PoliticsNovember 8, 2020

Live updates, November 7-8: Biden declares victory in US election, pledges ‘not to divide but to unify’


Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 7-8, covering all the latest from the US election along with New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. See the latest results on an interactive US map here. Reach me on

8pm: The day in sum

Joe Biden was declared the next president of the United States after clinching the key state of Pennsylvania. In his first speech as president-elect, Biden called for unity, healing and an end to the “grim era of demonisation in America”.

Biden’s win means Kamala Harris will be vice president. Harris will be the first woman, the first African American and the first Asian American to take on the role.

Donald Trump has refused to concede the election citing unfounded claims of election fraud.

Celebrations broke out across the US following Biden’s win, including a spontaneous gathering of thousands of people across the White House in Washington DC.

In New Zealand, a new community case of Covid-19 was announced – a close contact of the Auckland quarantine worker who was reported on Friday.

Fives cases of Covid-19 from managed isolation were also announced. All five are now in quarantine in Auckland.

5.30pm: Locations of interest linked to Auckland community case

Six locations of interest have been reported by the Ministry of Health as a new community case was announced today (see 1.10pm). A number of push notifications will be sent to people who logged on with the COVID Tracer app.

The new case visited the following Auckland and Wellington locations:

  • Domestic Terminal, Auckland Airport: 5.30 – 7.45pm (Thursday, November 5)
  • Avis Car Rental, Auckland Airport: 5.00 – 5.15pm, (Thursday, November 5)
  • Orleans Chicken & Waffles, Auckland Airport: 5.30pm – 7pm, (Thursday, November 5)
  • The Gypsy Moth, Auckland Airport: 7.00 – 7.15pm, (Thursday, November 5)
  • Hudsons, Auckland Airport: 7.00 – 7.15pm, (Thursday, November 5)
  • Little Penang, The Terrace, Wellington: 1.15pm – 3.45pm, (Friday, November 6)

2.40pm: ‘A clear victory, a convincing victory’ – Biden

Harris has now introduced Biden to the stage, jogging to the podium as crowds cheered. He said the result has given him “a clear victory, a convincing victory” in this year’s election.

“I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but to unify. I don’t see red states and blue states, I only see the United States.”

He acknowledged his wife, Jill, and praised Harris for making history as the first woman, first African American and first Asian American to serve as vice president.

He says his victory was thanks to “the broadest and most diverse coalition in history” made up of “Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives, young, old, urban, suburban, rural, gay, straight, transgender, white, Latino, Asian, Native Americans. I mean it.” He told Black Americans that “you’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours”.

He addressed the multitude of issues ahead for the country including Covid-19, adding that he would be announcing a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers on Monday

Biden also said that while he was a “proud Democrat”, he would “govern as an American president”, urging supporters not to see their opponents as enemies but Americans.

“We must restore the soul of America. Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses … it’s time for our better angels to prevail tonight.”

“Let this grim era of demonisation in America begin to end here and now.”

The speech ended with Biden and Harris joined on stage by their families. Fireworks then ensued along with a light-up drone show spelling out “Biden” and “president-elect” in red and blue

Watch Harris and Biden’s speeches in full here.

2.25pm: Kamala Harris speaks as vice president-elect

Amid a deafening wall of noise, Kamala Harris stepped on stage and opened the evening in her address to the nation for the first time since the election was called.

“America’s democracy is not guaranteed, it’s only as strong as our willingness to fight for it, to guard it, and never take it for granted,” she said, referencing the late Democratic congressman John Lewis.

“For four years you marched for equality, for justice, for our lives, for our planet, and then you voted … you chose hope and unity, decency, science and yes, truth. You chose Joe Biden as the next president of the United States of America.”

“Joe is a healer, a uniter, a tested a steady hand, a person who’s own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us as a nation reclaim our own sense of purpose.”

She also mentioned her mother, who moved to the US from India as a young woman.

“She believed in America where a moment like this is possible and so I am thinking about her and about the generations of women – Black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native America women – who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight.

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”

2pm: Biden arrives at Wilmington rally

Crowds have gathered in Wilmington, Delaware for a drive-in rally where Biden and Harris are set to make their first remarks to the nation as president-elect and vice president-elect.

