Joe Biden Projected to Win 2020 Election, While Kamala Harris Makes History as First Woman VP-Elect

Joe Biden
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Biden defeated Donald Trump, sending the former reality TV star back to the private sector after four years.

The Trump show is facing cancellation.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has been elected the 46th President of the United States, with the Associated Press projecting that he has secured enough electoral votes, assuring the Democratic nominee of an Electoral College victory.

As Vice President, Kamala Harris becomes the country's first woman elected to that position as well as the first Black and South Asian person in the role.

"America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country," tweeted President-elect Biden on Saturday morning. "The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not. I will keep the faith that you have placed in me."

"This election is about so much more than @JoeBiden or me," tweeted Harris. "It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started."

Roughly an hour after the AP projection, Biden and Harris had updated their Twitter bios to reflect their status as president-elect and vice president-elect.

Former president Barack Obama wrote in a lengthy statement that he "could not be prouder" to congratulate Biden and his next First Lady, Jill Biden, also referencing Harris's "groundbreaking" election as vice president.

Four days after the election, the tightly contested race between the presidential incumbent and Trump’s Democratic challenger had come down to the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada. On Saturday morning at approximately 8:31 a.m. PT, Pennsylvania was declared for Biden by the Associated Press, giving him 20 Electoral College votes and pushing him across the 270 finish line needed to clinch the presidency. Biden, who has also taken the lead in Georgia and Nevada as of Friday evening, clinched 284 electoral votes with Pennsylvania, while Trump’s standing remained at 214.

Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the historic amount of mail-in voters in the 2020 election, thousands of ballots had yet to be counted on Friday. The mail-in ballots, which take more time to be counted, have been skewing heavily in Biden’s favor due to Trump’s push to his voters to cast their ballots in person. On Wednesday, Biden had already broken the record for the most votes ever for a U.S. presidential candidate.

On Thursday night, Trump had doubled down on false claims of a fraudulent election, drawing sharp rebuke from news anchors and Hollywood figures alike over the president sowing doubt about the integrity of the democratic process. The Trump campaign has said it would seek a recount in Wisconsin and filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia; the latter two were quickly dismissed. With the narrow margin in Georgia’s race, however, that race might not be certified until mid-November, due to a recount and absentee military ballots being counted.

Biden, meanwhile, continued to remain calm throughout election week and urged the American people to exhibit patience while every vote is counted. “The process is working,” Biden said on Thursday. “It is the will of the voters. No one, not anyone else who chooses the president of the United States of America.”

On Friday night, he expressed confidence: "We're going to win this race with a clear majority of the nation behind us."

The victory by Biden means that President Trump will leave office and return to the private sector after only four years, having been denied a second term by voters. Unlike 2016, when Trump's victory shocked the political and media establishment, Biden's 2020 win felt like slightly less of a surprise, with the president-elect holding a notable lead in the polls leading up to Election Day, a lead that had been reflected in polling since he first entered the primary race. However, the election that led up to the victory was a nail-biter that dragged on through Saturday and was not anticipated by polling, with Trump securing key states including Florida and Texas and Biden winning Arizona and Wisconsin.

The Democratic victory also made its mark on history, with California Sen. Kamala Harris set to be sworn in as the country's first female vice president, and the first vice president of color.

The Biden campaign had out-raised and outspent the Trump campaign in the final weeks before Election Day, keeping the Republican incumbent on a defensive footing.

The administration's response to the novel coronavirus pandemic only hurt Trump's chances further, with the president choosing to host large rallies against the advice of public health officials.

Based on AP projections, control of the Senate remains deadlocked at 48-48, but Republicans are leading in uncalled races in Alaska and North Carolina. Democrats flipped two seats, in Arizona and Colorado, but failed to oust Republicans Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins in high-profile races that attracted support, and donations, from entertainment industry figures.

Other closely-watched races in Texas, Alabama, Iowa, Kansas and Montana ended with projected Republican victories. Two runoff elections are expected to take place in Georgia in January, with control of the Senate at stake. Hollywood stars were already expressing support for Democratic hopefuls in those races. 

A Republican-controlled Senate would be a huge disappointment for Hollywood Democratic operatives, who worry about debilitating gridlock.

Although Biden hardly made the entertainment business a focus of his campaign, the change to a Democratic administration will likely bring more regulation. There will likely be more scrutiny from a labor standpoint with a crackdown on those violating wage and hour laws plus political leaders eager to bolster the negotiating strength and ranks of unions. New political appointees at federal agencies like the FCC and FTC will also mean a deeper focus at ensuring vibrant competition even at the expense of traditional giants who have dominated production and distribution. Then again, unless Democrats somehow seize control of the Senate (at the moment doubtful, pending some close races and run-offs in Georgia), such regulation will be susceptible to legal challenge especially with a conservative Supreme Court.

