The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:03 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020
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12:34 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Hundreds stranded in the cold waiting for buses in chaotic post-Trump rally scene

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Omaha

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Omaha, Nebraska, on October 27.
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Omaha, Nebraska, on October 27. Nati Harnik/AP

When President Trump left Omaha on Tuesday, thousands watched and cheered in the frigid air as Air Force One took off into the night sky. But for these loyal supporters, their experience at the Trump rally was far from over.

For the next several hours, hundreds and hundreds of people who attended the rally were stranded, as a chaotic scene unfolded on dark roads on a remote stretch near the Omaha airport. They waited for buses that didn't arrive, unable to reach the site because of a clogged two-lane road.

Many people started walking to their cars, parked three or four miles away, which blocked the roads even further. Several medics were seen by CNN giving attention to people in the bone-chilling evening air. The temperature was right at freezing, but wind chills were far lower.

Earlier in the night, the President commented on the weather.

"I mean, I'm standing here freezing. I ask you one little favor: get the hell out and vote," Trump said to cheers from the crowd. "The great red wave. At least you're down there with each other. I'm all up here and that wind is blowing."

Samantha Zager, deputy national press secretary told CNN in a statement: “President Trump loves his supporters and was thrilled to visit Omaha last night. Despite the cold, tens of thousands of people showed up for his rally. Because of the sheer size of the crowd, we deployed 40 shuttle buses instead of the normal 15, but local road closures and resulting congestion caused delays. We always strive to provide the best guest experience at our events and we care about their safety.”

After the rally, police officers tried to control the scene, but struggled to bring order to the pandemonium. There were no campaign advance teams in sight. One local advance volunteer said they were given no instructions how to get supporters back onto the buses. 

"We need at least 30 more buses," an Omaha police officer said, shaking his head.

Some background: For months, the Trump campaign has utilized the practice of busing supporters from parking lots to the rally sites as a way to accommodate the large crowds. His events have been held in locations such as small airports that don't normally draw rally-sized crowds and therefore don't have onsite parking available to support the crush of people and crowds.

That has created a scenario where thousands of people are left to wait for hours after the event ends for buses to shuttle them back to their cars. At event in Gastonia, North Carolina, last Wednesday, hundreds of supporters were forced to make the decision to either wait for the bus or walk several miles down a busy road, without sidewalks, to their parking lots.

Even those who make it on a bus only do so after a long wait packed in with hundreds of other people — most not wearing a mask — until they board the bus where every single seat is taken and no social distancing is practiced.

Remember: It's unlikely that any of the rally-goers would change their votes since they count as some of the most committed supporters. But it's hardly the kind of local news you want to generate — especially in Nebraska, which is experiencing a fourth-straight week of record Covid cases.

With additional reporting from Betsy Klein and Ryan Nobles

10:27 a.m. ET, October 28, 2020

The Pences test negative for Covid-19

From CNN's Daniella Diaz

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, on October 27.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, on October 27. Grant Baldwin/AFP/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence tested negative for Covid-19 this morning, according to a White House official. 


10:27 a.m. ET, October 28, 2020

More than 75% of the total 2016 votes have already been cast in North Carolina

From CNN's Dianne Gallagher

Voters wait to cast their ballots in Durham, North Carolina, on October 15.
Voters wait to cast their ballots in Durham, North Carolina, on October 15. Gerry Broome/AP

At least 3,631,565 ballots have been cast in North Carolina as of 5:00 a.m. today, according to data provided by the North Carolina State Board of Elections. 

That means almost 49.5% of all currently registered voters in NC have already voted in the 2020 election.

Put another way, six days before Election Day, North Carolina voters have cast more than 76.5% of the total number of votes cast in the entire 2016 Election. 

Here's a breakdown of the votes cast in North Carolina so far according to state data:

  • Early Voting In-Person: 2,830,533
  • Absentee By Mail Ballots: 821,375  

Some more context: In North Carolina, a resident can register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day during the early in-person voting period at a “One Stop Absentee” Early Voting location. The early voting period runs through Saturday in North Carolina. 

Voters can no longer request an absentee by mail ballot in North Carolina. The deadline to request was yesterday. A final total for absentee ballot requests should be available later Wednesday. 

North Carolina law requires ballots be postmarked before or on Election Day by 5 p.m. The deadline for when an Election Day postmarked ballot can be accepted has been appealed to the US Supreme Court.

