Under normal circumstances, the night of a presidential election eventually grinds to an end with a decisive Electoral College winner. But in an election upended by a pandemic that triggered a nationwide surge in mail-in ballots, voters are still waiting to find out if President Donald Trump will remain in office for four more years, or if his Democrat challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, will become the next president.

By 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Biden was narrowly leading Trump in the Electoral College count, with battleground states, including Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, still undecided.

With New York State reliably blue, the Associated Press called New York for Biden shortly after the polls closed at 9 p.m. Tallies show more than 6 million people across New York State voted in person on Election Day or during the nine days of early voting, the first time such a process was held in New York for a presidential election. Approximately 2.5 million absentee ballots won't be counted in New York State until November 10th.

In New York, once the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, the election will have enormous consequences for the region. Among them is the fate of another federal stimulus and the possibility of an aid package for struggling states, which Democrats hope would help New York avoid the worst of a massive budget shortfall. Estimates show the state will need $59 billion to recover from the financial devastation caused by the pandemic.

Hours after the polls closed, the mood in New York City was relatively quiet, though the NYPD said police were prepared for large scale demonstrations.

A little after 10 p.m. in Times Square, groups of teenagers argued about politics outside the headquarters for ABC News, lifting their masks down to their chins so they could shout over the sounds of garbage trucks and a man playing "Careless Whisper" on the saxophone. Journalists from all over the world stood in the cold, waiting for something to happen, staring at their phones.

JP, his cousin, and their friend Costi, were huddled nearby, watching the election results snake across a large news ticker, which stood next to an Old Navy ad urging people to vote.

"I won't be surprised if he wins re-election,” JP said of Trump, with some resignation. "Four years ago I was sure he was going to win. This year, I'm pretty sure he's gonna win again. I can predict the future, I guess," he shrugged.

"I would be surprised," Costi said. "Because he's not supposed to win after all the things he's done and is still doing. People are seeing America as a laughingstock right now, that's the problem. And if the votes are going to be for him, something is wrong there."

Costi added, "I'm losing my faith in the American dream, in the American elections, in American democracy.”

None of the three New Yorkers in their 20s could vote, because of their immigration status, a feeling Costi described as "really frustrating."

"Every vote counts. A vote can make a difference," JP added. "It's sad. The country should be united, but it's not. To me, it's falling apart."

JP looked at his two friends. "Sorry. That's what it looks like."

Carmen Whatley, 29, stared up at the massive luminescent Jumbotron screens, her eyes damp with tears.

“I know people who didn’t vote simply because they don’t want to choose between the lesser of the two evils," said Whatley, a Brooklyn resident from Michigan who is bi-racial with Black and Greek parents. "That’s an incredible wonderful, privilege that they have that I just don’t. That’s the tragedy that I feel."

“Life as we kind of know it, as my family I know it, is dissipating. The comfort that we’ve known is dissipating.” When asked what her biggest fears of the four more years of a President Trump, she had few words.

“Civil war. Yeah it’ll happen,” she said. “Civil war. Period. Just that.”

At an outdoor watch party at the bar Parklife in Gowanus Tuesday evening, the mood that often comes with a presidential election was tame, thanks to COVID-19 guidelines required people to remain at their socially distanced tables, and because many people in attendance were wary about expressing any premature optimism about the outcome of the election. There were only a handful of moments when the liberal crowd cheered or booed the results CNN was reporting on a big screen in the backyard, otherwise opting for quiet conversation with their table guests.

“I’m trying to relax, but I’ve been nervous all day,” said 55-year-old Brooklynite Cathy Nemser. She said she still had “PTSD” from election night 2016. “I was so confident we were going to win,” she said.

Parklife in Gowanus on Election Night.

Jack Crawford, who attended the watch party with her girlfriend and friends, recalled that in 2016 she was at a bar decorated with a Hilary Clinton cut-out and was “very optimistic.” This time around, she said, “I feel much more on guard.”

Although Biden was leading in Electoral College votes during the night, there were groans about how close the counts still were in several states.

Jacky Monterosso, 35, left the watch party at Parklife to head back to her apartment in Long Island City just after 10 pm. “It’s not looking good,” she said. “I thought there would have been a more pronounced lead in some of the states that are up for grabs: Texas, Georgia, Florida. The votes don’t seem to be there yet so we’ll see.”

