WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden's record winning tally has now crossed 80 million votes, according to the Associated Press' count, as Democratic bastions continue to count ballots and the 2020 election cracks turnout records.
Biden had already set a record for the highest number of votes for a winning presidential candidate, and President Donald Trump has also notched a high-water mark of the most votes for a losing candidate.
President-elect Biden's 80 million vote record crushes the last record set by Barack Obama in the 2008 election of 69.5 million votes.
The rising Biden tally and his popular vote lead — more than 6.1 million votes — come as Trump has escalated his false insistence that he actually won the election, and his campaign and supporters intensify their uphill legal fight to stop or delay results, potentially nullifying the votes of Americans.
“It's just a lot of noise going on, because Donald Trump is a bull who carries his own china shop with him,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “Once the noise recedes, it's going to be clear that Biden won a very convincing victory.”
Biden has a projected Electoral College lead of 306-232.
Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University, has compared Biden's still-growing popular vote and Electoral College margins to those of every winner of a presidential election since 1960. His finding: Biden's win was right in the middle — tighter than landslides like Barack Obama's 2008 win or Ronald Reagan's 1984 wipeout reelection, but broader than Trump's 2016 victory or either of George W. Bush's two wins.
The closest analogy was Obama's reelection, which he won by virtually the same margin as Biden has now.
“Did anyone think 2012 was a narrow victory? No," Naftali said.
Despite that, Trump and his allies are continuing to try to stop certification of the election, in a longshot attempt to deny states the ability to seat electors supporting Biden.
In fact, argued Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who tracks vote counts for the U.S. Elections Project, the relatively narrow Biden wins in battleground states tell a different story than the one the president is pushing.
Democrats have worried that the gap between the popular vote and the Electoral College tallies is growing as Democratic voters cluster on the coasts and outside of battleground states. That dynamic could make it difficult for Democrats to win congressional races, creating a lasting disadvantage when it comes to advancing policies.
“If there's anything in the data here, it reveals how the system is stacked against the Democrats, not stacked against Trump,” McDonald said.