There is no SCOTUS opinion on the North Carolina deadline yet, but lower courts have upheld the extended deadline. The deadline is currently set at Nov. 12, but Republicans have asked for it to be rolled back to the legislature-set deadline of Nov. 6. 

An absentee ballot can be returned in person at an early voting site through Saturday. It can also be returned in-person to the voter’s county board of elections office by 5 p.m local time on Election Day. North Carolina does not have ballot drop boxes. 

11:51 a.m. ET, October 28, 2020

What we know — and don't know — about the 2020 early vote so far

From CNN's Adam Levy

People in Decatur, Georgia, fill out a pre-registration form while waiting in line to vote on October 12.
People in Decatur, Georgia, fill out a pre-registration form while waiting in line to vote on October 12. Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP

More than 68.5 million Americans have voted so far with a week to go until Nov. 3, according to a survey of election officials in all 50 states and Washington, DC, by CNN, Edison Research and Catalist.

Here are the numbers: In 2016, more than 136.5 million ballots were cast in the presidential election. The 68.5 million ballots cast so far represents about 50.2% of that 2016 total.

Eighteen states have also crossed their halfway marks for total 2016 ballots cast, including seven of CNN's 16 most competitively ranked states: Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, Colorado and Nevada.

Remember: We don't know how many of those votes are from people who would have voted on Election Day, and how much represents the start of a huge surge in voting.

Read more here.

10:08 a.m. ET, October 28, 2020

More than 48% of registered voters have cast ballots in Texas so far

From CNN's Ashley Killough

People in Houston wait in line to vote on October 13.
People in Houston wait in line to vote on October 13. Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg/Getty Images

More than 8.1 million people cast their vote in Texas, including the first 15 days of early voting, according to data posted on the Texas Secretary of State website Wednesday morning. That represents 48.06% of registered voters. 

The state could eclipse the 2016 overall vote in the 2020 early vote. So far, the number of early votes this cycle accounts to almost 91% of the overall vote in Texas in 2016 — with three days of early voting plus Election Day remaining.

In addition to the enthusiasm in the state, the number of registered voters has grown 12% since 2016 or almost 1.9 million people.

If this trend holds, the state is on track to far surpass the 59% of registered voters who cast a ballot in 2016.

On Tuesday, 335,659 people voted in person, bringing the total in-person votes to 7,257,472. Cumulative ballots-by-mail so far this cycle were 891,824.

The final day of early voting in Texas is Friday.

12:05 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

These voters share their views on Trump and Biden in final stretch of 2020 election

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden debate in Nashville on October 22.
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden debate in Nashville on October 22. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

A group of voters gave their thoughts on who they are casting their ballots for in the 2020 election, citing the coronavirus pandemic, racial unrest and candidate personalities in their decisions. 

The panel did not use the voters’ last names. The voters have all been on previous “Pulse of the People” voters panels on CNN’s “New Day.” 

For the first time ever, Stephanie said she voted for a Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.

“I feel like I can't be a single-issue voter anymore. There's just too much going on: a leader who says things are under control and then down plays a pandemic, downplays science, attacks scientists … there's no way I could vote for Trump again,” she said to CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. 

During a 2017 panel, Sherri gave Trump an F grade on his presidency, saying she “almost immediately regretted” voting for him. Nonetheless, she said she cast her ballot for Trump this year.

She said she voted for Trump because he spoke out against the removal of Confederate statues. “I think the one thing that also moved me was the civil unrest, the cancel culture, and then the Democratic response was void,” she added. 

Voter Vanity said that while she was not sold on Sen. Kamala Harris as Biden’s running mate at first, she has since fully supported the Democratic ticket.

“I believe attaching and integrating her to his candidacy will help him really shift the paradigm on race relations,” she said. 

Jimmy, a farmer, said the coronavirus pandemic has not changed his decision to cast his ballot for Trump.

“It might be partly his fault, don't get me wrong, but it ain't all the his fault,” he said. 

“You do what you want to do … They want to go out and get in a crowd and go to a bar and that's their business, and if they die, I'm sorry,” he added. 

Bobby, who voted for Trump in 2016, said he is considering not even voting in this election because it’s “exhausted” him. He said that he feels like Biden is “trying to sell me a new car.” On Trump, “it's been fun having Rodney Dangerfield as President, it's been entertaining. I like a lot of things he says, I don't like a lot of things he does,” he said. 

Voter Dale was a Republican before Trump.

