If Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds on to slim leads in Nevada and Arizona (and possibly wins Pennsylvania and Georgia for good measure), he will be our next president and will have managed to do what few presidential contenders have ever done.

As he said in his news conference on Wednesday, “Only three presidential campaigns in the past have defeated an incumbent president. When it’s finished, God willing, we’ll be the fourth. This is a major achievement.” What he did not say is that he had to do this in the face of multiple abuses, including serial Hatch Act violations, efforts to destroy the U.S. Postal Service and an attempt to extort a foreign power to manufacture dirt on him.

He also managed to win more popular votes than any candidate in history (more than 70 million and counting), flip the three blue states Donald Trump won in 2016 and make historic inroads in the Sun Belt, potentially becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona since 1996 and Georgia since 1992. Moreover, thanks to his selection, Kamala D. Harris will now become the first female and first Black vice-president-elect in history.

Biden and Harris appear to have won despite a right-wing media universe willing to distort, deny and lie about verifiable facts and despite a mainstream media that was far too restrained in calling a lie a lie and in preventing President Trump from using their platforms to spread abject falsehoods.

Biden will also be the seventh Democrat in the past eight elections to have won the popular vote, once more illustrating the degree to which our system has departed from the basic concept of majority rule.

Had Republican lawmakers allowed Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to begin tabulating votes a week or so ago, we likely would have known all this late Tuesday night or early Wednesday. Trump’s predictable claims that he was cheated had one salutary effect: He finally provoked some Republican lawmakers and Fox News commentators to recover some sense of responsibility and acquaint themselves with reality by debunking the notion that voting should stop. If Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch actually did rebuke Trump when Trump reportedly called to demand that Fox News retract its correct call for Arizona, we might have seen the first baby step toward a world in which we share some common facts and respect for democracy. (Disclosure: I am an MSNBC commentator.)

Readers might point out that the election result would be different had Trump not presided over a pandemic and tanked the economy. Even if that were the case, there is a good possibility it would not have made all that much difference. His base declined to hold him responsible for deaths of about 230,000 Americans due to covid-19 and still clung to the notion that the glorious economy in Trump’s first three years (which were less glorious than President Barack Obama’s final three years) could be re-created by the man who wrecked it.

It was not within Biden’s ability to save Democratic Senate candidates in deep-red states who could not reverse the trend toward straight-ticket voting. Likewise, Democratic losses in red districts where a Democrat had managed to overperform and win in 2018 was not surprising given the straight-ticket voting pattern that now predominates.

To the credit of Democratic primary voters, they picked perhaps the one candidate who could patch together an electoral majority. To the credit of staffers on the Biden team, they knew what their task was and they executed it.

We are a country in which the popular vote is decided by two to three percentage points, just as was the case in 2004 and 2012 and 2016. The media (myself included) was a victim of bad polling (again), but Biden was not. He campaigned where he needed to win.

There are deep problems in America that stem from one party’s refusal to operate in the factual world in favor of a world that allows ignorance and resentment to shape political views. I will have much to say in the coming days about what we do about that. But if the country wanted someone who would beat Trump and heal the country, it picked the right guy.

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Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center warns that the president is doing the work of our foreign adversaries by undermining the legitimacy of the U.S. election. (The Washington Post)

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