Watch the speech as it happens here:

1.10pm: Six new cases of Covid-19, one in the community

There are six new cases of Covid-19 to report. Five are recent arrivals detected in managed isolation and one is a close contact of the Auckland quarantine worker first reported by the Ministry of Health on Friday.

The five cases from managed isolation are now all in quarantine in Auckland.

  • One case arrived from Italy via Hawaii on November 3 and who tested positive at around day three routine testing.
  • Two cases arrived from the United Arab Emirates on November 3 and who tested positive at around day three routine testing. They did not travel together.
  • One case arrived from Romania via Doha and Australia on November 3 and tested positive at around day three routine testing.
  • One case arrived from Germany via the United Arab Emirates on November 5 and was taken directly to the quarantine facility after appearing symptomatic.

Today’s sixth case is a close contact of the quarantine worker reported from the Auckland facility on Friday.

Both cases are Defence Force employees, not health workers. Case A performed a role at the Auckland facility. Case B does not work at the facility but had a work-related meeting with Case A on Wednesday, November 4 in Auckland before travelling home to Wellington. Attendees at this meeting have been identified and are isolating.

Genomic testing is underway to confirm. Case B is currently regarded as a community case which can be traced to the isolation facility. They are now in a quarantine facility in Wellington. Five household contacts are in self-isolation and are being tested.

Case B flew from Auckland to Wellington on Thursday evening, November 5, on Air New Zealand flight NZ 457 and sat in row 23.  Those passengers sitting two seats in all directions are being contacted and asked to get tested and self-isolate until November 19.

As an added precaution, we are also asking the households of these flight close contacts to isolate until advised that their flight close contact has had a negative test. These households are regarded as second-order contacts.

Anyone else who was on the flight and is concerned about their health can call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

Case B reports developing mild symptoms late on Friday evening. Auckland Regional Public Health and Regional Public Health in Wellington will continue to work with Case B to trace other meeting attendees, and movements following their meeting with Case A.

Relevant locations of interest, including any businesses, will be contacted and publicly advised as they become available. Close contacts will be contacted directly.

Regarding Case A, the Ministry of Health says that preliminary results from their genomic testing shows a link to cases previously identified within the Jet Park facility. Officials say they are confident they will be able to identify how transmission may have come about.

At this point, there is nothing to suggest there is any wider risk in the Auckland or Wellington regions. If anyone is concerned about their health, or wants more information about testing, they can call Healthline on 0800 358 5453

11.30am: Trump erupts on Twitter

Trump, now back at the White House, has once again taken to Twitter, with the caps lock on, to express his fury and peddle numerous falsehoods about the legitimacy of the election. Like many of his tweets since election day, Twitter has flagged his claim as disputed.

10.40am: New York Post, Fox News turn on Trump

Multiple Rupert Murdoch-owned media outlets which supported Trump during his presidency have been shifting their messaging against the outgoing president in recent days, a move solidified by The New York Post’s splashy new front cover.

It’s a dramatic u-turn for the tabloid which just weeks ahead of the election published a salacious story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. Top editors at The New York Post reportedly even told some staff this week to be “tougher in their coverage” of Trump.

Over on conservative stronghold Fox News, the channel has been rousing Trump’s ire for several days now, calling the state of Arizona early for Biden and having little patience for his calls to stop counting the vote. One Fox News host, Laura Ingraham, told Trump to accept defeat with “grace and composure”.

The Wall Street Journal also pushed the same message, publishing an op-ed which warned: “Mr Trump’s legacy will be diminished greatly if his final act is a bitter refusal to accept a legitimate defeat.”

9.20am: Where’s Trump?

After tweeting that he’d won the election “by a lot”, Trump was spotted playing a round of golf in Virginia. The outgoing president is now back at the White House where he was met by a crowd elated to see him get the boot. Trump has so far yet to concede the election.

Meanwhile, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has rejected the results after learning of Biden’s victory during a press conference in a parking lot.

“Who was it called by?” Giuliani asked. When reporters told him it was being called by all the networks, he replied, with the utmost sarcasm humanly possible: “WOW, ALL THE NETWORKS?! We have to forget about the law? Judges don’t count? … Don’t be ridiculous. Networks don’t get to decide elections.”

