Democratic nominee Joe Biden has surpassed former President Barack Obama’s 2008 popular vote record and has won more overall votes than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history.
With ballots still being counted, Biden is leading the popular vote with 72,187,250 votes (50.4 percent) against President Donald Trump who has earned 68,691,756 votes (48 percent) as of Thursday morning (EST), according to the Associated Press. Biden’s current vote tally surpasses Obama’s record of 69,498,516 set in 2008 in a race against Sen. John McCain, while Trump is on track to exceed the record as well.
Winning the popular vote does not mean winning the election. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote against Trump, surpassing him in over 2 million votes, but failed to receive enough electoral college votes.
Candidates must win 270 electoral college votes to secure the White House. As of Thursday morning (EST), Biden has won 264 electoral college votes, while Trump collected 214, according to the Associated Press and Fox News, which has included Arizona in their count. Meanwhile, Decision Desk and other media have not called the winner for Arizona, which means Biden has only won 253 votes in those tallies.
Arizona, a key battleground state that was won by Trump in 2016, is crucial for the president if he is to win re-election. Although AP and other media called the state for Biden early on, Phoenix-based data analysis and political consulting firm Data Orbital said the ballots still being counted may be heavily Republican, which could potentially flip the state for Trump.
Vote counts in the state on Thursday morning show that Trump’s vote deficit had shrunk after Maricopa County reported a difference of around 75,000 votes compared to over 85,000 votes previously. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported on Thursday that Biden has 1,469,341 votes in all of Arizona, while Trump has 1,400,951, a difference of 68,390 votes, with 88 percent of the precincts reporting.
The surge in popularity for both candidates could be due to the high turnout of voters and early voting this year. The strong turnout follows the country’s population growth of over 20 million in the last decade and high enthusiasm among voters for both sides. Several states have seen their 2020 voters turnout surpass 2016 numbers.
On Wednesday, Biden made comments about his lead in the popular vote, saying that it is “of special significance to me that we’ve won with the majority of the American people,” while declaring that he believes that he would become victorious.
“And every indication is that the majority will grow. We have a popular vote lead of nearly 3 million votes, and every indication is that will grow,” the former vice president said.
On Thursday morning the election remained undecided as several battleground states such as Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Georgia were still counting votes. Trump on Wednesday evening declared victory in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
We have claimed, for Electoral Vote purposes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (which won’t allow legal observers) the State of Georgia, and the State of North Carolina, each one of which has a BIG Trump lead,” Trump wrote.
No news outlets or organizations have declared the states for Trump.
Tom Ozimek and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.