The latest on the 2020 election

By Veronica Rocha and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 1:17 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020
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9:26 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Senate Judiciary Committee advances Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett

From CNN's Alex Rogers

Pool
Pool

The Senate Judiciary committee voted 12-0 on Thursday to advance the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, setting up her full Senate confirmation vote on Monday.

The 10 Democratic senators on the panel boycotted the vote, and filled their seats with pictures of people who rely upon the Affordable Care Act, drawing attention to an upcoming case on the health care law’s constitutionality. 

9:47 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

This Ohio voter is heading to the polls early because he "didn't want to leave it to chance"

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

There are 12 days until the general election and more than 40 million Americans have already cast ballots.

Voters like Christopher Skok are heading to the polls to vote early. On Thursday, Skok took the below picture while waiting in line to vote at the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus, Ohio.

"As a health care worker with irregular hours, I have to take advantage of the time I have off to vote," he said. "Generally, voting on voting day isn’t possible for me. It is also important to me to vote in person given all the uncertainty (though I don’t think it is merited) with mail-in voting. I didn’t want to leave it to chance."

9:00 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to advance Coney's nomination today

From CNN's Alex Rogers

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote today to advance the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, despite a boycott by Democratic senators. Republicans are confident that they can push forward the nominee, setting up her confirmation by early next week.

Democrats on the panel plan to fill their seats during the vote with pictures of people who rely upon the Affordable Care Act, drawing attention to an upcoming case before the Court on the 2010 health care law's constitutionality.

"This has been a sham process from the beginning," wrote Senate Democrats in a statement. "Amidst a global pandemic and ongoing election, Republicans are rushing to confirm a Supreme Court Justice to take away health care from millions and execute the extreme and deeply unpopular agenda that they've been unable to get through Congress."

What we know about Coney: She will give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, influencing a range of issues that could come before it, including Americans' personal privacy rights, campaign finance regulation, affirmative action in higher education, public aid for religious schools, environmental and labor regulations, the ACA and any potential disputes regarding the 2020 election. If Barrett is confirmed and serves as long as her predecessor, the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she will sit on the court for nearly four decades.

About the vote: Under Senate Judiciary Committee rules, nine members of the panel, including two members of the minority party, must be present "for the purpose of transacting business."

But Republicans say Senate rule 26 supersedes the Judiciary Committee requirements. That rule says that "no measure or matter or recommendation shall be reported from any committee unless a majority of the committee were physically present."

9:39 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Trump will answer the questions he wants to answer, spokesperson says

From CNN’s Betsy Klein

Fox Business
Fox Business

White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah previewed this evening’s presidential debate, saying President Trump will answer the questions he wants to answer. 

Trump will work to “show the contrast” with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Farah said during an appearance on Fox Business. 

Presented with a list of debate topics, Farah said:

“I'd say he's going to answer those topics but he's also going to, frankly answer, the questions he wants to. If we don't get to China, he's prepared to bring up China and Joe Biden's disastrous record on it. He's looking forward to talking about his economic recovery plans contrasted with Joe Biden's tax plan that's talking about you know tax rates of 60% for some Americans.” 

One topic Trump will be sure to bring up, Farah said, is Hunter Biden. 

“Whether it’s asked or he has the opportunity to bring it up, he’s going to get into this issue of Hunter Biden. The American people need to know if the Biden family in any way is beholden to China,” she said. 

Pressed on new polls, including Fox surveys that show Trump leading in Ohio but behind Biden in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, she said the polls “model about where we were in 2016” and the White House is “confident in the multiple paths we have ahead.”

Trump will be holding “as many as two to three rallies a day” in the final stretch, with a closing argument focused on the economy, she said. 

She again reiterated optimism about a stimulus deal but offered little new details.

9:46 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Biden says he will put together a bipartisan commission to look at possible SCOTUS reforms

From CNN's Sarah Mucha 

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

Joe Biden said if he is elected president, he will put together a bipartisan commission to recommend potential reforms to the Supreme Court.  

“If elected what I will do is I'll put together a national commission of – bipartisan commission of – scholars, constitutional scholars, democrats, republicans, liberal, conservative, and I will ask them to over 180 days come back to me with recommendations as to how to reform the court system because it's getting out of whack, the way in which it’s being handled,” he said in a one-minute clip released from his interview with "60 Minutes'" Norah O’Donnell.

The Democratic nominee said that this goes beyond court packing and warned against the Supreme Court turning into a political football. “There's a number of other things that constitutional scholars have debated and I've looked to see what recommendations that commission might make,” he said.

WATCH:

9:42 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

What CNN's latest polls show about the Biden-Trump race in Pennsylvania and Florida

From CNN's polling director Jennifer Agiesta

Getty Images
Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden holds a lead in Pennsylvania and neither he nor President Trump leads in the critical state of Florida, according to new CNN polls conducted by SSRS.

The polls, which completed fielding two weeks before Election Day, find sizable minorities of voters saying they have already voted, with those voters breaking heavily for Biden in both states. Those who have yet to cast their ballots, though, break in Trump's favor, but not by as large a margin as Biden holds among those who have voted now.

In Florida, which has 29 electoral votes and is a critical battleground in the presidential race, 50% of likely voters say they back Biden, 46% Trump. The difference between the two is right at the poll's margin of sampling error, meaning there is no clear leader in the survey.

