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Trump, Biden crisscross Midwestern battleground states

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 10/30/2020 John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Marisa Iati, Meryl Kornfield
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President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden crisscrossed Midwestern battleground states on Friday, each staging multiple events across the critical region. In back-to-back rallies in Michigan and Wisconsin, states that helped deliver him the presidency in 2016, Trump continued to dismiss the rise of coronavirus cases and resurfaced a baseless allegation that doctors were profiting off the pandemic. In Minnesota, Biden was visibly annoyed by pro-Trump protesters who sought to disrupt his car rally here — at one point referring to them as the “ugly folks over there beeping the horns.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence sought to shore up support in Arizona, while the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), looked to expand the map in Texas, a state Trump easily won four years ago.

With four days until Election Day …

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12:27 PM: Patent and Trademark Office rejects Trump Organization’s attempt to trademark ‘telerally’

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected an effort by Trump’s private company to trademark the term “telerally” — which the Trump Organization said it planned to use while organizing political events.

The problem, patent office staffer William D. Jackson wrote, is that the term isn’t distinctive enough.

If it is applied to rallies conducted by telephone or over the Internet, Jackson wrote, then “telerally” isn’t a unique name — it’s just a description. That would “not create a unique, incongruous, or nondescriptive meaning in relation to the goods and/or services.”

Jackson said that, if the Trump Organization wishes to reverse the decision, it must answer a set of detailed questions about the services it wants to provide under the “telerally” name.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Trump’s company applied for the trademark in July, at a time when Trump had actually stopped holding in-person campaign rallies because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, his campaign held “telerallies” — events with the energy and pizazz of a man leaving a long answering machine message. Trump would speak uninterrupted for 20 minutes or so, focusing on a different swing state each time. The audience could not talk back.

It was not clear at the time if — or how — Trump’s private company had organized those “telerallies,” or if it made money from them. The application for the trademark said that the company was planning on “organizing events in the field of politics and political campaigning” but gave no other details.

Since then, of course, Trump has given up the “telerally” format and returned to holding in-person events, ignoring — and even mocking — some of the precautions that health authorities have urged to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

By: David A. Fahrenthold

6:52 PM: CNN polls show Biden in strong position in four key states

CNN polls find the president trailing Biden by clear margins in Michigan and Wisconsin and trailing the Democrat by slight margins in North Carolina and Arizona, all four states Trump won in 2016.

Biden leads Trump by 53 percent to 41 percent in Michigan and by 52 percent to 44 percent in Wisconsin, both states Trump won by less than one percentage point four years ago. Biden’s advantage is within the range of sampling error in North Carolina, where he stands at 51 percent to Trump’s 45 percent, and Arizona in which 50 percent support Biden and 46 percent for Trump.

The CNN surveys, conducted Oct. 23 to 30, largely echo other independent surveys in these states and show little evidence that Trump is benefiting from a late surge in support as polls showed four years ago.

Biden appears to be winning the argument on which candidate can better handle the coronavirus pandemic. More voters in each state said they thought Biden would do a better job than Trump responding to the outbreak, by margins ranging from seven points in Arizona to 16 points in Michigan.

Trump has an 11-point advantage over Biden on handling the economy in Arizona and a five-point edge in North Carolina, though voters in Michigan and Wisconsin were split on this question.

The polls found Biden winning 55 percent or more of female voters in each state, peaking at 59 percent in Michigan and North Carolina. Men split about evenly in Michigan and Wisconsin, while they favor Trump by a narrow six points in Arizona and 11 points in North Carolina.

The CNN polls were conducted through random sampling of cellphones and landlines and interviewed between 865 and 907 likely voters in each state; the margin of sampling was 3.8 points in Michigan, 3.9 points in Wisconsin, 4 points in North Carolina and 4.1 points in Arizona.

By: Scott Clement

10:02 PM: Biden invokes Hillary Clinton’s loss in Wisconsin, saying lessons were learned

Arriving in Wisconsin for the third time during his campaign, Biden told a Milwaukee audience that it was three visits more than his predecessor: Hillary Clinton notoriously never made a stop in the battleground state in 2016 and narrowly lost.

“For a whole lot of reasons — not all of which were her fault — we ended up not taking it as seriously,” Biden admitted Friday night to about two dozen supporters at an airport hangar.

“We thought it was different,” said Biden, who visited the state in 2016 as a surrogate for Clinton’s campaign. She lost to Trump by less than 1 percent in Wisconsin, as critics argued her campaign did not allocate enough time and resources to the state and took the Midwest for granted.

But, Biden added, his campaign has learned from that and prioritized the state — broaching the party’s oversight in an apparent effort to gain the support of Wisconsin voters. Biden is leading in the state by nine points.

“I’ve been here a lot,” he said. “And by the way, when I get elected, if I get elected, I’m coming back.”

Democrats had also planned to host their national convention in Milwaukee, which would have highlighted the state’s significance to the party, but the coronavirus pandemic caused the gathering to be held virtually.

By: Meryl Kornfield

9:16 PM: Trump needs to win back some female voters. He’s closing his campaign by insulting them.

