2020 Election Live Updates: Trump vs. Biden

Second Amendment

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrived in Wisconsin on Thursday, where he is making a rare visit beyond the Mid-Atlantic region that will give him a high-profile platform to address racial injustice and continue to press his message that President Trump has been fanning the flames of violence.

Mr. Biden has largely remained close to his Delaware home since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in the United States, and the trip to Kenosha is a significant moment for him.

Republicans spent their convention last week painting a picture of a Democratic Party that condones street violence and is eager to slash funding from the police, distorting Mr. Biden’s stance on police funding in the process. Mr. Biden repudiated that characterization in a speech in Pittsburgh on Monday, declaring: “Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting.”

He will have another opportunity to convey that message in Kenosha, which is still reeling after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, and subsequent protests with sporadic outbreaks of violence and looting. Unlike Mr. Trump, who did not meet with members of the Blake family when he visited Kenosha earlier this week, Mr. Biden met privately with several of Mr. Blake’s closest relatives as soon as he arrived in Milwaukee, according to a pool report.

At the same time, Mr. Biden has sought to demonstrate his commitment to confronting racial injustice in the United States in policing and other aspects of society. His campaign released a new ad on Thursday that shows Mr. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, speaking in direct terms about police violence and racial justice.

Also on Thursday, Mr. Trump is headed to Latrobe, Pa., east of Pittsburgh, where he will rally supporters in a pivotal state and trumpet a federal grant for the city’s airport.


The dueling events illustrate the growing pressure each candidate is facing from his own party. Democrats are eager for Mr. Biden to start appearing in battleground states, particularly in Midwestern states like Wisconsin where Hillary Clinton assumed victory but fell short.

Republicans, meanwhile, are growing nervous about polls that continue to show Mr. Trump trailing in a number of the states he claimed in 2016 and believe he must keep Pennsylvania in his column to win.

A survey released from Fox News on Wednesday showed Mr. Biden with an eight-percentage-point lead in Wisconsin, but a Monmouth University survey of Pennsylvania voters suggested Mr. Trump was narrowing Mr. Biden’s advantage there.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Trump on Thursday expanded on his suggestion that people in North Carolina stress-test the security of their elections systems by trying to vote twice in the same election, a move state election officials have explicitly called out as a felony.

In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Mr. Trump sought to clarify his call for voters to both send in an absentee ballot and vote in person, arguing that by doing so, voters would provide a check against the mail voting system he has assailed and ensure that their vote was being tallied.

“In order for you to MAKE SURE YOUR VOTE COUNTS & IS COUNTED, SIGN & MAIL IN your Ballot as EARLY as possible,” he wrote on Twitter. “On Election Day, or Early Voting, go to your Polling Place to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted). If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly. If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen’s right to do).”

Patrick Gannon, a spokesman for the North Carolina State Board of Elections, told The Times in an interview on Wednesday that officials would “strongly discourage voters from going to the polls on Election Day to find out whether their absentee ballot has been counted, especially since they can determine that at home.”

“There will be social distancing in place on Election Day,” he said. “We want to make sure the process flows smoothly.” He also noted that the state’s voting system would prevent a person from voting twice, because only the first vote recorded would be counted.

Karen Brinson, the executive director of the state board of elections, reiterated in a statement on Thursday that there were “numerous checks in place” to prevent “double voting” in North Carolina, and made plain: “It is illegal to vote twice in an election.”

Mr. Trump made his initial comment in a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, where he was asked about his faith in the state’s system for voting by mail, which is expected to be more expansive this year because of the coronavirus.

“Let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote,” the president said. “If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote.”

Reyna Walters-Morgan, the director of voter protection and civic engagement for the Democratic National Committee, said Thursday that Mr. Trump had “encouraged his supporters to commit voter fraud” and stressed that “voting by mail is a safe and secure way for Americans to participate in our democracy.”

As the number of people planning to mail in their ballots has increased, Mr. Trump has repeatedly made false claims about widespread fraud in mail voting. His latest suggestion, that voters commit that same sort of fraud he has denounced, is one he has discussed privately with aides in recent weeks amid concerns he is depressing turnout among his base by raising alarms about the security of the process.

