The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020
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10:11 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020

Where Trump and Biden stand in CNN's latest poll of polls

Election Day is only 18 days away. The CNN Poll of Polls tracks the national average in the race for president between President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The poll of polls includes the most recent national telephone polls which meet CNN’s standards for reporting and which measure the views of registered or likely voters.

The poll of polls does not have a margin of sampling error.

Here's the latest polling average as of today:

10:29 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020

More than 17 million people have already voted. Here's how early voter turnout compares to 2016 so far.

Analysis from CNN's Chris Cillizza

Voters cast their ballots inside of State Farm Arena for the first day of early voting in the general election on October 12 in Atlanta.
Voters cast their ballots inside of State Farm Arena for the first day of early voting in the general election on October 12 in Atlanta. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

More than 17 million ballots across 44 states and DC have already been cast in the 2020 election. It's a stunning testament to what could be a historically high voter turnout, fueled by a series of state law changes that allow more mail-in balloting with the coronavirus pandemic still gripping the country.

The state-by-state totals are massively over-running where the early vote was in the 2016 presidential race.

Here are a handful of vote comparisons in swing states, per CNN's political unit:

Florida

  • Now: 2,092,131
  • 2016: 992,584

North Carolina

  • Now: 502,462
  • 2016: 226,824

Georgia:

  • Now: 918,873
  • 2016: 448,055

Michigan

  • Now: 1,150,224
  • 2016: 369,721

Wisconsin

  • Now: 592,579
  • 2016: 234,396

(Note: This voting information comes from CNN, Edison Research and Catalist – a data company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and non-profit issue advocacy organizations.)

In fact, in ALL of 2016, just over 46 million votes were cast early — whether in person or by mail. That means that, even though we are still 19 days from the election, more than one-third (37%) as many early votes have already been cast in 2020 as were cast in the entirety of the early voting in the 2016 presidential race.

These soaring numbers are backed up by what we are seeing in the states. On Monday in Georgia —the first day of in-person early voting — some people waited in lines for as long as 11 hours to cast their ballot. In Texas on Tuesday, its first day of in-person early voting, thousands waited in long lines to have their voice heard. Early in-person voting begins in North Carolina on Thursday

Read the full analysis here and visit CNN's voter guide to find your polling place, learn about early voting, and more.

9:00 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020

New Democratic super PAC pledges $2.5 million in late push to turn Georgia blue

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

The Democratic push to turn Georgia blue in November – and beyond — is getting another boost today with the launch of a new progressive super PAC planning to spend $2.5 million to boost turnout among young, minority voters.

Recent polling out of the state, which hasn’t gone for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992, shows former Vice President Joe Biden in a neck-and-neck race with President Trump. Georgia’s two US Senate seats, currently held by Republicans, are also on the ballot and facing tough Democratic challenges. (Both of those races could be headed toward January 2021 run-offs.)

“For decades, Georgia has been counted out and seen as unattainable for progressives,” Ryan Brown, who will lead New South Super PAC, said in a statement. “But the tide is changing and progressives have a very real chance at winning up and down the ballot if we speak to and invest in the right voters.”

There is a rush of Democratic money coming into Georgia right now as the presidential and Senate polls tighten, but Brown said his group planned to be in it for the long haul – as Democrats try to secure and expand on their gains.

“In Georgia, two Senate races are up for grabs, we have the opportunity to clinch the election for Biden and Harris, and we can flip the state house heading into the crucial redistricting,” Brown said. “Both the stakes and the possibilities of the Georgia elections this year warrant our attention and this large-scale investment.”

The 2020 contests follow a 2018 gubernatorial race that saw Republican Gov. Brian Kemp scratch out a narrow victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, who fell short by a little more than 50,000 votes in a campaign marred by allegations of voter suppression. 

But Abrams emerged as a national Democratic star and the party — in a state where Trump’s approval ratings are routinely split — is now working to forge a coalition comprising liberal-leaning low-propensity voters, its moderate base and disaffected Republicans. 

The early voting numbers out of Georgia this week suggest the 2020 contests will not suffer for a lack of enthusiasm. More than 126,000 ballots were cast on Monday, the first day of early voting, up from about 91,000 on the same occasion in 2016.

10:18 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020

"Joe Biden intends to show up to the debate if there will be one,” campaign adviser says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

CNN
CNN

Senior adviser to the Biden campaign, Symone Sanders, told CNN the former Vice President “intends to show up to the debate if there will be one.” At the moment, Joe Biden and President Trump are set to debate next Thursday.