President Trump had a deal to offer the women at his rally in Lansing, Mich., this week. He loved women, he declared — “much more than the men” — and he needed their support. In exchange, he would help their husbands get back to work.

“They want to get back to work, right? They want to get back to work,” Trump said. “We’re getting your husbands back to work, and everybody wants it.”

The remark ignored a central reality of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic: Women also work, and they have suffered greater professional and economic consequences during the crisis.

A yawning chasm has emerged between Trump’s support among women and their backing of Democratic nominee Joe Biden — but the president, in his public remarks, has seemed intent on exacerbating it.

Read the full story here.

By: Amy B Wang

9:12 PM: With eye on redistricting, liberal group puts $10 million more into state legislative races

The Future Now Fund, a liberal nonprofit created to elect more Democrats to state legislatures, is putting $10 million into coordinated expenditures in the campaign’s final stretch, hoping to overwhelm last-minute GOP investments protecting their local majorities.

“After decades of special interest-fueled GOP dominance in state legislative races, we believe helping our candidates build effective campaigns and communicate their message focused on improving lives will be enough to achieve unprecedented gains,” said Simone Leiro, the group’s spokeswoman.

Capturing state legislatures or cutting down Republican majorities has been a priority of Democratic groups all cycle, as they work to reverse the GOP gains that locked in control of key states for the party from 2010 to now. Democrats have been particularly hopeful about Texas, where Republicans have controlled redistricting since a rare mid-decade gerrymander in 2003, and where Democratic control of the state’s House of Representatives would give them influence over new maps.

Republicans, aware of Democrats’ ambitions, have raised millions of dollars to protect their incumbents in places like Texas. The Future Now Fund’s spending, by coordinating with campaigns, is designed to go further than independent expenditures; the cost to put a coordinated ad on TV is half or less of a full third-party ad.

By: David Weigel

8:11 PM: Missouri officials cover noose display at voting site in local courthouse

a stack of flyers on a table next to a window: A noose used in 1937 to hang Rosco “Red” Jackson, a White man convicted of murdering a traveling salesman, was visible in a Galena, Mo., courthouse display next to voting tables until officials covered it Friday. (Courtesy of Missouri Democratic Party) © Courtesy of Missouri Democratic Party/Courtesy of Missouri Democratic Party A noose used in 1937 to hang Rosco “Red” Jackson, a White man convicted of murdering a traveling salesman, was visible in a Galena, Mo., courthouse display next to voting tables until officials covered it Friday. (Courtesy of Missouri Democratic Party)

In recent days, voters entering the courthouse in Galena, a town of 440 in the southwest part of Missouri, encountered tables to cast their ballots — and in a nearby display case, a rope used in 1937 to hang Rosco “Red” Jackson, a White man convicted of murdering a traveling salesman.

“It’s just part of our history here at the courthouse; it’s nothing to do with intimidating,” said Mark Maples, the presiding commissioner of Stone County.

But the hangman’s noose is often associated with the lynchings of Black people in the United States. Missouri had the second-highest number of lynchings in states outside of the Deep South, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based nonprofit that has worked to document such violence.

The sight of the noose rattled a 35-year-old stay-at-home mother, who said she saw the display when she went to cast a ballot at the courthouse earlier this month. “Someone is there to do their civic duty and they don’t need to think, ‘Why is the noose there? Is this intimidation?” said the voter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about her safety.

Her husband contacted Missouri State Rep. Crystal Quade (D), who reached out to the Missouri secretary of state, who then contacted the Stone County Clerk’s Office, according to the voter and officials.

On Friday, the office staff covered up the display case with a piece of paper, said Maples, a Republican in the county where nearly 80 percent of voters supported Donald Trump in 2016.

Missouri Democratic Party Acting Chairman Clem Smith released a statement describing the display as “clear intimidation targeting Black voters. This symbol’s purpose is to stoke the fires of racial prejudice and strike fear in the hearts of people of color. It is a painful reminder of the murders and lynchings of Black Americans. To see one next to a voting booth is offensive, inappropriate, and outrageous.”

Maples, the Stone County clerk, said the local government put up the display five years ago because “it’s part of our history.”

“It’s one of the last public hangings in Missouri, if not the United States. It’s not just the noose that’s in there. We have the shackles, all the newspaper articles,” Maples said, adding: “I wish people would learn the history. They just assume.”

By: Eric Berger

7:31 PM: Biden slams pro-Trump protesters in Minnesota

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Biden was visibly annoyed by pro-Trump protesters who sought to disrupt his car rally here — at one point referring to them as the “ugly folks over there beeping the horns.”

“They are not very polite, but they’re like Trump,” Biden said in his remarks. Trump supporters with flags stood about 100 yards from the stage where he spoke at the Minnesota state fairgrounds. They blew air horns and chanted “four more years” as Biden spoke.

Biden referenced them several time in his remarks.

The Trump campaign quickly promoted a clip of Biden referring to the protesters. “WATCH: Joe Biden gets angry, calls Minnesota Trump supporters ‘ugly,’ ” said one of their tweets.

