When Madison Cawthorn joins the North Carolina delegation in the House of Representatives in January, he will become the youngest member of Congress and the youngest Republican ever elected to the House.
The 25-year-old will also likely be a lightening rod for controversy. He has already drawn allegations of racism and positioned himself as highly conservative on issues ranging from abortion to racial justice.
On Tuesday, after his decisive victory against Democratic challenger Moe Davis, Cawthorn may have set the tone for his first term in office, in the mould of President Donald Trump, by sending a tweet.
"Cry more, lib,” he wrote, just after the election results swung in his favour.
Cawthorn secured a surprise win in the June primary when he defeated Republican Lynda Bennett, who had been backed by Trump to replace former GOP congressman Mark Meadows after he left office to become the White House chief of staff.
Cawthorn won the seat representing North Carolina’s 11th District by more than 54,000 votes on Tuesday.
He turned 25 in August, just meeting the minimum age to run for office in the House. He will be the first person born in the 1990s to be elected to Congress and will join just over two dozen millennials serving in the federal legislature, according to the Pew Research Center.
The youngest member of the current Congress is 31-year-old Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Cawthorn, a real estate investor, spoke at the Republican National Convention in August after winning his primary, emphasising his age and the adversities he had overcome after being partially paralysed in a 2014 car accident.
"If you don’t think young people can change the world, then you just don’t know American history,” he told the RNC crowd.
Not long after making headlines for his primary victory in June, Cawthorn again garnered national attention for actions that raised questions about his proximity to white supremacist-linked symbols and talking points.
In mid-August, photos surfaced showing Cawthorn visiting the Eagle’s Nest, Adolf Hitler’s compound in southern Germany, in 2017, which the candidate said he counted among his "bucket list” travel destinations. "It did not disappoint,” he wrote in a caption accompanying the photo online.
"I think racism is disgusting,” he told Associated Press in August after the photos at Eagle’s Nest surfaced.
A report by Jezebel also noted that Cawthorn has often posed in front of the Betsy Ross flag, an outdated version of The Star-Spangled Banner that has become a favoured symbol among some far-right extremists.
The incidents have left Cawthorn repeatedly denying allegations that he is racist during his campaign. Cawthorn also claimed that he would have been a target of German Nazis had he been alive and living in Europe during the 1940s.
He said his political opponents "want to try and twist it to where I am some kind of Nazi sympathiser, when I’m a man in a wheelchair,” he told the Associated Press during his campaign. "These cowards and these bastards would have killed me.”
Despite the controversies, Cawthorn managed to maintain the success he found in the primaries and easily won his seat in the general election. About two hours after he had gained enough votes to be confident of his win, Cawthorn tweeted a second time, striking a more magnanimous tone.
"From the bottom of my heart, Thank you,” he wrote. "All glory goes to God and I am excited to serve each and every member of this district. Thank you!”
In Nevada, Trump has almost drawn level with Biden with 85 per cent of votes reported, according to The New York Times.
However, Biden is still leading by a small margin in the swing state, which has been shading blue in recent elections as its electorate becomes more diverse. Trump has fought hard to flip Nevada, which he narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
President Donald Trump has sought to undermine the democracy he leads and disenfranchise millions of his fellow citizens when he spoke from the White House just after 2am, local time.
"This is a fraud on the American public,” he said as election officials continued an otherwise unremarkable count of legitimate votes across the nation.
Trump was furious vote tallies that had favoured him in some key states earlier were shifting back toward the Democrats.
"This is an embarrassment to our country,” he told cheering supporters, who by convention should have been nowhere near the White House on election night.
"We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election,” he said, citing no evidence whatsoever.
Trump, a man whose life has been marked most notably by preposterous good fortune, was again casting himself in the role of victim.
There was nothing surprising about the trend in the count given that encouraging early voting had been central to the Democratic Party’s strategy throughout the campaign.
Indeed, in many areas a late drift back to the Democrats had been actively anticipated. For example, in Pennsylvania mail-in ballots are not counted until after polls close, and 70 per cent of mail-in ballots had been sent out to registered Democrats.
Trump’s campaign would have been well aware of this, just as it would have known that in Michigan this election the mail-in vote was larger than the vote at polling booths.
Mail-in ballots in Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia appear to be running Joe Biden’s way.
Biden has narrowed the gap in Michigan and Georgia and has even just nudged ahead in Wisconsin. The latter is basically a dead heat with 89 per cent of votes reported, according to The New York Times.
Biden is just marginally ahead with 49.3 per cent of the vote, compared to Trump’s 49 per cent.
After the city of Milwaukee reported its 169,000 absentee and early votes, Biden pulled to a narrow lead in the battleground state, Times’ journalist Reid Epstein reported.
The absentee ballot results in Green Bay, Wisconsin, have been delayed because one of the vote-counting machines ran out of ink. An elections official had to return to City Hall to get more.
