Democrat Joe Biden was projected as the winner of the closely contested 2020 presidential election by media outlets Saturday (Nov. 7), even as President Donald Trump pledged to challenge results in some battleground states.
Southern Baptist leaders responded by calling for prayer for Biden and the country.
The Associated Press and other news outlets declared a win for Biden and his vice presidential running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, late Saturday morning after a lengthy vote-counting process in multiple states following election day, which was Nov. 3.
AP called both Nevada and Pennsylvania for Biden on Saturday morning, giving the former vice president 290 electoral votes by its projections. AP had yet to project a winner in Alaska, Georgia and North Carolina. Trump, credited by AP with 214 electoral votes, led in Alaska and North Carolina, while Biden held a narrow advantage in Georgia.
In the vital contest for control of the Senate, it remained uncertain which political party would hold the majority. The Republican and Democratic caucuses both have 48 seats with two races yet to be called by AP and two others headed for run-off elections.
In a written statement after Saturday’s projection of his win, Biden said he is “honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed” in Harris and him.
“With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal.”
Trump maintained his post-election message of questioning the vote count and promising court challenges.
“The simple fact is this election is far from over,” the president said in a written statement Saturday. “Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.
“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.”
In Nov. 5 remarks at the White House, Trump said he would “easily win” if legal votes are counted. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us,” he said.
Southern Baptist leaders reacted to Saturday’s development by calling for prayer.
After the presidential projection was announced by various media outlets, SBC President J.D. Greear tweeted: “Join me in praying for @joebiden and our country. Pray for wisdom, justice, and truth. I pray for success in where he leads in what is righteous and right.”
Marshal Ausberry, the SBC’s first vice president and president of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC, tweeted: “Praying for our Nation; and praying that God will keep His hand on America.”
Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC Executive Committee, said in written comments for Baptist Press: “Southern Baptists are a praying people, and I call for everyone to obey the sufficient Scripture’s command to pray for our government leaders every day. Only God can heal the deep division in America and this is why we must pray.
“As the Church, we are to always be committed to loving God with all of our hearts, loving one another even through challenging times, making every effort to walk in oneness together, and always focusing on sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the whole world.”
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote in a blog post posted Saturday: “No matter how you voted, now is the time to pray for the country and for our newly elected leaders in both the White House and the Congress.
“If we seek first the kingdom of God, then we can ask God to bring about good from our leaders — to hold them accountable when they don’t and to commend them when they do, without checking first with whether praying for such is to the advantage or disadvantage of whatever our temporal ‘tribe’ might be.
“What we should pray for regarding government leaders, for all of them, is wisdom and discernment, that they might do what is right. And having prayed so, we should hope that what is just and right will be done, by all of them.”
The projection of Biden as the winner followed a presidential campaign – and a post-election wait – that revealed deep fissures among Christians, including Southern Baptists.
Vote counts were close in such battleground states as Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Claims of voter fraud and election irregularities had yet to be confirmed but led to the prospect of legal battles in various courts.
In addition to questioning the results in other states, the Trump campaign asked for a recount in Wisconsin. In Georgia, Biden led at 1 p.m. (EST) Saturday by fewer than 7,500 votes of nearly five million cast, according to AP. The Georgia secretary of state announced a recount because of the closeness of the vote.
“Election fraud is a serious matter. Baseless claims of fraud is too,” Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted Friday night. “To sort this out, we must be thorough, evidence-based, [and] follow federal [and] state laws. Clarity and certainty may take time….”
The election result as projected means Harris would be the first female, first Black American and first person of Indian descent to be U.S. vice president, according to U.S News and World Report.
A Biden presidency would make control of the Senate critically important, especially for pro-life advocates and social conservatives. A majority would give Republicans the opportunity to block such liberal proposals by Biden and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives as overturning bans on federal funding of abortion. But success might be limited because of the narrowness of their advantage.
The GOP, which holds a 53-47 majority in the current Senate, is deadlocked with Democrats at 48-48 as of 1 p.m. (EST) Saturday, according to AP. Republicans led races in Alaska and North Carolina, but the races for both seats in Georgia appear destined for run-off elections. If the Democrats win two of the four races yet to be called, the Senate’s party breakdown would be 50-50. Democrats would be the majority, in effect, by virtue of Harris casting the tie-breaking vote as presiding officer of the chamber.
In the House, it appears Democrats will maintain control but with a smaller majority. As of 1 p.m. (EST) Saturday, AP reported a 214-195 margin for the Democratic Party, but Republicans have a net gain of five seats so far with decisions in 26 races not yet projected. A House majority constitutes 218 seats.
In the current House, Democrats have a 232-197 advantage, with one seat held by a Libertarian Party member and five vacancies.
Pro-life Republican women made substantial gains in the House elections. All 11 pro-life incumbents won re-election, and at least 13 pro-life women were elected to the House, according to the Susan B. Anthony List. As of Nov. 4, eight other races involving GOP pro-life women had yet to be called, the organization reported.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)