His high lieutenants shared this assessment.
In a Zoom marathon session in May, after the campaign’s first big ballot in the general election, Mr Biden and his high command spent hours studying the electoral map. In the end, they had set their priorities: They would focus on three Great Lakes states that Mr. Trump reversed in 2016 – Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania – as well as Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. . The campaign was skeptical of its chances in Florida and saw two other Sun Belt states, Georgia and Texas, as intriguing – but difficult and expensive to compete.
When Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris returned to the election trail, this map guided their activities and advertising strategy. They rushed over a few longer-firing targets, sending Ms Harris on a last-minute trip to Texas, while Mr Biden returned to Ohio, where polls showed him competitive. Neither state ended up being close on election night.
More successful was an aggressive late game for Georgia, a rapidly diversifying state where suburban voters seemed to sway strongly towards Democrats. In October, Mr Biden’s pollster John Anzalone determined the former vice president had a better chance of winning there than in North Carolina and even Florida, and Mr Biden embarked on his trip. in Atlanta and Warm Springs. Ms Harris has visited the state several times, and on the eve of the election, the campaign decided to send former President Barack Obama to Georgia rather than North Carolina for a last ditch effort.
As the results began to arrive on Tuesday, a tense mood settled in much of the Biden campaign. In the first states to report, Florida and North Carolina, Mr. Trump was faring several points better than Democratic polls expected, and considerably ahead of most media inquiries .
The Biden campaign has publicly projected its cool, unlike Mr. Trump’s erratic behavior on Twitter and during the East Room’s late-night remarks. Greg Schultz, Mr Biden’s former campaign manager during the Democratic primaries, held a call with key supporters for reassurance, insisting that the early returns to suburban Ohio bode well for neighboring swing states. But to some restless listeners, it wasn’t a convincing presentation.
Mr Biden’s inner circle grew more and more edgy as the night wore on and it became clear that the president was running harder than expected. Jill Biden, former Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd and an array of Biden advisers have called Democrats across the country to find out more about the vote count and whether Mr. Biden risks losing.
Within hours, Mr. Biden’s fortunes had improved as the major cities of the North reported their votes. It would take until Saturday, when Pennsylvania was called in his favor, to confirm that Mr. Biden had won more than the 270 constituency votes required to claim the presidency. The Blue Wall represented Democrats again, and Mr Biden could also win in the once red states of Arizona and Georgia.