Live Election Updates: Trump Heads to Pennsylvania – The New York Times


THE EARLY VOTE

Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

When early voting began in Florida on Monday, more than 339,152 Floridians went to the polls and cast ballots in person, according to data collected by the United States Elections Project.

The total eclipsed the record set on the first day of early, in-person voting four years ago, when about 291,000 people cast ballots, according to The Miami Herald.

Including mailed-in ballots, nearly three million people have now voted so far this year in Florida — nearly 30 percent of the votes cast in the state in the entire 2016 election, data shows.

Both parties, and campaigns up and down the ballot, are trying to figure out whether the big early numbers are likely to translate into record turnout or simply indicate that people are voting earlier than usual because of coronavirus fears and mail delays.

The early data, collected by Dr. Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, shows that registered Democrats in Florida have been far more likely to vote by mail than Republicans, suggesting that President Trump’s frequent broadsides against voting by mail may have resonated with Republicans.

But Republicans were on track to cast slightly more in-person votes than Democrats on the first day of early voting.

Here is what the Florida data showed, as of early Tuesday afternoon:

  • 2,998,494 Floridians have already voted.

  • Turnout is already 29.7 percent of what it was in the entire 2016 election.

  • 339,152 people had voted in person, including 144,562 Republicans and 140,753 Democrats.

  • 2,659,342 people had voted by mail, including 1,291,463 Democrats and 808,962 Republicans.

  • Democrats have requested 802,947 more mail-in ballots than Republicans.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump and the first lady will campaign on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, one of the key battleground states where Joseph R. Biden Jr. leads in the polls exactly two weeks before Election Day.

Mr. Trump trails Mr. Biden, his Democratic opponent, in all of the swing states that he carried in 2016, according to a New York Times snapshot of polling averages. That includes Pennsylvania, where Mr. Biden’s polling lead is averaging eight percentage points.

At his airport rally in Erie, Pa., on Tuesday night, Mr. Trump was planning to be joined by the first lady, Melania Trump, in her first public appearance since recovering from the coronavirus, but on Tuesday afternoon she canceled, with an aide citing a lingering cough.

Mr. Biden, who was born in Pennsylvania and has been trying to flip blue-collar voters there who supported Mr. Trump four years ago, is not expected to make any public appearances before the final presidential debate on Thursday in Nashville.

But as the debate nears, his presence is looming large over Mr. Trump’s campaign.

On Monday, Mr. Trump unleashed a torrent of anger about Mr. Biden and the business practices of his son Hunter Biden during a morning conference call with campaign staff members that several reporters listened in on.

Mr. Trump also called Mr. Biden “a criminal” during a rally in Arizona, and his re-election campaign announced a $55 million advertising blitz that will focus on reaching older voters in battleground states — a demographic that polls suggest is moving toward Mr. Biden.

Mr. Trump’s Pennsylvania rally comes a day after the Supreme Court let stand a ruling by the state’s highest court that allowed election officials to count some mailed ballots received up to three days after Election Day, citing the pandemic and postal delays.

The ruling is a major victory for Democrats who have been pushing to expand access to voting in the pandemic, and for a party that has been requesting absentee ballots in far greater numbers than Republicans.

Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, said on Monday that the ruling “makes clear our law will stand despite repeated attacks.”

“With nearly a million votes already cast in Pennsylvania,” he added, “we support the Court’s decision not to meddle in our already-working system.”

The ruling was a defeat for Pennsylvania Republicans who had asked the Supreme Court to intervene. Yet the court’s action — the result of a deadlock — suggested that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, could play a decisive role in election disputes if she is confirmed to the court as expected next week.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a nine-point lead over President Trump amid widespread public alarm about the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic and demand among voters for large-scale government action to right the economy, according to a national poll of likely voters conducted by The New York Times and Siena College.

With just two weeks left in the campaign, Mr. Trump does not hold an edge on any of the most pressing issues at stake in the election, leaving him with little room for a political recovery absent a calamitous misstep by Mr. Biden, the Democratic nominee, in the coming days. The president has even lost his longstanding advantage on economic matters: Voters are now evenly split on whether they have more trust in him or Mr. Biden to manage the economy.

On all other subjects tested in the poll, voters preferred Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump by modest or wide margins. Mr. Biden, the former vice president, is favored over Mr. Trump to lead on the coronavirus pandemic by 12 points, and voters trust Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump to choose Supreme Court justices and to maintain law and order by six-point margins. Americans see Mr. Biden as more capable of uniting the country by nearly 20 points.

