By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — With 14 days to go until Election Day, and President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden racing toward Nov. 3, voters are turning out in record numbers to cast their ballots early.
Roughly 31 million Americans have already voted in the 2020 election, reflecting an extraordinary level of participation and interest despite unprecedented barriers brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
In the final weeks of campaigning, the president remains on defense as his approval rating drags. He’s hosting rallies this week mostly in states he won in 2016 including Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia.
Biden, maintaining a nationwide lead in polls — his largest lead of the election, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average — has no public events on his schedule this week so far ahead of Thursday’s final presidential debate with Trump. Staying off the trail ahead of debates is a pattern for the former vice president.
Polls indicate a huge pre-Election-Day edge for Biden and a sizable Trump advantage among those who plan to vote on Nov. 3 itself. Trump has sowed doubt in the mail-in ballot process — and imminent election results — for months.
The rhetoric between candidates is expected to heat up ahead of their second and final showdown in Nashville, Tennessee.
All 50 states plus Washington, D.C., currently have some form of early voting underway.
Here is how the day is unfolding Tuesday:
Oct 20, 8:36 am
Trump’s Fauci feud keeps campaign focus on COVID-19
This is now an actual attack line that Trump is deploying against former Biden.
“He wants to listen to Dr. Fauci,” Trump told a crowd in Arizona Monday afternoon, the mention of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s name drawing boos.
It takes head-spinning logic to cast Trump’s feud with Fauci as a winning campaign message for an incumbent who is down in the polls. The campaign is continuing to air ads that feature Fauci — out of context — appearing to applaud the president’s decisions on COVID-19, even while Trump calls him a “disaster” and his fellow health officials “idiots.”
This fight, though, only makes more obvious what the campaign is about. With cases surging in battleground states and beyond, and with the president himself back on the trail from his own illness for only a week, Trump’s assertion that “people are tired of COVID” is pretty clearly true — with whatever meaning one might impose on those words.
New ABC News/Washington Post polling from North Carolina, out Tuesday morning, reinforces how much the coronavirus has cost the president credibility and political standing.
It’s Biden 49, Trump 48 in one of the president’s must-win states, with Biden leading by 34 points among self-described moderates. He captures 68% support among those worried about catching the coronavirus.
One last debate and two weeks of rallies will give Trump more chances to try to change the campaign subject. For now, and once again, the campaign that could have been about so many different things remains focused on one very big thing.
Oct 20, 8:26 am
Biden campaign launches new ad focused Arizona business owner
With just two weeks until voters cast their final ballots, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign is launching a new ad, “I Can’t,” focused on a small business owner in Arizona — a state the former vice president is hoping to turn blue on Election Day.
“I can’t do another four years of this. I—I can’t,” Maggie, a hair salon co-owner from Phoenix, Arizona, says in the ad. ”There’s never been more divisiveness in this country. It’s frightening and sad.”
In her testimonial, Maggie takes aim at Trump on his signature issue of the economy, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That was Trump’s whole thing, you know — take the politics out of it and run it like one of his businesses. I know people were looking for that kind of change, but it’s not working,” she said.
“We’ve only gotten more in debt, we have this virus now out of control, people out of work, no healthcare. How is that helping people?” Maggie continued, echoing arguments Biden has taken up against Trump on the trail.
The ad continues similar messaging from another recent ad from Biden’s team, focused on a bar and music venue owner in Michigan hurting from the coronavirus outbreak, and comes one day after the president held two rallies in Arizona, a state he carried by nearly four points in 2016.
However, recent Arizona state polling shows Trump now trailing Biden significantly in the state the former vice president’s team has identified as an expansion opportunity in their path to 270 electoral votes.
The ad is slated to run nationally during cable programming, as well as in key battleground states, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In the final two weeks until Election Day, the Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee and pro-Biden outside groups are slated to outspend Trump and pro-Trump efforts on Television and radio ads.
According to ad spending data from media research firm CMAG, Biden and pro-Biden groups have reserved a total of $147 million in airtime from Tuesday through Nov. 3.
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