The Hill’s Campaign Report: It’s Election Night in America
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:
The end of the 2020 campaign cycle is near.
Tens of millions of Americans are lining up at the polls amid a resurgent pandemic to cast their ballots. Tens of millions have already voted.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden is viewed as the favorite to defeat President Trump. But the line between a Biden landslide victory and a narrow win for Trump in the Electoral College is razor thin. Trump could win the election by piecing together just the right combination of states, even if the polls show him as the underdog — just like he did in 2016.
The nation is very much on edge. Government officials are worried about protests and riots breaking out in a time of deep social and political unrest.
All you need to do is take a look at downtown Washington, D.C., where storefronts are boarded up and new steel barriers have been put up outside the White House.
So far, there have been the normal reports of occasional glitches at polling places and voters being stranded in long lines.
But there are also reports of smooth sailing at polling places for some voters.
It’s possible that the huge number of people that cast their ballots early has lessened some of the burden on the polling places today.
It’s estimated that 100 million people voted before Nov. 3 and about 50 to 60 million are expected to turn out in person today. By contrast, 138 million voted in total in 2016, with more than 90 million voting in person on Election Day.
Will we get a winner called tonight? It’s impossible to say right now. Pennsylvania is viewed by many as the tipping point state and results aren’t expected from there until Friday.
In both Pennsylvania and North Carolina, ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can still be received and counted in the coming days. We should know the results in other battlegrounds, such as Georgia, Florida and Ohio tonight.
There could also be wild swings in the vote count, as some states announce their in-person tallies first, and other states quickly release the absentee ballots they’ve been counting for weeks. In both instances the county could swing the other way when absentee and in-person votes, respectively, get added in.
Biden spent his final day in Pennsylvania, where he visited his childhood home in Scranton.
“From this house to the White House with the grace of God,” Biden wrote on the wall in his old bedroom.
Trump visited his campaign’s headquarters in Arlington, Va., where he said he’s focused on winning.
“Losing is never easy, not for me it’s not,” Trump said.
The Biden campaign is worried Trump will try to claim victory prematurely if he is doing well in Florida and Georgia, as it could take some time for the results to be final in states Biden is expected to do well, such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Both campaigns have staffed up with lawyers in case of a nail-biter that drags on.
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Postal Service to sweep its mail centers and rush to “ensure that no ballots have been held up” at its facilities.
There do not appear to be widespread problems at the moment, but the focus will change rapidly if there is anything close to a contested outcome.
Stay with The Hill all night for breaking news and analysis on this historic election.
Voters line up at the polls as nation braces for results, by Jonathan Easley
Five states to watch tonight, by Jonathan Easley
Pundit predictions for election night, by The Hill staff.
POLLS SHOW BIDEN WITH LEAD OVER TRUMP IN KEY BATTLEGROUNDS
Biden’s supporters feel a sense of cautious optimism as he leads Trump in the majority of state and national level polls.
Democrats were caught off guard four years ago with Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in a number of battleground states, as well as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, propelling him to victory.
However, Biden now leads in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and looks ready to rebuild the Democratic blue wall in the Midwest and the rustbelt.
Biden also appears to be expanding the map, closing the gap in historically red states like Texas and Georgia.
But if there is one state where Biden is on less solid ground, it would be in Florida. Democrats have raised concerns over the narrowing gap between early Democratic and Republican voters. Democrats hold a roughly 100,000-ballot lead over Republicans, which is closer than it was two weeks ago, when Democrats led Republicans by 462,000 ballots.
In particular, the party has sounded the alarm over Biden’s support among Florida’s Latino community, which is not as strong as Clinton’s support was with the group in 2016.
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