WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hundreds began gathering at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. as the sun set on Election Day. The polls weren’t closed, the ballots hadn’t been counted — but the crowd appeared confident President Donald Trump was on his way out.
Some danced in the street while the song “Celebration,” blared from loudspeakers. Others posed for photos with a Trump lookalike wearing chains and holding a sign that said “Need a Ride to Russia.”
“Hey Trump, you’re fired,” one man repeatedly shouted into a megaphone.
But their enthusiasm may have come too soon. As of Wednesday afternoon, Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were neck-and-neck with 214 and 237 electoral votes, respectively.
Biden remained positive during a news conference in Wilmington, Del., and reminded his supporters millions of votes were still being counted.
“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who has won this election,” he said. “That’s a decision of the American people. But I am optimistic about this outcome and I want to thank every one of you who came out and voted in this election.”
He later urged his followers on Twitter to “keep the faith.”
Meanwhile, Trump started making baseless claims that Democrats were trying to cheat.
“They are trying to steal the election. We will never let them do it,” he wrote on Twitter shortly before 1 a.m. EST.
About an hour later, Trump repeated the accusation during a news conference inside the East Room at the White House.
“Millions and millions of people voted for us tonight and a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people,” he said. “We won’t stand for it; we will not stand for it.”
Final election results may not be known for days. Counting delays were expected this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which led significantly more Americans to vote by mail. But Trump explained he would ask the Supreme Court to stop states from continuing to count ballots.
“We don’t want them to find any ballots at four in the morning and add them to the list,” he said. “…We will win this, and as far as I’m concerned, we already have won.”
Silicon Valley leaders on both sides of the aisle quickly refuted his remarks, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The governor wrote on his Twitter that every vote would be counted.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) advised Americans to tune out the noise as the counting process continues.
“I think the doctors at Walter Reed forgot to give him a dose of truth serum,” she told San José Spotlight regarding Trump’s remarks.
The congresswoman urged everyone to be calm in the coming days. Every vote must be counted in a democracy, she said, and that will require time and patience.
“There are still many votes that need to be counted,” she said. “It really is down to the battleground states that we have been talking about for a long time. But I think that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.”
Although results are still pending, it was clear by Wednesday that the Democrats’ hope for a blue wave had failed to materialize.
Harmeet Dhillon, the RNC National Committeewoman for California, wasn’t surprised.
“It looks like the pollsters were completely wrong, or deliberately wrong,” she said. “…Despite all the hype, American voters have gone to the polls and voted pretty similarly to how they did in 2016.”
If Trump wins a second term, Dhillon said she expects the president will push for the development of a COVID-19 vaccination and work to pass a new stimulus package for those struggling with the pandemic.
She further hoped a second term would give Republicans the opportunity to create meaningful health care reform.
“Rather than Republicans just being against Obamacare and Medicare for All, we can come up with our own program to get rid of some of the access barriers that many Americans face,” she said.
Dhillon added Trump is the right candidate to re-unite the nation after a bitterly divisive election. Trump was a Democrat for much of his life, she said, and he still has cross-party appeal.
Shane Patrick Connolly, the chairman of the Santa Clara County Republican Party, also anticipated the race could be close.
“The president’s record of accomplishments over his first three and half years, combined with Joe Biden’s lackluster record over 47 years, and the chaos happening in cities run by Democrats for a generation or more, improves the chances for the president’s re-election,” he said in August. “The pundits may again be in for a surprise.”
Update: After several days of vote-counting in key battleground states, Biden ultimately defeated Trump on Saturday. The former vice president is now projected to become the 46th president of the United States.
Contact Katie King at [email protected] or follow @KatieKingCST on Twitter.