"It ain't over until every vote is counted," Joe Biden said a little after half past midnight, stood on a stage in the US state of Delaware in front of a throng of supporters cheering and honking their car horns. But his campaign team, Mr Biden emphasised, is nothing but confident. Victory is out of sight at the moment, but one way or another it will come into view.
It was a pre-emptive strike, packaged in an air of much-needed optimism in a battle-scarred America. For weeks, there has been a general sense among the American political commentariat that this election would drag on. The incumbent president, Donald Trump, is famous for his refusal to apologise, and his refusal to admit defeat in any aspect of his life. It is difficult to imagine any scenario in which he would cede victory to his opponent today. It was never going to be that easy.
And so there has been a remarkable hesitance on the part of pollsters and pundits to call anything. So-called battleground states had counted upwards of 90 per cent of their votes, and it was still considered – psychologically, if not mathematically – too close to call. The waters have been too muddied by the tactics of these candidates for anyone to be assured of anything. Mr Biden's own assurances in Delaware today had the same tactical colour to them.
Mere minutes after Mr Biden waved goodbye for now to his supporters, Mr Trump's fingers were furiously tweeting.
"We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Poles are closed!"
That tweet was deleted and re-tweeted with the correct spelling of "polls", but has now been marked by Twitter as unsafe to view: "Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process."
No doubt Twitter's decision will only stoke the ire of Mr Trump's supporters. It will validate the sentiment among many of the President's followers that their voice is suppressed. Are they right?
Was Mr Biden's statement an effort to override the normal election process?
Only insofar as it mirrors Mr Trump's own pre-emptive strikes to dominate the narrative: his efforts over the past month to deligitimise postal voting, his insistence that there is a Deep State seeking to remove him through unconstitutional means and his painting of his opponent as a ruthless criminal. The difference, of course, is that Mr Biden's pre-emptive strike today carried a positive topspin rather than just a cynical message.
Sulaiman Hakemy is opinion editor at The National