The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 10:05 PM ET, Wed September 30, 2020
5 Posts
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8:47 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Trump again casts doubt on whether he'll accept election result

From CNN's Eric Bradner and Kevin Liptak

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

While unleashing a barrage of misinformation and falsehoods about mail-in voting, Trump failed to affirm the one thing he was asked about it: whether he would encourage his supporters to be peaceful if election results are unclear.

"I'm encouraging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully," Trump said when asked what he would tell his followers in a post-Election Day world.

After issuing his usual falsehoods about widespread fraudulent voting — albeit in front of a newly massive audience and without an ounce of fact-checking from the moderator — Trump declared he wouldn't support a result under certain circumstances.

"If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with that," Trump said.

It was an answer that will do little to calm fears of post-election chaos.

Remember: Just last week, Trump said he's not sure November's election will be "honest" because of the use of unsolicited ballots, extending his baseless assertion that widespread mail-in voting is rife with fraud and again casting doubt on if he will accept the results of the election.

For his part last night, Biden insisted that if Americans vote in large numbers — presumably for him — a contested election could be prevented.

CNN fact checks Trump's voter fraud claims:

8:30 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Trump unleashed an avalanche of lies at first presidential debate

From CNN's Daniel Dale and CNN staff

The first 2020 presidential debate Tuesday night in Cleveland featured an avalanche of lies from President Donald Trump — while Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was largely accurate in his statements, though he did make a few false or misleading claims.

There were times, particularly during the conclusion of the debate, when almost every comment from Trump was inaccurate. Most of his false claims were ones he's made before and which have been repeatedly fact-checked and found to be false, rather than one-time slips or gaffes.

Fox News's Chris Wallace moderated the debate, which covered both candidates' records as well as the Supreme Court vacancy, Covid-19, the economy, the recent racial justice protests across the country and questions about the integrity of the upcoming election.

Read below for more on what they said:

8:24 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Here's what CNN's post-debate poll found

From CNN's Jennifer Agiesta

Six in 10 debate watchers said former Vice President Joe Biden did the best job in Tuesday's debate, and just 28% say President Trump did, according a CNN Poll of debate watchers conducted by SSRS.

In interviews with the same voters conducted before the debate, 56% said they expected Biden to do the better job while 43% expected that Trump would.

The post-debate result is about the same as the outcome of a post-debate poll in 2016 after the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton. In that poll, 62% thought Clinton won the debate, 27% said Trump did.

About two-thirds said Biden's answers were more truthful than Trump's (65% Biden to 29% Trump), and his attacks on the President were more frequently seen as fair. Overall, 69% called Biden's attacks on Trump fair while just 32% said Trump's attacks were fair.

The survey is designed to be representative of those registered voters who watched Tuesday's debate, it does not represent the views of all Americans.

The voters who watched the debate were more partisan than Americans as a whole -- 36% identified as independents or non-partisans compared with around 40% in the general public, and the group of debate watchers was more Democratic than a typical survey of all adults, with 39% identifying as Democrats and 25% as Republicans.

Read the full poll results here

8:09 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Election 101 podcast: Does polling matter?

From CNN's Megan Marcus

In 2016, poll after poll predicted a Hillary Clinton victory, and voters constantly heard that she was "ahead in the polls."

But, what does that really mean? Why were the polls so far off? And if polls can be so wrong about who's going to win the election, why should we bother paying attention to them this time around?

In this episode of CNN Election 101 podcast, CNN's Kristen Holmes. talks with Courtney Kennedy from the Pew Research Center about lessons learned from 2016 and why there is real value in proper polling.

You can listen here.

8:24 a.m. ET, September 30, 2020

Trump and Biden faced off in their first debate last night. Catch up on the key moments.

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez, Eric Bradner and Kevin Liptak

Jim Watson & Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson & Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump turned his first debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden into a chaotic disaster.

Trump bullied, bulldozed and obfuscated his way through the 90-minute showdown, interrupting Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News at every turn. He ignored substantive questions and Biden's policy arguments, and instead swung at a straw-man version of Biden, taking aim at both Biden's son and a distorted description of his record that exists primarily in far-right media.

The debate was divided into six topics, but many Americans tuning in would have had a hard time finding any clarity about either man's positions, as the debate devolved into shouting, rancor and cross talk that at times made it impossible to follow what either man was talking about.

In case you missed tonight's debate, here are four key moments: 

Trump addresses the New York Times report on his taxes

The President offered a simple defense for the low amount of income taxes he’s paid over the years: “I don’t want to pay tax.” 

At the same time, however, Trump also insisted that he pays millions in taxes, contradicting the New York Times’ reporting, which indicated that he paid $750 in income taxes in 2016 and 2017. 

Different realities on the coronavirus

Biden, citing the staggering coronavirus death toll and case number in the US, said, “The President has no plan. He hasn’t laid out anything.”

Trump, however, insisted that Biden “could not have done the job we did.” 

The President also brought up his administration's plan to quickly distribute a coronavirus vaccine, but Biden questioned why Americans should trust someone who lies so frequently. 

“This is the same man who told you by Easter this would be gone away. By the warm weather, it’d be gone — like a miracle. And by the way, maybe you could inject some bleach into your arm," Biden said. 

Biden responds to Trump’s attacks on his son, Hunter

Reacting to Trump's repeated unfounded and false claims about Hunter Biden acting corruptly in Ukraine, the former vice president said, "This is not about my family or his family, this is about your family — the American people.” 

“He doesn't want to talk about what you need,” Biden added. 

At another point in the debate, Trump raised Hunter Biden's past issues with drug addiction. 

"My son had a drug problem, but he's overcome it and I'm proud of him,” Biden responded.

Trump refuses to condemn white supremacists

Trump refused to explicitly call out white supremacists for inciting violence at anti-police brutality demonstrations across the country, saying during the debate that the violence wasn’t an issue caused by the right and telling one far-right group to “stand back and stand by.”

“Sure, I’m willing to (tell them to stand down), but I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” Trump said. 

Read more about last night's debate here.

Watch key moments: