Joe Biden wins Pennsylvania: Here's how he reclaimed his home state and the 'blue wall'

YORK, Pa. – Democratic challenger Joe Biden won Pennsylvania and its game-changing 20 electoral votes that will send him to the White House, despite a major blitz of campaign visits by President Donald Trump, who tried to hold onto the state he flipped four years ago. 

The nation has watched Pennsylvania since Tuesday as Trump's in-person voting lead was chiseled away by an onslaught of mail-in votes that heavily favored Biden. The counts trickled in speedily at times and at other times there were hours between updated numbers. Hour after hour, chunk by chunk, eligible votes were counted until Biden ultimately won the state.

Biden's victory in Pennsylvania gives the former vice president the final piece in reclaiming "the blue wall," the Rust Belt trifecta of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Will there be a Pennsylvania recount?: Here are the rules

Trump claimed those three states in a shocking 2016 upset against Democrat Hillary Clinton, who was favored by Las Vegas odds and numerous polls to win. 

With 96 percent of the votes reported Saturday morning, Biden had 3,344,502 Pennsylvania votes, or 49.6% percent, and Trump had 3,310,303, or 49.1 percent.

Biden was favored to win Pennsylvania, as Democrats had done in every presidential election from 1992 until 2016.

It wasn't easy, though. Trump had a large early lead, and Trump supporters believed he would win it again.

But the former vice president received insurmountable support from mail-in voters, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and its suburban counties. He also did slightly better in the traditionally red counties that Clinton lost by big margins. 

Biden won his native state, where he grew up in Scranton, and becomes the second president from Pennsylvania. He joins that short list with James Buchanan, who preceded Abraham Lincoln and is sometimes remembered by presidential historians as someone who stoked divisions that led to the Civil War.

In Biden's effort to be the 46th president, he gained support from larger margins of college-educated women than the first woman to head a major party ticket four years ago. 

"Joe Biden won this election on the backs of Pennsylvania women," said Jesse White, a political strategist at Perpetual Fortitude, a Democratic consulting and digital management firm in Harrisburg.

How Biden, Trump battled for Pennsylvania

Biden also won more than 90% of Black and Hispanic voters, according to Associated Press surveys. 

The high turnout exceeded the record-setting and historic election in 2016.

Voters for Biden said they were largely driven to the polls or mail-in ballots because of racial justice and the coronavirus, which has infected at least 222,000 residents and killed 8,800 in Pennsylvania.

Trump voters were driven to the polls and mail-in ballots because of the economy, which they say is in decline because of shutdowns and not the president's handling of the virus, according to exit polls and interviews. 

"I think he's handled it fine," said Cheryl Whitesell, a 70-year-old retail worker and retired business owner in Luzerne County, which Trump won in 2016 and this year.

"I think he did what he felt he had to do. The virus is a real thing, and I think he did the best he could."

The president connected with more than 3 million voters in Pennsylvania with his populist campaign style and large rallies that frequently went off script. 

Going off script was an asset to his popularity in 2016, when voters saw him as the more genuine candidate. It started to hurt him by 2020, when voters said they wanted less chaos and more control over the coronavirus, a sinking economy and civil unrest.

"His campaign style helped him," said Republican strategist Charlie Gerow, CEO of Quantum Communications in Harrisburg. "What hurt him was a worldwide pandemic none of us expected or factored in." 

Biden was at home in PA

When Biden has made official visits to Pennsylvania during the last several decades, he has been introduced as the state's favorite son. 

Biden grew up in Scranton until he was 10, when he and his immediately family moved to Delaware, but he continued to frequently visit friends and extended family in the decades that followed. 

He has said that area taught him everything he needed to know about politics, and he's never lost his small-town roots. 

It was Biden that former President Barack Obama asked to be his running mate in 2008, a year that Democrats thought Biden's Scranton roots would help attract more moderate and conservative voters to the change ticket. 

And it was Biden that Clinton tapped to campaign with her in Pennsylvania during the final days of the 2016 election. 

At a stop in Harrisburg on Nov. 6, 2016, two days before the election, Biden made a prediction that would become painfully true for Democrats about 48 hours later: the 2016 election would come down to small, middle-class towns.

Biden was an early favorite to flip his native Pennsylvania back to blue

Almost immediately upon Clinton losing, whispers began that Biden should run in 2020 because he was viewed by party leaders as the candidate who could flip his native Pennsylvania back to blue.

When Biden announced his candidacy in April 2019, he was viewed as the favorite to do just that. 

By that point, Trump was ensnared in multiple scandals and accusations, as the electorate grew more divided. 

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