The clip showed part of a longer quote from Biden talking about the importance of wearing protective face masks.

“This isn’t a political statement, like those ugly folks over there, beeping the horns,” Biden said, gesturing in their direction. “This is a patriotic duty, for God’s sake.”

Biden supporters honked in approval.

Sullivan reported from Washington.

By: Annie Linskey and Sean Sullivan

7:28 PM: Louisiana voting advocates rebuffed in effort to extend absentee-ballot deadlines in wake of Hurricane Zeta

In Louisiana, where 325,000 homes remained without electricity Friday in the wake of Hurricane Zeta, voting advocates were rebuffed in their effort to have absentee-ballot deadlines extended by a day.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Anti-Defamation League Southern Region and statewide group the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice had written Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and asked that he act “to prevent the disenfranchisement” of voters without power who couldn’t get online by 4:30 p.m. Friday to request an absentee ballot or who might face difficulties returning their absentee ballots by the Monday afternoon deadline. (In Louisiana, ballots must be in the possession of voting registrars by the deadline.)

The advocates asked the secretary to extend the Monday general absentee-voter deadline to 8 p.m. Tuesday — the deadline for absentee voters who are overseas, hospitalized or in the military.

Impossible, his office replied. “We have no authority under the law to extend absentee ballot request or return deadlines,” said spokesman Tyler Brey, citing state elections statutes. Those laws require that after a gubernatorially declared disaster like Zeta, the secretary of state would have to propose an emergency plan to two legislative committees, then have it approved by the full Senate and House as well as the governor.

Power Coalition executive director Ashley Shelton said those statutes may be outdated given the increased frequency of tropical storms. “As climate change and its impacts become more real, we have to have a more effective way to deal with election issues in real time … If we continue to see these late-season storms, we have to be able to move more effectively to make sure we’re not disenfranchising voters.”

A state elections task force is working with utilities to prioritize restoration of power at election-related sites before Tuesday. But power was still out Friday at St. Dominic’s Catholic School in New Orleans, one of the city’s biggest polling places. Voters for 13 precincts cast ballots there.

By: Katy Reckdahl

6:16 PM: As Trump again accuses doctors of inflating covid deaths, crowd chants ‘Superman’ because he recovered

Donald Trump in a suit standing in front of a crowd: President Trump gestures onstage at a “Make America Great Again” rally at Oakland County International Airport, on Friday in Waterford Township, Mich. © Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images President Trump gestures onstage at a “Make America Great Again” rally at Oakland County International Airport, on Friday in Waterford Township, Mich.

In back-to-back rallies in the Midwest states that helped deliver him the presidency in 2016, Trump continued to dismiss the rise of coronavirus cases as a media construct and resurfaced a baseless allegation that doctors were profiting off the pandemic.

At his first rally in Michigan, Trump said U.S. doctors were overcounting covid-19 fatalities, claiming that they make more money that way.

“You know our doctors get more money if somebody dies from covid,” Trump said. Then he said mockingly, “With us, when in doubt, choose covid.”

Now they’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s terrible what he said,’ but that’s true,” Trump said.

Attacking Biden for wanting stricter safety restrictions to reduce the virus’s spread, Trump said, “Joe Biden wants to keep everyone locked up, even young Americans who are at extremely low risk from the virus. He wants to steal the dreams and the futures of our youngest citizens.”

He then chided Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who was in the crowd, for wearing a mask.

“I can’t recognize you. Is that a mask? No way, are you wearing a mask? I’ve never seen her in a mask,” Trump said. “Look at you. Laura, she’s being very politically correct. Whoa.”

At his next rally in Wisconsin, Trump continued the same theme suggesting the coronavirus is under control and that rising cases are just the result of increased testing. He pointed to himself as an example of how even if someone contracts it, they can recover with advanced therapeutics, without mentioning that the drugs he was given are not widely available.

“The lethality is much less than what this was, and is, was, and sort of, was. because we have therapeutics now that are incredible. In fact, here I am. I’m here,” Trump said to loud cheers that erupted into chants of “Superman, superman.”

A bit later, while promising that vaccines will be “out very, very soon,” Trump looked at the sky and in a begging voice said, “I just want a normal life. All we want is normal. I’m looking up to this guy.”

This led to a tangent about a friend telling him he was the most famous man in the world. In this tale, Trump demurred and insisted he wasn’t. “What are you talking about? Who’s more famous?” the friend asked.

“Jesus Christ,” Trump replied. “And I don’t want to take any chances, so I looked up and I said, ‘And it’s not even close.’ ”

The United States passed 9 million reported coronavirus infections on Friday. At least 229,000 deaths have been linked to the coronavirus.

By: Colby Itkowitz

5:32 PM: In Florida, voters of color and young voters have had ballots flagged for possible rejection at higher rates than others

As Floridians rush to vote in the presidential election, mail ballots from Black, Hispanic and younger voters are being flagged for problems at a higher rate than they are for other voters, potentially jeopardizing their participation in the race for the country’s largest battleground state.

The deficient ballots — which have been tagged for issues such as a missing signature — could be rejected if voters do not remedy the problems by 5 p.m. Nov. 5.

As of Thursday, election officials had set aside twice as many ballots from Black and Hispanic voters as those from White voters, according to an analysis by University of Florida political science professor Daniel Smith. For people younger than 24, the rate was more than four times what it was for those 65 and older.

Read the full story here.

By: Elise Viebeck and Beth Reinhard

5:06 PM: Texas voters, poll workers cannot be required to wear masks at polling locations, court rules

A federal appeals court has ruled that Texas voters and poll workers cannot be required to wear masks at polling locations.

The decision is the latest development in a battle over how to balance public safety and voter rights in the middle of a pandemic. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered most residents to wear masks in public places in July but made a special exception for polling places.

Democrats, along with many voting rights groups and minority advocates, have said that requiring masks at the polls would protect their constituents’ right to vote, particularly for Black and Latino residents, who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. The state’s Republican leaders, some of whom have followed President Trump’s lead in flouting mask-wearing and downplaying the severity of the pandemic, argue that the mandate will disenfranchise voters who are not comfortable wearing a mask.

Earlier this week, a federal district judge in San Antonio had ruled that Texas’s statewide mask mandate should also apply to polling places. The judge, who was appointed by Trump, wrote that exempting polling places from the mask requirement would have a “racially discriminatory deterrent effect on Black and Latino citizens’ fundamental right to vote.”

But a panel of three judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals put his decision on hold Friday while the court considers the full merits of the case.

“Changing the election rules in the midst of voting would create disparate treatment of voters, and significant confusion and difficulty for voters and poll workers,” the panel, whose judges were all appointed by Republican presidents, wrote.

The exemption to Abbott’s statewide mask mandate has not stopped some Texas counties from requiring poll workers to wear masks anyway under county government rules. Dallas County was sued by five poll workers after they were fired for refusing to wear a mask, but the Texas Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

By: Neena Satija

4:49 PM: Early voting continues to soar as Texas passes total turnout from 2016

Early voting continued to soar beyond historical levels throughout the country Friday, with Texas blowing past its total turnout from the 2016 election and nearly a dozen other states closing in on the same milestone.

With four days left until Election Day, more than 9 million people have cast ballots already in Texas, according to the secretary of state’s office — an unprecedented number for the Lone Star State. In 2016, the total turnout in Texas was just shy of 9 million.

Nationwide, the number of Americans who have voted early passed 85 million, according to tracking by the nonpartisan U.S. Elections Project, exceeding 60 percent of the total turnout from the last election and essentially guaranteeing that Nov. 3 will mark the first election in U.S. history in which the majority of ballots will be cast before Election Day. If the trends continue, the country will be on pace to exceed 100 million votes before Tuesday.

Read the full story here.

By: Derek Hawkins and Amy Gardner

4:36 PM: Swing state voters face major mail delays in returning ballots on time, USPS data shows

a sign on the side of a road: A U.S. Postal Service mail collection box in Woodward Village in Detroit. © Elaine Cromie/for The Washington Post A U.S. Postal Service mail collection box in Woodward Village in Detroit.

Absentee ballots are taking longer to reach election offices in key swing states than in the rest of the country, new data shows, as the U.S. Postal Service rushes to deliver votes ahead of strict state deadlines.

Over the past five days, the on-time rate for ballots in 17 postal districts representing 10 battleground states and 151 electoral votes was 89.1 percent — 5.9 percentage points lower than the national average. By that measure, more than 1 in 10 ballots are arriving outside the Postal Service’s one- to three-day delivery window for first-class mail.

Those delays loom large over the election: 28 states will not accept ballots that arrive after Election Day, even if they are postmarked before. Continued snags in the mail system could invalidate tens of thousands of ballots across the country, and could factor into whether President Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden captures crucial battleground states and, ultimately, the White House.

Read the full story

By: Jacob Bogage and Christopher Ingraham

3:57 PM: She was homeless after fleeing domestic abuse. Now she could be the first Black Latina elected to Congress.

a person holding a sign: Candace Valenzuela, a Democratic candidate for Texas's 24th Congressional District. (LM Otero/AP) Candace Valenzuela, a Democratic candidate for Texas's 24th Congressional District. (LM Otero/AP)

Candace Valenzuela began her congressional campaign by telling her staff her life story, including fleeing domestic abuse with her mom and living in a kiddie pool outside a gas station, barely getting by for years before receiving a full-ride scholarship to college.

Her personal story quickly became central to her campaign to represent Texas’s 24th Congressional District in the Dallas suburbs. The team developed an ad that followed Valenzuela from a house to a gas station to a shelter. Valenzuela honed her message to voters accordingly: This is what happened to me, she said, and this is why I can represent you.

Vying for a seat that’s been held by a Republican for the past 15 years, Valenzuela has been knocked for her lack of experience, having entered local politics three years ago when she joined the school board. With polls showing a close race, Valenzuela is banking on voters valuing her life experiences over her résumé. Her campaign will test the power of a personal story — and a candidate who is not afraid to tell it.