The New York Times /
Siena College poll

Joe Biden leads Donald Trump among most groups, and Mr. Biden is notably ahead among voters age 45 and older, who typically lean Republican.

Total (n=987)

50% Biden

41% Trump

+9 Biden

Gender

Men (483)

+6 Trump

Women (494)

+23 Biden

Age

18-29 (111)

+28 Biden

30-44 (169)

+8 Biden

45-64 (349)

+3 Biden

65+ (327)

+10 Biden

Race

White (675)

+6 Trump

Nonwhite (274)

+44 Biden

Party

Dem. (350)

+89 Biden

Rep. (289)

+84 Trump

Ind./Other (311)

+9 Biden

Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely voters in the United States from Oct. 15 to 18.

Over all, Mr. Biden is backed by 50 percent of likely voters, the poll showed, compared with 41 percent for Mr. Trump and 3 percent divided among other candidates.Most of all, the survey makes clear that crucial constituencies are poised to reject Mr. Trump because they cannot abide his conduct, including 56 percent of women and 53 percent of white voters with college degrees who said they had a very unfavorable impression of Mr. Trump — an extraordinary level of antipathy toward an incumbent president.

Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

As Americans head to the polls in states across the country for early voting, a New York Times/Siena College survey of the country released Tuesday showed just how divided the voting process is shaping up to be this year.

Roughly one-third of voters said they planned to vote in person on Election Day. Nearly as many said they had already cast an early ballot, and about another third said they still planned to vote early — either in person or by mail.

An intractable gender divide has come to define this election season, and it plays out in voting habits as well as in vote choice. Although they were no more likely than men to report having voted already, women were nearly 20 percentage points likelier to say they planned to vote before Election Day, the poll found.

Of the more than two-thirds of male likely voters who have not yet voted, a majority plan to vote in person on Nov. 3, compared to just 41 percent of their female counterparts. Perhaps related, men tended to express a lower level of concern about the coronavirus: Fifty-eight percent of female voters said that they thought the worst of the virus was still to come, but just 44 percent of male voters agreed.

Asked which candidate they trusted to handle five separate political issues, women chose Joseph R. Biden Jr. over President Trump on each one by no fewer than 13 percentage points. On the question of who would better unify the country, female voters were more than twice as likely to choose Mr. Biden than to pick Mr. Trump.

Men tended to favor the president on most issues, although on unifying America and handling the coronavirus pandemic they were basically split.

Looking simply at vote choice, Mr. Trump’s advantages among men and white voters, at six points each, are not much changed from a Times/Siena poll last month. And they’re an insufficient counterweight to Mr. Biden’s strength among women and nonwhite voters.

With nonwhite women in particular, Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump, 70 percent to 20 percent.

Credit…Carlos Barria/Reuters

Melania Trump, the first lady, was expected to accompany President Trump to his rally in Erie, Pa., on Tuesday evening, but canceled her campaign stop hours before the event because she has a lingering cough, according to an administration official.

Mrs. Trump, who had the coronavirus earlier this month, announced last week that she had tested negative. She has not joined her husband at a rally since his re-election “kick-off” rally in June 2019, and she was set to appear with him in a state that is essential to his re-election chances.

Outside of her speech at the Republican National Convention, Mrs. Trump has resisted the campaign’s requests for more of her time headlining fund-raisers or other events for her husband.

“Mrs. Trump continues to feel better every day following her recovery from Covid-19,” said Stephanie Grisham, her chief of staff. “But with a lingering cough, and out of an abundance of caution, she will not be traveling today.”

Mr. Trump spent Monday attacking Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, and said, despite signs that the nation was headed toward another coronavirus peak, that people were “tired” of hearing about the virus from “these idiots” in the government.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Trump called on the attorney general on Tuesday to take action against his political opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., over his son’s foreign work, an extraordinary push to use the levers of the federal government to sway an election in its final days.

“We’ve got to get the attorney general to act,” Mr. Trump said on the show “Fox and Friends,” when asked whether he wants to see investigations into unverified information about Mr. Biden and his son Hunter that the president’s personal lawyer claims he recently obtained from Hunter’s laptop.

“He’s got to act. And he’s got to act fast,” Mr. Trump said of Attorney General William P. Barr, calling on him to appoint a special prosecutor or a similar official. “This is major corruption, and this has to be known about before the election. And, by the way, we’re doing very well. We’re going to win the election.”

A spokesman for Mr. Biden declined to comment.

Last week, The New York Post published an unsubstantiated article based on material provided by allies to Mr. Trump claiming that when the elder Biden was vice president in 2015, he met with an adviser to a Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden served. Mr. Biden’s campaign rejected the assertion and said his schedule showed no meeting with the adviser.

