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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday — Election Day!. We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators, and readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!



Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 230,996; Tuesday, 231,562.



President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Should deficits matter any more? Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE continue today with their starkly different closing arguments, contrasting their visions and values while warning that the other guy is too weak, misguided and unmoored from everyday Americans (The Hill).  

 

Whether standing in line today to cast ballots or completing them early, the U.S. electorate has been determined to participate despite the risks of a pandemic and an unsettled view about the state of democracy.  

 

Americans inhabit different political universes, writes The Hill’s Niall Stanage. The final days of the election included an apparent attempt by Trump supporters to run a Biden campaign bus off the road, emergency court rulings about early voting and reports that the president plans to declare victory before all the returns are tallied. Merchants boarded up storefronts in case of violence, tech platforms are on guard for misinformation and election experts are counseling patience. Meanwhile, voters’ exhaustion and fears run deep. 

 

Tonight’s election dramas could play out in at least five key states: Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia, reports The Hill’s Jonathan Easley. If Biden wins any of the five, he’s likely to lock up at least 270 electoral votes and become the next president. Trump’s campaign insists his chances of reelection appear bright in Florida and Arizona while losses in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania would put the brakes on racking up enough electoral votes (NBC News). 

 

The Hill: Biden’s lead over Trump narrows in Florida; contest a dead heat in Arizona and North Carolina. 

 

Here’s a LIST of when polls close in the states and territories. Which states offer the earliest clues about whether Trump or Biden will be the next president? Americans might go to bed without a clear idea, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Guardian pulled together insights from three leading experts about what to anticipate, complete with caveats and hedges. FiveThirtyEight reports what to watch, state by state. And NBC News, which insists its coverage tonight will be data focused rather than breathlessly leaning in, says the real show starts at 7 p.m., when polls begin closing in seven states, including Georgia (16 electoral votes) and eastern Florida (29 in the Sunshine State). A half-hour later, polls close in two important swing states, North Carolina (15) and Ohio (18). Need an interactive map to play around with the math? Try 270toWin.

 

Trump says he wants all votes tallied in 50 states tonight, but state laws do not require any such feat and it won’t happen because it never does. Some states will certify election results this week, while others will do so next month. Ballotpedia has the list of state deadlines HERE. And many states will be busy for days and perhaps weeks opening, scanning, checking and certifying absentee and mailed ballots.

 

Nate Cohn, The New York Times: What we’ll know, and when we’ll know.

 

Nearly 100 million Americans voted before polls opened today, according to the U.S. Elections Project, representing more than 72 percent of the total 2016 turnout. It’s an astonishing nationwide embrace of early voting in all forms.

 

 

 

 

Gerald F. Seib, The Wall Street Journal: Now, more than ever, election week is a time for patience.

 

The president will monitor election returns from the White House, and Biden will watch in Wilmington, Del. (The Hill).  

 

The Hill’s Bob Cusack reports a rundown of winner predictions from pundits and partisan surrogates.  

 

The last polls are in, and as The Hill’s Julia Manchester reminds us, Biden led Trump in national polls for more than a year as well as in most state-based surveys released before today. Even with Democratic Party fears that Trump could replicate his 2016 shocker by winning narrowly in a few key states, Democrats say they’re cautiously confident about a Biden victory. Manchester presents a rundown of where the contest stands, according to polling.

 

The New York Times: Pollster Robert Cahaly of Trafalgar Group has Trump winning Florida, Arizona and Michigan. He was right in 2016.

 

 

 

 

News outlets that rely on projections anchored in Associated Press data have gone to some trouble to explain how they pore over polling, election data, voter registrations, early voting and state-based information to project a winner, even if 100 percent of precincts have not reported.

 

The New York Times: Networks pledge caution for an election night like no other.

 

Vox: When will we get election results?

 

NPR: How NPR reports election results.

 

Twitter names seven news outlets (ABC News, The Associated Press, CNN, CBS News, Decision Desk HQ, Fox News and NBC News) to call election results (Axios). … What to expect from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube today as returns come in (The New York Times).

 

On the ground, security remains an issue tied to the election, and officials in both parties have asked the public to be vigilant. Businesses have boarded up in cities nationwide (The Hill). … In Washington, D.C., the perimeter of security around the White House and Lafayette Square in the downtown area have been fortified with tall fencing and other precautions (NBC News). … In Washington state, officials on Monday touted security enhancements made over the years and the state’s long history of voting by mail as reasons voters should be confident. But they encouraged members of the public to keep their eyes open for voter manipulation and misinformation (The Associated Press). … In Indianapolis, some buildings and businesses were boarded up to prepare for possible unrest related to the election (The Associated Press). … The Department of Justice announced on Monday it would monitor compliance today with federal voting rights laws in 18 states, accepting complaints from the public. … Some governors have mobilized National Guard troops as part of election security, leading to the question, can Trump call up troops to quell unrest that might occur today or later? (Reuters). … International election monitors will be in at least seven states to observe America’s democracy in action (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Federal law enforcement braced for election-related unrest.

