SPONSORED:

The Hill's Campaign Report: One day out from Election Day | Election night confusion | Polls show slight tightening in battlegrounds

The Hill's Campaign Report: One day out from Election Day | Election night confusion | Polls show slight tightening in battlegrounds
© Getty Images

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail:

LEADING THE DAY:

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s been a long, grueling road, but we’re almost there: Election Day.

The candidates and their surrogates spent the final day before the election barnstorming some of the most critical battlegrounds of the 2020 race, trying to get in one last pitch to the voters who will decide the next president. 

Biden rallied supporters in Cleveland on Monday before jetting off to Pennsylvania for events in Beaver County and Pittsburgh. His running mate, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisExclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren To unite America, Biden administration must brace for hate Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE (D-Calif.), hopped across the Keystone State for events in Luzerne County, the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE set off on a marathon series of rallies that includes stops in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. 

But despite the frantic campaigning, the presidential race appears remarkably stable heading into Election Day. Most polls show Biden holding a national lead in the high-single to low-double digits. And polling in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Arizona and Florida shows a tight race, with Trump trailing narrowly. The president has leaned into the grievances and conflict that have defined his brand of politics for years, while Biden is largely sticking to the same message — a return to pre-Trump normalcy — that he touted when he launched his campaign last year.

The biggest questions right now center around what happens when polls close on Tuesday.

Because of the nationwide influx of mail-in voting, many states could take days to process and count ballots, making it possible, if not likely, that a winner won’t be declared on election night. At the same time, Trump has repeatedly threatened to mount a series of post-election legal challenges, insisting that votes should not be counted after Nov. 3 (more on that below).

ADVERTISEMENT

All that to say that, while tomorrow may be Election Day, don’t expect the 2020 race to come to an end just yet.

READ MORE:

On the Trail: A campaign defined by a pandemic, by The Hill’s Reid Wilson

Biden campaign seeks to head off Trump efforts to prematurely claim victory, by Jonathan Easley

Nervous Democrats don't see 2016 nightmare repeating itself, by The Hill’s Amie Parnes

ELECTION NIGHT CONFUSION:

The campaigns are bracing for confusion on election night as the vote count potentially drags on for days beyond Nov. 3.

Election officials have millions of mail ballots to dig through and in some cases, state laws prohibit those votes from being counted until tomorrow. 

Democrats and the news media are worried that the president will be looking to sow chaos and confusion around the results of the election by claiming an early victory, even when some states are still accepting mail ballots or when the vote count has not been completed.

For instance, the results in Pennsylvania could take days to tally, as officials will not start processing the hundreds of thousands of mail and absentee ballots received until the morning of Election Day. The ballots cannot be counted until the polls close, and absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day have until Friday to arrive.

While the Biden campaign believes its best path to the White House runs through Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — states where the vote county might not be completed on Nov. 3 — there are reports that the president will declare victory if he’s leading in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina tomorrow night.

Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley DillonJen O'Malley DillonHillary Clinton slams Trump supporters 'claiming to be offended' by Biden staffer cursing Biden spokeswoman defends incoming deputy chief of staff's 'spicy language' in Glamour interview Biden campaign manager calls GOP lawmakers 'a bunch of f---ers' MORE said Monday that it would be mathematically impossible for Trump to have won on Election Day.

“Under no scenario will Donald Trump be declared a victor on election night, and that’s fundamentally how we want to approach tomorrow,” O'Malley Dillon said.

Trump has denied that he would prematurely declare victory. But he’s also signaled that he’s preparing to mount vigorous legal challenges to prevent ballots from being counted after Nov. 3.

Several states will allow extra time to receive and count ballots that are postmarked by Election Day due to the surge in mail voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump has also demanded the final results be produced on Nov. 3, even though it is normal for vote counting to continue for hours or days beyond the election.

Election analysts are bracing for some wild swings in the vote count, depending on when and how states release their tallies of mail, absentee and in-person counts. 

Democrats are outpacing Republicans in mail and absentee ballots, while Republicans are expected to do better with in-person turnout on Nov. 3. In Florida, for instance, Biden will likely jump out to an early lead as absentee ballots are reported. In-person votes will be reported after, likely helping Trump to make up ground.

Nervous Democrats don’t see 2016 repeating itself, by Amie Parnes.

Democrats debate fate of Trump probes if Biden wins, by Olivia Beavers.

GOP challenge to drive-through voting tossed, by Zack Budryk.

ADVERTISEMENT

POLLING:

We are seeing a smidgen of tightening in a few key states — Arizona and Pennsylvania, for instance. But largely, the race has been stable and Biden will enter Election Day as the favorite.

Nationally, the final USC Dornsife poll finds Biden ahead by 13 points. That poll made waves in 2016 for being one of the few to show Trump with a small lead. Of course, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMedia circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE ended up winning the national popular vote, so USC made some tweaks and determined it had oversampled rural voters in that election.

This year, they’re running an interesting experiment to see if there are so-called “shy” Trump voters out there. Biden’s lead falls to 2.8 points when voters are asked who their social contacts are supporting. His lead falls to 1.8 points when voters are asked who others in their state are supporting.

The entire political world will be obsessing over Pennsylvania for the next few days, and rightly so. The winner here will likely win the White House.

A final Monmouth University poll of Pennsylvania put Biden ahead by 7 points among likely voters, down from 11 points in the prior survey. A Marist-NBC poll put Biden’s advantage at 5 points in Pennsylvania.

Biden leads by 4.8 points in the FiveThirtyEight average of Pennsylvania. That’s a solid lead, but not solid enough for Democrats to get any sleep tonight. 

Cook Political Report shifts eight House races in favor of Democrats, by Mike Lillis.

Sabato final projection has Biden winning Arizona, Penn., Georgia and N.C., by John Bowden