Wisconsin is in prized electoral terrain known as the "Rust Belt”, where Biden is placing his hopes for an election win.
The states in this region were once manufacturing powerhouse but have experienced industrial decline since the early 1980s. These states include Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin: all of which voted for Barack Obama twice before flipping for Trump in 2016.
Democrats used to have the advantage in most of these states, reflecting their dominance with blue-collar voters – especially those who belonged to unions.
That advantage no longer exists thanks to the Republican Party’s growing support among white voters without a college degree – especially men.
with Matthew Knott
Australian politicians, past and present, and from across the political divide, have shared their commentary on the US election with their social media followers.
"Americans have voted in historic numbers in this election. They deserve to have their voices heard,” wrote Labor Senator Penny Wong, who is the opposition’s foreign affairs spokeswoman.
"The democratic process must be respected, even when it takes time.
"It’s in Australia’s interest that America remains a credible, stable democracy.”
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese retweeted Senator Wong’s statement but has not issued any commentary tonight.
Former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull issued a three-word tweet: "Count every vote.”
And Liberal MP Dave Sharma said that "being a democratic leader means respecting the verdict of the voters, the sanctity of the process”.
We haven’t heard from Prime Minister Scott Morrison or Foreign Minister Marise Payne at all this evening.
In a stunning scene in the middle of the night, news organisations were quick to rebuke President Donald Trump after he falsely said on live television that he had won re-election even as votes were still being counted.
With reporters and supporters gathered at the White House at 2.20am local time, the sitting US President said it was "a major fraud on our nation” that he hadn’t been declared the winner.
"As far as I’m concerned, we already have won this,” Trump said.
The words were barely out of his mouth before television anchors rushed to refute him.
CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell said Trump was "castrating the facts” by "falsely claiming that he has won the election and disenfranchising millions of voters whose ballots have not been counted”.
"Donald Trump is losing right now, both in the popular vote and the electoral vote, and there are many states left to be called,” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos said.
NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie said: "The fact of the matter is we don’t know who won the election.” Guthrie had interrupted Trump’s speech to tell viewers that several of Trump’s statements were not true.
The Associated Press said that at the time of Trump’s statement, its count had Trump winning 213 electoral votes to Democrat Joe Biden’s 225. AP has determined that it’s too early to declare a winner in several states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan.
It was an explosive moment after a frazzled nation had sat through hours of uncertainty. Media outlets had warned for weeks that Americans would have to be patient waiting for a decision in the bitter campaign between Biden and Trump, and repeatedly drove that point home through their election night coverage.
Biden had spoken to supporters at 12.42 am local time in Delaware, expressing confidence in his campaign and saying he wanted to see every vote counted.
"Keep the faith, guys, we’re going to win this,” Biden said.
Trump had immediately responded with a tweet saying "we are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the election. We will never let them do it”.
The President’s address, after he was ushered to a podium to the sound of Hail to the Chief, received criticism in what are normally friendlier outlets.
"This is an extremely flammable situation and the President just threw a match into it,” said Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace.
His Fox colleague, former George W Bush administration aide Dana Perino, said, "he just went a step too far”. Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted that it was "deeply irresponsible” for Trump to claim victory.
The president’s team was angry at Fox News Channel for striking out ahead of other news organisations in declaring that Biden had defeated Trump in the battleground state of Arizona. It would have been the first state to flip parties from 2016, and was crucial in the path to 270 electoral votes and victory.
Fox’s Bret Baier, noting the network was taking "incoming”, put decision desk chief Arnon Mishkin on the air. He explained that with the bulk of uncounted votes in Arizona cast early and thus more likely for Biden, Trump would not be able to catch up to the Democrat’s lead in that state.
"I’m sorry, but we’re not wrong in this particular case,” Mishkin said. AP eventually called Arizona for Biden at 2.52 am.
Millions of people following election coverage on the East Coast went to bed before all the drama, and without knowing the answer to the question they had waited hours for: Who’s going to be in the White House for the next four years?
The president also expressed anger at news organisations for not declaring him the winner in Georgia and North Carolina, where he held leads. CNN’s John King explained that there was still doubt given there were votes still to be counted in regions where Biden was expected to do well.
The presidency is expected to hinge on the battlegrounds of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
"We’ve been saying for a long time that anything could happen, this is a very competitive race and that … it really was going to come down to these three states,” said CNN’s Jake Tapper. "That’s happening, and yet it still feels like people didn’t hear it when we were telling them that the previous three weeks.”
Prior to the appearances by the two candidates, the night’s mood ebbed and flowed like a tide, and almost as predictably. Experts had said voters would be confused by the vast amount of early votes that were more likely to support Biden, and the different practices of states in when they would count them and the Election Day votes that favoured Trump.
