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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9:08 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."