Election Live Updates: Pennsylvania Is Focus of Both Campaigns in Final Push

Photo of author

By admin

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

As the election winds to a close, President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. are converging on Pennsylvania, with both candidates holding a flurry of events in a last-minute quest for votes.

Mr. Trump held four rallies in Pennsylvania on Saturday — in Newtown, Reading, Butler and Montoursville. And on Monday, in what is a clear attempt to needle Mr. Biden, he will head to Scranton, Mr. Biden’s hometown.

Mr. Biden, for his part, is heading to Philadelphia on Sunday, for a “Souls to the Polls” event in the afternoon and a drive-in rally in the evening. His campaign will then barnstorm the state on Monday, with appearances by Mr. Biden; his wife, Dr. Jill Biden; his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California; and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Former President Barack Obama recently campaigned on Mr. Biden’s behalf in the state as well.

Recent surveys of Pennsylvania indicate the race there is close: An average of polls shows Mr. Biden with a six-point lead.

But beyond its electoral significance, the state carries great symbolic meaning for both parties. For Republicans, it was one of several longtime Democratic bastions that Mr. Trump flipped four years ago, underscoring the party’s new strength with union voters and suburban white women. For Democrats, the state was a key brick in its once stable “blue wall” of Northern swing states, and Hillary Clinton’s defeat there was a devastating electoral and psychological blow.

To win back the state, Democrats are not so much trying to flip counties that went for Mr. Trump in 2016, as they are doing in some other swing states. Instead, the focus is on whether voters who back Mr. Biden can prevent Mr. Trump from running up the score in white, working-class areas as he did in 2016. If Mr. Biden can cut into Mr. Trump’s margins in these areas while putting up big numbers in suburbs and cities, officials say his odds of winning the state look pretty good.

Of course, the Trump campaign has been doing all it can to hinder Mr. Biden from doing just that. In addition to its frenzy of activity, his campaign is also pursuing multiple strategies that would effectively suppress mail-in votes in the state.

There is a good chance Pennsylvania could hold the nation’s attention far after Election Day. Analysts don’t expect all of the mail-in ballots to be in until the later part of this week, meaning there most likely won’t be a winner called on election night. Even when the results are known, both parties are bracing for potential litigation.

Credit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

You could be forgiven for feeling déjà vu after looking at Ann Selzer’s latest poll of Iowa.

The survey, released Saturday, showed a late shift toward President Trump, after months in which he and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, had been running neck-and-neck in her polling of the state.

The most respected political polling operation in Iowa, Selzer & Company was the rare firm to pick up on the last-minute shift in support toward Mr. Trump in 2016 that would ultimately deliver him Iowa, other Midwestern states and the Electoral College.

The new survey, conducted as usual on behalf of The Des Moines Register, showed 48 percent of likely Iowa voters supporting Mr. Trump, and 41 percent backing Mr. Biden. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Selzer polls conducted in June and September had found the candidates locked in a statistical tie, most recently at 47 percent each.

When pressed, an additional 5 percent of likely voters in the new poll said they knew whom they would vote for — or already had — but didn’t want to tell. Altogether, 94 percent of likely voters said they had either cast their ballots already or come to a firm decision on whom to support, meaning there are few persuadable voters left in the race’s final days.

Four years ago, Ms. Selzer’s pre-election poll in early November found Mr. Trump ahead, also by seven points. That poll was conducted in the days after the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, informed Congress about a new review of the Hillary Clinton email case. It was not the only survey taken of Iowa voters during this time period, but it was the only one capturing the shift toward Mr. Trump. And it was pretty close to accurate: He ultimately beat Mrs. Clinton by nine points — two points more than in the Selzer poll.

Among battleground states, the heavily white and heavily rural Iowa is one of the more favorable to Mr. Trump this year. Still, any poll showing a seven-point Trump lead in a contested state — especially from such an esteemed pollster — is bound to turn heads.

The poll also found Senator Joni Ernst with the edge over her Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield, in a highly competitive race that will help determine control of the Senate.

Mr. Trump regained his strength in the new Iowa poll largely by flipping independent voters back to his camp; it showed him winning independents in Iowa 49 percent to 35 percent, something he’s been failing to do almost everywhere else. Along the way he cut deeply into Mr. Biden’s lead among women in the state, which dropped to nine points from 20 points in September.

Still, the Selzer poll is just one poll of the state; a survey released Thursday by Quinnipiac University found Mr. Trump with just a one-point lead. And while poll watchers will certainly wonder what the Selzer poll might indicate about trends in the Midwest, Mr. Biden does not need Iowa itself, with its six electoral votes, to win the presidency. His campaign has not made a major investment in the state.

When given a list of six possible electoral issues, Trump supporters said that the economy and taxes were driving their support of him; 37 percent of the president’s voters selected that topic. Iowa’s unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent last month, the fifth best in the country.