A call for authorities to take action against a political opponent is remarkable, especially two weeks before a presidential election. A day earlier, Mr. Trump repeatedly called his opponent “a criminal,” using the same word for a reporter he chided for not focusing on the Post story.

The president has repeatedly called on Mr. Barr to intervene in issues since he was confirmed by the Senate.

Mr. Biden is leading or tied with Mr. Trump in nearly every public poll in the battleground states that handed Mr. Trump his 2016 victory.

Mr. Biden has significantly cut into Mr. Trump’s edge on issues like the economy, and the president’s poor performance in handling the pandemic has brought his poll numbers down.

The president made the comments during an interview in which his answers were studded with lies and falsehoods about a range of issues, and in which he criticized the Bidens, the news media and the infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.

After spending Monday attacking Dr. Fauci, who remains popular in public opinion polls, Mr. Trump claimed Tuesday he was “not at odds” with him, before renewing the attacks.

The president falsely described Dr. Fauci as a “Democrat,” and claimed he was a “good friend” of the family of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York.

“He’s been there for a long time, I leave him there, and he’s been wrong,” Mr. Trump said of Dr. Fauci.

He then accused reporters of favoring Dr. Fauci “because they think he’s against me.”

Ad Watch

A series of ads featuring poll workers and election officials begins airing Tuesday, meant to assure Americans that the voting process is safe and secure. The $1.7 million campaign was produced by VoteSafe, a bipartisan voting rights group, and it says as much about the national psyche as it does about the political race.

In one ad, Sue from Pennsylvania introduces herself as “an Army wife, a mother, a grandmother and a die-hard believer in our right to vote.” She is not a politician, she says.

She is a poll worker, who has worked in Pennsylvania for the last eight years. As she is shown setting up a polling location and placing bilingual “Vote Aquí/Here” signs outside a community center near Easton, Pa., Sue addresses concerns about whether voting will be secure this November.

Her answer is clear.

“I know the process. I have seen it up close,” Sue says. “It is safe, it is secure, and I promise I am going to protect your vote as if it was my own.”

Election officials across the country have faced unprecedented difficulties in shoring up trust in the November elections amid the pandemic and a constant flood of misinformation and falsehoods about the election from the Trump campaign and conservative media outlets.

Though some states face a shortage of money and poll workers and the threat of foreign interference is real, the vote-casting process remains both safe and secure, and voter fraud in the United States is exceptionally rare.

Digital ads are targeting independent voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida. The campaign is also airing daily on Fox News in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The constant attacks by the president on the nation’s electoral system have started to wear on public faith in the process. But rather than turn to celebrities or lawmakers to defend the system, VoteSafe’s use of trusted and familiar local elections workers could help the ads land among an increasingly skeptical public.

DAILY SCHEDULES

Credit…Charlotte Kesl for The New York Times

Here are the daily schedules of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates for Tuesday, Oct. 20. All times are Eastern time.

President Trump

3 p.m.: Films a town hall event at the White House with the Sinclair Broadcast Group host Eric Bolling that will air Wednesday night.

7 p.m.: Holds a rally in Erie, Pa.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Preparing for Thursday’s debate.

Vice President Mike Pence

No public events.

Senator Kamala Harris

4 p.m.: Takes part in a virtual rally for the first day of in-person early voting in Wisconsin.

Evening: Joins virtual campaign fund-raising events.

Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

Donald J. Trump’s hometown, New York City, has not exactly been hospitable to him as a politician. In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton outpolled him here more than four to one.

His home borough within the city, Queens, where he grew up in a 23-room brick mansion, was not much more supportive: He garnered only 22 percent of the vote in 2016, in a county known as an immigrant melting pot where well over 100 languages are spoken.

But there is a corner of Queens where Trump flags proudly fly: the gated, overwhelmingly white, beachfront community of Breezy Point, long a haven for police officers, firefighters and other first-responders.

And though President Trump may be struggling in the polls as many Americans who voted for him in 2016 have soured on his leadership, in Breezy Point, his support remains rock solid.

“I don’t know anyone who voted for Trump in 2016 who would not do it again,” said Bob Turner, a former Republican congressman who has lived in Breezy Point for 40 years.

Jane Deacy, a retired police officer, said, “His record of the past three-and-a-half years stands, and his accomplishments have not changed.”