9.00am: Celebrations break out across America

Biden’s victory sparked dozens of spontaneous street celebrations across the country. Outside the White House, a crowd at the Black Lives Matter Plaza erupted in cheers with a large crowd now gathered in the area.

Celebrations also erupted in New York City, Atlanta, Oakland and Seattle. In Chicago, a video shows a woman loudly banging a pot in a suburban street. In Philadelphia, cars are driving by and honking their horns as the street party continue.

8.45am: Ardern congratulates Biden on victory

The prime minister has sent out a statement congratulating Biden and Harris on their victory.

“The relationship between our two countries is strong, and I look forward to developing even closer relations with the incoming Biden administration,” said Ardern.

“As vice president, Joe Biden was a close friend of New Zealand and visited here in 2016, the most senior US politician to do so since President Bill Clinton attended APEC in 1999.

“New Zealand will continue to work side-by-side with the United States on the issues that matter to both of us, including the prosperity, security, and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific and Pacific Island regions.

“The campaign by the president-elect has also shown the shared interests we have in addressing global challenges like Covid-19 and climate change.

“There are many challenges in front of the international community right now, the message of unity from Joe Biden positions us well to take those challenges on.”

Ardern also acknowledged outgoing President Donald Trump.

“New Zealand has enjoyed positive and cooperative relations with the United States over the period of the Trump Administration, especially in the Indo-Pacific and Pacific Island regions,” she said.

New Zealand’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta also weighed in this morning with a very succinct tweet:

8.20am: Biden and Harris react on Twitter

8am: Biden wins US election

The wait is (finally) over: in the early hours of this morning, it was announced that Joe Biden had won the US election after clinching the state of Pennsylvania. He now has 290 electoral college votes, putting him well over the 270 needed to become president.

The win is also a historic moment for Kamala Harris who will be the first woman, the first African American and the first Asian American to become vice president.

5.15pm: White House chief of staff tests positive for Covid-19

Shortly after Biden commenced his speech, news broke that Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows had tested positive for coronavirus. According to reporting from Bloomberg, it remains unclear when Meadows learned that he’d contracted the virus or whether he’d developed any symptoms of Covid-19. Meadows was at a White House election night party and attended a number of rallies. He’s reported to have informed a close circle of advisers after election day.

4.45pm: ‘We’re going to win this race with a clear majority’ – Biden

As the final votes get counted in a handful of states, Joe Biden delivered a speech to supporters in Wilmington, Delaware alongside his vice presidential-nominee Kamala Harris.

“The numbers tell a clear and convincing story – we’re going to win this race and win with a clear majority,” said Biden, who noted he was on track to get more than 300 electoral college votes as he pulls ahead of Trump in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania.

“What’s becoming clear each hour is that a record number of Americans … chose change over more of the same.”

Biden made clear during his speech that his top priority as president would be the pandemic, adding that he and Harris had met with experts on the economy and Covid-19.

“On day one, we’re going to put our plan to control this virus into action,” he said. “While we’re waiting for the final results I want people to know we’re not waiting to get the work done.”

Biden ended his speech saying he’d be back to make another speech tomorrow.

1pm: 25 close contacts of Auckland quarantine worker in isolation

Other than the worker at the Auckland quarantine facility announced by the Ministry of Health last night, there are no new cases of Covid-19 and just one new historical case to report. The historical case is a recent returnee who arrived in New Zealand on October 5 from London via Singapore.

The Auckland quarantine worker is the second worker at the Jet Park facility to contract the virus after a health worker tested positive in September. The case is the third among staff of MIQ facilities in just five days, with two staff from the Christchurch facility at Sudima Hotel testing positive earlier in the week.

As reported yesterday, the person visited two downtown businesses on Thursday, during their infectious period – Mezze Bar on Durham Lane and Queen St bottle shop Anyone who visited the Mezze Bar between 11.00am and 1pm on Thursday and between 1pm and 2pm is considered a casual contact and should keep an eye out for symptoms.

Here’s the Ministry of Health with further details:

“Upon receiving the positive result from the worker in the Auckland quarantine facility, our systems quickly responded to ensure the risk of the virus spreading was contained.

This person is now in isolation at the quarantine facility.

