President-elect Joe Biden is projected to win the presidential race in Georgia, becoming the first Democratic White House hopeful in nearly three decades to carry the state.
Multiple news outlets projected on Friday afternoon that Biden would win the state, releasing their projections 10 days after polls closed in the state amid a tight race.
Biden’s apparent victory in Georgia is a historic moment for Democrats, who have long been relegated to second-place in the state. But a combination of changing demographics and rapidly growing urban and suburban populations in recent years have shifted the political playing field there, raising Democratic hopes that Georgia may soon become a new electoral battleground.
For President Trump, the projected loss is a major setback in his bid for a second term. He carried Georgia in 2016 by 5 points and had hoped that strong support among rural white conservatives in the state would be enough to help him capture its 16 electoral votes.
Biden is currently projected to win the Electoral College by a margin of 306 to 232.
The last Republican presidential candidate to lose Georgia was former President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Biden’s projected victory came more than a week after polls closed in the state. Officials scrambled to count thousands of outstanding absentee ballots, many of them in the Democratic strongholds in and around Atlanta and Savannah.
Early returns showed Trump taking a comfortable lead, but as new vote tallies came in, his advantage dissipated. As of Friday afternoon, Biden led Trump by more than 14,000 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.
A full recount has already been ordered in Georgia, with the audit expected to be done by Nov. 20, when the state must certify its results.
"With the margin being so close, it will require a full, by-hand recount in each county. This will help build confidence. It will be an audit, a recount and a recanvass all at once. It will be a heavy lift, but we will work with the counties to get this done in time for our state certification," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Trump's campaign had filed a legal challenge last week alleging that officials in Chatham County, which includes Savannah, had illegally counted absentee ballots received after the state’s Election Day deadline.
Pre-election polling sheds light on Biden’s support in Georgia. The former vice president benefited from broad backing from Black voters, who make up about a third of the state’s electorate. But he also managed to build strong support among white college graduates and suburban voters, who have moved away from Trump in recent years after backing him in 2016.
Trump, meanwhile, did little to expand his support beyond the conservative base of white voters, seeking to rally the same bloc of voters who helped him win the state four years ago.
Also on Friday, Trump was projected as the winner in North Carolina, another southern state Democrats had hoped to flip. Georgia and North Carolina were the last two states to be called after Pennsylvania and Arizona were moved into the Biden column.
Trump has refused to concede the race, alleging widespread fraud without evidence.
Biden, meanwhile, has begun the process of transitioning into his administration, though his advisers say Trump's refusal to provide his team with access to government intelligence is putting American national security at risk.
—Updated at 3:14 p.m.