With his advisers trying to tell him that he’s scaring his own supporters, including older voters, with his broad condemnations, he has sought to draw a distinction between universal mail voting and more limited absentee voting, in which the person is away from home or has a disability.

The day after President Trump suggested that North Carolina voters attempt to vote twice to test if “their system’s as good as they say it is,” Facebook said it would take down posts if users supportively shared video of the president’s comments, or reposted them without proper context.

Voting twice is illegal across the country and is a felony in North Carolina.

Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, said that any shared video that showed only Mr. Trump’s comments “violates our policies prohibiting voter fraud and we will remove it unless it is shared to correct the record.”

Facebook said it would leave the initial video and news reports up to allow people to correct the record, and would allow further shares of the video if users shared correct information. As of Thursday morning, the company had not identified or taken down any videos of the president’s comments.

The move came as the president seemed to attempt to clean up his comments in a Twitter thread Thursday morning, telling supporters to mail back their ballots as soon as possible, and then go check if it was recorded in-person at a polling place.

He later posted those same comments to Facebook, which slapped a warning label under Mr. Trump’s post: “Voting by mail has a long history of trustworthiness in the US and the same is predicted this year.” The label linked to Facebook’s voting hub, which includes fact checks on voting information and more information on voting, including by mail.

Facebook has been putting warning labels under posts from Mr. Trump that have carried dubious claims and falsehoods about voting, but until Thursday the labels had largely just been generic warnings to “get the facts” with links back to the voting hub. The direct language on the label to Mr. Trump’s claim was another new step for the platform.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Facebook moved on Thursday to clamp down on confusion about the November election on its service, rolling out a series of changes to limit voter misinformation and prevent interference from President Trump and other politicians.

The social network said it would ban any new political ads on its site in the week before Election Day. It said it would also strengthen measures against posts that try to dissuade people from voting. Postelection, Facebook said it would quash any candidates’ attempts at claiming false victories by redirecting users to accurate information on the results.

Facebook has become a key battleground for Mr. Trump’s and Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaigns. The Trump campaign has run ads on the social network featuring false corruption accusations about Mr. Biden. Mr. Biden’s campaign has criticized Facebook for allowing lies, while also spending millions of dollars to buy ads on the service to appeal to voters.

Thursday’s changes, a tacit acknowledgment by Facebook of its power to sway public discourse, did not satisfy critics who said temporarily blocking the ads would do little to reduce misinformation and that the social network should go further.

Tara McGowan, the chief executive of the liberal nonprofit group Acronym, said in a statement that right-wing publishers on Facebook, such as Breitbart, would fill the vacuum.

“By banning new political ads in the final critical days of the 2020 election, Facebook has decided to tip the scales of the election to those with the greatest followings on Facebook — and that includes President Trump and the right-wing media that serves him,” she said.

The Trump campaign was equally critical. “When millions of voters will be making their decisions, the president will be silenced by the Silicon Valley mafia, who will at the same time allow corporate media to run their biased ads to swing voters in key states,” said Samantha Zager, a campaign spokeswoman.

Facebook has continued to face criticism as domestic misinformation about this year’s election — including from Mr. Trump — has proliferated. Mr. Zuckerberg has declined to remove much of that false information, saying that Facebook supports free speech. Many Facebook employees have objected to that position.

On Tuesday, Facebook said the Kremlin-backed group that interfered in the 2016 presidential election, the Internet Research Agency, tried to meddle on its service again using fake accounts and a website set up to look like a left-wing news site. Facebook said it was warned by the F.B.I. about the effort and removed the fake accounts and news site before they had gained much traction.


Credit…Chris Creese for The New York Times

Despite the spotlight of the Republican convention and the unrest in Portland, Ore., and Kenosha, Wis., a big wave of new polls Wednesday showed that President Trump continues to trail Joe Biden by a significant margin both nationwide and in the critical battleground states.

