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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12:53 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

Mitt Romney blasts Trump’s refusal to denounce QAnon

From CNN’s Manu Raju and Maegan Vazquez

Sen. Mitt Romney speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on the State Departments 2021 budget in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC on July 30.
Sen. Mitt Romney speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on the State Departments 2021 budget in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC on July 30. Greg Nash/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney released a statement responding to President Trump’s refusal to denounce conspiracy theories during his NBC Town Hall Thursday night. 

“The President’s unwillingness to denounce an absurd and dangerous conspiracy theory last night continues an alarming pattern,” the statement reads, “politicians and parties refuse to forcefully and convincingly repudiate groups like antifa, white supremacists and conspiracy peddlers.” 

Romney urged parties to “expel the rabid fringes” and warned both parties “may be opening a door to a political movement that could eventually eclipse them both.”  

Some context: Trump doubled down on his refusal to denounce QAnon conspiracy theorists, saying in last night's nationally televised town hall that "they are very much against pedophilia" and he agrees with that sentiment.

QAnon's main conspiracy theories — none based in fact — claim dozens of Satan-worshipping politicians and A-list celebrities work in tandem with governments around the globe to engage in child sex abuse. Followers also believe there is a "deep state" effort to annihilate Trump and that the President is secretly working to bust these pedophilic cabals.

Read Romney's statement:

6:07 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

Ivanka Trump is holding a rally in Ohio today. Here's how it will look different than the President's events.

From CNN’s Kate Bennett

Ivanka Trump speaks at a campaign rally on October 16 at Ault Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Ivanka Trump speaks at a campaign rally on October 16 at Ault Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer/USA Today Network

Ivanka Trump is holding what her team is calling a “socially distanced rally” in Cincinnati, Ohio, today – but it will be different from the rallies President Trump holds, as well rallies and events headlined by Pence, Donald Trump Jr., and Women for Trump.

A campaign official tells CNN that Ivanka’s rally will include temperature checks and the audience is being told to wear masks and keep them on. The chairs also appear to be spaced. It is unclear if these measures will be enforced, or how, as the rally has yet to get underway. 

Around her father, however, Ivanka Trump’s behavior regarding masks is another story.

She did not wear a mask at his presidential debate, and at a large Trump rally in Pennsylvania last month, she did not wear a mask or social distance, taking the stage to wave with her husband and young children. More recently, while campaigning solo in Nevada, Wisconsin, Georgia and North Carolina, Ivanka Trump hosted maskless campaign events in semi-outdoor structures.

Trump has mocked Joe Biden for holding socially distanced campaign stops and for consistently wearing a mask.

11:45 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020

Michigan bans open-carry of guns at polling sites on Election Day

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson talks about voting and the upcoming elections in Detroit on September 24.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson talks about voting and the upcoming elections in Detroit on September 24. Paul Sancya/AP

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced Friday that open-carry of guns will be banned on Election Day at polling places, clerk’s offices and other locations where absentee ballots are counted.

Benson’s directive prohibits Michigan residents from open-carrying firearms “in a polling place, in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit, or within 100 feet of any entrance to a building in which a polling place is located."

“The presence of firearms at the polling place, clerk’s office(s), or absent voter counting board may cause disruption, fear, or intimidation for voters, election workers, and others present,” Benson said in a press release.

Benson continued, “I am committed to ensuring all eligible Michigan citizens can freely exercise their fundamental right to vote without fear of threats, intimidation or harassment. Prohibiting the open-carry of firearms in areas where citizens cast their ballots is necessary to ensure every voter is protected.”

This guidance only applies to Election Day itself, when long lines and large crowds are expected across the state. Early voting in Michigan is limited to people dropping off or filling out absentee ballots at election offices, and Benson’s guidance on firearms does not apply to these situations.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel supported this decision, according to the press release. Nessel and Benson are both Democrats, and said the directive was necessary to clarify state laws already on the books. 

Michigan State Police is expected to issue accompanying guidance to law enforcement following the announcement of this directive. 

This announcement comes after 14 people were charged in a domestic terror plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Since then, pressure has been mounting on state’s top election and law officials to ensure a safe election in November.

President Trump and his allies have also encouraged supporters to join an “army” of poll watchers, stirring fears of voter intimidation.

3:02 p.m. ET, October 16, 2020

More than 20 million ballots have been cast. Here are some key findings from the ballot data so far. 

From Adam Levy, Ethan Cohen and Liz Stark

Voters cast their ballots during early voting at a Nashville Public Library building on October 14 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Voters cast their ballots during early voting at a Nashville Public Library building on October 14 in Nashville, Tennessee. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

More than 20 million ballots have been cast in 45 states and DC, according to a survey of ballot data by CNN, Edison Research and Catalist.

As of Friday, ballots are available in all 50 states and DC. The votes cast so far represent about 15% of the more than 136 million ballots cast for president in 2016, though experts predict higher turnout this year.