In Breezy Point — where residents enjoy glimpses of the Manhattan skyline and display banners with slogans like, “Yes, I’m a Trump girl. Get over it!” — loyalty to the president stems in part from a prevalent view that the city outside their gates is being driven into the ground by hopelessly progressive Democrats under whose leadership crime is rising and respect for law enforcement is dropping.

While Mr. Trump’s claim that New York City has fallen prey to anarchy may be greeted with scorn by many New Yorkers, it resonates in Breezy Point.

Credit…Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A drop-off box for ballots in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park was intentionally set on fire on Sunday night, ruining a collection of completed ballots before firefighters could put out the blaze, local officials said.

The police are collecting video footage and investigating the incident as arson. There were more than 200 ballots inside, Mayor Manuel Lozano of Baldwin Park told CBS Los Angeles.

Firefighters dropped a hose into the ballot box to put out the flames, then cut open the box and removed dozens of damaged ballots, which appeared to be charred or soaked.

“We’re going to save as many ballots as we can,” a firefighter can be heard saying in a video taken by a bystander.

The Los Angeles County Registrar’s office said in a statement that it would notify voters whose ballots were affected “and will ensure they can exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

Hilda L. Solis, a Los Angeles County supervisor, said the fire had “all the signs of an attempt to disenfranchise voters and call into question the security of our elections.”

“Tampering, or attempts to tamper, with our democracy will not be tolerated,” she said.

At the time of the fire, it had been nearly 36 hours since the last time ballots had last been picked up from the box. The registrar’s office said it was “immediately increasing the frequency of ballot pickup at all other boxes.”

In addition to the Los Angeles police investigation, the registrar’s office reported the incident to the F.B.I. and the attorney general.

Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

One evening last month, about 100,000 people watched and donated to a virtual fund-raiser for the Biden campaign featuring Hillary Clinton, Senator Kamala Harris, and two actors who portrayed them on “Saturday Night Live,” Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph. By all accounts, the small-donor event was a success: It raised $4.4 million.

That same night, Joseph R. Biden Jr. beamed into a more intimate affair of fewer than two dozen people, hosted by the billionaire financier Haim Saban. Tickets cost half a million dollars apiece. It raised even more: $4.5 million.

While Mr. Biden’s campaign has trumpeted the small donations flooding in at record rates, the elite world of billionaires and multimillionaires has remained a critical cog in the Biden money machine.

And as the size of checks has grown, the campaign has become less transparent, declining so far to disclose the names of its most influential check collectors, known as bundlers.

From Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Wall Street, Mr. Biden’s campaign has aggressively courted the megadonor class. It has raised almost $200 million from donors who gave at least $100,000 to his joint operations with the Democratic Party in the last six months — about twice as much as President Trump raised from six-figure donors in that time, according to an analysis of new federal records.

Credit…Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Shortly after President Trump said at a campaign rally that he could, hypothetically, call up the chief executive of Exxon Mobil and ask for a campaign contribution in return for granting political favors, the company took to Twitter to say that no such call had ever taken place.

“We are aware of the President’s statement regarding a hypothetical call” with Darren Woods, Exxon’s chief executive, the company wrote on Twitter. “Just so we’re all clear, it never happened.”

At a campaign rally in Prescott, Ariz., on Monday, Mr. Trump told the crowd that he could be “the greatest fund-raiser in history” if he wanted.

“Don’t forget, I’m not bad at that stuff anyway, and I’m president,” Mr. Trump said.

He described a hypothetical phone call to Exxon, America’s largest energy company, seeking a campaign contribution.

“So I call some guy, the head of Exxon. I call the head of Exxon. I don’t know,” he said.

Mr. Trump said he could say: “Hi. How are you doing? How’s energy coming? When are you doing the exploration? Oh, you need a couple of permits?”

Mr. Trump said he could ask for $25 million and the response from Exxon would be positive. “Absolutely sir, why didn’t you ask? Would you like some more?’” Mr. Trump said as he played out the scenario for the applauding crowd.

“I will hit a home run every single call,” he said. “I would raise a billion dollars in one day if I wanted to. I don’t want to do that.”

Federal law prohibits campaign contributions in exchange for a favor or advantage granted, like exploration and production licenses.

Exxon said no such call had ever happened.

The oil and gas sector has been a major source of campaign contributions to the president, who has spent the last several years rolling back environmental regulations.

Mr. Trump’s comments came after reports showing his challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., has outpaced him in fund-raising. In just over a year, Mr. Biden’s online fund-raising has increased 1,000-fold, to $24.1 million on Sept. 30. At the same time, the Trump campaign is reining in its budget.

Credit…Xavier Burrell for The New York Times

A poll worker in Memphis was fired last week after he improperly turned away several voters wearing T-shirts that said “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe,” a local election official said.