On average, Mr. Biden maintains a lead of around seven to eight percentage points among likely voters nationwide, down from a lead of eight to nine points heading into the conventions. In a direct comparison, an average of the new polls showed Mr. Trump faring a mere seven-tenths of a point better than polls by the same firms conducted in early August before the Democratic National Convention.

The new results suggest that the president’s effort to reframe the race around law and order at the Republican convention hasn’t fundamentally reshaped the race to his advantage; Mr. Biden, in fact, won stronger approval on that issue in crucial states, according to new Fox News polls.

For now, at least, Mr. Trump finds himself in an unenviable position: He trails by a wide margin, even at a moment that usually represents the high-water mark for the president’s party in the polls. More often than not, a president goes on to fare worse in election results than in the polls taken just after the convention.

Usually candidates enjoy a fleeting bounce after their convention, as they bask in the afterglow of a nationally televised four-day infomercial. To the extent the president’s modest gains are attributable to the lingering effects of the convention, Mr. Biden’s lead could grow again in the weeks ahead.

But sometimes a bounce lasts and becomes a bump. This year, the case for a possible Trump bump is straightforward: The national political environment has seemed to change in the president’s favor over the last few months. The number of new coronavirus cases has dropped significantly. The stock market has reached record highs. At the same time, unrest in Kenosha and Portland gave the president and the Republican convention an opportunity to shift the national political conversation, at least temporarily, to an issue where Republicans might be on stronger ground.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are running neck-and-neck in North Carolina, according to a Monmouth University poll released on Thursday.

Mr. Biden had 47 percent support among registered voters, while 45 percent backed Mr. Trump. That two-percentage-point difference was within the poll’s margin of error, which is 4.9 percentage points.

Some of the starkest divides fell along lines of race, education level and gender. Women broke for Mr. Biden by 15 percentage points, while men went for Mr. Trump by 13 points.

Among voters under 50, who favored Mr. Biden by a razor-thin three-point margin, fully 13 percent said they were undecided or planned to vote for a third-party candidate, considerably higher than for other age groups. Third-party preference tends to drop significantly as Election Day draws nearer, suggesting that young voters could make the difference if they break one way or the other.

The Monmouth results largely echoed those of a Fox News survey released on Wednesday, which found Mr. Biden with a four-point edge in North Carolina (also within that poll’s margin of error). Quality polls of North Carolina earlier this summer have tended to show Mr. Biden with the advantage, sometimes by as much as nine points.

The state’s closely watched Senate race is equally tight, according to the Monmouth poll, with the Republican incumbent Thom Tillis backed by 45 percent of registered voters and his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, at 46 percent. Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor, received positive marks for his response to the coronavirus from 65 percent of North Carolina voters. He is ahead of his Republican opponent, Dan Forest, by 11 points.

With a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled state legislature, North Carolina, which Mr. Trump won by more than 3 percentage points in 2016, is the kind of swing state that many voting rights advocates are fretting over this year. Its plans to allow all voters to request mail-in ballots have already been the subject of political wrangling and lawsuits.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump said that voters in North Carolina should consider voting twice — once by mail and again in person — to stress-test the state’s election system, even though that would constitute the kind of felony voter fraud he has often railed against.

In the Monmouth poll, just over one in four voters said they were at least somewhat likely to vote by mail this fall. Researchers simulated two turnout scenarios — one with high engagement and one with low turnout — and in both cases Mr. Biden maintained his two-point edge.

Unlike other recent polls of swing states and the nation at large, this survey found that Mr. Trump’s net favorability rating in North Carolina is slightly better than Mr. Biden’s. Forty-three percent saw Mr. Biden favorably, and 48 percent unfavorably. For Mr. Trump it was an even split at 46 percent each.

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Gerald Holmes, a forklift operator from Kenosha, Wis., was so passionate about the election four years ago that he drove people to the polls. But this year, Mr. Holmes says he is not even planning to vote himself.

The outcome in 2016, when Wisconsin helped seal President Trump’s victory despite his losing the popular vote and amid reports of Russian interference, left Mr. Holmes, 54, deeply discouraged.

“What good is it to go out there and do it?” he said. “It isn’t going to make any difference.”