“It is up to the Cleveland Clinic and the Commission on Presidential Debates to let us know what is going on,” she added. “We're going to abide to the guidelines that they set out, and it is on the Cleveland Clinic to ensure that the safety precautions are being adhered to. So, we expect them to do their jobs and Joe Biden is going to do his.”

In an ABC town hall last night Biden said he will demand President Trump take a Covid-19 test, and for that test to return negative, before he will participate in a debate. 

"Will you demand that President Trump take a test that day and that it be negative before you debate?" ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked.

"Yeah," Biden replied, "By the way, before I came up here, I took another test, I've been taking it every day.”

He added, "I'm less concerned about me, but the people, the guys with the cameras, the people working in the, you know, the secret service guys you drive up with, all those people."

10:15 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020

Trump raised $135 million less than Biden in September

From CNN's Ryan Nobles

President Donald Trump walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on October 1 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on October 1 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump's campaign and the Republican National Committee announced a joint fundraising haul of $247.8 million in the month of September — up from the $210 million the GOP raised in August, but far behind the massive total raised by former Vice President Joe Biden and Democrats in the final stretch of the campaign.

Biden raised $383 million in September, breaking a monthly fundraising total record that his campaign had just set in August. Biden and the Democratic Party outraised Trump and the Republicans by $135 million in September.

By comparison, Hillary Clinton raised $154 million in September of 2016.

Trump's campaign has been raising and spending money at a historic clip, but Biden and the Democrats quickly turned the tables in August after the Democratic convention and the selection of California Sen. Kamala Harris as Biden's running mate.

In addition to raising significantly more money in both August and September, the Biden campaign also has more money in the bank to spend in the final month of race. The Trump campaign will report $251.4 million cash on hand, while Biden has $432 million.

Despite the $180 million disadvantage, the Trump campaign said it is confident they will have enough resources to sustain the effort to reelect the President.

In a tweet announcing the fundraising totals, Tim Murtaugh, the campaign's communications director, wrote, "President Trump hits final stretch with strength, resources, record & huge ground game needed to spread message and secure re-election."

8:07 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020

If you missed Biden and Trump's competing town halls last night, here are some key takeaways

From CNN's Eric Bradner and Kevin Liptak

On ABC, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was explaining his plan to raise taxes on people making more than $400,000 per year. On NBC, President Donald Trump was equivocating about the existence of a satanic cult of pedophiles.

The problem with their town halls, which were drastically different in tone and substance: Americans could only pick one to watch.

Here are some key takeaways from the dueling town halls:

  • Trump's alternate reality: No hour has better illustrated the alternate reality in which Trump exists than Thursday's 60-minute town hall. Trump claimed the science is still out on wearing masks, despite the universal view of health experts —including within his own administration — that it can mitigate the spread of coronavirus. He refused to say whether or not he believed Democrats were running a satanic pedophile ring, shrugging when pressed and saying only, "I have no idea." He claimed with no evidence that ballots with his name on them had been found in garbage cans. Contained within Trump's regular venues of conservative television and Twitter, the upside-down world in which he exists sometimes loses its impact. But in front of everyday voters, his answers appeared wildly detached from any accepted version of reality. Voters deciding between Trump and Biden find themselves choosing less between two candidates than two entirely opposite planets.
  • Trump vs. Guthrie: Since leaving the hospital, Trump has been dialing into friendly outlets to recount his ordeal and trash Biden. Over the past week, he's phoned Fox News or Fox Business five times, along with chats on Newsmax and Rush Limbaugh. The warmth of a conservative safe space is where Trump has thrived for most of his presidency. When he emerged onto NBC's set, things felt much colder. A lawyer by training, Guthrie would not let up when Trump evaded questions about his coronavirus diagnosis, whether he was tested the day of the last debate, his stance on white supremacy, his views on QAnon or his view of mail-in voting.
  • Biden's policy-focused contrast: The contrast between the candidates' approaches and their town halls' topics was dramatic — especially when confronted with controversial remarks they'd made in the past. One clear window into Biden's tactics in a town-hall setting, with voters pressing him one-on-one, came when a young Black man recalled the former vice president's flip comment to radio host Charlamagne tha God that if someone was struggling to decide between supporting him and Trump, "you ain't black." "Besides 'you ain't black," the man asked, how could Biden convince Black voters to take part "in a system that has failed to protect them?" Instead of addressing his controversial remark, Biden delved into a several-minutes-long litany of policy specifics aimed at helping Black people. 

With the second presidential debate scrapped in the wake of Trump's coronavirus diagnosis, the two candidates instead agreed to nationally televised town halls, with Biden taking questions from voters in Philadelphia and Trump doing so in Miami.

The two are scheduled to debate just one more time before Election Day.

Read more about last night's event here.