Read the full story

By: Caroline Kitchener

3:27 PM: Biden attacks Trump’s intellect in last days of campaign

a person wearing a suit and tie: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden arrives to speak at a rally on Friday in Des Moines. (Andrew Harnik/AP) Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden arrives to speak at a rally on Friday in Des Moines. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Biden is using part of his last rallies before Election Day to question Trump’s intellectual stability through sarcastic references to Trump’s 2018 remark that he’s “a very stable genius.”

Speaking to a crowd in Des Moines on Friday, Biden referenced the president’s unfounded claims that wind energy is linked to cancer, his reference to airports during the Revolutionary War and other comments that have been widely criticized.

“It’s the same guy who said — by the way, you think I’m making this up — when he was advised about the increasing hurricanes coming across the Atlantic because of the warm water, he said maybe we should drop a nuclear weapon on them,” Biden said. “Holy mackerel.”

By: Marisa Iati and Colby Itkowitz

3:08 PM: Analysis: Where the race stands, 4 days from Election Day

Early voting is wrapping up in many states across the country on Friday, with just four days until Election Day.

So where does the race between President Trump and Joe Biden stand as we head into the final weekend? Here’s our daily look at the polls and the early vote totals that tell the tale.

Read the full story

By: Aaron Blake

2:25 PM: Rep. Drew Ferguson of Georgia tests positive for coronavirus after helping lead Trump counter-rally

Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), who co-hosted a pro-Trump counter-rally Tuesday when Biden came to Georgia, announced Friday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), another co-host of the event, said he would self-isolate after being exposed to someone who tested positive.

In a statement, Ferguson said he has begun working from home.

“While the vast majority of my recent schedule has been virtual, we are beginning the process of reaching to anyone I have seen in recent days,” Ferguson said.

Cody Hall, a spokesman for Kemp, said in a tweet that the governor and first lady Marty Kemp were both self-quarantining after exposure to someone who tested positive. The tweet did not name the person.

Kemp and Ferguson were among the leaders of a “MAGA Meetup” on Tuesday in Manchester, Ga., as Biden campaigned in the state.

By: John Wagner

1:40 PM: Pelosi bullish on Biden’s chances, hits Don Jr. over indifferent comment on covid-19 deaths

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she had “every confidence” that Biden will be inaugurated as president in January, but said she hopes the American people won’t have to wait that long for an economic relief package.

With the prospect of getting that work done before the election closed, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on MSNBC she hoped that Republicans would come to the table in the lame duck session, but said it “depends how much of a rehabilitation tour the Republicans want to take.” She also called Trump “delusional” for suggesting the Republicans would take back the House.

Asked about Donald Trump Jr.'s Thursday night comment that U.S. covid-19 deaths were “almost nothing,” Pelosi cast her eyes down and paused.

“I’m just thinking of the families in our country who have lost their loved ones. … It may be ‘almost nothing’ to him, but it is everything to the families who have lost a loved one,” she said.

She added: “They have no respect for those who are in need. ... It is so outside the circle of respectability for the office that his father holds and the respect that all American people are worthy of.”

By: Colby Itkowitz

1:38 PM: Biden, Democratic Senate challenger have edge in North Carolina, poll finds

Cal Cunningham in a suit standing in front of a stage: Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham talks Oct. 7 during a televised debate with Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in Raleigh. (Gerry Broome/AP) © Gerry Broome/AP Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham talks Oct. 7 during a televised debate with Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in Raleigh. (Gerry Broome/AP)

Former vice president Joe Biden holds an advantage over Trump in North Carolina, while Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham holds a lead over first-term Sen.Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

In the presidential contest, Biden draws the support of 52 percent of likely voters, compared with 46 percent for Trump. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

In the Senate race, Cunningham, despite an infidelity scandal, leads Tillis, 53 percent to 43 percent. That finding falls outside the poll’s margin of error.

In 2016, Trump carried North Carolina over Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly four percentage points. The NBC-Marist poll finds that Biden’s edge this year is being driven by advantages among college-educated voters as well as suburban dwellers, women and independents.

By: John Wagner

1:01 PM: Trump says he may scrap plans for election-night gathering at his Washington hotel

a group of people standing in front of a statue: Demonstrators protest in June at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. © Jacquelyn Martin/AP Demonstrators protest in June at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

Trump said Friday that he is considering moving an election-night party planned at his Washington hotel to the White House, citing local restrictions on the size of gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We haven’t made a determination,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House to campaign in three states. “You know Washington, D.C., is shut down. … I don’t know if you’re allowed to use it or not.”

The New York Times reported Friday that the decision has already been made to move the gathering, citing an unnamed person familiar with the plans.

Earlier Friday, Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, confirmed that his father is considering moving the gathering, but he did not cite a reason.

“We’re thinking about moving it actually over to the White House,” Eric Trump said during an appearance on Fox News when asked about the Times report. “We’re looking at that right now, and it’s going to be a great night. … I’m really excited. We’ve worked incredibly hard.”

According to the Times, President Trump’s campaign already had sent out multiple fundraising solicitations for an event at the hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue.