As protests have unfolded across the country over the death of George Floyd and the police’s treatment of Black people, activists and Democratic leaders have pleaded with demonstrators to turn their energy toward elections in November.

A block party on Tuesday honoring Jacob Blake, the Black resident of Kenosha who was paralyzed after being shot by a white police officer, included voter registration booths near where the shooting occurred. Joseph R. Biden Jr. is scheduled to visit Kenosha on Thursday, two days after Mr. Trump appeared in the city in the wake of unrest over the shooting.

But people like Mr. Holmes reflect the challenges Democrats face as they try to channel anger over police violence into votes.

In interviews with more than a dozen Black residents of the Kenosha area, many said they were outraged over the shooting of Mr. Blake, but some said they had grown dispirited and cynical and that shooting showed that decades of promises from politicians have done little.

“Let’s say I did go out and vote and I voted for Biden,” said Michael Lindsey, a friend of Mr. Blake’s who protested after the shooting. “That’s not going to change police brutality. It’s not going to change the way the police treat African-Americans compared to Caucasians.”

During the block party near where Mr. Blake was shot, James Hall, the interim president of the Urban League of Racine and Kenosha, tried to get a young woman and man to register to vote.

“Does my vote really matter?” the woman asked, then answered herself, “I know my voice doesn’t count.”

“The people feel disengaged,” said Corey Prince, the Wisconsin director for the Outreach Team, a political consulting firm. “They feel disenfranchised.”

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

House Democrats on Thursday called on the Office of Special Counsel, the independent agency charged with enforcing a law against partisan political activity by government employees, to investigate what they described as “multiple, repeated violations” of the statute, the Hatch Act, during last week’s Republican convention.

“Throughout the convention, administration officials repeatedly used their official positions and the White House itself to bolster President Trump’s re-election campaign,” Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote in a letter to the office. “We are alarmed that President Trump and some senior administration officials are actively undermining compliance with — and respect for — the law.”

Among the examples: Video of a pardon and naturalization ceremony featuring Chad Wolf, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security; a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while he was on official travel in Jerusalem; a segment in which a federal housing official interviewed New York City tenants who later said they were not told their testimonials would be used at the convention; and multiple other segments filmed on federal property, including an elaborate ceremony on the White House grounds.

The president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act, a 1939 law limitng political activities by federal employees, but it applies to the rest of the administration. Still, despite multiple violations the O.S.C. has found under Mr. Trump and past presidents, the act has rarely been enforced. Penalties for violating it include removal from federal employment and fines up to $1,000.

The Democrats also cited a New York Times article that reported that Mr. Trump had “enjoyed the frustration and anger” he elicited by holding political events on the White House grounds and that he had “relished the fact” that he could not be stopped, according to Mr. Trump’s aides.

Credit…Al Goldis/Associated Press

Former Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan became the latest Republican to publicly rebuke President Trump and endorse former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president.

In a column posted Thursday by USA Today and the Detroit Free Press, Mr. Snyder called Mr. Trump a bully who didn’t deserve to be re-elected. He joined a number of other prominent Republican officials who have thrown their support behind the Democratic nominee.

“When elected to office, you do not represent only your supporters, you represent all of your constituents,” Mr. Snyder wrote. “I was at the nation’s Capitol when Trump gave his inaugural address. I had hoped this first speech as president would be a message to unify a divided nation. Instead, I heard a speech directed at how he would help the people who supported him. And sadly, that is how President Trump continues to govern.”

He called Mr. Biden a man with strong moral character and empathy who would bring civility back to a nation that is badly divided.

Mr. Snyder was also included in a group of dozens of current and former officials who announced Thursday that they had formed a coalition called “Republicans and Independents for Biden.”

The group, led by former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, who appeared at the Democratic National Convention last month, includes Rosario Marin, who served as treasurer under President George W. Bush, and former Gov. William F. Weld of Massachusetts, who ran against Mr. Trump in the 2020 G.O.P. primary for almost a year.

Mr. Snyder also refused to endorse Mr. Trump in 2016, choosing instead to work for Republican candidates for state offices.

