The latest on the 2020 election

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 5:38 AM ET, Tue October 27, 2020
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9:34 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Top Senate Democrats ask Pence to abandon plan to preside over Barrett confirmation vote

From Manu Raju

Sen. Dick Durbin, foreground, and Sen. Chuck Schumer attend a news conference in front of the Capitol on October 22.
Sen. Dick Durbin, foreground, and Sen. Chuck Schumer attend a news conference in front of the Capitol on October 22. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Top Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic whip Dick Durbin, sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday demanding he reconsider his plan to preside over the Senate's vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, saying it is "not a risk worth taking."

"Not only would your presence in the Senate Chamber tomorrow be a clear violation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, it would also be a violation of common decency and courtesy," they wrote, adding later "nothing about your presence in the Senate tomorrow can be considered essential."

As of Monday morning, the Vice President's plans are unclear.

Pence said on Friday he would preside over the vote and White House Director of Strategic Communications Alyssa Farah confirmed this Monday morning. Not long after that, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows cast some doubt on the plan, saying it was "in flux," but that he didn't know if Pence would go to Capitol Hill.

Some context: At least five people in Pence's inner circle have tested positive for coronavirus in recent days, including chief of staff Marc Short, close aide Zach Bauer and outside adviser Marty Obst, sources told CNN.

Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence each tested negative for coronavirus on Monday morning, his office said. Despite contact with multiple people who recently tested positive, Pence is refusing to quarantine in defiance of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

9:27 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Loeffler still plans to participate in Barrett vote after 2 staffers test positive for Covid-19

From CNN's Noah Broder and Ted Barrett

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler waits for a television interview in Washington, DC, on March 20.
Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler waits for a television interview in Washington, DC, on March 20. Susan Walsh/AP

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler has tested negative for Covid-19, her office announced in a release Saturday night.

The release said that the senator was tested “after learning that two of her DC Senate staffers had tested positive.”

The release added that Loeffler is still planning on participating in the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Monday before returning to Georgia.

It is unclear if contact tracing is underway with the staffers or if anyone else in the DC office has tested positive.

Loeffler was asked Sunday if she had “close contact” with her aides who tested positive for coronavirus.

“Not at all,” she replied. She did not provide any further details.

10:09 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

A look at early voting in key states Trump won by a narrow margin in 2016

From CNN's Adam Levy, Ethan Cohen and Liz Stark

Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally in The Villages, Florida, on October 23.
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally in The Villages, Florida, on October 23. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Pre-Election Day voting is skyrocketing nationwide amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and states are reporting record-breaking turnout as voters are energized to vote by mail or early in person before November.

Below is a look at the skyrocketing turnout in several key states that President Trump won by the narrowest of margins in 2016:

Florida: Trump won Florida by a little over one percentage point in 2016 and capturing the Sunshine State again this year is critical to his reelection prospects.

While Florida Democrats maintain an advantage in pre-election turnout, Catalist data shows the gap narrowing as more voters participate in early voting across the state.

Democrats now account for 43% of those early votes, while Republicans account for 36%. At this point in 2016, Republicans held a razor thin, approximately one-point lead in pre-election turnout.

This high turnout among Florida Democrats is reflected in recent polling about voter behavior in the Sunshine State.

New CNN polling conducted by SSRS shows about 35% of likely voters in Florida say they have already cast a ballot. Of that group, 71% say they back former Vice President Joe Biden and 27% back Trump. Fifty-six percent of those who have yet to cast a ballot say they back Trump, and 40% say they back Biden.

This is not predictive of ultimate outcome, however, as polling shows Democrats nationwide are more likely to cast their ballots before Election Day than Republicans.

North Carolina: North Carolina Democrats are also outpacing Republicans in their percentage of the pre-election votes, but once again, that margin is narrowing amid a surge in early voting in the Tar Heel State.

About 40% of the early votes that Catalist has analyzed comes from Democrats compared to 30% from Republicans so far. This is similar to the partisan breakdown of pre-election day votes at this point in 2016.

However, Republicans have narrowed the gap in their share of the early vote in recent weeks.

Pennsylvania: In Pennsylvania — a key state that Trump won by less than one percentage point in 2016 — Democrats continue to hold a significant advantage over Republicans in their share of ballots already cast, according to Catalist party data.

About 70% of pre-election votes have come from Democrats so far, compared to about 20% from Republicans.

Michigan: Michigan's 16 electoral votes helped make Trump president four years ago when the state broke its six-election streak of voting for the Democratic presidential nominee.

Turnout in the Wolverine State this century peaked in 2008 with more than 5 million votes cast for president. A 2018 ballot measure changed Michigan's rules to allow anyone to vote by mail without an excuse, and ballot returns this year are more than triple what they were at this time four years ago, according to Catalist data.

A look at those returns by race shows ballots from Black voters make up 12% of the current vote, up from 8% at this time in the 2016 cycle. Democrats are hoping to increase turnout among Black voters in areas like Detroit in their quest to bring Michigan back into the blue column.

Read more here.

9:08 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

More early ballots have been cast in North Carolina so far than 2016's early ballot total

From CNN's Dianne Gallagher

There have been 3,171,202 early ballots accepted in North Carolina, according to the state Board of Elections. This means roughly 43% of all registered North Carolina voters have already cast a ballot.

With eight days until Election Day (and six days left in the early in-person voting period), the state has now exceeded the total number of early votes cast in 2016, which was 3,102,093.

Tomorrow is the last day a voter can request an absentee ballot in North Carolina. Early in-person voting runs through Saturday.