“It's become the party that I didn't join. I didn't leave the party; the party left me,” he said.  

Watch more:

8:36 a.m. ET, October 28, 2020

TikTok will limit premature claims of election victory

From CNN’s Brian Fung

TikTok said today it will reduce the distribution of claims of election victory before official results are confirmed by authoritative sources. 

Eric Han, TikTok’s US head of safety, announced that premature claims of victory surrounding the 2020 election will be restricted if the Associated Press has not declared a result.

Han also said the company is working with third-party fact-checkers who are “on expedited call during this sensitive time." 

"Out of an abundance of caution, if claims can't be verified or fact-checking is inconclusive, we'll limit distribution of the content,” Han added in a blog post. "We'll also add a banner pointing viewers to our election guide on content with unverifiable claims about voting, premature declarations of victory, or attempts to dissuade people from voting by exploiting COVID-19 as a voter suppression tactic." 
8:15 a.m. ET, October 28, 2020

The GOP hold on Texas is loosening. Here's what early voting data shows so far.

Analysis from CNN's Ronald Brownstein

The huge surge of early voting in Texas' rapidly growing cities and inner suburbs likely marks the end of unchallenged Republican dominance in America's second largest state — a seismic shift in the nation's electoral landscape.

Even if President Trump retains enough rural strength to hold Texas in next week's election, which many still consider the most likely outcome, the swelling voter turnout in and around the increasingly Democratic-leaning cities of Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Fort Worth points toward a return to political competition in the state after more than two decades of almost uninterrupted Republican ascendancy.

Just alone in Harris County, which is centered on Houston, 1.15 million people had voted through Monday evening, compared with 1.3 million total in the 2016 election.

The state's other big cities and inner suburban counties are experiencing comparable increases.

"We expected a lot of turnout," Lina Hidalgo, the Harris County judge (the equivalent of a county executive) told CNN. "We didn't expect this level."

Some local analysts believe that with turnout cresting, and a recoil from Trump swelling Democratic support, Joe Biden could win the counties centered on those five big cities by more than a million votes combined — roughly double Hillary Clinton's margin in them in 2016 and possibly 10 times Barack Obama's advantage across the same places in 2012.

Whether or not Biden wins the state, or even precisely meets that prediction, a shift of anything approaching that magnitude would provide Democrats a formidable foundation from which to challenge the Republican hegemony over Texas — a foundation that will only grow stronger through the 2020s as these urban and inner suburban counties across what's known as the "Texas triangle" drive the vast majority of the state's population and economic expansion.

While Trump and other Republicans are consolidating crushing advantages in small-town and rural communities, Murray says, the stagnant or shrinking population in those places means Republicans "just can't keep pace with this big [metro] vote."

Republicans still have many advantages in Texas — particularly overwhelming support in its sprawling rural areas — and most observers consider Trump something between a slight and a substantial favorite to hold it.

Read the full analysis here

8:07 a.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Why 2020 could be the year of the young voter

From CNN's Dana Bash and Bridget Nolan

Just after sunup on a Saturday morning, when most college students are still sound asleep, sophomore Libby Klinger stood outside her dorm waiting to be picked up.

In the car were three fellow members of the University of Virginia College Republicans, all ready to spend the day knocking on doors to get out the GOP vote.

"People are really fired up and involved more than ever, which is amazing to see that level of involvement from such young people," Klinger said while canvassing for votes.

Meanwhile, the college Democrats set up phone banks on the campus lawn — a safer way to organize during the pandemic — and use an app that allows people who need a ride to vote early to find one.

Students display "I Voted" stickers on their phones and laptops.

Signs that young voters are more engaged than in past elections are everywhere this year, with a once-in-a-century pandemic and the most polarizing president in modern history driving a surge in energy and focus toward politics among a younger generation.

Turnout among young voters is usually low, but organizers and activists hope that 2020 could be different.

"It is everywhere on my social media, in my circles," said Kate Rasmussen, a freshman.

"People on social media, they'll post a picture of them and their ballot, and their 'I voted' sticker. Of course, I'm only 19, I haven't seen that many or been aware of that many presidential elections, but this seems different, from what I can see."

That difference is backed up by data: 2020 has been a record-shattering year for early voting among young people. Early voting among people aged 18 to 29 is up across the 14 critical states, according to data from Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit issue-advocacy organizations and is giving insights into who is voting before November.

Read the full story here