The car horns blared as Joe Biden took the stage just before 1 a.m.—not to proclaim victory, but to urge his supporters not to lose hope, no matter what President Donald Trump might say. “We believe we are on track to win this election,” the former Vice President told the crowd in Wilmington, Del., on Nov. 4. “It ain’t over until every vote is counted. Keep the faith, guys.”
As the new day dawned and dragged on, it increasingly looked as though Biden was right. Having flipped Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin, Biden appeared to be inching toward victory. Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina remained too close to call as of the evening of Nov. 4. Independent forecasters believed Biden was likely to eke out the requisite 270 electoral votes when all the votes were counted, over the President’s noisy objections.
Even with the White House nearing their grasp, Biden’s supporters could be forgiven if they found it hard to keep the faith. The 2020 election did not go according to plan for the Democrats. It was a far cry from the sweeping repudiation of Trump that the polls had forecast and liberals craved. After all the outrage and activism, a projected $14 billion spent and millions more votes this time than last, Trump’s term is ending the way it began: with an election once again teetering on a knife’s edge, and a nation entrenched in stalemate, torn between two realities, two orientations, two sets of facts.