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President-elect Joe Biden was nominated by Democratic primary voters in large part because of his perceived electability in the general election. Biden proved primary voters right by winning and by doing considerably better than Democratic House candidates.
Yet Biden has won in a way that was perhaps surprising to some. He was the first candidate to win without taking at least Florida or Ohio since 1960. Biden did considerably worse with Hispanics than Hillary Clinton in municipalities throughout the country.
And Biden won the presidency even as President Donald Trump's base largely stuck with him.
So how'd he do it? Biden's pathway to victory intensified the gains Clinton made in 2016. In doing so, he became the seventh Democrat in eight times to win the popular vote, which is the first time since 1828 that one party won the popular vote that often in eight straight elections.
Biden wins in the center, proving Trump's solid base isn't enough
During Trump's presidency, the idea of his unmovable base was spoken about so often that it almost became a joke. Trump himself would tweet out (often false numbers) about how well he was doing with Republican voters.
How Biden won: He built on Clinton's successes
According to the national exit poll, Trump won 92% of the voters who cast a ballot for him in 2016. He also took 85% of self-described conservatives and 94% of self-described Republicans. Trump won only 81% of conservatives and 88% of Republicans back in 2016.
More amazingly, Trump won a larger share of both conservatives and Republicans than any Republican presidential nominee since the first time there was a presidential exit poll in 1972.
If you were looking to determine who would win by whether Trump held onto his base, you'd have been led astray.
Biden emerged victorious by winning an even larger share of the Democratic base than Clinton in 2016 and picking off voters in the middle of the electorate.
Biden earned 89% of self-described liberals and 94% of self-described Democrats. Clinton took 84% of liberals and 89% of Democrats.
In fact, Biden's 94% among Democrats was the highest ever for a Democratic nominee since the first exit poll in 1972. His 89% among liberals was tied for the highest.
Where Biden won this election, though, was in the middle. His 64% among self-described moderates ran 12 points ahead of Clinton's. It was the greatest on record for any Democrat since exit polls were implemented.
Among independents, Biden won by 13 points. Clinton lost that group by 4 points. Biden's win among independents was the largest of any Democratic nominee since 1972.
Biden rebuilds the blue wall -- with new parts
But Biden's win goes deeper than party and ideology. It comes down to education and geography as well.
Before the election, there was a question of whether Biden's best path to taking back the White House went through the Great Lakes (Rust Belt) or the Sun Belt.