WILMINGTON, Delaware — Joe Biden told supporters just after midnight on Wednesday that he was confident he would ultimately win a presidential race that remained unsettled in several large battleground states.
“We feel good about where we are,” the former vice president said at the Chase Center in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. “We really do. 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 it was going to take a while. And we’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying votes is finished. And it ain’t over till every vote is counted, every ballot is counted — but we’re feeling good. We’re feeling good about where we are.”
Biden thanked supporters for their patience at the start of his remarks and suggested the winner of the race may not be clear for at least another day, but he projected optimism about some states that do not yet have a clear winner.
“We’re confident about Arizona,” he said, calling the state a turnaround. “We’re still in the game in Georgia, although that’s not one we expected,” he added. “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.”
Crucial states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia are still counting votes, including a surge of mail-in ballots. Trump has secured vital wins — including in Florida and Ohio — that make the race for an Electoral College majority tight and block some of Biden’s paths to victory.
Trump also projected confidence on Twitter and said he planned to make a speech early Wednesday morning as well.
Slow tallying was expected as a likely outcome of the election: The coronavirus pandemic brought a flood of mail-in and early in-person voting, especially from Democrats, and some states like Pennsylvania did not begin to count those votes until Election Day.
“Keep the faith, guys. We’re going to win this,” Biden said at the end of his short speech. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
The scene surrounding Biden’s election night gathering — held in a parking lot outside the riverfront convention hall where he accepted the Democratic nomination over the summer — hardly resembled a festive event. The campaign limited the number of people who could attend because of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden’s supporters stayed with their cars, as if at a drive-in movie, and watched from a distance. They honked their horns as they waited for Biden and heard MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow announce Minnesota was trending in the former vice president’s direction. There were plenty of empty spaces in the lot, though.
The lobby of the hotel on site was mostly empty except for reporters and, occasionally, Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware ally of Biden’s who is often called upon to speak for his friend.
“I've literally been out there freezing,” Coons told reporters after one lap through the parking lot about an hour before Biden arrived. “Remember, there's an entire parking lot full of Delaware Democrats. And so every time I go out, I do 10 minutes of ‘Hey, how are you?!’”
Coons, during one of his lobby walks, was asked about the slow counting and Trump’s resilience in states that Biden's allies thought might be winnable.
“That may be the hardest question for me to answer tonight,” Coons replied. “Because I think the ways in which President Trump has divided us, has taken advantage of our divisions and cracked wider open, has misled us during a pandemic. And has failed in his responsibility to keep America safe. I mean, to me, this isn't a close call.”
Biden kept his speech to just a few minutes, with his motorcade idling outside the Chase Center, waiting to ferry him back home.
“Kamala and I will talk to you tomorrow,” he said, mentioning his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, before ducking offstage.