The outside stage was all set in Wilmington, Del., For Joseph R. Biden Jr. to speak and address the nation – presumably in a victory speech as president-elect.
There were banners and spotlights and people in cars ready to honk their approval for the next president and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris. But the hour was getting late and the vote count continued, with no sign of a winner in the contest between Mr. Biden and President Trump.
Finally, around 11 p.m., Mr. Biden emerged. He did not give a victory speech, but came as close as possible, speaking about what he intended to do as president while assuring Americans that “your vote will be counted.” It was clear that Mr. Biden was becoming as restless with the long and laborious account as much of the country.
“It‘s that slow,” Biden said, describing watching the numbers flow on television. “As slow as it gets, it can be numbing.”
It has now been four days since polling day. As long as it sounds, it is a far cry from the 36 days it took in 2000 before the Supreme Court ended the recount and effectively declared George W. Bush the winner over Al Gore.
While all indications suggest that Mr. Biden was successful in defeating Mr. Trump, he’s still close enough in four states – Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Georgia – that the contest remains unsolved.
As the number of outstanding ballots slowly dwindled, Mr. Trump increasingly found himself with only legal challenges to avoid defeat. He was unusually out of sight on Friday.
This post-election limbo was more proof of the bizarre election it was. Polling counters have been overwhelmed by the record number of early votes in the mail due to the pandemic; hence the slow and meticulous counts taking place across the country.
Most elections end when one candidate calls on the other to give in. Mr. Trump may be lagging behind – with dwindling hopes of winning – but he’s not the kind of person to concede. And it is not in Mr. Biden’s political interest to unilaterally declare victory (as Mr. Trump effectively did) and fuel the conspiracy theory pushed by the President and his supporters that Democrats are trying to steal the elections.
The count therefore continues. And on. And on.