By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — With 14 days to go until Election Day, and President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden racing toward Nov. 3, voters are turning out in record numbers to cast their ballots early.
Roughly 31 million Americans have already voted in the 2020 election, reflecting an extraordinary level of participation and interest despite unprecedented barriers brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
In the final weeks of campaigning, the president remains on defense as his approval rating drags. He’s hosting rallies this week mostly in states he won in 2016 including Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia.
Biden, maintaining a nationwide lead in polls — his largest lead of the election, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average — has no public events on his schedule this week so far ahead of Thursday’s final presidential debate with Trump. Staying off the trail ahead of debates is a pattern for the former vice president.
Polls indicate a huge pre-Election-Day edge for Biden and a sizable Trump advantage among those who plan to vote on Nov. 3 itself. Trump has sowed doubt in the mail-in ballot process — and imminent election results — for months.
The rhetoric between candidates is expected to heat up ahead of their second and final showdown in Nashville.
All 50 states plus Washington, D.C., currently have some form of early voting underway. Check out FiveThirtyEight’s guide to voting during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
Here is how the day is unfolding. All times Eastern:
Oct 20, 10:05 am
Trump slams debate changes ahead of Thursday showdown
Reacting to the Commission on Presidential Debates saying it would mute the candidates’ microphones during their opponent’s initial responses at Thursday’s debate, Trump said “the whole thing is crazy” and went on to criticize the moderator, Kristen Welker.
In a wide-ranging interview with “Fox and Friends” this morning, Trump explained what he sees as the advantage in interrupting Biden constantly versus letting him talk.
“When somebody stands there and he lies, lies, lies, I like to challenge it at the time, because you don’t have time to go back,” Trump said. But, he added, he had heard from others it could be good to let Biden speak. “They said if you let him talk, he’ll lose his chain of thought because he’s gonzo.”
On the topics chosen, Trump echoed his campaign manager’s insistence that the debate should be about foreign policy, even though the Commission on Presidential Debates and the candidates had agreed months ago the topics would be left up to the moderator.
“This was supposed to be a foreign policy debate, and now all of a sudden we’re talking about things that are not foreign policy. And, frankly, it was a change that they made that was far bigger than the mute button, I mean, frankly. But they made a change, and it shouldn’t have happened,” Trump said.
Asked if he was nervous about the debate, Trump said, “No, I’m not nervous.”
Trump headlines a Sinclair Town Hall event in the Rose Garden this afternoon before departing with the first lady for a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, this evening. He’s said his exchanges with reporters will serve as his debate prep.
Biden, meanwhile, has hunkered down in Wilmington, Delaware, for debate prep ahead of Thursday, similar to what he’s done before previous debates.
-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson
Oct 20, 10:00 am
Early voting breaks records in Florida
Voters in Florida weathered downpours that swept across a big portion of the state Monday and still managed to shatter the state’s opening-day record for in-person early voting, with at least 350,000 people casting ballots. But some Florida voters faced hurdles that election officials had pledged would not be an issue.
The Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office website suffered a technical issue that prevented some users from accessing the site for several hours. Danae Rivera-Marasco, communications and community outreach coordinator, told ABC News that while it took two to three hours to resolve the issue for the majority of users, some trying to access the website via an AT&T connection were still unable to access it in the evening.
The election office said the issue was “not due to traffic or hacking” and said there hadn’t been a security breach.
In Broward County, voters reported waiting in lines for hours, just days after a spokesman for the county’s supervisor of elections told ABC News he did not expect to see lines at polling sites.
“We rarely have lines during early voting as it is, so this is likely to be even less, simply because of the fact that so many voters are now voting from the kitchen table,” said Steve Vancore, the Broward County elections spokesman, over the weekend.
One voter in Miramar, Florida, told ABC News she waited for close to three hours to vote. In a text, Vancore attributed the back-up there to voter enthusiasm and social distancing.
-ABC News’ Will McDuffie
Oct 20, 9:44 am
With coronavirus concerns a factor, it’s all tied up in North Carolina: Poll
Coronavirus concerns lift Biden in North Carolina while the state’s sizable evangelical and rural populations pull for Trump, producing a dead-heat contest in a state that’s backed Democratic presidential candidates just twice in the last half century.
The presidential race differs from the contest nationally — an ABC/Post poll last week found a 12-point Biden lead — in large part given differing demographics. Most notably, evangelical white Protestants account for 31% of likely voters in North Carolina, compared with 15% nationally. White evangelicals in the state support Trump over Biden by 82-17%.
Rural voters also are part of the difference in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates; they account for 21% of likely voters nationally but 28% in the state, and back Trump by nearly 2-1, 63-33%. So, too, are very conservative likely voters — 16% nationally but 24% in North Carolina, nearly all for Trump.
Biden pushes back with a 34-point lead among moderate voters, 64-30%, surpassing Hillary Clinton’s 20-point win in this group in 2016; a 68-30% lead in the state’s political, academic and technology hub, the Raleigh-Durham area; and 60-38% among college graduates — the widest Democratic advantage in this group in exit polls since 1988.
See PDF for full results, charts and tables here.
-ABC News’ Polling Director Gary Langer
Oct 20, 8:56 am
Early voting by the numbers
With two weeks to go until Election Day, at least 31 million votes have been cast in the 2020 general election as early voting data continues to hit record numbers across the nation.
According to the United States Elections Project, spearheaded by University of Florida political expert Michael McDonald, an unprecedented 31,677,305 voters have already voted and at least 83,196,705 ballots have been requested in early voting states.
Texas has the most votes already cast with roughly four million. California follows the lead with roughly 3.5 million absentee ballots cast.
At this time in 2016, 5.6 million votes had been cast nationwide.
The large early voting numbers are a factor of the coronavirus pandemic as well as an increase in voter interest. Voters are more eager to cast a ballot ahead of Election Day where polling sites could be viewed as overcrowded during pandemic standards.
In-person early voting begins Tuesday in Hawaii, Louisiana and Utah.
-ABC News’ Kelsey Walsh
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