Election live updates: Biden holds lead in Pennsylvania as Trump campaigns in 4 battleground states

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The 2020 election is motivating first-time voters of all ages and walks of life to cast their ballots. USA TODAY

President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden are in the home stretch of this presidential campaign with just hours to go before Election Day on Tuesday. Biden, running mate Kamala Harris, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence all target key battleground states Monday. Tuesday’s election will may result in changes in Congress, where Democrats want to regain control of the Republican-led Senate and Democrats hope to expand their advantage in the House. Meanwhile, Americans obliterated early voting records, with 93 million having already cast ballots for the general election. 

Refresh this blog all day for updates as the candidates make their final pushes. 

Trump, Biden rally voters in election-eve push

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden traded insults Monday in the final hours of campaigning before Election Day.

Both campaigns find themselves focusing their efforts on key swing states – Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania among them – in the final days of the campaign. The contests could determine the outcome of the presidential election. 

“Tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that has divided this nation,” Biden told supporters in Cleveland, before heading to several events in Pennsylvania. “Tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that has failed to protect this nation. Tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that has fanned the flames of hate across this nation.”

Trump repeated his complaints about Biden, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the investigation into Russian interference in that campaign and polls during a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

“If I didn’t have social media, I wouldn’t be here,” said Trump. “It’s the only way I could defend myself.”

Biden planned to finish the day with a rally in Pittsburgh with Lady Gaga. Trump was headed to Avoca, Pennsylvania; Traverse City, Michigan; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Grand Rapids, Michigan, before returning to the White House after midnight.

– Bart Jansen

Trump, Biden rally voters on final Monday

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden traded insults Monday on the second-to-last day of campaigning.

“Tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that has divided this nation,” Biden told supporters in Cleveland, before heading to several events in Pennsylvania. “Tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that has failed to protect this nation. Tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that has fanned the flames of hate across this nation.”

Trump repeated his complaints about Biden, 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the investigation into Russian interference in that campaign and polls during a rally in Fayetteville, N.C.

“If I didn’t have social media, I wouldn’t be here,” said Trump, who called the Russia probe “fake news.” “It’s the only way I could defend myself.”

Biden planned to finish the day with a rally in Pittsburgh with Lady Gaga. Trump was headed to Avoca, Pa.; Traverse City, Mich.; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Grand Rapids, Michigan, before returning to the White House after midnight.

–Bart Jansen

Some Pennsylvania counties won’t count mail ballots until after Tuesday

At least five counties in Pennsylvania will not be counting absentee and mail-in ballots on election night and will wait until the next day to do so.

Cumberland County in central Pennsylvania issued a news release saying it plans to start counting the mail-in and absentee ballots at 9 a.m. EST Wednesday. On Election Day, the county will focus on the smooth operation of its polling places.

“Due to available resources and the COVID-19 pandemic, this will allow the county to give equal weight to in-person and mail-in and absentee ballots,” the release states.

– Teresa Boeckel (York Daily Record)

‘I’m not working all night’: Some Pennsylvania counties won’t count mail ballots until after Nov. 3

Trump issues false tweet about the FBI 

President Donald Trump began his last day of campaigning Monday with a false tweet about an FBI investigation into Trump supporters surrounding a Joe Biden campaign bus in Texas.

A caravan of vehicles displaying Trump campaign flags and signs swarmed the Biden bus between San Antonio and Austin on Friday. Democrats on board, who said the Trump vehicles tried to slow down the bus and even run if off the road, contacted authorities.

Retweeting a CNN report about the FBI investigation, Trump said “this story is FALSE.” But that is not true. An FBI spokesperson said the incident was being investigated, and declined to elaborate.

Election 2020: FBI says it’s reviewing Biden bus swarmed by ‘Trump train’ caravan, contrary to Trump tweet

Echoing a tweet he issued Sunday, Trump also said his supporters “did nothing wrong. But the ANTIFA Anarchists, Rioters and Looters, who have caused so much harm and destruction in Democrat run cities, are being seriously looked at!”

There is no evidence that the FBI is investigating “anarchists.”

– David Jackson

Election 2020: These gay voters are backing Trump. Here’s why.

Poll finds Biden with 5-7 point lead in Pennsylvania, depending on turnout

Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in the critical state of Pennsylvania heading into Election Day, according to the final Monmouth University poll on the 2020 race in the Keystone State.

In a model reflecting high voter turnout, the survey found Biden leading Trump 51%-44% among likely voters in states. If turnout is low, the model showed Biden ahead 50%-45%.

The silver lining for Trump is that those numbers reflect an improvement for him from a Monmouth poll last month. That poll found Biden ahead among likely Pennsylvania voters 11% and 8% in high and low turnout scenarios, respectively.

Both candidates have visited the state multiple times in the final days of the campaign.

“Pennsylvania voters may have responded more than most to key events, such as the conventions and the debates. This potential for movement is one reason why both campaigns have spent so much time there,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The survey was conducted from Wednesday to Sunday, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

– William Cummings

Forecaster shifts outlook on House races as Democrats poised to expand majority

The nonpartisan analysts at the Cook Political Report shifted eight House races towards Democrats Monday morning and forecast a net gain of about 10-15 seats for House Democrats in this year’s elections.