The official, Suzanne Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Shelby County Election Commission, said in an interview Monday night that although Tennessee law prohibited voters from wearing clothing with the names of active candidates or political parties, the rule did not apply to social justice expressions. The voters should have been allowed to cast their ballots, she said.

“Frankly, we were horrified when we learned that,” Ms. Thompson said. “So we took immediate action. No one should ever be turned away from a polling location.”

Each state creates its own laws about political campaigning at polling places. Several states ban buttons and signs, while others go further and regulate dress codes.

Some states forbid mentions of specific candidates, while others disallow any statements on political issues. Voters who violate state law could be turned away, and on rare occasions people have been arrested after refusing poll workers’ instructions to cover up. Find the laws in your state here.

In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a Minnesota law that prohibited political statements on apparel, even on broad issues like gun rights or labor unions. In a cautious 7-to-2 decision, the court acknowledged the value of decorum and solemn deliberation as voters prepare to cast their ballots. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that Minnesota’s law was not “capable of reasoned application.”

The court found that the Minnesota law was too difficult to parse, for example by allowing a rainbow T-shirt unless a gay rights issue was on the ballot.

The ruling allowed states to enforce more narrowly written restrictions.

Credit…David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Bracing for a deluge of misinformation as Election Day draws closer, Colorado is stepping up its initiative to prevent deceptive tweets, doctored videos and other forms of false material from undermining elections in the state.

The effort, expanding on an operation set up this year within the office of Jena Griswold, Colorado’s secretary of state, will also run ads on social media and expand digital outreach to help voters identify foreign misinformation.

Ms. Griswold hired Nathan Blumenthal, a former counterterrorism official at the Department of Homeland Security, to run the three-person operation, which in turn has hired outside vendors to help identify misinformation online, whether it is going viral on social media or lurking on obscure message boards.

The office will also buy Google ads against relevant search terms whenever a piece of misinformation begins to gain attention in an effort to slow its spread. For example, if someone were to claim Colorado’s ballots were lost in a fire, the office could buy ads linked to searches for “Colorado ballot fire” and get the top results, with the ads providing real information. And it is kicking off a public awareness campaign using Facebook ads that will direct voters to check the secretary’s website, using the tagline “Opinions are fun, facts are better.”

Many states have not set up operations to combat misinformation, partly because their election offices are already so overworked and underfunded.

While major social media platforms have repeatedly pledged to crack down on the spread of false information, Ms. Griswold faulted both the federal and corporate responses to the problem.

“Absolutely not enough is being done,” she said. “We have a lack of leadership in the White House and the Senate. We have good pieces of legislation just sitting in the queues that have not been moved forward.”

Credit…John Bazemore/Associated Press

A shift against President Trump among white college-educated voters in Georgia has imperiled Republicans up and down the ballot, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released Tuesday, as Republicans find themselves deadlocked or trailing in Senate races where their party was once considered the favorite.

In the presidential race, Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mr. Trump were tied at 45 percent among likely voters, unchanged from a Times/Siena poll last month.

But over the same period, Senator David Perdue’s lead evaporated against his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, while another Democrat, the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, pulled ahead in a special election for the state’s other Senate seat.

Mr. Ossoff is now tied with Mr. Perdue, who led by four percentage points a month ago, at 43 percent. The race will head to a January runoff if no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, making the standing of Shane Hazel, the Libertarian candidate who held 4 percent of the vote in the survey, potentially crucial to the outcome.

The survey, conducted from Oct. 13 to 19, found that Mr. Perdue’s favorability ratings declined significantly since the last Times/Siena poll of the state, though it found no immediate evidence of a shift in Mr. Ossoff’s favor after Mr. Perdue made national headlines by mocking the first name of the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, on Oct. 16.

The special election for Senate, meanwhile, is all but certain to go to a January runoff, with no candidate near 50 percent. Dr. Warnock has opened a comfortable 32-23 percent lead over Senator Kelly Loeffler, a Republican who was appointed to the seat, with Representative Doug Collins, another Republican, in third at 17 percent.

The findings are the latest indication that Democrats could be on the cusp of realizing their often tantalizing but elusive dream of a Blue Georgia. A victory there for Mr. Biden would doom the president in his bid for re-election, and even one Senate victory could be the difference in giving Democrats control of the Senate.

The Trump campaign has run millions of dollars’ worth of oftenuncontested television advertisements to hold a state that he carried by five percentage points in 2016; the results suggest that his efforts have done little to nudge the state in his favor.

The poll’s margin error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.