His top lieutenants shared this view.
During a marathon Zoom session in May, after the first major round of the general election campaign, Mr Biden and his high command spent hours thinking about the voting card. By the end, they had their priorities set: They would focus on three Great Lakes states that Mr Trump turned around in 2016 – Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania – as well as Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina. The campaign was skeptical of its chances in Florida and viewed two other Sun Belt states, Georgia and Texas, as fascinating – but difficult and expensive to compete.
When Mr. Biden and Mrs. Harris returned to the Campaign Path, that card guided their activities and promotional strategy. They pounced on a couple of longer-shot targets, sending Ms. Harris to Texas at the last minute while Mr. Biden returned to Ohio, where polls showed he was competitive. Neither state was in the area on election night.
More fruitful was an aggressive late game for Georgia, a rapidly diversifying state where voters in the suburbs appeared to be heavily leaning towards the Democrats. In October, Mr. Biden’s pollster John Anzalone found that the former vice president had better chances of winning there than in North Carolina and even Florida, and Mr. Biden began his trip to Atlanta and Warm Springs. Ms. Harris made repeated visits to the state, and on the eve of the elections, the campaign decided to send former President Barack Obama to Georgia, not North Carolina, for one final push.
When the results became known on Tuesday, much of the Biden campaign was in a tense mood. In the first states to report, Florida and North Carolina, Mr. Trump performed several points better than Democratic polls predicted and well ahead of most media polls.
The Biden campaign publicly projected serenity, in contrast to Mr. Trump’s erratic behavior on Twitter and during late night remarks from the East Room. Greg Schultz, Mr. Biden’s former campaign manager during the Democratic primary, called on key supporters to reassure themselves, insisting that the early returnees in the Ohio suburbs bode well for the nearby swing states. However, for some excited listeners, it was not a convincing presentation.
Mr Biden’s inner circle grew more and more nervous as the night wore on and it became clear that the President was running stronger than expected. Jill Biden, former Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, and a number of Biden advisors telephoned Democrats across the country to find out more about the vote and the risk of Mr. Biden being lost.
In a matter of hours, Mr. Biden’s fate had improved when the great cities of the north raised their voices. It would be Saturday before Pennsylvania was called in his favor to confirm Mr. Biden had won more than the 270 electoral college votes required to run for the presidency. The Blue Wall stood for Democrats again, and Mr Biden was also able to prevail in the once red states of Arizona and Georgia.