Mainers in Portland and beyond celebrated into the night Saturday after major news organizations called the 2020 presidential election for former Vice President Joe Biden, who defeated President Trump in a contest marked by fierce division and the scourge of the coronavirus.

The Associated Press called the race at 11:28 a.m. As the news spread, an air horn rang out through a quiet residential neighborhood in North Deering. Honks and whoops echoed through Portland’s leafy, tranquil West End. A trio of young people popped an impromptu bottle of champagne at Fort Sumner Park on Munjoy Hill.

Washington Avenue in Portland, home to tasting rooms and restaurants, erupted in cheers from passers-by and honks from passing cars. A man wearing a Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap got a cheer of his own, perhaps because overwhelmingly Democratic vote totals from Pennsylvania’s largest city helped push Biden to victory.

Scattered expressions of joy throughout the city coalesced into a dance party in Monument Square that lasted into the night.

Just before noon, Shanna-Kay Wright, owner of Yardie Ting, a Jamaican restaurant at Monument Square, came outside with her two daughters and danced at the edge of the crowd for about an hour. At 4 p.m., she was back upstairs preparing food, with the party still going below.

“I think this is absolutely amazing,” she said. “It’s a sign of unity, that we can all come together.”


Wright was born in Jamaica and came to the U.S. 15 years ago. Sen. Kamala Harris is the first woman, and the first person of Jamaican and Indian descent, to be elected vice president.

“It’s super exciting,” Wright said of Harris’s racial and ethnic background, “but it’s even more exciting that there’s a woman in the White House.”

As an immigrant, Wright said the past four years had been difficult to endure. She urged both supporters of President Trump and President-elect Biden to remember what binds them together.

“I think (Trump’s) policies were selfish – it’s all, ‘Mine, mine, mine.’ But we all immigrated here from somewhere,” she said. “People tend to forget that.”

Meanwhile, as night fell, hundreds of people gathered along Congress Street, shouting, clapping and waving whatever happened to be at hand – handmade signs, American flags and, in one case, a pair of brooms.

“It means we’re sweeping him out of office,” said Chris Leshinger, a visitor from Boston who happened to be buying cleaning supplies when the race was called.


With Leshinger was Megan Tozzi, a 21-year-old Bostonian who voted in her first presidential election on Tuesday. Tozzi, who is originally from Tennessee, said she was exhausted by the division of the Trump era and wanted Biden to bring unity.

“I just hope he brings the country together,” she said. “Right now there’s a horrible divide, and it needs to be healed.”

Biden’s election was also celebrated in South Portland on Saturday.

Jules Michals, who lives on Hamilton Street, was watching election coverage on television when the announcement came. He started yelling, then ran outside, “hootin’ and hollering and whistling.”

A neighbor heard him and asked “Did he win?” then joined in the celebration. Another neighbor started banging pots and pans. A man working in a yard down the street joined in as well. And there was a cowbell. It was like dominoes, from house to house, Michals said. “And then we hear yelling from another neighborhood,” he said. “It was amazing. It was just a phenomenal moment.”

Later, he popped a bottle of champagne and heard fireworks in the distance.


Michals said he has neighbors who supported President Trump, but the celebration was not meant to be a form of gloating. “We’re not angry people by nature,” he said. “We were simply being joyful that our guy won, and our lady won.”

Portland voted overwhelmingly for Biden on Tuesday, giving him 33,784 votes to Trump’s 6,483. Statewide, Biden took 53 percent of the vote to Trump’s 44 percent; the president won the electoral vote in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District by coming out on top there.

Biden was declared the winner late Saturday morning after the AP and other outlets called the race in Pennsylvania for him, pushing his Electoral College total over 270. Trump had gone golfing earlier that morning, having falsely claimed on Twitter that he had “WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!”

Later on Saturday, the president tweeted more claims of election fraud and touted the more than 70 million votes he had received, which he said were the most ever for a sitting president. This is true, though at least 4 million more people voted for Biden. Votes are still being counted.

Angus King, Maine’s junior U.S. senator, congratulated Biden on Twitter Saturday afternoon, but added that he and Vice President-elect Harris “cannot solve our problems and bridge our divisions alone; we must all come together and put the country first.”

As of 6 p.m., representatives for Sen. Susan Collins, Maine’s Republican senior senator, had not responded to questions about Biden’s victory. Collins, who was re-elected on Tuesday, had not posted to social media or her website about the results.


Democratic Gov. Janet Mills congratulated Biden and Harris in a statement and said she looks forward to working with them “to improve the lives of Maine people. There are challenging times ahead for our state and nation as we continue to battle this deadly pandemic, keep people healthy and alive, chart a course for economic recovery, and begin to heal the divisions in our nation.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District who was re-elected this past week, called Biden’s victory “a triumph for democracy and decency.”

Biden and Harris’ “margin was decisive in our great state of Maine, too, as Mainers made clear their desire for empathy, dignity, and urgent solutions,” Pingree added in a statement.

“The American people have spoken,” the Maine Democratic Party said in a statement a few minutes after the election was called. It added that “with their ballots, a majority of Mainers rejected Trump’s failed leadership and voted to return unity, stability, and strength to the White House.”

Demi Kouzounas, who chairs the Maine Republican Party, declined to acknowledge that the race was over on Saturday, noting that recounts and legal challenges are continuing in a number of states.

Kouzounas echoed Trump’s attacks on the news media, saying in an email Saturday afternoon, “The media does not choose our President by calling the election – voters choose our President.”


“We await the full and final results so all Americans know the winner of this election beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Kouzounas said.

News organizations called the race on Saturday after returns in key states such as Nevada and Pennsylvania indicated that chances for an Electoral College comeback for Trump were statistically close to nil. The Trump campaign has challenged results or called for recounts in several states, and court cases are pending.

Soon after the news outlets began calling the election for Biden, protesters supporting Trump gathered outside the Blaine House in Augusta to chant, “Stop the steal” and “Recount the vote,” claiming without evidence that the election had been “stolen” from Trump. The rally had been planned before the results were announced.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad contributed to this report.

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