Welcome to our weekly review of the state of the 2020 campaign.
The week in numbers
During the presidential election, the Biden campaign dominated the paid media landscape. On TV and radio, the Biden campaign ran $ 62 million over the past week, when the Trump campaign has only spent about $ 15.5 million, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking company. The advantage lies on Facebook, where the Biden campaign spent $ 9.9 million over the past week, and the Trump campaign has gone $ 4.7 million over the same period there.
As voters walked to early voting sites this week and postal votes poured in, expectations that the election would see a historically high turnout were confirmed. In Texas, a closely guarded battlefield, more than 9 million the ballots had already been cast on Friday – more than the total number of votes cast in the 2016 election.
Investigations released this week continued to show a steady lead for Mr Biden across the country and a sizable advantage in most of the major battlefield states. A New York Times / Siena College investigation into North Carolina gave Mr Biden a three percentage points edge there, while another Michigan Times / Siena poll put Mr. Biden’s lead at eight points.
A presidential election that began in earnest almost two years ago has finally arrived. Polls show the campaign is ending as it started: as a referendum on President Trump. What is new is that voters are also weighing in on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats believe they have an advantage, a wider path to 270 electoral votes across the Midwest, Southwest, and even the Sun Belt. Mr. Trump’s campaign acknowledges a skyrocketing but believes that high voter turnout on election day can help squeak a victory similar to that of 2016.
Yet what happens on Tuesday could be the start of another chapter in this election – not its completion.
Keep up with Election 2020
Despite all the advanced campaign efforts of Mr. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr., both sides are bracing for a lengthy legal battle that could include state litigation, lengthy ballot counting efforts, and managing expectations. of their respective electoral bases. Mr Trump contributed to the tense mood by insinuating that a Supreme Court that now includes three of its handpicked judges could side with it on election-related issues.
Tuesday will sort out fact from fiction and justified fears from fantasy. It will also answer the question that has dominated politics for the past four years: Was Mr. Trump’s election in 2016 a perfect electoral storm, or a sign of a political Houdini about to surprise again?
Mr. Trump, who is not known to stick to prepared remarks, failed to deliver a clear closing message to voters in the final weeks of the campaign. Instead, his rambling rally speeches are more like a party tray with a little something for everyone.
False Coronavirus Claims: His main message to supporters is to ignore their eyes and ears and trust him that the worst of the pandemic is over and that contracting a virus that has killed 230,000 Americans is not, in fact, a death sentence. “With the fake news, it’s all Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,” Mr. Trump complained at a rally in Omaha last week. “I had it. Here I am, right? His riff on the media’s obsession with the coronavirus is also an admission that he hasn’t been able to weather the pandemic, or steer coverage, like he did. has been able to do this in the past.
What he wants to talk about is Hunter Biden: The Trump campaign had always hoped to portray Mr. Biden and his family as corrupt, as they did four years ago with Hillary Clinton. But the story has not caught on, and Mr. Trump often complains that he cannot get the “mainstream media” to cover an unsubstantiated New York Post report based on unverified information. He also refuses to admit that this is not an effective closing message for him, as some Republicans believe. “I get a call from all the experts, okay, guys who’ve run for president six, seven, eight times, never got past the first round, but they’re calling me. “Sir, you shouldn’t be talking about Hunter,” he said at a rally in Tampa Thursday. “’You shouldn’t say bad things about Biden because nobody cares.’ I do not agree. You know, maybe that’s why I’m here and they’re not.
Attacks on the election: Mr. Trump sprinkles his rallying speeches with baseless attacks on the electoral process. Last week, he said without real proof that “every day there is cheating with the ballots”. This is part of his constant questioning of the integrity of the election. Trump’s advisers have said their best hope is for the president to win Ohio and for Florida to be too close to call early in the night, robbing Mr. Biden of a quick victory and giving Mr. Trump the opportunity to undermine the validity of countless postal ballots in the days after.
Biden’s Closing Message: Any Trump, Any Virus
Mr Biden’s campaign is convinced that what voters find distasteful about the president and his administration can sum it all up in their handling of the coronavirus. In the home stretch, as Mr. Biden increased his travel schedule to states like Iowa, Georgia and Michigan, the Democrats’ message was united – all coronaviruses, all the time.
Under the hood, the Biden campaign has several factors it examines on election day, to judge whether the message has resonated or whether the campaign is going on longer.
Districts to watch: The first sign of Ms Clinton’s eventual defeat in 2016 was an uncommitted Democratic electorate. For Mr Biden, this is the first thing the campaign seeks to reverse – and the one most under their control. Battlefield states like North Carolina and Florida will be the first big tests on November 3, as they are expected to count the ballots relatively quickly. In those states, expect the turnout of black voters to be an initial measure of democratic turnout on election day.
Win early in these four states: Mr. Biden has several paths to victory, and both campaigns know it. While the dream scenario includes early wins in Florida and North Carolina, blocking Mr. Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes early in the evening, it also has a few side options. Georgia and Arizona are other battlefield states that should be known on election night, and where Mr. Biden can make up for the electoral votes that went to Mr. Trump in 2016. What if all else fails , there’s the Midwest, which functions like Mr. Biden. worst case scenario. Michigan and Pennsylvania said it would take several days to complete the count.
Party building: Tuesday is not only the day for Mr Biden to be elected president, but it could usher in a wave of ruling Democrats across the country. Over the past week, Mr Biden has taken a look at states like Iowa and Georgia, which are critical for Democrats seeking to take control of the Senate. If Mr Biden is elected with majorities in Congress, it puts a Democratic Party firmly within his grasp, even as he struggles with strong ideological divisions. It also gives them a chance to reverse multi-year deficits in state legislatures across the country during a critical year of redistribution. Everything is on the table for Democrats and for Mr. Biden. It will quickly become clear if they seize the opportunity.
Nick Corasaniti and Giovanni Russonello contributed reporting.