Among Biden supporters, the most commonly referenced subject was “his ability to restore what is good about America,” with 26 percent choosing it.

Over all, just 9 percent of all likely voters supporting one of the major nominees said that his approach to the pandemic was their main area of focus. That’s despite the fact that Iowa currently has one of the nation’s highest per capita case rates.

Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

A federal judge in Texas has called an election-eve hearing for Monday in a Republican lawsuit that seeks to dismantle Houston’s drive-through voting system and invalidate more than 120,000 votes that have already been cast.

The lawsuit contends that the 10 drive-through voting sites in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, are operating illegally and arranged in locations that favor Democrats.

The system was implemented for the first time this year by Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, with unanimous approval by county commissioners, after being tested in a pilot program over the summer.

More than 127,000 voters have cast ballots at the sites and the number could grow to more than 135,000 through Election Day on Tuesday, said Susan Hays, an attorney for Harris County. She said county officials planned to vigorously challenge the suit, which she described as an act of “voter suppression.”

“It’s nuts,” she said. “Votes should count.”

The case will be heard Monday morning by Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

In a motion on Friday asking to intervene in the case, Democrats said it threatened to “throw Texas’ election into chaos by invalidating the votes of more than 100,000 eligible Texas voters who cast their ballots” at the drive-through sites. The motion was filed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the campaign of M.J. Hegar, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

The plaintiffs, who include State Representative Steve Toth and the conservative activist Steve Hotze, argue that drive-through voting “is a violation of state and federal law and must be stopped.”

In a telephone interview on Saturday, Mr. Toth said that only the legislature had the authority to implement a drive-though voting system. He also said the arrangement of the sites was tilted toward Democratic voters, noting that Mr. Hollins is vice chairman of finance for the Texas Democratic Party.

“If Hollins is really concerned that everybody is accurately represented, why is it that nine of the 10 are set up in predominantly Democratic areas?” said Mr. Toth, who represents part of neighboring Montgomery County.

He denied that the lawsuit was aimed at blunting Democratic momentum amid record rates of early voting in Houston and other strongly Democratic areas in the last days before the election.

“We’re not the ones who are disenfranchising anybody,” he said. “This is Hollins who did this.”

In a statement on Twitter on Saturday, Mr. Hollins said drive-through voting “is a safe, secure and convenient way to vote. Texas Election Code allows it, the Secretary of State approved it, and 127,000 voters from all walks of life have used it.”

He said his office was “committed to counting every vote cast by registered voters in this election,” and that voters would be notified if court proceedings required them to take any additional steps.

AUSTIN, Texas — Multiple vehicles bearing Trump flags and signs surrounded a Biden-Harris campaign bus heading from San Antonio to Austin on Friday, forcing campaign officials to scrap two campaign events, according to reports by Democratic officials on Saturday.

The vehicles surrounded the bus on busy Interstate 35 and appeared to be attempting to slow it down and force it to the side of the road, according to social media posts from witnesses and accounts by party activists. In one instance, the vehicles pulled in front of the bus and tried to stop in the middle of the highway.

Katie Naranjo, chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, tweeted that Trump supporters also “ran into a person’s car, yelling curse words and threats.” The bus was occupied by campaign staff workers, who notified local law enforcement, which assisted the vehicle in reaching its destination, party officials said.

Out of “an abundance of caution,” they said, the campaign canceled an event scheduled for later that day at a parking lot belonging to the Texas A.F.L.-C.I.O. in downtown Austin. A campaign event in suburban Pflugerville was also scrapped.

“Rather than engage in productive conversation about the drastically different visions that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have for our country, Trump supporters in Texas instead decided to put our staff, surrogates, supporters, and others in harm’s way,” Tariq Thowfeek, the Texas communications director for the Biden for President campaign, said in a statement.

“Our supporters will continue to organize their communities for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Democrats up and down the ballot,” Mr. Thowfeek said, “and to the Texans who disrupted our events: We’ll see you on November 3rd.”

A spokesman for the Texas Republican Party could not be immediately reached for comment. Efforts to contact the Texas Department of Public Safety to determine the possibility of any law enforcement action also were not immediately successful.

During his final rally of the day on Saturday, in Montoursville, Pa., President Trump cackled about his supporters “taunting” Mr. Biden at his outdoor events by driving by and honking horns, and then cheered on his supporters who surrounded the bus in Texas.

“Anybody see the picture of their crazy bus driving down the highway, they are surrounded by hundreds of cars, they are all Trump flags all over the place,” Mr. Trump said, chuckling.

Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

MIAMI — President Trump’s fifth and final rally on Sunday is scheduled to kick off at 11:30 p.m. in Opa-locka, Fla., a late hour for attendees and viewers — and a problem for local officials. To try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Miami-Dade County has a nightly curfew that begins at midnight.