Corporate leaders can expect to face skepticism from the Biden administration on the mergers and acquisition front. For the time being, big deals may be off the table thanks to roadblocks put up by more aggressive antitrust regulators. Entertainment leaders will gladly accept this if it means conquering the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted the entertainment business writ large. They will likely also angle for stimulus money to save suffering parts of the industry including movie theaters and live concerts. Standardized guidance from health officials and possibly intervention on the insurance front could also boost production. Also, while Biden's big legislative agenda may be a non-starter under a Republican senate — goodbye higher corporate tax rate — that could open the door for smaller, wonkier lawmaking that Hollywood may care about such as copyright reform.

The biggest change figures to come as a Biden administration smooths international relationships. While Biden may be careful about reprising the sort of treaty talks that led to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a more cooperative style with other countries will be welcomed in Hollywood, which is especially eager to make deeper inroads into the massive Chinese market plus crack down on piracy. Having Biden in the White House may also open the gates to more foreign investment in domestic production as nationalistic sentiment eases.

The election of Biden also marks the end of a presidency in which television was a veritable co-star, with Trump framing the media (namely the major TV networks) as his true opposition. Biden, by contrast, framed his campaign as something of a return to sanity. Among Biden's top fundraising volunteers were Hollywood heavyweights, including Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban as well as studio executives like Paramount chief Jim Gianopulos, Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Donna Langley and Netflix film chief Scott Stuber.

Katzenberg and Gonring|Lin|Spahn, the influential Hollywood-based firm co-founded by political strategist Andy Spahn, were Biden’s top bundlers.

“Along with Jeffrey Katzenberg, my partners and I were the biggest fundraisers for Biden/Harris in the nation,” Spahn told The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday. “It was the most important work we have ever done. Tremendous thanks to all our clients, friends and allies who dug deeper than ever before to save our democracy.”

Spahn added, "When Joe Biden showed the courage and confidence to pick our brightest and strongest star, Kamala Harris, as his running mate, I knew then we would win this fight for the 'soul of America.'"

Rothman added to THR of Biden's victory, "It means for Hollywood only the exact same thing that it means for the rest of the country— that what we teach our children in kindergarten is right: decency, civility, honesty, respect and character are what matter in a person and a nation."

“This triumphant win for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is more than just a political victory, it’s a profoundly joyful moment for all women and people of color around the world.  Today, I can tell my children that unity, character and integrity are once again the values our country embodies," Langley told THR. "Moreover, as a multiracial, female leader and immigrant myself, witnessing my dear friend Kamala’s historic achievement has been indescribable. She is a powerful force and inspiration as she ascends to one of the highest levels of our political system, opening doors for generations to come.”

Trump famously broke from presidential tradition and didn’t attend the Kennedy Center Honors, an annual gala honoring performing artists (it wasn’t uncommon for previous presidents to host a special White House gathering on the weekend of the event). Honorees in recent years have included Norman Lear, Al Pacino, Sally Field, Phillip Glass, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the other creators of Hamilton, Linda Ronstadt and Sesame Street. “It’s such an unusual situation. There’s no normal here,” says one Hollywood executive and Biden supporter.

And, in his ongoing war with much of what he dubs the “fake news” media, Trump also snubbed the annual White House Press Correspondents' Dinner, an evening of toasting and roasting. (The event was canceled this year amid the pandemic.)

Trump has had minimal interest in the trappings of the traditional Hollywood-White House relationship. He reportedly prefers to binge on cable news, versus using the White House theater to watch new releases provided by the studios. (Obama was famous for keeping the plush theater in constant use.)

Numerous Hollywood figures supported Biden with significant financial donations to the former vice president's campaign and by revealing that they would be voting for him.

Stars who expressed their support and, in some cases participated in ads and fundraisers, for the Biden-Harris ticket include Mel Brooks, Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, Dwayne Johnson, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, John Legend, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Eva Longoria, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Aniston, Michael B. Jordan, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alyssa Milano, Mindy Kaling, Ariana Grande, Cardi B, Tom Hanks, Eminem, Bruce Springsteen, Lizzo, America Ferrera, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lopez, Howard Stern, Billie Eilish, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Billy Porter.

Entertainment industry figures who backed Trump include Kirstie Alley, Kid Rock, Lil Wayne, Scott Baio, James Woods, Dean Cain, Jon Voight, Isaiah Washington and Kristy Swanson.

Stars also sought to increase turnout at the polls this year, with numerous Hollywood figures urging people to vote and participating in get-out-the-vote initiatives.

Additional reporting by Eriq Gardner, Pamela McClintock, Jackie Strause, Hilary Lewis and Trilby Beresford.