 

In case of mischief, misinformation or mayhem, Republicans and Democrats have separate armies of legal experts ready to contest or defend ballots, election laws and groups of voters, reports The Hill’s John Kruzel. Election law experts say the linchpin of court challenges is evidence — and speed. The Supreme Court left open the possibility of disqualifying mail ballots that arrive in Pennsylvania after Nov. 3, and Trump on Sunday said he would like to invalidate late-arriving ballots. “We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” he told his supporters (NBC News).  

 

The Hill: Unprecedented early voting gives Democrats hope, while Republicans count on today’s turnout.

 

The Associated Press: Trump talks up election fraud and threatens legal challenges.

 

Reuters: Possible post-election legal “fight of our lives.”

 

The Atlantic: How Trump could attempt a coup.

 

Politico: Trump, Biden prepare for legal challenges.

 

 

 



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LEADING THE DAY

MORE POLITICS: The fight for Senate control is in the hands of roughly 10 races nationwide including a number of swing states as well as some states that are Republican strongholds. Political watchers brace for a lengthy wait to determine which party holds the majority.

 

As The Hill’s Alexander Bolton writes, power in the Senate depends on the outcome of contests in Michigan, North Carolina, Iowa and Georgia. Eyes are also on Alaska and Kansas, two states that were written off for Democrats months ago, only to be in play in the final weeks of the election cycle.  

 

The large number of competitive races and the likelihood that counts will be delayed because of absentee ballots and legal disputes may lead to temporary limbo for a few weeks until results are certified. Seats occupied by Georgia Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerState-level Republicans wracked by division after Trump's loss Limbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration Suburbs pose challenge for GOP in post-Trump era MORE could shift; both could face runoffs in early January.

 

Today in North Carolina, Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback Democrat Jeff Jackson jumps into North Carolina Senate race MORE (R) is the underdog to Democrat Cal Cunningham in a contest that could prove crucial to Republicans in the party’s quest to hold the majority. 

 

As The Hill’s Alex Gangitano reports on the ground in Lexington, N.C., Tillis has consistently trailed Cunningham, who is embroiled in a sex scandal after admitting to an extramarital affair. Tillis still trails the Democratic challenger among white college graduates, independents, women and suburban voters. 

 

Cunningham has gotten a boost from the top of the ticket. Biden’s race with Trump helped the Senate challenger with Democratic turnout. The extramarital affair also does not appear to have diminished his standing with voters; polls remain largely unchanged since revelations about his behavior. Cunningham held at least a 20-point lead among voters who cast ballots by Saturday. 

 

The Associated Press: Control of Senate at stake as Trump’s allies face Democrats.

 

The Wall Street Journal: Control of Senate centers around a handful of GOP-held seats.

 

 

 

 

> Bringing down the House: House Democrats are expected to expand their majority on election night, but a handful of competitive races will show whether Republicans can hang on or are facing a wipeout. 

 

Strategists in both parties are closely watching several races that are likely to be early indicators of further Democratic expansion in the suburbs and in what once were deep-red enclaves, including Texas. The Hill’s Cristina Marcos lays out 10 contests to watch tonight.  

 

Juliegrace Brufke, The Hill: Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (R), Amy Kennedy race in NJ goes down to the wire.

 

NPR: Federal judge dismisses effort to throw out drive-thru votes In Houston.

 

The Nevada Independent: Judge rejects Trump campaign effort to slow down, amend Clark County mail ballot counting and processing system. 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CORONAVIRUS: The spread of the novel coronavirus continues to worsen across the United States as the country set new records on Monday. Hospitals have been left to scramble to find and retain enough nurses and staff to treat COVID-19 patients, especially in rural areas. 

 

On Monday, the country set a record for the highest seven-day average of daily new cases — more than 87,000; 48,470 people were hospitalized nationwide with COVID-19 on Monday, while another 476 died. The United States has recorded more than 9.2 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

 

Alarm bells are also going off within the administration. Deborah BirxDeborah BirxCNN's Brianna Keilar calls out Birx 'apology tour' Biden to name nurse as acting surgeon general: report Birx: Someone was delivering a 'parallel set of data' on coronavirus to Trump MORE, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force (pictured below), used an internal report sent to top administration officials to urge “much more aggressive action” to combat the virus.

 

“We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality,” Birx said a report on Monday. “This is not about lockdowns — It hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented” (The Washington Post).

