COURIER illustration
COURIER illustration

There are 435 House seats up for election this year. Thirty-five Senate races are underway. Oh, and it takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency (you know, that thing).

Keeping track of races and results for any general election can be tough. But in the middle of a pandemic, with a relentless news cycle largely driven by President Donald Trump’s endless lies and bizarre behavior, it is even harder to sort fact from fiction, and what matters from what doesn’t. And for this election, the results really matter: If Democrats capture the White House and Senate, it means the country could see expanded access to health care, major action to reduce carbon emissions and help save our climate, and more equality in our tax code so the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.

Here we help you follow the important things happening on the ground during this historic election. Whether it’s another canceled debate, early results from absentee voting, developments in an important Senate seat, or races actually getting called, we’ll break it down for you here, with the help of COURIER’s six state-based newsrooms. Bookmark this page to follow along.

November 9, 2020 // 11:38 AM EST

Nearly One Week Later, We Have a President Elect Biden

Nearly one week after Election Day, here’s what we know: Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States, Democrats lost seats but retained their House majority, and control of the Senate will come down to a pair of runoff elections in Georgia on January 5.

Biden surged past the 270-electoral vote threshold on Saturday morning with a victory in Pennsylvania, clinching the election, even as the states of Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina remain too close to call. Alaska and North Carolina appear as if they’ll go to President Trump, while the former vice president is on track to secure victories in Arizona and Georgia, the latter of which appears to be headed to a recount. Regardless, Biden already has 279 electoral votes, locking in his victory. 

In order to pass much significant legislation, however, Biden is going to need a Democratic Senate majority. Currently, the Senate sits at 48-48, as votes continue to be counted in Alaska and North Carolina. Republicans appear likely to eke out victories in each state, meaning they will secure at least 50 seats and Democrats would need to win both Georgia runoffs to earn a 50-50 split, allowing vice president-elect Kamala Harris to break a tie.

Biden will have a majority in the House, but it will be a smaller one after Democrats got clobbered in swing seats across the country, with Republicans winning nearly every single toss-up race and several seats that were once thought to be solidly Democratic.

Several competitive House races remain uncalled, however, as mail ballots continue to be tallied in states like New York, Utah, and California. — Keya Vakil

November 6, 2020 // 11:37 AM EST

Mark Kelly Wins Senate Race, Prepares to Be Seated Later This Month

Democrat Mark Kelly won the Arizona Senate seat once held by late Sen. John McCain, riding Arizona’s changing electorate to flip a Republican Senate seat in a state long dominated by the GOP.

Arizona will send two Democrats to the Senate for the first time in nearly 70 years when Kelly joins Kyrsten Sinema in Washington.

Kelly, a former astronaut, defeated Republican Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat by GOP Gov. Doug Ducey after McCain’s death in 2018. Since Kelly is stepping in to fill an appointed position, he can be seated as soon as Arizona’s elections are certified later this month. Read the full story from Copper Courier here. — Camaron Stevenson

November 6, 2020 // 11:15 AM EST

Republican Former US Attorneys Call Out Trump for ‘Unfounded Allegations of Voter Fraud’

A group of former US attorneys appointed by Republican presidents issued a statement Thursday evening criticizing Trump’s claims of voter fraud as “premature, baseless, and reckless.”

“Unfounded allegations of fraud and threats to initiate litigation aimed at stopping the vote count are clearly inappropriate and have the potential to undermine the rule of law as it applies to our electoral process,” the group said in a statement.

One of the signers, Greg Brower, a former US attorney for Nevada, served during the first years of the Trump administration as the FBI’s assistant director for congressional affairs.

“Whether it takes days, or even weeks, for [the electoral process] to conclude, it must be allowed to take place in a way that is open, fair, and lawful, and without any improper political interference,” the statement concludes. “The whole world is watching, and our very legitimacy as a nation of laws, not men, depends on getting this right.” — Kimberly Lawson

November 6, 2020 // 9:35 AM ET

Biden Takes the Lead in Georgia, Pennsylvania

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pulled ahead of President Donald Trump in Georgia and Pennsylvania Thursday night and into Friday morning, two key states that would put him well over 270 electoral college votes.

In Pennsylvania, Biden has 3.295 million votes to Trump’s 3.289 million as of 9:30 a.m. EST, according to Reuters. Counties throughout the state are still processing tens of thousands of ballots, and Biden’s margin is expected to grow, but no major news outlet has yet called the state for Biden.