We have identified 25 close contacts of the worker, and they have all been contacted, are isolated, and are being tested. To date, six have returned a negative test result and the remaining are pending.

As in other cases, this person quickly got tested after developing symptoms, which has allowed us to act quickly to stop the spread of the virus.

A review of the movements of the case and their contacts is underway – the case has provided a very detailed account of their movements which has informed a rapid contact tracing response.

The two premises visited by the worker during their infectious period closed for a deep clean, and we thank them for their cooperation in ensuring the public are protected from this virus.”

Managed isolation worker cases in Christchurch

“The genome sequencing results for health care worker Case B from the Sudima Hotel Christchurch Airport has shown a clear link with the international mariners, but their genome is different from Case A.

Both cases had lineages of the virus not previously seen in the community in New Zealand.

The finding supports the current theory that there were two separate events infecting both workers at the facility.

While it’s clear the infection came from the mariners, investigation continues to see if we can find out more about how the possible infection occurred.

All of Case A and Case B’s close contacts have now returned a negative result.”

International mariners

“The international mariners who have been staying in managed isolation at the Sudima Hotel at Christchurch Airport have now departed the facility to board their ships.

Last night we reported seven mariners as remaining behind in the Sudima. Of those, three are now considered to have recovered and have been cleared for release.

One additional mariner has remained behind after reporting symptoms during their departure health screening. They have been tested and returned a negative result, but will need to be symptom free for 48 hours before being cleared to depart.”

10am: Decision Desk calls presidency for Biden as others hold off

While media outlets like CNN, NBC, Fox News, and the Associated Press (AP) have yet to call the presidency, Decision Desk HQ called the race for Joe Biden overnight after ruling that the democratic candidate had won the state of Pennsylvania.

It’s not uncommon in the US for different networks and agencies to show different results. The AP (whose data we use for our live election map) and Fox News have already called Arizona for Biden putting him at 264, while CNN, NBC and ABC have ruled the state too close to call, putting Biden at 253 votes.

In Arizona, which has 11 electoral college votes, the AP concluded Trump wouldn’t be able to catch up in the ballots left to be counted. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, which has 20 votes, the internet’s favourite man-in-front-of-map Steve Kornacki explains here why his network MSNBC was yet to call the state.

Decision Desk – a relatively new agency whose data is used by publishers such as Vox – is the first outlet to call the presidency for Biden. It’s widely expected that other major networks will soon follow suit.

On The Spinoff today: What you need to know about the US Senate

Going into the election, the Republicans held the Senate 53-47. The democrats held high hopes for overturning that majority, but like the projected Biden landslide, it never quite materialised. Here’s deputy editor Catherine McGregor:

The problem with big dreams is that it hurts that much more when they don’t come true. Republicans’ unexpectedly strong showing this week not only dashed Democrats’ hope of a Biden landslide, but also to a Senate no longer under the control of the smirking, cynical Mitch McConnell. Despite record-shattering small-dollar fundraising – much of it from Democrats furious about Coney Barrett’s last-minute appointment to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat – Democrats failed to make the gains the polls had suggested were theirs for the taking.

Read the full explainer here

8.10am: Biden takes the lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia

We’re entering the fourth day of the US election count and Joe Biden has taken narrow leads overnight in Pennsylvania and Georgia, putting him on the cusp of victory. Biden is reportedly planning to deliver a primetime address tonight, US time.

In Pennsylvania, thousands of mail ballots still need to be counted, many from Democratic-leaning counties. In Georgia, a recount will be held as Biden leads by just over 1,500 votes.

Biden’s lead in Nevada also grew overnight to 20,137 votes with counting set to continue over the weekend.

8am: Yesterday’s headlines

The US election remained on a knife-edge, with Joe Biden’s position improving as early votes continued to be counted. Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada remain too close to call.

A worker at the Auckland quarantine facility tested positive for Covid-19. The case is the third among staff of MIQ facilities in just five days.

The final results of the 2020 New Zealand election show no change to the cannabis referendum, but the gap between the yes and no vote closed significantly.

Jacinda Ardern was sworn in as prime minister again in Wellington along with her new cabinet for a second term.

National’s Gerry Brownlee announced he would stand down as deputy leader of National following the party’s historic election defeat.

Read yesterday’s live updates here.

Keep going!