Shortly after major US networks called the presidential election for Joe Biden, Donald Trump released a statement saying the election was "far from over".
Trump, who was golfing in Virginia when the networks made their calls for his rival, immediately accused Biden of "rushing to falsely pose as the winner."
Winning the battleground state of Pennsylvania's 20 Electoral College votes gave Biden more than the 270 he needed, prompting all major TV networks to declare the former vice president the winner after four days of nail-biting suspense following Tuesday's election.
As the call was made people streamed to the White House to celebrate outside a security fence as the sound of booming fireworks was heard in the distance.
In the New York borough of Brooklyn, cars honked and people pumped their fist and cheered on the street.
"The nightmare is over," said Andrew Ravin, 45, while his neighbour Kenneth Henry, 51, said, "We can breathe again."
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hundreds shouted and cheered outside the city hall.
City hall Philadelphia. pic.twitter.com/9OkAB2QvO2— Tariq Thachil (@tariqthachil) November 7, 2020
Trump, however, has not formally conceded.
Some of his supporters were not ready to stand down either.
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the state that put Biden over the 270 Electoral College votes he needed to win, about 100 pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" protesters demonstrated in front of the state Capitol building.
There are likely to be recounts in several states, and Trump continues to wage legal fights to nullify the results.
Even so he faces a formidable struggle to prevail in the Electoral College that decides US elections. Each state is allotted electoral votes based on its population. In most states, the candidate that wins the popular vote takes all its electoral votes, no matter how close the margin of victory. In the popular vote nationally, Biden has so far racked up 4.1 million more votes than Trump.
Though Trump lost the White House, according to media outlets that called the tight race, he clearly outperformed scores of polls that suggested he might lose in a landslide and proved his base of supporters was bigger and more loyal than many observers realised.
Democrats had hoped that voters would hand Trump a stark repudiation of his often chaotic first term and his divisive campaign.
Instead, Trump has captured about 7.3 million more votes than he did in 2016, preliminary returns show.
Republicans also gained five seats in the US House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats. The Republican party's strong showing, defying critics and pundits, came despite a massive fundraising advantage enjoyed by Democrats at the campaign's end and, according to polls, a sharp turn of support toward Democrats in America's suburbs.
Even as states count the last ballots, the results have dashed Democrats' hopes for the death of Trumpism.
If Biden's victory is certified and the Republicans retain the Senate, the new president may be handcuffed in his efforts to push legislation and win confirmations of judges and administration officials.
Whatever the future for Trump himself, Democrats and Republicans alike said they will have to reckon with the continuing appeal of his brash brand of populist politics.