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Trump, Biden Make Final Push in States Seen as Key to Victory

PoliticsNov 02, 2020 18:45
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2/2 © Bloomberg. Donald Trump delivers remarks during a campaign rally at Fayetteville Regional Airport in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Nov. 2. 2/2

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are making final pitches to voters in key battleground states that likely will determine who wins the election.

The president on Monday kicked off a run of five rallies in four states: North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Biden plans to spend most of the day campaigning in Pennsylvania, a state both candidates consider essential. The Democrat also stopped in Ohio, projecting confidence he has a chance to flip a state Trump won handily in 2016.

Both campaigns say they have a chance to win, though Biden has the upper hand with leads in national and most swing state polls. Trump, who has an even narrower path than four years ago to the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory, is betting on heavy turnout by his core supporters on Election Day.

The president already has also foreshadowed a legal battle to challenge the counting of mail-in ballots in states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

At stake is the direction of a country facing myriad crises, including a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and a nationwide reckoning over racial justice and police brutality.

More than 95 million people have already voted, according to the U.S. Elections Project, meaning that Trump and Biden are fighting over an increasingly small swath of voters on the campaign’s final day.

For months, the pandemic has been top of mind for Americans. More than 231,000 people in the U.S. have died as a result of Covid-19 and over 9.2 million have contracted the virus. While the economy has begun to bounce back, those gains are threatened by a spate of new infections in dozens of states and the government’s failure to approve a new round of virus aid.

The coronavirus outbreak completely reshaped the race. Trump had been in a strong position early this year after surviving impeachment and due to a booming economy.

Voters have rated Trump’s virus response poorly and the president has continued to flout public-health recommendations, such as by holding large rallies, even after he was hospitalized with Covid-19 early last month.

Biden leads Trump by 6.7 percentage points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, but that is his lowest lead in months. He also is in front of the Republican in polling averages of nearly every battleground state, except for Ohio, where Trump has a 0.2 percentage point advantage.

Biden’s chances of winning the Electoral College rose to a record high 90.0%, according to the latest run of poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight’s election forecasting model, from 89.3% on Nov. 1.

Nonetheless, Trump’s team sees a narrow window for the president to win a second term. He is likely to lose in Michigan and Wisconsin, two upper Upper Midwestern states that he won in 2016, according to a person working on Trump’s re-election effort. But he believes he can keep Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia in his column, and campaign advisers are also optimistic about Florida, Iowa and Arizona.

Biden has cemented his advantage by winning support among seniors and White women, two groups that helped Trump pull off a stunning upset against Hillary Clinton in 2016. But Trump’s team is banking on high turnout among suburban men to boost the president, said the person working on Trump’s re-election, who requested anonymity to discuss the campaign’s thinking.

“Tomorrow we can put an end to a president that has failed to protect this nation,” Biden said Monday in Cleveland.

The pandemic has led to record numbers of voters casting ballots early at polling places or through the mail. The early-voting surge means it will likely take longer for states to count all of the ballots.

The Trump campaign argues that Biden hasn’t banked enough mail in votes in battleground states. “The President’s supporters will vote in massive numbers on Election Day,” said Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman.

Trump has baselessly argued that mail-in ballots will lead to widespread fraud and has refused to unequivocally say whether he would accept the election results.

“As soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” Trump told reporters on Sunday.

The Supreme Court has refused to block a Pennsylvania court’s order to allow ballots received as many as three days after Election Day. Trump called the decision “dangerous.” It is possible the high court could take up the issue again after Nov. 3.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Trump, Biden Make Final Push in States Seen as Key to Victory

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