In The Nation, John Nichols advises When and How Joe Biden Should Declare Victory. If Pennsylvania goes for Biden, he should move immediately and decisively to declare that Trump has been defeated.
It might take a while. The news media are being very cautious in calling the remaining states - Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia - as more mail ballots drift in. But when it does come Nichols has this advice.
By Thursday afternoon, Biden was projected as the winner of states with 253 electoral votes, as compared with 213 for Trump. He needs 270 to win. He can get there most quickly and easily via Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes. Or he can go via a combination of states that are still counting—Georgia with 16 electoral votes, North Carolina with 15, Arizona with 11, and Nevada with 6. As of Thursday afternoon, Biden was already ahead in Arizona and Nevada and only narrowly behind in the others. …
He now has a lead in Georgia.
Biden isn’t going to get ahead of himself. I have covered this man for decades, as a senator, a vice president, and a presidential candidate. I have seen him in triumph and in defeat. After 50 years of bidding for office, he knows when and how a winner gets to declare victory. He will follow the old-school political protocols and wait until the Associated Press has declared him the winner of a sufficient number of states to claim the 270 electoral votes required to take the job from Trump. That’s appropriate and, frankly, appealing in contrast to the petulant president he seeks to replace.
But if and when the moment of victory comes, the former vice president will need to move quickly and decisively. He can’t afford to leave any opening for Trump to claim that a settled result is somehow uncertain.
Fortunately, Biden and his team appear to recognize this. They’ve been proactive in making statements and gently spinning the narrative in their direction. But when the 270 figure is achieved, the former vice president must make it clear that the transition process has begun. This is about more than launching a transition website, as the Biden campaign has already done. This is about putting an exclamation mark on the decision of the people of the United States to end the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
Biden can get to the talk of “healing” and “unity” that are another part of the protocols for any presidents-elect. But he will make things less difficult, for himself and for his country, if he fully embraces the will of the people and declares in clear and unequivocal terms that Trump has been defeated.