By: John Wagner

1:01 PM: Analysis: The Trumps don’t seem to understand that their supporters are dying of covid-19

a man wearing a suit and hat: President Trump speaks Wednesday at a rally in Bullhead City, Ariz. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images) President Trump speaks Wednesday at a rally in Bullhead City, Ariz. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump told a crowd in Arizona on Wednesday that the country is “rounding the turn” on the coronavirus even without a vaccine — a claim as untrue as his son Donald Trump Jr.’s recent claim on Fox News that death counts are falling.

Cases and deaths are up, the former leading the latter by about two weeks. On Thursday, the country saw nearly 90,000 new cases and more than 1,000 new deaths. Given that the number of deaths each day has consistently been about 1.8 percent of new cases two weeks before, we can figure that the country will see more than 1,600 deaths in two weeks’ time.

The thing about the current surge in cases is that it’s centered in parts of the country that voted for Trump. For all of Trump’s insistence on delivering for and appealing to his base, it’s his geographic base that’s getting hammered by the virus right now. It’s red America that’s dying as the country “turns the corner.”

Read the full story

By: Philip Bump

12:27 PM: Trump lashes out at Supreme Court for action on North Carolina mail-in ballots

a man wearing a suit and tie: President Trump speaks during campaign event held at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Pennsylvania last month. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post President Trump speaks during campaign event held at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Pennsylvania last month. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Trump on Friday lashed out the Supreme Court for rejecting a bid by Republicans in North Carolina to block an extended period for receiving mail-in ballots.

In Wednesday’s ruling, the court let stand a decision by North Carolina’s elections board that set a grace period of nine days.

“This decision is CRAZY and so bad for our Country,” Trump said of the court’s action. “Can you imagine what will happen during that nine day period. The Election should END on November 3rd.”

Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine the validity of counting mail-in ballots and has said it would be “improper” for counting to continue of ballots received beyond Election Day.

By: John Wagner

12:09 PM: What counts as voter intimidation?

Spiro Varelis waves Trump campaign flags Sunday near a voting location in Clearwater, Fla. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images) Spiro Varelis waves Trump campaign flags Sunday near a voting location in Clearwater, Fla. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

It’s illegal to intimidate voters in America. But what counts as voter intimidation? It’s sometimes a know-it-when-you-see-it situation, which makes it complicated to enforce.

Myrna Pérez, the director of voting rights at the Brennan Center for Justice, said nuance is often required to determine what’s legal. Of course, nuance is often lacking in heated moments. “There is a difference in how things are described and experienced,” she said. “… So much of this is happening quickly and in real time and involving situations that are fluid.”

There are some things that laws and precedents have pretty clearly decided, meaning we can say they do or don’t count as voter intimidation. What is allowed is often clearer, so let’s start there with the rules and some real-world examples.

Read the full story

By: Amber Phillips

11:14 AM: The unseen machine pushing Trump’s social media megaphone into overdrive

a circuit board © Glenn Harvey for The Washington Post

Trump launched into a tweetstorm in April, banging out nine retweets of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s account on the dangers of misusing disinfectant and other topics — two days after he himself had suggested that people could inject themselves with bleach to cure the novel coronavirus.

But those tweets spread in an odd pattern: More than half the 3,000 accounts retweeting Trump did so in near-perfect synchronicity, so that the 945th tweet was the same number of seconds apart as the 946th, University of Colorado information science professor Leysia Palen found.

The unusual finding underscores some of the little-known ways in which Trump’s social media army — composed of devoted followers and likely assistance from software that artificially boosts his content — has helped him develop one of the world’s most powerful political megaphones, unlike any other in the English-speaking world.

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By: Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg

10:27 AM: Biden says he’s not concerned about carrying Minnesota ahead of campaign stop there

a person wearing a suit and tie: Democratic nominee Joe Biden waves Friday at the New Castle Airport in New Castle, Del. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post Democratic nominee Joe Biden waves Friday at the New Castle Airport in New Castle, Del.

Former vice president Joe Biden said Friday that his decision to campaign in Minnesota, a state that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton carried in 2016, was not a sign of concern that President Trump could prevail there this year.

He spoke to reporters in Wilmington, Del., ahead of a full day of campaigning, with scheduled stops in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“No, I’m not concerned,” Biden said, when asked about Minnesota. “We’re going to be in Iowa, we’re going to be in Wisconsin, so I thought I’d stop in Minnesota. I don’t take anything for granted. We’re going to work for every single vote up 'til the last minute.”

In the closing weeks of the race, Biden has largely visited states that Trump won in 2016 and that Democrats are seeking to return to their column.

Clinton carried Minnesota by about 1.5 percentage points in 2016. The Trump campaign has argued that it’s a possible pickup for the Republican ticket this year.

By: John Wagner

10:12 AM: One justice’s theory binds Supreme Court’s contradictory election opinions

a man and a woman standing next to a fireplace: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administers the judicial oath of office to new Justice Amy Coney Barrett as her husband, Jesse Barrett, holds the Bible on Tuesday. (U.S. Supreme Court/Reuters) Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administers the judicial oath of office to new Justice Amy Coney Barrett as her husband, Jesse Barrett, holds the Bible on Tuesday. (U.S. Supreme Court/Reuters)

The wave of Supreme Court action on lawsuits challenging state election procedures and vote counting across the country in advance of Election Day appears at times contradictory and haphazard.