The bar’s chilly backyard was already half-empty when it closed at 11 p.m., but some stragglers said they would not be able to sleep. “I thought at this point there would be more states announced for Biden and it would have been a sweep,” said Shoaib Haroon, who said he was headed to a friend’s apartment to continue watching the results because he was “too anxious” to go to bed.

At an outdoor watch-party in Bed-Stuy, dozens of activists gathered beneath a white tent to watch the results come in—but hardly any mention of Biden at the event.

"I'm feeling a lot of emotions—anxiety, excitement, determination—it's all of those mixed in one," said Terrence Floyd, who lives in Bed-Stuy.

Outside the Republican Metropolitan Club on the Upper East Side, some of the president's supporters filtered in for an in-person watch party. "I'm anxious like everyone," said Linda, who refused to give her last name, but said she lived in the neighborhood and owned a fragrance company. "Forget the candidates, you're either a capitalist or a socialist and that's the way I see it. It's really unnerving."

When asked if she was concerned about attending an indoor function, where members could be seen maskless through the clubs windows, she said the Upper East Side was a safe neighborhood and that, “the mainstream media [was] blowing [the pandemic] out of proportion for this election.”

At least 230,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 as of election day, with the number of cases surging in most states.

Josh Mason, a 22-year-old St. John's University student, said that being a Black Republican in New York sometimes felt "like being on the losing team."

"But [Trump's] pulling through, he's winning states, he won in 2016."

Mason couldn't think of a single time in Trump's first term that made him question his support.

"I was raised on a lot of these media publications like everyone else. But back in 2015 I stopped following them, I found alternative news sources and ever since then I haven't paid attention to the mainstream media," Mason explained. "So I find alternate ways to get my news, because of that, I haven't really had a thorough negative view on him."

In Times Square on November 3, 2020

C.S. Muncy / Gothamist

Though uncertainty still reigned over the presidential race, as well as the highly contested house race on Staten Island and South Brooklyn between Democrat Rep. Max Rose and Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (Malliotakis is leading, Rose hasn't conceded), other down-ballot races in New York proved to be historic in terms of representation in Congress.

Representatives-elect Ritchie Torres of the 15th Congressional District and Jamaal Bowman of the 16th Congressional District are headed to Washington, D.C., after the Associated Press called their victories. The votes for Mondaire Jones, who looks to represent Westchester County’s 17th Congressional District, are still being tallied and appear to be in his favor, leading Republican challenger Maureen McArdle-Schulman by 14 points. The AP had not officially called the race as of early early Tuesday. Should Jones win, he will join Torres as being the first openly gay Black men in Congress.

“I was never running for Congress to make history, but it is not lost on me that there is great power in representation,” Jones said. “Had I been able to see someone like myself in the halls of power growing up—poor, Black, and gay in the village of Spring Valley—it would’ve been direct evidence of the fact that things really do get better.”

Jones, a former attorney in the Westchester County Law Department, championed progressive views around climate change and racial injustice during his campaign, and highlighted his lived experience growing up in a low-income family raised by a single mom as critical to his views.

Torres, who would also be the first Afro-Latino gay man in Congress, won with 84.1% against Republican candidate Patrick Delices. Earlier this year, Torres, who grew up in public housing, was victorious in a crowded primary election with 11 other candidates vying for the Bronx seat. He hopes to bring his expertise on low-income housing programs to Congress, where funds for such programs are allocated.

Both Torres and Jones pointed to a critical moment in U.S. history should Democrats take back control of the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will have a once in a century opportunity to govern as boldly in the 21st century as FDR did in the 20th century,” Torres said, calling it a potential “FDR moment.”

“This will be our generation’s reconstruction,” Jones said. “So many of our institutions have failed us over the past several years. We have to rebuild those institutions and make sure they don’t ever fail us again.”

Bowman had so far won about 69.7% of the votes against Patrick McManus. The former middle school principal and progressive challenger who won against longtime incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel during the primary election had focused his campaign on racial and economic justice.

In a tweet around when the AP called his victory, Bowman said, “I’m ready to get to work to disrupt the status quo and deliver for our families.”

With reporting from WNYC's Emily Lang and Danny Lewis.