The race is even tighter in Georgia, where Biden has 2.449 million votes to Trump’s 2.448 million. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said there were approximately 8,197 ballots still outstanding in Georgia as of 8:15 a.m. EST.

The margin is so close in Georgia that Trump could request a recount. Candidates can request a recount in Georgia if the margin is less than 0.5%, and the race between Biden and Trump in the state is well within that threshold. — Meghan McCarthy

November 4, 2020 // 4:47 PM EST

Biden Projected to Win Presidential Race in Michigan

At 4:36 p.m., Reuters called the state of Michigan for Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden.

Trump’s victory in Michigan in 2016 came down to a hair’s breadth of only 10,000 votes, less than a third of a single percent of Michigan’s voter turnout. But with the exploding turnout in 2020 Biden’s margin of victory was four times larger with a victory of more than 46,000 voters. That margin is still narrow, at just under 1%.

Trump attempted to prevent Biden from taking Michigan on Election Night by prematurely declaring himself the victor and calling on the Supreme Court to halt the counting of valid ballots while Trump was still ahead. When he fell behind Wednesday, Trump’s campaign announced a lawsuit to try and prevent further counts of Michigan ballots. — Katelyn Kivel


November 4, 2020 // 3:55 PM EST

Elections Expert Says Delays in Ballot Counting Are Democracy at Work as States Count Every Vote

It is now mid-afternoon on the East Coast and the presidential election count remains underway, with several key swing states still up for grabs.

There has been one notable update, as the Associated Press, CNN, and New York Times have called Wisconsin for Democrat Joe Biden. Some outlets have also called Arizona for Biden, but there remain enough outstanding ballots that others have not.

Counts are also ongoing in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, where local election officials are working around the clock to tabulate what’s left of millions of legally cast mail-in ballots. While Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan could report final unofficial results as early as Wednesday evening, Pennsylvania and North Carolina may not have enough votes tallied for even an unofficial projection until later this week.

These delays were largely expected due to the surge of mail-in ballots cast amid the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, laws banning the counting of those ballots until Election Day in the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have added to delays. Despite President Trump’s claims to the contrary, the delays in verifying and counting mail-in ballots do not indicate any actual problems. In fact, they are evidence of the democratic process working exactly as planned

“These were votes that were validly cast and are being counted and it’s taking some time because a lot of them are mail ballots,” David Becker, executive director and founder of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research, told reporters during a Wednesday press call. “All of the ballots that are being counted right now are being counted according to the rules that were set out usually by Republican legislatures as they were in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and often by lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign.” 

Becker advised voters to breathe, avoid social media (where misinformation is likely to be rampant), and let the democratic process work itself out. — Keya Vakil

November 4, 2020 // 11:00 AM EST

These Are All the States That Are Still Too Close to Call

As many experts predicted, election results have yet to be called in a number of battleground states as of Wednesday morning. 

That’s primarily because of the historic number of absentee ballots that were filed this election due to the coronavirus pandemic. Officials in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania were not allowed to begin processing absentee ballots until on or just before Election Day. In Pennsylvania, for example, 21 counties—or nearly a third of the state’s 67 counties—had not even begun counting mail-in ballots till this morning. 

It is typical for ballot-counting to continue for days after Election Night. In fact, it happens every election

As of 10:30 a.m., Biden held a narrow lead in Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, and Arizona. Georgia and North Carolina—which both went for Trump in 2016—are also still too close to call. 

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he expected the state’s ballot count to be completed Wednesday. The remaining ballots left to be tabulated are from areas that are expected to go for Biden, including metro Atlanta’s DeKalb County, as well as Chatham County, which is home to Savannah.

In North Carolina, there are still nearly 200,000 ballots left to count, which could make a difference in flipping the state blue: The latest data shows Trump only up by 76,000 votes. Mail-in ballots can be received and counted there until Nov. 12 as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

— Kimberly Lawson

November 4, 2020 // 1:05 AM

Biden Delivers A Message to the Nation: ‘It Ain’t Over Til Every Ballot Is Counted’

As ballots continue to be counted, Democratic nominee Joe Biden told Americans that his campaign was positive about the results thus far and reiterated the importance of counting every vote.