The county owns the venue for the rally at the Opa-locka airport near Miami. Public records show that when the Republican National Committee emailed the county about the rally on Thursday, it listed the event as starting at 10 p.m. The county issued a permit until 2 a.m. so that “essential workers” could dismantle and clean the hangar after the rally.

“We do not know where the time change comes from,” Myriam Márquez, a spokeswoman for Mayor Carlos A. Giménez of Miami-Dade County, said in a statement on Saturday.

Mr. Giménez, a Republican, is running for Congress in Miami and has been endorsed by Mr. Trump. Miami-Dade was hard-hit by the virus.

The curfew has vexed Miami-Dade ever since a circuit court judge ruled in favor of Tootsies, a Miami Gardens strip club, which sued to overturn the restriction. County lawyers have been trying to make the case on appeal that the curfew is crucial to public health.

Mr. Giménez could add an exemption for political events to his curfew order. He exempted sports in September to allow for college and professional football games.

Even then, the rally could pose a public health risk: The R.N.C. told the county it expected 6,000 to 10,000 attendees, which would make it one of the largest events to be held in Miami-Dade since the pandemic began in the United States in March.

Credit…Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

PHILADELPHIA — Add Debra Messing and Kathy Najimy to the thousands of canvassers spread out across Philadelphia for the Biden campaign on Saturday.

The two actors went knocking door to door with Sharif Street, a state senator, as the Biden campaign’s turnout operation kicked into high gear in this epicenter of Democratic support in the critical battleground state.

“Everything is on Pennsylvania, this is it,” said Ms. Messing as she rallied a group of canvassers on the corner of North Carlisle Street and West Susquehanna Avenue.

Throughout the city, the Biden campaign has been deploying volunteers to the doors of likely Democratic voters who either have not returned their absentee ballot or never requested one. Nearly two million registered Democrats requested absentee ballots, compared with fewer than 790,000 Republicans.

The message on Saturday from the canvassers was to make sure voters know how to navigate either the absentee ballot drop-off process, or voting on Election Day, with the focus on making a “plan to vote.”

“I’m going to vote, and vote for Biden,” said Kevin Robinson, 66. Ms. Messing let out a whoop and told Mr. Robinson, who was favoring his left knee, that if he was physically unable to stand in line, he could move ahead in the line. “I’ll need that,” he said.

Ms. Messing and Ms. Najimy, who have long been politically active, said that even after having volunteered in previous elections, this one felt different and more urgent.

“There is a feeling of unrest that I’ve never experienced before,” Ms. Najimy said. “It’s like Donald Trump has taken a hammer to whatever unity we had and smashed it.”

Of course, having celebrity canvassers can help a door-knocking operation’s success. While most canvassers are lucky to see half of the doors they knock crack open, nearly every resident came out to see Ms. Messing and Ms. Najimy.

Vendetta Sample, 56, saw the two women and ran down her stoop to greet them. “I voted, I voted early,” she said.

“Did you vote for —” Ms. Messing started to ask before she was cut off.

“You dang know I did,” Ms. Sample said.

The Biden campaign app also had a man named Sean on its list who lived at Ms. Sample’s address. Ms. Messing asked about Sean and if he voted.

“Sean’s not here, he’s working,” said Ms. Sample. “I don’t know if he voted.”

“You’re going to call Sean and you’re going to say we came to see him, and you’re going to say you promised us that you would kick his ass if he doesn’t vote.”

Ms. Sample smiled, pantomiming a kick, when her young grandson, wearing a Spider-Man mask, poked his head out.

“What you say about my daddy?” he asked. “Say that again and I’ll punch you in your face.”

The entire canvassing team laughed.

“That’s Philly,” one said.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

SUN CITY, Ariz. — Don’t believe the polls. Don’t believe the media. And definitely do not believe the Democrats.

That was the message from Republican leaders to the party’s foot soldiers gathering Saturday in Sun City. The volunteers were getting ready to fan out in this retirement community in Maricopa County, where Donald Trump won in 2016 with 49 percent of the vote, to rally voters for Mr. Trump and Martha McSally, the Republican senator whom polls have consistently shown running behind her Democratic challenger, the former astronaut Mark Kelly.

“You all know why this is the most consequential election in our life,” Ms. McSally told the crowd inside the local Republican headquarters, flanked by cardboard cutouts of Mr. Trump and former President Ronald Reagan. “They’re coming after our county. They’re coming after our state.”

Still, Ms. McSally tried to strike a cheerful tone.

“We’re on the verge of a great American comeback,” she said to a round of cheers.

There was little need to convince the crowd, who appeared to be optimistic about the party’s chances.

“I’ve never seen energy like we’re seeing now,” said Patti Thompson, a 72-year-old party activist who wore a Women for Trump T-shirt emblazoned with an image of a stars-and-stripes stiletto. “People care about saving our country. You can’t let the liberals take — we cannot let them run our country.”



Source link

Leave a Comment