The Pennsylvania results show Biden well ahead in the state, which holds 20 electoral votes, with 53% of likely voters behind him and 43% backing Trump.

Across both surveys, Biden holds a double-digit advantage over Trump as more trusted to handle the coronavirus outbreak (54% Biden to 42% Trump in Pennsylvania and 53% Biden to 43% Trump in Florida), and the same is true for handling racial inequality in the US (58% Biden to 39% Trump in Pennsylvania and 54% Biden to 42% Trump in Florida).

In both states, he also has a small edge over Trump on handling nominations to the Supreme Court (51% to 45% in Pennsylvania, 50% to 46% in Florida). Biden is more often seen as the candidate who would unite the country rather than divide it (56% Biden to 39% Trump in Florida and 58% Biden to 35% Trump in Pennsylvania), and as caring more about people like you (55% Biden to 42% Trump in Pennsylvania and 52% Biden to 43% Trump in Florida).

In Pennsylvania, Biden's advantage also includes an edge on having a clear plan for solving the country's problems (50% Biden to 42% Trump) and keeping Americans safe from harm (51% Biden to 46% Trump).

In Florida, the margin on those two metrics is far tighter, with 49% saying Biden has a clear plan to solve the country's problems vs. 45% who say Trump does, and 49% that Biden will keep Americans safe from harm vs. 47% saying Trump will.

Trump holds a lead over Biden as more trusted on the economy in Florida, 51% say they prefer Trump vs. 46% Biden. In Pennsylvania, though, the two are near even on this question, 50% say they trust Trump more, 48% Biden.

The new polls are consistent with other high-quality polling in the two states in recent days. In Florida, a CNN Poll of Polls average shows Biden at 49% support in the state and Trump at 44%. The current average of high-quality polls in Pennsylvania also shows a Biden lead, with 52% on average behind the former Vice President and 43% backing the current president.

Read more about the polling here.

9:43 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Trump's SCOTUS nominee ducked questions on presidential power and systemic racism in answers to Senate

From CNN's Dan Berman

Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images
Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to advance Amy Coney Barrett's nomination today, and the full Senate vote to confirm her to the bench is expected next Monday.

Barrett submitted written responses to scores of questions from committee members Tuesday night ahead of her expected confirmation to the Supreme Court next week.

Barrett repeatedly declined to discuss voting rights, coronavirus and the 2020 election, presidential pardon power, abortion, the Affordable Care Act and other issues that could appear before the Supreme Court in the coming months.

In response to a question from Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, mirroring a contentious moment during the hearings, Barrett again declined to say whether she believes "systemic racism" does or does not exist.

"I believe that racism persists in our country but, as I explained at the hearing, whether there is 'systemic racism' is a public policy question of substantial controversy, as evidenced by the disagreement among Senators on this very question during the hearing," Barrett wrote. "As a sitting judge and judicial nominee, it would be inappropriate for me to offer an opinion on the matter."

As with her two days of sparring with senators last week, Barrett does not offer specific answers to questions, citing the possibility of ongoing litigation and that some queries raised public policy controversies or "abstract legal issues or hypotheticals."

In her responses, Barrett repeated a version of an answer to questions about previous Supreme Court rulings nearly 40 times.

"It would not be appropriate for me to opine further on this question; as Justice Kagan explained, it is not appropriate for a judicial nominee to 'grade' or give a 'thumbs-up or thumbs-down' to particular cases," she repeatedly states.

Read more about her answers here.

9:45 a.m. ET, October 22, 2020

Trump and Biden will have their mics muted during parts of tonight's debate. Here's how it will work.

From CNN's Dan Merica

omer Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump will have their microphones muted during portions of their second and final presidential debate on tonight, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced earlier this week in a decision that angered the President.

The decision came after the commission met met Monday afternoon to discuss potential rule changes to the debate format. They decided that the changes were needed because of how the first debate between Biden and Trump devolved into chaos, with the President frequently interrupting the former vice president.

The muting will work like this:

  • At the start of each of the six segments of the debate, each candidate will be given two minutes to answer an initial question.
  • During that portion, the opposing candidate's microphone will be muted.
"Under the agreed upon debate rules, each candidate is to have two minutes of uninterrupted time to make remarks at the beginning of each 15 minute segment of the debate. These remarks are to be followed by a period of open discussion," the commission said in a statement. "Both campaigns this week again reaffirmed their agreement to the two-minute, uninterrupted rule."

The statement continued: "The Commission is announcing today that in order to enforce this agreed upon rule, the only candidate whose microphone will be open during these two-minute periods is the candidate who has the floor under the rules. For the balance of each segment, which by design is intended to be dedicated to open discussion, both candidates' microphones will be open."

A source close to the commission told CNN the decision on muting the microphones was unanimous by its members and stressed that "this is not a change to rules but rather a move to promote adherence to rules that have been agreed to by both campaigns."

"A change to the rules would have required protracted and ultimately, in our view, unworkable negotiations between the two campaigns," the source said.

Still, the change drew a quick rebuke from Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh who charged, without evidence, that the decision from the commission is an "attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate."

But Trump, Murtaugh said in a statement, is still "committed to debating Joe Biden" regardless of the change.

Read more here