“We feel good about where we are, we really do,” Biden said during a speech after midnight in Wilmington. “I believe we are on track to win this election.”

The results are still undetermined in several battleground states, but Biden said that was to be expected due to the unprecedented number of mail-in and early votes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It ain’t over ‘til every ballot is counted, but we’re feeling good about where we are,” Biden said, reiterating that his campaign was confident about winning Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Georgia.

“As I’ve said all along, it’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to determine, it’s the American people,” Biden said.

As expected, the outcome of the 2020 election will likely not be known tonight. A huge percentage of votes remain uncounted in swing states like Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, largely due to state laws regulating the timelines for counting of mail-in ballots. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 2 million ballots remain to be counted, while the bulk of ballots remaining in Georgia are in the heavily-Democratic Atlanta metro area.

This outcome is not a surprise. These delays are in part due to inaction in Republican legislatures in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Those legislatures refused to allow mail-in ballots to be processed or counted prior to Election Day, as President Trump continued to lie about voting by mail and voter fraud.

As a result, the current counts tilt heavily towards in-person Election Day ballots, which lean Republican. But as mail-in votes are counted over the next few days, this “red mirage” will likely evaporate and may even turn into a “blue shift” with Joe Biden potentially winning the election. — Keya Vakil and Meghan McCarthy

November 4, 2020 // 12:48 AM, Updated 1:46 AM

Trump Projected to Win Florida and Texas, Other Red States

In one of the biggest calls yet and the first of a major swing state, President Trump is now projected to win Florida’s 29 electoral votes. Trump leads by about 400,000 votes with nearly 96% of the expected vote total reporting. Democrats’ dream of Texas flipping blue will also have to wait, as Reuters now projects that President Trump will win the state of Texas. Elsewhere, Trump also added Iowa and Montana to his column, while Minnesota and Rhode Island have been called for Joe Biden. — Keya Vakil

November 4, 2020 // 12:13 AM EST

Virginia and Ohio Called as Battleground Wait Continues (As Expected)

It is now Wednesday morning on the East Coast, and three more states have been called, with President Donald Trump projected to win Idaho and Ohio, while former Vice President Joe Biden got Virginia’s 13 electoral votes in his column. Elsewhere, races in the swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin remain either too close or too early to call — Keya Vakil

November 3, 2020 // 11:18 PM EST

Biden and Trump Rack Up Expected Victories

Polls have now closed across the continental United States and both candidates have locked in several additional victories. Democrat Joe Biden is projected to win California, Illinois, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is expected to win Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming. The electoral college tally currently sits at 192 for Biden and 114 for Trump. But the race is still far from being called. — Keya Vakil

November 3, 2020 // 10:45 PM EDT

Progressive Cori Bush Becomes First Black Congresswoman From Missouri

Cori Bush, who led protests following the police shooting death of Michael Brown in 2014, will replace longtime Missouri Rep. William Lacy Clay in Congress. 

Bush—who ran to represent the state’s First congressional district—galvanized support around her activism, fighting against racial injustice. In fact, her supporters said that the protests surrounding the police killing of George Floyd in May and outrage over ongoing racial injustice pushed her to victory. 

“Six years ago police officers maced Cori in Ferguson as she helped spark a global movement. Three months from now she’ll be holding police accountable as a member of Congress,” wrote the Justice Democrats on Twitter

Early Tuesday, Bush cast her ballot wearing a Breonna Taylor face mask. “I am humbled and honored to be a part of this day, but to also be on this historical ballot as the Democratic nominee for the first district here in Missouri—poised to be the first Black congresswoman from the state of Missouri, the first woman from this district ever, the first Missouri nurse, and the first activist fighting for Black lives going to Congress,” she said.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is projected to pick up Missouri’s 10 electoral votes. — Elle Meyers

November 3, 2020 // 10:24 PM EDT

More States Called, but Few Surprises So Far as Neither Candidate Has Yet to Flip a State

While several states, such as the key swing states of Arizona and North Carolina, remain too close to call, Joe Biden is now projected to win Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New Mexico, and New York. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has added Alabama, Arkansas, North Dakota, Louisiana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia to his column.

As of publication, no state has flipped from one party to the other from 2016 to 2020. — Keya Vakil

November 3, 2020 // 9:58 PM EST

Sarah McBride and Taylor Small Make History for Transgender Lawmakers in Delaware and Vermont

The 2020 election marks a significant milestone for the transgender community, with two transgender women elected into their state’s legislatures.

