WASHINGTON DC: Democrat Joe Biden has won the White House, US media said Saturday, defeating Donald Trump and ending a presidency that convulsed American politics, shocked the world and left the US more divided than at any time in decades.
CNN, NBC News and CBS News called the race in Biden's favor just before 11:30 am (1630 GMT) as an insurmountable lead in Pennsylvania took the 77-year-old over the top in the state-by-state count that decides the presidency.
Trump had no immediate reaction to the announcement, but as Biden's lead grew during vote counts since Tuesday's election, the Republican president lashed out with unsubstantiated claims of fraud and claimed, falsely, that he had won.
Earlier Saturday, as he headed to his golf course in Virginia, he repeated this, tweeting: "I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!"
However, the result now condemns 74-year-old Trump to becoming the first one-term president since George H. W. Bush at the start of the 1990s.
Biden, who got the votes of a record more than 74 million people, was hunkered down with his running mate Kamala Harris, in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware.
He pledged to be a "president for all Americans," after US networks projected he has defeated Republican incumbent Donald Trump in their bitterly contested election.
"The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans - whether you voted for me or not," the 77-year-old former vice president said in a tweet.
"With the campaign over, it's time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation," he said in a separate statement. "It's time for America to unite. And to heal."
Donald Trump's statement on the result:
“We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don’t want the truth to be exposed. The simple fact is this election is far from over. Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor. In Pennsylvania, for example, our legal observers were not permitted meaningful access to watch the counting process. Legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.
“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated. The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots. This is the only way to ensure the public has full confidence in our election. It remains shocking that the Biden campaign refuses to agree with this basic principle and wants ballots counted even if they are fraudulent, manufactured, or cast by ineligible or deceased voters. Only a party engaged in wrongdoing would unlawfully keep observers out of the count room – and then fight in court to block their access.
“So what is Biden hiding? I will not rest until the American People have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands.”
The Secret Service has already begun intensifying its protective bubble around the president-elect, who will be inaugurated on January 20.
A centrist who promises to bring calm to Washington after four turbulent years under Trump, Biden is the oldest man to win the presidency - a position he twice sought unsuccessfully during his long political career, before being elected vice president to Barack Obama in 2008.
Harris, a senator and former California attorney general, will make history as the first Black woman to enter the White House in either of the two top jobs. At 56, she is seen as a leading contender to succeed Biden and try to become the first female US president.
The Vice President-elect said she and President-elect Joe Biden have a lot of work to do on Saturday.
Harris made the comments in a tweet shortly after Biden clinched the presidency by winning Pennsylvania.
She said, “This election is about so much more than Joe Biden or me. It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us."
Biden is expected to address the nation after 8 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday (1 a.m. Sunday GMT and 4 p.m. in Saudi Arabia) from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, according to a campaign aide.
Overall turnout on Tuesday broke records with some 160 million people pouring out across the United States after a deeply polarizing campaign complicated by the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden secured his win by recapturing the Midwestern states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin -- traditional Democratic territory that Trump had flipped in 2016 with his powerful appeal to white, working class voters.
With Pennsylvania in the bag, Biden has now accumulated 273 out of 538 Electoral College votes, clearing the bar of 270, thereby making it impossible for Trump to get a second term even if he were to win the remaining undeclared states.
Biden was also ahead in Arizona, Nevada and in a near dead heat in Georgia -- a southern state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992 and is now headed for a recount.
Results from congressional races indicate that Biden will face a divided legislature, with his Democrats holding a majority in the House and Republicans clinging to control of the Senate -- although that could still shift.
The division in Washington will likely complicate immediately Biden's ability to govern, starting with disputes in Congress over a delayed economic stimulus package for Americans hammered by the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.