After a long four-day wait for the 2020 presidential race to be called, Pennsylvania pulled through for former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday morning. Upon hearing the news, Penn students and thousands of local residents filled the streets, dancing and singing in celebration.
Biden's win in Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state that 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump won in 2016, pushed the former Penn Presidential Professor of Practice across the 270-vote threshold to become president-elect, projected by NBC News and Associated Press at approximately 11:25 a.m. on Saturday. From Philadelphia City Hall, Pennsylvania Convention Center, to Independence Hall, Penn students and the city of Philadelphia rejoiced the long-awaited victory all afternoon and evening.
Among the hundreds of people gathered in front of City Hall at approximately 1:30 p.m., college students from Penn, Temple University, and Drexel University led the festivities in dance and song.
“I’m really happy with the way that it turned out,” Wharton sophomore Joseph Pineda said. “I think this is a huge step forward for America, and I’m ready to start feeling empathy and sympathy for our fellow Americas and seeing positive change for everyone.”
College junior Rachel Pak, who rushed to City Hall with Pineda and three other Penn students after various media outlets declared Biden's victory, agreed, adding that a change in the country's leadership has been long overdue.
“We’ve been fighting an uphill battle for the past four years, and it's finally time to take back some ground,” she said.
Many of the final votes trickling in came from Philadelphia County, overwhelmingly in favor of Biden. The projection for Pennsylvania ended a four-day state projection drought, where the country waited with bated breath for a winner to finally be called.
Other Penn and Philadelphia community members stood around the perimeter of the densely packed crowd of young people, observing and occasionally joining in song.
“I’m just here to be part of the collective effervescence and feel like our state and our city made a difference in this election which has been a long time coming,” first-year Penn Medicine student Maria Merolle said. “Maybe the times are finally going to change in the U.S., at least a little bit. [I’m] just trying to enjoy a beautiful day with like-minded people who hate Donald Trump.”
The National Guard was stationed around City Hall in case of potential unrest in the wake of the election.
Amid the widespread celebrations, Trump supporters like grassroots organization Bikers For Trump also took to the streets to rally against the outcome of the election and throw their support behind the current one-term President.
In front of the Convention Center at 12th and Arch streets, barricades and policemen separated a few dozen Trump supporters from hundreds of Biden supporters early afternoon through late evening. Recordings of Trump’s declarations to “make America great again” filled the air as hundreds of Biden supporters booed.
Among the Biden supporters were College seniors Alex Pearlstein and Jason Hoskins who had just come from the celebrations in front of City Hall at approximately 2:00 p.m. Pearlstein and Hoskins described the last several days as nerve-wracking, having to constantly check the news and hope Biden would pull through.
“It was super difficult to concentrate and focus on anything, so it was a huge relief to really no longer have to be staring at my phone or at the news,” Hoskins said. “[After seeing the news that Biden had won], I was so excited and just went straight to the city to be around a lot of positivity, because I feel like in the past we haven’t had much positivity lately.”
Pearlstein added that he came to join the celebrations as a means of catharsis and to let out all the anxiety of the past four days.
Similarly, Engineering senior Raina Mittal said she was afraid the election would be a repeat of 2016 when Trump managed to turn key battleground states red and defeat Hillary Clinton. Despite the Trump administration's lawsuits against alleged voter fraud for which there is no evidence, Mittal said she is confident the outcome of the election will not change.
College senior Livvy Fielding added that she, too, was initially skeptical that Biden could garner the 270 electoral votes needed to defeat Trump but is ecstatic she was proven wrong.
“Having him win by not a landslide but almost a landslide is insane and having someone who is not a white supremacist, who accepts science, who will work for American people even if they’re not white and they’re not rich is amazing,” Fielding said.
This year's election has seen a record high turnout with at least 159.8 million projected ballots cast. Biden earned a record 74.5 million votes and counting, breaking Obama’s tally of 69.5 million votes in 2008.
At Independence Hall located at 520 Chestnut Street, hundreds of people congregated to listen to community leaders like Service Employees International Union Executive Vice President Neal Bisno and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO President Sara Nelson speak as part of the “Count Every Vote” rally — one of many across the country in the past couple days.
College senior Matt Tomaselli ventured with a group of friends all the way from University City to Independence Hall to celebrate Biden’s win.
“I think people are just really excited that this nation has rejected bigotry and intolerance, and I think that this is just a really important moment in our country, for so many activists, particularly of color in this city,” Tomaselli, who hails from Maryland but cast his vote in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, said. “Philadelphia really put the ball over the finish line and it’s just awesome. It’s great to see that America has spoken.”
The vast majority of Penn undergraduate students surveyed by The Daily Pennsylvanian from Oct. 12 to Oct. 20 planned to vote for Biden, with only 10% of students saying they would vote for Trump.
Second-term City Councilmember and 1993 College graduate Helen Gym led the crowd of hundreds as they marched from Independence Hall to City Hall from approximately 2:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Against the backdrop of drums and horns, marchers chanted, “Hey hey ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go,” and held various signs like “Voters decide,” “Trump/Pence out now!,” and “Show me what democracy looks like.”
Among the marchers was 2015 Penn graduate Rick Castorani who wanted to partake in the celebrations to show his pride for the city that helped Biden secure the presidency.
“[We showed] we can turn the corner from something so dark and dividing and come together as a country and elect the first Black woman Vice President,” he said. “Joe Biden is incredible and [we got] Donald Trump out of the way. I couldn’t be more proud of this country.”