Democrats continue to lead Republicans in ballots cast in each of CNN’s key states for which there is party data available, according to Catalist, a data company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and non-profit issue advocacy organizations. Catalist has analyzed more than 16 million of the ballots cast so far in 36 states.

In Pennsylvania, Democrats account for more than three-quarters of the ballots cast so far. They hold a 20-point lead in Florida and a 32-point lead in North Carolina.

None of these states have seen dramatic changes in party breakdown this week, but the Florida margin has narrowed very slightly (about two points) in the last week, so we’ll watch to see if that continues.

Here are insights from two key states where the candidates are campaigning today:

Florida: After his town hall last night, President Trump wakes up in Florida, where he is scheduled to deliver remarks on seniors and then hold a rally this afternoon. Trump carried the Sunshine State by just over one percentage point in 2016. 

Catalist data analyzed so far shows the number of ballots already cast in Florida has more than doubled compared to four years ago.

Florida Democrats have a major lead over Republicans in ballot returns so far and account for half of all pre-election day votes. This is a stark contrast to four years ago at this point when Republicans led Democrats 43% to 40% in their share of ballots returned.

The racial composition of Florida’s early voting electorate has shifted somewhat since 2016, with White voters making up a slightly smaller share of those who’ve already cast ballots and Black voters making up a slightly larger share. At this point four years ago, White voters comprised 77% early voters; they now represent 72%. Black voters, meanwhile, have expanded their share of the early vote from 8% in 2016 to 11% currently. Hispanic voters comprise about 12% of those who’ve already voted in Florida, on par with 2016 levels.

Michigan: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden heads to Michigan for campaign events Friday. Trump was the first Republican to carry the Wolverine State in a presidential election since 1988, defeating Hillary Clinton by less than half a percentage point.

In the 2018 midterms, Michigan voters passed a ballot measure that allowed any registered voter in the state to cast a ballot by mail without an excuse. That was a big change from 2016, and the difference in early voting between the two elections is clear.

About 3.5 times more Michiganders have already voted this year compared to this point in 2016, according to Catalist data, with the biggest changes apparent when looking at early voters by age.

At this point four years ago, 83% of those who had cast ballots already were 65 or older. Now, those voters only account for 53% of early voters. Every other age group accounts for a greater share of the pre-election vote now than they did at this point in 2016, but the largest increase has come from voters 50-64 who were 11% of the votes cast four years ago and are now 25%.

The racial breakdown of voters who’ve cast early ballots in Michigan has changed slightly from this point in 2016. 85% of Michigan voters so far are White, down from 88% four years ago. Black voters make up the second largest share at 11% (up slightly from 9% four years ago). Hispanic and Asian voters each make up 2% of those who have voted so far – both up a single point from 2016. 

Notably, this racial breakdown is still more White than Michigan’s final electorate in 2016. According to exit polls, 75% of Michigan voters were White, 15% were Black and 5% were Latino.

Take a look at the numbers:

11:04 a.m. ET, October 16, 2020

McConnell says he will "proudly vote to confirm" Trump's SCOTUS nominee

From CNN’s Ted Barrett, Alex Rogers and Paul LeBlanc

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell meets with Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill on September 29 in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell meets with Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill on September 29 in Washington, DC. Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement that he will “proudly vote to confirm” President Trump's Supreme Court nominee judge Amy Coney Barrett when it comes to the Senate floor next week. 

He also defends the quick timeframe and process of the confirmation, and says the threat of court packing by Democrats won’t deter Republicans from moving forward.

“The Judiciary Committee and the American people just heard from one of the most impressive nominees for public office that I have ever seen," McConnell said in the statement. “Judge Amy Coney Barrett exhibited every bit of the intellectual brilliance, legal expertise, and open-minded judicial temperament that our nation needs on the Supreme Court."

Here's what happens next in Barrett's confirmation process:

  • Thursday: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the nomination.
  • Next Friday: McConnell said he plans to put Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination on the Senate floor on Oct. 23. 
  • The week of Oct. 26: According to McConnell's timeline, Barrett's final confirmation vote is teed up for the first half of the week of Oct. 26. 

Some background: The battle over the vacant seat of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a key 2020 campaign topic. Trump and Senate Republicans have been pushing to confirm Barrett before Election Day despite the outcry of Democrats.

At the fourth day of Barrett's confirmation hearings yesterday, Democratic senators moved to indefinitely delay the proceedings because millions of Americans are voting for the next president. They argued that there's never been a Supreme Court justice nominated this close to the election and confirmed before it. The Senate has taken half the average time to consider the nomination.

Republicans disagreed, saying that a Republican president and a Republican-led Senate confirming a conservative justice on the Supreme Court is compliant with the Constitution and the Senate's history.

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:


  • Now: 2,092,131
  • 2016: 992,584

North Carolina

  • Now: 502,462
  • 2016: 226,824


  • Now: 918,873
  • 2016: 448,055


  • Now: 1,150,224
  • 2016: 369,721


  • 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


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."