When and How Joe Biden Should Declare Victory

Joe Biden is a rule-follower running against a rule breaker. So, while Donald Trump was busy announcing in the wee hours of Wednesday morning that “frankly, we did win this election”—when in truth the race was too-close-to-call—Biden counseled caution. Trump’s statement was rated “egregiously false” by fact checkers. Biden’s statement hit such a proper note that it got compliments even from Republicans for his “patient” but “confident” message.

With each passing hour, however, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Democrat soon will have to cast aside caution.

While anything is possible in so turbulent a political year as 2020, the headlines and TV tickers now read “Biden on Brink of Win” and “Biden… on Brink of White House.” Biden has already won two of the three states that gave Trump an Electoral College advantage and the presidency in 2016—Wisconsin and Michigan—and the long count in the third state, Pennsylvania, is trending in his favor. Where Trump led by over 500,000 votes on Wednesday in Pennsylvania, his advantage had collapsed on Thursday to barely 78,000 votes. The Trump lead has continued to decline as mounds of mail votes are counted in Philadelphia and other Democratic cities. “The Biden people are very confident. The numbers are moving in his direction right now,” says former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a Republican who has reviewed the data from the Keystone State counties that are still counting. Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey Jr. is blunter. Pointing to the trend lines, Casey declared Thursday afternoon that a Biden win in the state had already become “inevitable.”

When, exactly? “I can’t make that guesstimate,” said Casey. But, he added, “no question, I think,…

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