Three of the eight races are in Texas, though President Donald Trump won those suburban districts in 2016. Another two won by Trump in 2016 are in New Jersey, one outside of New York City and another in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives in 2018, and the chamber is currently split 232-197 between Democrats and Republicans. President Donald Trump has repeatedly predicted Republicans would win the House. Asked in a USA TODAY/Suffolk poll from Oct. 23 to Oct. 27 whether they would vote for a Democrat or Republican in Congress, voters gave Democrats a 10-point lead, with 49% of voters picking a Democrat and 39% a Republican. Control of the Senate, on the other hand, is still a toss-up between both parties. 

– Nicholas Wu

How will the lack of COVID stimulus affect the election? 

Voters watched with anticipation for months as congressional leaders and the White House bickered over another coronavirus stimulus package, one they hoped would provide another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and a more generous weekly unemployment payment to help weather the global pandemic.

But a deal never materialized even as millions found themselves unemployed, COVID-19 case totals climbed and benefits expired. Democrats faulted Republicans after President Donald Trump pulled out of negotiations and then reversed course. Republicans similarly said Democrats were responsible for refusing to cut down the size of their package. The merry-go-round of negotiations, filled with moments of hope then dismay as both sides deadlocked, played out as voters made decisions on who they would back in the election.

Polling shows voters have COVID-19 and the economy at the top of mind, ranking them as the top two issues in a recent USA TODAY/Suffolk poll. And political experts and analysts from both parties told USA TODAY the bickering could hurt both parties, including the president, as the dysfunction in Washington feeds into an anti-incumbent narratives.

Here’s what we know about how the lack of stimulus is playing out in the election. 

– Nicholas Wu and Christal Hayes

COVID stimulus: Democrats, White House spent months bickering over a coronavirus stimulus bill that never happened. Will it affect voters at the ballot box?

The final hours: Trump hits 4 battleground states Monday headed into Election Day

President Donald Trump’s last full day of campaigning Monday carries him to five rallies in four important states, and probably won’t end until the wee hours of Election Day itself.

The president travels to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, including two rallies in that last state. He is scheduled to return to the White House at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

As for Monday’s schedule, polls in Michigan and Wisconsin show Trump trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden by healthy margins. Things are closer in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, both of which Trump probably needs to win if he is to prevail over Biden in the Electoral College.

“We’re doing tremendous numbers,” Trump told reporters during another marathon day of campaigning on Sunday in Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Trump’s stops Monday include Kenosha, Wisconsin, the site of civil unrest after a police killing of a Black man in August.

The final rally, just before midnight Monday, is in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the same city where Trump ended his presidential campaign in 2016.

As of now, Trump is scheduled to spend Election Day itself at the White House.

– Courtney Subramanian and David Jackson

The swing states: All eyes will be on these 6 states on Election Day. Here’s what we know.

Tomorrow is Election Day

Voting in the 2020 election comes to a close Tuesday, nine months after the first primary ballots were cast in the Iowa Caucuses, but not before voters in several states get one more day to add to the already record-shattering early vote totals.

According to the U.S. Election Project, more than 93 million Americans have already cast their ballots ahead of Election Day on Tuesday, about 68% of the entire turnout in the 2016 election. 

But there is a good chance the end of the voting won’t mean the end of the election battle between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, if the result isn’t clear as Tuesday’s vote count draws to a close.

Though ballots are counted after Election Day in every election – particularly mailed-in or absentee ballots – Trump has insisted the final tally must be in on Tuesday.

Stimulus: Democrats, White House spent months bickering over a coronavirus stimulus bill that never happened. Will it affect voters at the ballot box?

On Sunday, Trump said it wasn’t “fair” that voters would likely have to wait on the result in Pennsylvania as mailed-in ballots were counted, and his senior campaign adviser Jason Miller baselessly implied any change to the count after Election Day constituted an attempt to “steal” the election. 

“As soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” Trump told reporters while discussing the possibility of a prolonged vote count in Pennsylvania. 

Trump’s and Miller’s comments came amid speculation that Trump was preparing to declare victory if he appeared ahead on election night, before all the presumably Democratic-friendly mailed votes were counted. 

– William Cummings 

Where are the candidates? 

President Donald Trump has another long day on the campaign trail Monday with stops planned in North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. 

Vice President Mike Pence is slated to appear in Erie, Pennsylvania, at 2 p.m. 

Democratic nominee Joe Biden, his running mate, Kamala Harris, and their spouses are slated to “barnstorm Pennsylvania and fan out across all four corners of the state.” Biden will visit Pittsburgh and Harris will head to Philadelphia, the campaign said.

Biden is also scheduled to stop in Cleveland, as polls indicate a tight race in Ohio, a state Trump won by more than 8 percentage points in 2016. 

‘Clear but unspoken preference’: As America votes, the world is watching with bated breath

Voting updates 

  • More than 93 million Americans have cast their ballots in early voting, shattering previous records. The number represents about 68% of all the ballots cast in 2016. 
  • Michael McDonald, the University of Florida professor behind the U.S. Elections Project, for months has been estimating that 150 million people will vote. But he has upped the ante in recent days, predicting a total turnout rate of 160.2 million votes, or a roughly 67% turnout rate. 
  • The Texas Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a GOP bid to toss out almost 127,000 votes cast in drive-thru lanes in the emerging Democratic stronghold of Harris County. A federal judge will hold an emergency hearing Monday morning – less than 21 hours before polls open on Election Day. 
  • The final Detroit Free Press poll of 2020 finds Trump down 7 percentage points, 41%-48%, to Biden in Michigan. And St. Cloud State University’s Annual Fall Statewide Survey finds Trump down 15 points to Biden in Minnesota. 

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