The latest on the 2020 election

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 5:38 AM ET, Tue October 27, 2020
11 Posts
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10:24 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Trump campaign is frustrated with White House chief of staff, advisers say

From CNN's Jim Acosta

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters on October 26 outside the White House.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters on October 26 outside the White House. Patrick Semansky/AP

There is concern in the Trump campaign after White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, in a stunning exchange with CNN’s Jake Tapper, said Sunday “We are not going to control the pandemic.”

A Trump campaign adviser said there is widespread frustration with Meadows over his comments.

“Everyone was clear that Meadows sh** the bed again,” the adviser said.

While Trump has dismissed rumors he’s planning to get rid of Meadows in a potential second term, he remains displeased with how his chief of staff handled the crisis surrounding his own bout with coronavirus, including telling reporters at Walter Reed the president’s symptoms were worrying as he was recovering from coronavirus. Even a few weeks later Trump remains upset that information was disclosed.

“Every time we build some momentum, Meadows f***s it up with an interview,” the adviser added.

The White House did not respond to CNN’s request for comment, but pressed on his own comments and subsequent criticism from the Biden campaign during a gaggle with on Monday morning, Meadows repeated himself.

“The only person waving a white flag, along with a white mask, is Joe Biden. I mean when we look at this, we're going to defeat the virus. We're not going to control it. We will try to contain it as best we can,” he said.

A separate adviser said it’s probably best that Meadows not do TV between now and the election, though Meadows suggested he would be making appearances on CBS and ABC’s morning shows on Tuesday.

The unforced error, made just nine days before the election, comes as Meadows has made it known among staffers that positive Covid-19 tests shouldn’t be disclosed publicly in the interest of avoiding the appearance of unmanaged contagion.

That strategy has mostly failed as the cases became public anyway through leaks.

The inability to keep a lid on things reflects Meadows’ diminished standing inside the building, according to multiple officials.

Many others in the building believe Meadows failed to communicate properly with staffers about the extent of the West Wing outbreak, leaving officials to glean for themselves who might be infected and whether they should quarantine. While Meadows has said he was doing so in the interest of privacy, the lack of guidance for days — while Meadows himself was spending nights with Trump at Walter Reed — angered many people.

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

10:27 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Trump is on his way to his first of three rallies today

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on October 26, prior to departure from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on October 26, prior to departure from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is en route to Andrews Air Force Base for a three-stop blitz of battleground Pennsylvania on Monday.

Trump, sans mask, walked out of the White House at 9:29 a.m. ET, followed by an unidentified aide in a mask.

The President is scheduled to hold three campaign rallies today in 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.

 

9:41 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Vice President Pence tested negative for Covid-19 this morning

From Kaitlan Collins

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a campaign event at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township, Michigan, on October 22.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a campaign event at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township, Michigan, on October 22. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence both tested negative for Covid-19 Monday morning, according to Pence’s office.

Pence said on Friday that he would preside over the Senate’s vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court today, though White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows cast some doubt on the plan this morning, saying it was "in flux," but that he didn't know if Pence would go to Capitol Hill.

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