Democratic nominee Joe Biden has won the most votes of any U.S. presidential candidate, surpassing former President Obama’s 2008 record on Wednesday afternoon.
With votes still being counted across the country – including in several swing states that will decide his contest against President Trump – Biden had more than 72 million votes as of midnight ET Thursday, according to The Associated Press.
Trump had about 68.5 million votes and could also potentially surpass Obama’s record.
In his inaugural bid for the White House, Obama garnered 69,498,516 million votes.
One factor that boosted Biden’s count: The U.S. population has grown by about 26 million people in the last 12 years.
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This year’s election has also seen high enthusiasm and turnout from voters on both sides — with record participation in several states. In Texas, the number of voters in 2020 already surpassed the state’s 2016 figure before Election Day because of early voting.
“This was an extraordinary election that appears to have spurred one of the highest turnouts in a century,” Rogers Smith, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times. “That means that both candidates are going to receive larger vote totals than they would have in the past.”
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While Democrat Hillary Clinton lost her bid for the White House in 2016, she beat Trump in the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Every Democratic presidential candidate since 2000 has won the popular vote — with the exception of former Secretary of State John Kerry in 2004.
While the Electoral College gives Republicans a slight edge in recent elections, Democrats have an edge in the popular vote due to high-population, solidly blue states like California and New York.
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By early Thursday, however, the presidential race still remained undecided, with several battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada, still counting votes. By midnight ET Thursday, Biden had 264 electoral votes and Trump had 214, according to the Fox News Decision Desk.