“I am still a Republican who also will be publicly supporting Republican candidates at the local, state and federal level,” he wrote in Thursday’s piece.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President Trump has directed federal officials to find ways to cut funding to a string of cities controlled by Democrats, citing violence amid protests against systemic racism in policing, a move that threatens billions of dollars for many of the country’s largest urban hubs as the president makes the unrest a centerpiece of his re-election campaign.

Mr. Trump laid out the directive in a memo, released Wednesday, to Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Attorney General William P. Barr. It accuses state and local officials of abdicating their duties.

“Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities,” Mr. Trump wrote in the memo, mentioning a few cities specifically: Portland, Ore.; Washington; Seattle; and the president’s birth city, New York. “My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.”

With polls showing him trailing his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Trump has tried to shift the public’s attention away from his administration’s failed response to the coronavirus pandemic and to what he depicts as out-of-control crime in New York and other cities. He has seized on an uptick in crime and has tried to blame it on local Democratic leaders.

The president has repeatedly sought to paint cities as hellscapes that only he can save, regardless of how limited the violent outbreaks have been during broader protests against acts of brutality by police officers against Black people.

The memo, “Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence and Destruction in American Cities,”first reported by The New York Post, ratchets up Mr. Trump’s argument.

But the move is almost certain to face legal challenges, and Democratic officials reacted furiously. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York declared Mr. Trump “persona non grata” in New York City and said, “He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City.”

Credit…Christian Monterrosa for The New York Times

The Trump administration prompted a barrage of complaints last month when it ordered the Census Bureau to wrap up the counting portion of the 2020 census by Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 31. The administration ordered the speedup to ensure the delivery of population figures — used to determine congressional districts — by Dec. 31, before President Trump’s term ends.

With the count already thrown into chaos by the pandemic, critics said, an early end would force the Census Bureau to cut corners and ignore inaccuracies, leading to a deeply flawed count.

Census officials rejected such arguments. But an internal Census Bureau slide show released Wednesday by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform lends new weight to them.

The slide show, prepared last month, details how the agency might finish the population count by the end of September, then process its data by Dec. 31 to meet the administration’s order while “achieving an acceptable level of accuracy and completeness.”

But the slide show proposes a long list of shortcuts, including reducing the number of times door-knockers try to reach a household that hasn’t responded, eliminating double-checks of address lists and eliminating some data reviews by experts .

The slide show said that speeding data processing to meet the December deadline “creates risk for serious errors not being discovered in the data — thereby significantly decreasing data quality.”

The 2020 census has been dogged by accusations that the Trump administration is seeking to skew its results to favor Republicans when population totals are used next year to divvy up seats in the House of Representatives — and, later, to draw thousands of federal, state and local political boundaries. Critics say a rushed count would miss hard-to-reach residents — the poor, people of color, immigrants, the young — who tend to support Democrats.

Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times

The National Rifle Association’s former second-in-command breaks with the group’s orthodoxy and calls for universal background checks in a new book assailing the organization as more focused on money, internal intrigue and “appealing to the paranoia and darkest side of our members” than on the Second Amendment.

The former executive, Joshua L. Powell, who was fired by the N.R.A. in January, is the first critical look at its recent history by such a high-ranking insider.

He describes the N.R.A.’s longtime chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, as an inept manager but a skilled lobbyist with a deft touch at directing President Trump to support the group’s objectives.

The book, “Inside the N.R.A.: A Tell-All Account of Corruption, Greed, and Paranoia Within the Most Powerful Political Group in America,” is to be published next week, the latest public calamity for an organization that has faced years of headlines detailing allegations of corruption, infighting and even infiltration by a Russian agent.

The attorney general of New York, Letitia James, filed a lawsuit last month that seeks to dissolve the N.R.A. and seeks millions in restitution from Mr. LaPierre and Mr. Powell, among others.

In the book, Mr. Powell writes about how after the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., the N.R.A. rebuffed gun control measures and instead promoted a program in which it would reviewschool safety measures. Mr. Powell writes that in the four years after Sandy Hook, the N.R.A. assessed the safety of only three schools.

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