The court kept in place a requirement that absentee ballots in Alabama bear a witness’s signature but said a suspension of that requirement in Rhode Island was okay. In the past week, it turned down a request to extend the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots in Wisconsin, and the court allowed extensions to remain in place in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

But one theory, espoused by only one justice, holds the decisions together.

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By: Robert Barnes

8:52 AM: A youth-led climate group is campaigning for Biden. If he wins, the honeymoon will be short.

Right now, they are campaigning for Joe Biden. But soon, they may be protesting against him. The Sunrise Movement, the climate activist group founded only a few months after the last presidential election in reaction to Donald Trump’s victory, finds itself at a crossroads in 2020.

In just three years, the youth-led organization has become a power center in liberal politics. It was the driving force behind the Green New Deal, an ambitious proposal for cutting U.S. contributions to climate change over the next decade around which Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other liberal Democrats have rallied.

But its preferred candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is not on the ballot. Instead climate activists have begrudgingly embraced Biden, the Democratic Party’s nominee, who initially received an F grade from Sunrise for his plan to combat climate change.

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By: Dino Grandoni

8:14 AM: Biden plans heavy focus on Pennsylvania in closing days

a group of people standing on the sidewalk talking on a cell phone: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to people at a voter mobilization center in Chester, Pa., on Monday. © Drew Angerer/Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to people at a voter mobilization center in Chester, Pa., on Monday.

Biden plans a heavy focus in the closing days of the race on the battleground state of Pennsylvania, as he seeks to hold on to a lead in a state that Trump narrowly carried four years ago.

The campaign announced that Biden will travel to Philadelphia on Sunday to deliver a speech on “the crises facing the country and win the battle for the soul of the nation.”

Then on Sunday, both Biden and Harris, as well as their spouses, Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, plan to “barnstorm" across the state, the campaign said.

Pennsylvania is among three Rust Belt states — along with Wisconsin and Michigan — that Trump carried by less than one percentage point in 2016 in assembling his electoral college victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Washington Post averages of recent polls show Biden leading in all three states, though the race appears somewhat closer in Pennsylvania. Trump has also heavily focused on the state.

By: John Wagner

8:00 AM: Analysis: Biden’s stop in Iowa to highlight key Senate race

Democratic Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield's recreational vehicle arrives at the Madison County Historical Society in Winterset, Iowa, for a socially distanced drive-in campaign event on Thursday. © Mario Tama/Getty Images Democratic Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield's recreational vehicle arrives at the Madison County Historical Society in Winterset, Iowa, for a socially distanced drive-in campaign event on Thursday.

The candidates are circling Iowa in the final stretch of the 2020 election. Joe Biden is holding a drive-in rally later Friday in Des Moines, where Democratic Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield will join him.

It will provide a closing image of Greenfield and the Democratic presidential nominee in a state Trump carried by nine points four years ago but that is now in play. Iowa will also help decide whether Republicans retain the Senate majority.

“Out of all the crazy things on my 2020 Bingo card, seeing Joe Biden again wasn’t one of them,” Polk County Democratic Party Chairman Sean Bagniewski said.

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By: Brent D. Griffiths

7:37 AM: Pence seeks to shore up support in Arizona, as Harris tries to broaden the map in Texas

a person standing in front of a sign: Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris speaks at a campaign event Tuesday in Las Vegas. © John Locher/AP Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris speaks at a campaign event Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Pence is seeking Friday to shore up support for the Republican ticket in Arizona, while Harris is trying to expand the map for Democrats with a trip to Texas, a state Trump won easily four years ago.

Pence has rallies scheduled in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Tucson.

In 2016, Trump carried Arizona by more than three percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton. A Washington Post average of recent polls shows Biden leading Trump by five percentage points in the state.

In Texas, Harris has stops planned in Fort Worth, McAllen and Houston.

According to the campaign, she will be joined in McAllen by two former rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination: former secretary of housing and urban development Julián Castro and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke.

In 2016, Trump carried Texas by nine percentage points over Clinton. A Post average of recent polls from the state shows Trump leading Biden by three percentage points.

By: John Wagner

7:34 AM: Trump, Biden to crisscross Midwestern battleground states

a man wearing a hat: Supporters of President Trump attend a campaign rally Tuesday at the LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, Wis. © Scott Olson/Getty Images Supporters of President Trump attend a campaign rally Tuesday at the LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, Wis.

Trump and Biden plan to fan out across Midwestern battleground states on Friday, with each planning three events in the critical region.

Voters in two states — Minnesota and Wisconsin — will get a glimpse of both candidates. Biden is also touching down in Iowa, while Trump is also traveling to Michigan.

Trump plans to stage “Make America Great Again” rallies in Waterford Township, Mich., and Green Bay, Wis. His campaign is also billing a stop in Rochester, Minn., as a “Make America Great Again Peaceful Protest.” The Trump campaign has been sparring with Minnesota officials over the constraints placed on public gatherings because of the pandemic.

