President Donald Trump is putting in another whirlwind day on the road, with five stops in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. But the big questions left about Trump’s activities are about what happens after the polls close, not before.
Trump spent the weekend arguing, as he has for months, that the election results must be known on election night, a misleading claim that has never been the standard in the United States. “That’s the way it’s been and that’s the way it should be,” Trump said.
In fact, state laws in many places, red and blue alike, require a longer vote-counting period. While Trump appears to be preparing to call the election illegitimate because a large number of Democratic-leaning mail ballots might be counted in the days after Election Day, state legislators — including a good many Republicans — have set up this system and worked under it in the past.
“I think it’s a terrible thing when people or states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over,” Trump added.
On Fox News, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany backed up Trump, though she acknowledged that no winner was known in the Bush-Gore presidential race in 2000: “I don’t think that that was a pretty good moment for more American politics and the country.”
"We don’t believe that voters should have to wait for days on end. We know that that’s subject to fraud, finding new ballots out there,” McEnany said, even though election fraud is exceedingly rare, and there’s even less evidence connecting it to long periods of vote counting.
The reality is we won’t know anything close to final results on election night, though there are a few scenarios in which Joe Biden could quickly amass 270 electoral votes in media projections. There’s nothing legally binding about a candidate declaring victory, and it would do nothing to stop vote-counting from continuing to actually determine the winner.
“News flash to the president and to his supporters: Candidates don’t declare victories,” is how Republican Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania governor and DHS secretary, put it on MSNBC Monday. “It’s not about the candidate. The states goes about it. And depending on the state, it could be two days to certify, up to 30 days to certify.
“No candidates, no matter what they say, can declare victory,” Ridge added. “It’s a federal system, folks. The states will do it. They’ve been doing it historically. They do it well. Be patient. Let every vote legitimately be counted.”
Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania continues to command the focus of both campaigns. Even if Trump runs the table in the pure toss-up state — a list that includes Arizona, where Biden leads by roughly 3 percentage points in public polls, and Georgia, where the Democrat has opened up the narrowest of advantages in those surveys — Trump would still need to take a state where Joe Biden has a more solid lead.
That’s why Pennsylvania is so important, and why both candidates are spending time in the state today. (See POLITICO’s final Election Forecast for more on the state of play).
A new Monmouth University poll out Monday — likely the final major survey of the Pennsylvania — showed Biden with a 5-point lead. In addition to Trump rallying in the Scranton area, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence will be in Latrobe and Erie, a Pennsylvania bellwether.
Biden’s plan to canvass with union members and their leadership in Beaver County appears designed to cut into the nearly 20-percentage point advantage Trump had in the area in 2016. Biden then heads to Pittsburgh to rally African American support before ending the day with a big drive-in rally with Lady Gaga. Jill Biden heads to Erie, Lawrence County and Allegheny County.
Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are hitting other corners of the state — Harris in Luzerne County and the Lehigh Valley and Emhoff in Lancaster, Ephrata, Montgomery and Bucks counties. They wrap up with a drive-in event of their own in Philadelphia with John Legend.
Biden releases flurry of new ads, including one featuring Harris
Biden has launched a large number of new TV ads for the final stretch run, according to Advertising Analytics, including ads with state-specific information for voters heading to the polls in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin on Tuesday. The ads remind voters to bring a photo ID to vote in person — and tells them to remember that if they’re in line when the polls close, they can still cast their vote.
One notable Biden ad features Harris speaking to the camera, interspersed with footage and still photos of Harris and Black voters, saying “Joe and I see you.”
Another two new spots feature former President Barack Obama speaking about Biden’s humanity and compassion, including one ad with Spanish subtitles and Obama speaking a few lines of Spanish himself. The DNC also has a new ad with Biden that’s partially in Spanish, running through chaotic news over the past four years.
And in another ad, Jill Biden touts her husband’s eagerness to bring people together and “find common ground,” while yet one more says Biden can give America “a fresh start.”
Trump has a pair of new ads out as well, including one saying Trump has delivered the change he promised and made America “stronger, safer and more prosperous than ever.” Another Trump ad juxtaposes Trump’s campaign pitch with images of protesters, saying they “don’t believe in America’s promise.”
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