory as final votes were counted on Friday, Nov. 13, 49.9% to 48.6%, or about 73,000 votes.
Minor-party candidates won enough votes, more than 89,000, to ensure that, despite winning the state’s electoral votes, Trump had more North Carolina voters against him than for him in 2020.
At the same time, these voters prevented Biden from claiming the state either and could potentially have ensured Trump’s reelection had the rest of the nation not vote heavily for Biden.
Biden won nationally with 306 electoral votes to 232 for Trump, the same divide as Trump carried when he defeated Hillary Clinton in the electoral college in 2016.
This time, however, the electoral college reinforced the popular vote total rather than undermining it.
American voters favored Biden over Trump by 50.9% to 47.3%, with about a 5.5 million vote edge to Biden.
Crucial to Biden’s election victory were strong showings in state’s that Trump carried in 2016. This included North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Iowa, where Trump won, but was forced to play defense.
By extending the map of battleground states, Biden was able to flip the outcomes in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, while holding on to all the states Clinton had won four years earlier.
Most major news organization organizations began calling Pennsylvania for Biden and declaring what was rapidly becoming evident on Nov. 7: Trump was likely to lose in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, ensuring Biden’s election.
The president has announced efforts to challenge results, but has struggled to find any factual evidence to support them. This has not prevented Trump loyalist from resorting to trolling social media with unsubstantiated claims, but none of these have stood up in courts. Recounts remain possible in some states, but these would not be enough to overturn the nation’s overwhelming rejection of Trump and Trumpism.
Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party, issued a statement Nov. 7 in response to the national results: “Today we have learned that after four years of division and darkness, the American people have chosen to set our country on a new path.”
“Joe Biden is a man of character — a devoted husband, a loving father, a dedicated public servant, and, as of this morning, our president-elect,” Goodwin said.
“On behalf of Democrats across North Carolina, I’m thrilled to congratulate him and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris for their historic victory.
“Our country faces many challenges in the months ahead, but I have no doubts Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the leaders to meet this moment. Their administration will provide the leadership, vision and unifying message we need to overcome this pandemic and help our country build back better.
“While votes continue to be county here in North Carolina, today we celebrate an enormous victory for decency, for compassion, and for the American people.”
Prior to last week’s call of the race for Biden, he had been confident but restrained in his response. Speaking early Wednesday morning from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden was upbeat.
“We feel good about where we are, we really do,” the former vice president said to the accompaniment of honking car horns.
“I’m here to tell you tonight we believe we’re on track to win this election. We knew because of the unprecedented early vote and the mail-in vote that it was going to take awhile. We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying votes is finished. And it ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.”
“We’re confident about Arizona. That’s a turnaround. We also just called it for Minnesota. And we’re still in the game in Georgia, although that’s not one we expected. And we’re feeling real good about Wisconsin and Michigan. And by the way, it’s going to take time to count the votes but we’re going to win Pennsylvania.”
President Trump took a different tone with an early morning speech Nov. 4, claiming the votes need to continue being counted in states where he was behind, such as Arizona, but should stop being counted in states where he held a lead, such as North Carolina.
“We were winning everything, and all of the sudden it was just called off,” Trump said.
Kate Martin, Jordan Wilkie, Victoria Loe Hicks, Laura Lee and Frank Taylor contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: This article initially posted at 8:50 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020, but has been updated several times, most recently at on Nov. 14.