 

Trump continues to point to the increase in COVID-19 testing as the reason for the rising case totals, although his assertion has been refuted as too simplistic by public health and infectious disease experts. The president’s campaign rallies since he recovered from his October bout with the virus have taken place mostly outdoors among thousands of supporters, many of whom refuse to wear masks and ignore advice to maintain social distancing because such a large percentage of people (perhaps 50 percent) who transmit COVID-19 are asymptomatic.

 

 

 

 

The autumn surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations is straining health care providers, especially at smaller hospitals and in rural regions as they struggle to maintain enough nurses to handle COVID-19 patients. According to The Associated Press, nurses are undergoing training to work in fields where their experience is limited, while hospitals are rolling back services in order to care for virus patients who are in critical condition. Experienced hospital nurses are opting to quit, according to the report, transitioning to less stressful nursing jobs because of the burnout.

 

Reuters: As U.S. COVID-19 cases break records, weekly deaths rise 3 percent.

 

The New York Times: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study says pregnant women face higher risk of severe illness.

 

The Associated Press: Another restaurant chain, Friendly’s, hits a wall in pandemic.

 

In Europe, France recorded a single-day record of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday, reporting 52,518 new infections as hospitalizations also are on the rise. On Monday, the number of people hospitalized due to the virus increased by more than 1,000 for the fourth time in eight days as the French endure a second national lockdown (Reuters).

 

Reuters: Italy to tighten COVID-19 curbs, but holds back from lockdown.

 

The Wall Street Journal: Europe considers testing everyone for COVID-19 — “You have nothing to lose.”



The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 



OPINION

We’ve been here before — and odds are we’ll make it through once more, by Charles Lane, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3ekFEx4 

 

Trump Is terribly flawed, but the alternative is simply terrible, by Gerard Baker, editor at large, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3jS6u0S 



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Explore Facebook’s Voting Information Center

 

More than 39 million people have visited our Voting Information Center, which makes it easy to check your registration status, explore voting options in your state and prepare to vote safely.

 

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WHERE AND WHEN

The House is out of Washington until after the election.

 

The Senate will return to work on Nov. 9. 

 

The president this morning will visit a Republican National Committee annex in Arlington, Va., to thank campaign workers and supporters. Trump plans to watch election returns at the White House with family, friends and Vice President Pence.

 

Biden-Harris campaign events: Biden and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized What the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Vice President Harris receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine MORE (D-Calif.) will campaign on Election Day, working to encourage people who may not have decided how or if they will vote. Biden will appear in his home town of Scranton, Pa., and also in Philadelphia — the third consecutive day he’ll be in the Keystone State (The Hill). Harris will campaign in Detroit today, hoping to help drive up minority voter participation in Michigan. The former vice president’s wife, Jill Biden, will talk to voters in St. Petersburg, and Tampa, Fla., and make a stop in Cary, N.C. Later, both Bidens are scheduled to appear this evening in Wilmington, Del., joined by Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff.

 

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EDT at Rising on YouTube



ELSEWHERE

SUPREME COURT: Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettRubio reintroduces amendment to block court packing Undoing Trump will take more than executive orders Political peace starts with everyday interactions MORE joined her colleagues for the first time on Monday in oral arguments by phone. Her input will draw more attention on Wednesday during arguments in a major LGBTQ rights case heard the morning following the elections (CNBC). 

 

ADMINISTRATION: On Wednesday, the United States will leave the Paris climate accord. The decision, set in motion in a Trump letter one year ago, is official on Nov. 4 (The Hill). … If voters give Trump a second term, his administration could have major impacts with expansions of offshore drilling and changes to the way the Environmental Protection Agency makes regulatory and enforcement decisions (The Hill). … The Associated Press reports that a second Trump second-term agenda would look a lot like the president’s first four years in office. … ObamaCare’s annual open enrollment period kicked off Sunday, and experts say it’s more important than ever to have health insurance. Millions more people will be looking for coverage this year after losing their jobs and the importance of having insurance will likely be highlighted by the risk of COVID-19 infection (The Hill).

 

TECH: The Department of Commerce said on Monday it will continue to defend the president’s executive order seeking to limit the use of the widely popular video sharing app TikTok in the United States after a federal judge ruling last week presented a new legal hurdle for the administration’s push to curb the use of the Chinese-owned app (The Hill).



THE CLOSER

And finally … On the southern edge of the port city of Rotterdam, Netherlands, a whale on Monday saved the day for a metro rail driver as his train shot through the air 30 feet above ground, past the end of an elevated stretch of tracks and landed on the tip of a giant sculpture’s graceful tail.

 

In a play on words, the news wires called the accident a “fluke,” and it was such a visual sensation that officials had to scatter a crowd, worried that the aerial near-miss might breach COVID-19 restrictions against congregating (The Associated Press). 

 

The name of the decades-old sculpture? “Saved by the whale’s tail.”