Crowds Gather In Austin To Celebrate Biden's Presidential Victory, While Trump Supporters Protest
Hundreds took to the streets of downtown Austin in celebration and protest after Democratic nominee Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election Saturday.
After the news broke, there were fireworks and cars honking horns throughout the city – particularly in the downtown area on Congress Avenue.
A crush of people gathered outside the Capitol, with Biden supporters waving flags, dancing and singing along to Queen's "We Are The Champions."
The scene was emblematic of the highly polarized campaign season. Biden voters and Trump supporters stood on the west and east corners of 11th Street, respectively – the Biden side chanting "Black lives matter" and the Trump side chanting "blue lives matter," according to KUT's Nadia Hamdan.
The Austin Police Department separated the demonstrators in the early afternoon and shut down the streets around the Capitol as the crowd poured in.
As of 4 p.m., northbound traffic on Congress Avenue stretched more than 11 blocks – all the way across Lady Bird Lake to Barton Springs Road.
The procession of traffic maintained a steady hum of honking horns, largely in support of Biden, throughout the afternoon, and APD cautioned drivers to avoid the area.
Biden received 72% of the vote in deeply Democratic Travis County. He also garnered the majority of votes in nearby Williamson and Hays counties, even though both counties went for Trump in 2016.
But Trump won Texas as a whole this election, earning 5.8 more percentage points than Biden as of Saturday, when 98% of votes had been counted in the state (the final numbers are still shaking out). In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Texas by 9 percentage points.
The news of Biden’s victory came nearly four days after election night. The world waited as four too-close-to-call states — Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada — continued counting ballots. Ultimately, it was Pennsylvania that clinched the race for Biden. The state’s 20 electoral votes put Biden over the 270 needed to win the Electoral College.
“I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in my Vice President-elect Harris,” Biden said in a statement Saturday morning. “In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America.”
The victory means California Sen. Kamala Harris will make history as the first woman to serve as vice president of the United States. She will be the first Black person, the first Indian American and the first Asian American to hold the office.
“A strong majority of Americans led to this victory," leaders of the Texas Democratic Party said in a statement. "Texas is proud to have delivered the third highest amount of raw votes for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. It’s time to unify our country. Biden and Harris will lead us forward and build our economy back better.”
A group of UT Austin sophomores who came to the Capitol to celebrate told KUT's Claire McInerny they had been watching election news coverage closely and wanted to take part in this historic moment.
“We’re just so happy because the last four years have been really bad,” Gabriela Long said. “Seeing a Black woman as vice president, after all of this, it really makes me emotional. Seeing someone I can look up to, because I haven’t been able to basically my whole life.”
Lillian Hodges said she was there for her grandma, mom and “all the women in my life.”
“This really is a year like no other, so we had to come,” she said.
In the days after polls closed, Trump and his campaign made false claims of election fraud and condemned mail-in voting, which increased this election because of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s campaign has filed lawsuits in several swing states, attempting to raise doubts about the results.
But “neither local government officials, international observers, news organizations or others have made any credible reports about widespread irregularities with voting practices through the election,” NPR reports.
At the state Capitol, Patrick, who would not share his last name, echoed many of the unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and called Biden “corrupt.”
“I’m just hoping that things work out peaceful,” he said. “But all we want is just a fair look at the vote.”
After the AP and other news outlets called the election, Trump released a statement saying, “The simple fact is this election is far from over” and reiterating his campaign’s plans to take the election to the courts.
Presidential races are always called by the media before elections are officially certified by states, which can happen weeks after Election Day. The AP calls races after determining the “trailing candidate has no possible path to victory, even factoring in the votes that remain to be counted,” according to NPR.
Biden continues to promote unity, saying in a statement, “it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation.” He is expected to address the nation at 7 p.m. Central.
This story has been updated.
KUT's Andrew Weber, Claire McInerny and Nadia Hamdan contributed to this report.
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