Biden’s campaign has advertised smaller “drive-in” events in Des Moines and St. Paul, Minn. He will also deliver remarks in Milwaukee, according to his campaign.

Three of the four states being visited by the presidential candidates on Friday were carried by Trump in 2016.

The exception is Minnesota, which Democrat Hillary Clinton carried four years ago but the Trump campaign is targeting this year.

By: John Wagner

7:27 AM: In final stretch, Biden camp seeks voters who stayed home in 2016

a close up of a sign: Former president Barack Obama speaks at a rally while campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday in Orlando. © John Raoux/AP Former president Barack Obama speaks at a rally while campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday in Orlando.

Biden’s team is making a special push in the closing days of the presidential campaign to find and motivate Democrats who voted in 2012 but stayed home in 2016, hoping he gets a crucial boost from this inconsistent group of supporters.

“They’re being very strategic,” said Donna Brazile, a Biden ally and former head of the Democratic National Committee. She said the campaign has asked her to focus on these voters and was being “more strategic than the Clinton campaign was in 2016.”

The effort reflects a broader reality for Democrats: Many of the voters who were energized to come to the polls for Barack Obama did not turn out for Hillary Clinton, contributing heavily to her loss. Now the party wants to do all it can to ensure that this year’s election resembles those in earlier years more than the one in 2016.

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By: Annie Linskey

7:24 AM: Fact Checker: The biggest Pinocchios of election 2020

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The 2020 presidential campaign has largely been overshadowed by other events, including a presidential impeachment and a worldwide pandemic. But this nasty and brutish campaign is finally coming to an end.

Trump continues to be the king of Pinocchios, amassing 295 since May 2019, with an average rating of 3.64 Pinocchios. (That basically means he almost always received four Pinocchios.) But Biden was no slouch either, earning 51 Pinocchios with an average rating of 2.67.

A number of times, Biden avoided Pinocchios by admitting error. Biden also spoke far less often than Trump, providing fewer opportunities for fact-checking.

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By: Glenn Kessler

7:23 AM: How Trump learned to embrace the executive order, which he once called an ‘easy way out’

Donald Trump reading a book: Trump signs an executive order titled “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch” at the White House on March 13, 2017. © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post Trump signs an executive order titled “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch” at the White House on March 13, 2017.

Trump’s original entry ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations, issued the week he took office in 2017, became a model for his use of executive power: aggressive, highly politicized and sometimes a bit sloppy.

The order was a hasty attempt to address Trump’s impossible campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” It prompted global condemnation and cries of racism from critics. And it was revised twice under legal challenges before passing muster with a divided Supreme Court.

Through scores of executive orders and other directives since then, Trump has sought to highlight conservative policy priorities including an immigration crackdown, his still unfinished border wall, reductions in environmental protections and boosts for domestic energy production.

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By: Anne Gearan

7:22 AM: DHS plans largest operation to secure U.S. election against hacking

a group of people posing for the camera: Julian Belilty casts his early vote in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of D.C. on Oct. 28. (Tom Brenner/Reuters) Julian Belilty casts his early vote in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of D.C. on Oct. 28. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity division is mounting the largest operation to secure a U.S. election, aiming to prevent a repeat of Russia’s 2016 interference and to ward off new threats posed by Iran and China.

On Election Day, DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will launch a 24/7 virtual war room, to which election officials across the nation can dial in at any time to share notes about suspicious activity and work together to respond. The agency will also pass along classified information from intelligence agencies about efforts they detect from adversaries seeking to undermine the election, and advise states on how to protect against such attacks.

“I anticipate possibly thousands of local election officials coming in to share information in real time, to coordinate, to track down what’s real and what’s not, separate fact from fiction on the ground,” said Matt Masterson, CISA’s senior cybersecurity adviser, who has helped lead election preparations. “We’ll be able to sort through what’s happening and identify: Is this a typical election event or is this something larger?”

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By: Joseph Marks

7:21 AM: Appeals court panel rules Minnesota must set aside ballots received after Election Day in case they are invalidated

a woman standing in a room: A voter gets instructions before receiving a ballot from a clerk at the Minneapolis Elections and Voters Services building during the first day of early voting last month in Minneapolis. © Joshua Lott/For The Washington Post A voter gets instructions before receiving a ballot from a clerk at the Minneapolis Elections and Voters Services building during the first day of early voting last month in Minneapolis.

Under a federal appeals court panel decision issued Thursday evening, Minnesotans must return mail-in ballots by Tuesday to ensure they are counted, upending plans the state had advertised to keep counting absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day for another week.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit said a Republican lawmaker and GOP activist could challenge the state’s plans to keep counting ballots after the election. The panel said ballots received after Election Day could ultimately be invalidated, sending Democrats scrambling to warn voters.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) urged constituents not to mail their ballots at all, tweeting: “Because of LAST MINUTE ruling, Minnesota DO NOT put ballots in mail any more....Vote in-person or take mail-in ballot directly to ballot box.”

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By: Aaron C. Davis

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