Here's a 2020 breakdown:

  • Absentee early in-person: 2,393,047
  • Absentee by mail: 778,155
9:04 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

A look at today's campaign schedule

From CNN's Jess Estepa

With only eight days left until Election Day, President Trump is scheduled to hold three campaign rallies today in the battleground state of Pennsylvania: one at 11 a.m. ET in Allentown, one at 1:30 p.m. ET in Lititz and one at 4:30 p.m. ET in Martinsburg.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden meanwhile is in Delaware with no public events scheduled. His running mate Kamala Harris is in Washington, DC, for the day and has an appearance on "The View" at 11 a.m. ET.

Even as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff and others in his inner circle have tested positive for coronavirus, he continues to travel in the closing days of the campaign.

Pence, who tested negative for coronavirus on Sunday, will hold a rally today at 2 p.m. ET in Minnesota.

10:36 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Here's why Biden has more paths than Trump to 270 electoral votes

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden attends a drive-in rally in Dallas, Pennsylvania, on October 24.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden attends a drive-in rally in Dallas, Pennsylvania, on October 24. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

A new Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll of likely Pennsylvania voters finds former Vice President Joe Biden at 51% to President Trump's 44%.

The average Pennsylvania poll puts Biden up by a similar margin.

What's the point: Almost every article I write on this election starts with a phrase resembling "Biden is the favorite." A big reason why he has the upper hand can be seen in polls like the Muhlenberg College survey out of Pennsylvania.

When you look at the Electoral College maps, Biden simply has more pathways to 270 electoral votes than Trump does at this point. If Trump wants to win, he'll need to win a number of states Biden has a lead in, including Pennsylvania.

Just take the states where Biden has an advantage of 5 points or greater right now. These include all the states Hillary Clinton won four years ago, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

If Biden wins all of those states, he gets to 278 electoral votes.

Now, if Biden were to fail to win in Pennsylvania, it's pretty easy to draw him up another map where he gets to an Electoral College majority.

Let's say he holds the Clinton states and takes Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska's 2nd congressional district. Remember, Nebraska (like Maine) awards the winner in each of its congressional districts an electoral vote, and Biden is up greater than 5 points in the average of polls in the second district. Biden's current average advantage in Arizona is 4 points.

This map gets Biden to exactly 270 electoral votes.

What's key to note here is that Pennsylvania has tended to be Biden's weakest of the Great Lake (Rust Belt) battlegrounds. It wouldn't be shocking if he loses there but holds on to Michigan and Wisconsin.

Read the full analysis here.

build your own road to 270 electoral votes with CNN's interactive map

10:04 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Pre-election voting has surpassed all 2016 early ballots cast 

From CNN's Adam Levy, Ethan Cohen and Liz Stark

Pre-election voting for the November election has surpassed all 2016 early ballots cast with more than a week still left until Election Day.

More than 58.7 million Americans have voted so far, according to a survey of election officials in all 50 states and Washington, DC, by CNN, Edison Research and Catalist.

In 2016, around 58.3 million pre-election ballots were cast, including ballots in the three vote-by-mail states that year, according to a CNN analysis. That early vote accounted for about 42% of all ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election.

Pre-Election Day voting is skyrocketing nationwide during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and states are reporting record-breaking turnout as voters are energized to vote by mail or early in person before November.

Detailed voter information comes from Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit issue-advocacy organizations and is giving insights into who is voting before November.

Fifty-four percent of those 58.7 million votes already cast this cycle comes from CNN's 16 most competitively ranked states, which will play a crucial role in determining who wins the presidency this year.

Among those states, Minnesota has currently seen the largest percentage increase in early voting turnout compared to last cycle, according to Catalist data from both years in 14 key states.

By age, younger voters (age 18-29) are also casting significantly more ballots and make up a greater share of the pre-Election Day vote than they did around the same time four years ago in all of the key states with information available.

Read more here.

CNN's Kristen Holmes reports:

9:58 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Why election night results might look different this year compared to 2016

From CNN's Alexis Benveniste

President Donald Trump, right, and Democratic candidate Joe Biden debate each other in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22. At center is moderator Kristen Welker.
President Donald Trump, right, and Democratic candidate Joe Biden debate each other in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22. At center is moderator Kristen Welker. Jim Bourg/Pool/Getty Images

Election night can be synonymous with unpredictability — just look at 2016 — but this year might be even murkier than usual.

The pandemic has changed the way millions of Americans vote for president. Voters have already cast an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, for example. In many locations — some of them potential battleground states — mail-in ballots will not be counted until after the election, potentially leading to long delays in the news media's ability to call the election on election night.

That's why many news outlets are already going into rehearsal mode behind the scenes as they continue to cover ongoing election and voting news. The Associated Press, for instance, performs drills to prepare.

"We obviously do an enormous amount of preparation. We work through various scenarios," Sally Buzbee, senior vice president and executive editor of The Associated Press, told CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter on "Reliable Sources" on Sunday.

"We are very much prepared for the fact that it could go longer than election night," Buzbee said. "It also could last until the next morning or until the next afternoon or even later. So we are very much prepared for both scenarios."

Many news organizations rely on the Associated Press to make calls on Election Day, waiting until the AP announces a winner before declaring it on air on or online.

President Trump has said he wants immediate results on election night, but that's not necessarily realistic. Senior Department of Homeland Security officials have urged voters to be patient, warning that the results may not be known on Election Day this year.

Americans around the country will be tuning in to their network of choice, but Buzbee made it clear that news outlets aren't in competition with each other on election night. She added that the data and the facts are driving decisions on election night.

"This is not magic," she said. "This is actually math and facts and science. That's how races are called."