That proved to be the case when initial leads for Biden in Ohio and North Carolina that briefly heartened his supporters were suddenly erased. When Trump gained the lead in the Midwest battlegrounds, the question became whether Biden could overcome him when all early votes were counted.
On the television networks, it put the spotlight on numbers geeks like CNN’s John King and MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. MSNBC kept a "Kornacki cam” on their man as he studied voting data.
For the first time, Associated Press wrote stories explaining in detail to readers and members of the news cooperative why it had declared winners in individual states.
Network anchors began election night coverage with calls for patience. Stephanopoulos told viewers that it did not mean that the process is broken or unfair if the results were not clear Tuesday night.
As the evening progressed, it became clear that while patience might not necessarily be rewarded, it was still necessary.
"I would be very careful drawing sweeping generalisations about what we think we’re going to see,” Robert Gibbs, a former White House press secretary in the Obama administration, said on MSNBC.
"Because it may be that it takes six days to figure out who wins this race.”
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former top aide to Donald Trump who helped the President prepare last month’s election debates, says Trump should not have falsely declared victory at his White House press conference.
Christie also told America’s ABC News he disagreed with Trump’s baseless allegation that his political enemies were attempting to fraudulently take the election.
Another Trump ally, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, told CNN: "I was very distressed by what I just heard the president say. The idea of using the word ‘fraud’ being committed by people counting votes is wrong.
"They’re counting the absentee and mail-in ballots right now. And some counties have stopped counting. Why have they stopped counting? Because it’s 2.48 in the morning!”
It has been a US presidential election campaign like no other. Here are some key moments that framed the race.
March 3*: Super Tuesday
The Democratic Primaries day, known as Super Tuesday because of the number of states in play, was Joe Biden’s moment. This is where he edged in front of his main contender Bernie Sanders. Sanders, a champion of the progressives, formally bowed out of the Democratic race on April 8.
May 25: The death of George Floyd
George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer sparked waves of anti-racism protests across the US and the world. The long-running demonstrations were pivotal episodes in the presidential campaign, further pushing left and right into their respective corners and laying bare the depths of America’s racial divide.
August 11: Joe Biden selects Kamala Harris as his running mate
Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor from the state of California, became the first woman of colour to be selected for national office by either of the two major political parties.
August: Conventions go virtual
The COVID-19 pandemic cast a long shadow over the entire presidential campaign, but it was never more evident than at the Democratic and Republican national conventions, where the parties formally nominate their presidential candidates.
Usually held in front of large and raucous crowds, the events this year were held in mostly empty halls and broadcast to the true believes online and on television.
September 18: Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a stalwart liberal on the US Supreme Court since 1993, died at age 87, giving Trump a chance to expand its conservative majority with a third appointment at a time of deep divisions in America with a presidential election looming.
September 29: First presidential candidate debate
Described as "belligerent, earsplitting, deeply depressing” by The New York Times, the first televised debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is widely regarded as the worst of its kind in US history.
Most of the blame was placed on Trump, who continuously interrupted his opponent and turned the focus of discussion onto Biden’s son, Hunter, at every opportunity. The next debate on October 22 was a much more civil affair aided by the introduction of a mute button (it was used only once).
October 1: Trump gets COVID-19
Trump, who has downplayed the coronavirus and mocked people wearing masks and made various misleading statements to the American people, announced his positive diagnosis via Twitter late at night.
He was hospitalised shortly after, when the US death toll from the virus was more than 208,000, and treated with a cocktail of drugs. He recovered quickly and was soon back on the campaign trail.
November 2: Early votes
Prompted by the pandemic, a record more than 103 million people cast their votes in person or by mail ahead of the election on November 3, according to AP.
(*) all US time
Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign says it will fight any efforts by President Donald Trump’s campaign to go to the US Supreme Court to prevent ballots from being tabulated.
In a statement sent before 4am Wednesday (US time), Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said Trump’s claim that he will "be going to the US Supreme Court” and that he wants "all voting to stop” was "outrageous, unprecedented and incorrect”.
O’Malley Dillon said the Biden campaign has "legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort”. And she said, "They will prevail.”
The Associated Press has not declared a winner in the presidential race. There are still hundreds of thousands of votes left to be counted, and the outcome hinges on a handful of uncalled battleground states.
Joe Biden has won the vote in Maine.
However, Maine and Nebraska are the only states that don’t play by the winner-take-all rules under the Electoral College.
Biden has won at least three of Maine’s four electoral votes in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.
Biden won the statewide tally and the 1st Congressional District, good for three electoral votes. Trump, meanwhile, hoped to claim one electoral vote in a win in the 2nd Congressional District. The 2nd Congressional District hasn’t yet been called.
Maine split its electoral votes four years ago, awarding three to Democrat Hillary Clinton and one to Trump, who won the more rural and conservative of Maine’s congressional districts.