On Tuesday, Sarah McBride became the highest-ranking open transgender politician in the United States when she won her state Senate seat in Delaware’s First District. In other words, the 30-year-old woman became the first openly transgender woman elected as a state senator and the first to be elected into public office in her state. 

McBride’s historic win takes place three years after Danica Roem became the first openly transgender person in the United States to be elected into a state legislature. Roem was elected into Virginia’s House of Delegates in 2017.

A former spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, McBride also made history during the 2016 Democratic National Convention when she became the first openly transgender person to speak at a major political party’s convention. 

In Vermont, Taylor Small became the first transgender lawmaker in the Green Mountain State. Small won a seat in Vermont’s House of Representatives for a district that includes the town of Winooski. The 26-year-old progressive is Director of the Health & Wellness program at Pride Center of Vermont. A significant part of her campaign pushed for a single-payer healthcare system and equal accessibility for medical coverage.

Once Small and McBride assume office, there will be a total of six openly transgender persons serving as legislators in the United States. In addition to McBride, Small, and Roem, other transgender politicians across the country include Colorado State Rep. Brianna Titone and New Hampshire State Reps. Lisa Bunker and Geri Cannon. 

There are currently 34 openly transgender people running for public office in the 2020 election. — Sarah Amy Harvard

November 3, 2020 // 9:35 PM EST

John Hickenlooper Projected Winner in CO Senate Race, Putting Dems Within 3 Seats of Flipping Senate

Democrat John Hickenlooper will be Colorado’s next Senator, Reuters projects. Hickenlooper, the state’s former governor, holds a sizable lead over incumbent Republican Cory Gardner, who won his seat in 2014. Gardner has long been viewed as the most vulnerable Republican incumbent and has come under intense scrutiny for his close support of President Donald Trump, who is deeply unpopular in the state.

Hickenlooper’s victory marks the first flipped Senate seat this year. Elsewhere, Republicans have held onto Senate seats in Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Democrats, meanwhile, have held onto seats in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey.

With Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama likely to lose his seat, the Democrats still need to flip at least 3 more seats to win control of the Senate.

November 3, 2020 // 9:18 PM EST

Republican Sen. John Cornyn Projected to Win Reelection in Competitive Texas Senate Race

Texas Sen. John Cornyn is projected to win a fourth term in the US Senate, as Reuters called the race for him shortly after 9 p.m. EST. The Republican faced a tough challenge from Democrat and former combat veteran MJ Hegar, but she wasn’t able to close the gap. As of publication, Cornyn is up by four points with 64% of the expected vote tallied. — Keya Vakil

November 3, 2020 // 9:05 PM EST

Mitch McConnell Wins Another Six Years in the Senate

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell will continue to serve for another six years after defeating his Democratic challenger Amy McGrath Tuesday night. 

McConnell’s win did not come as a surprise as polling data showed the four-term senator consistently ahead. Kentucky is also a very conservative state, one which President Donald Trump won by almost 30 points in the 2016 election. 

Since the pandemic began in the spring, McConnell has been on the frontlines of negotiations over COVID-19 relief. For months, lawmakers worked to come to an agreement and pass another relief package to prop up the American economy and help struggling individuals. McConnell has been stubbornly advocating for a smaller version of a pandemic relief aid bill. In fact, the proposal Republicans offered in mid-summer was quickly dismissed for being “emaciated.” 

In addition to refusing to pass coronavirus relief aid for citizens McConnell has also, erroneously, claimed that the Obama administration did not leave a pandemic response plan in place when they left office. He later walked back his comments. 

During an October debate, the McGrath criticized McConnell for focusing on partisan politics over the best interests of the American people. McConnell’s response? He laughed. Millions of Americans have become unemployed and risk homelessness since the pandemic began. — Elle Meyers

November 3, 2020 // 8:08 PM EST

Biden Projected to Win MD, MA, NJ, and VT—FL and GA Too Close to Call

Polls have now closed in more than a dozen states and Reuters has already called several races. Democrat Joe Biden is projected to win the states of Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont, while Republican President Donald Trump has notched Indiana, Kentucky, and Oklahoma in his column. Many other states remain too close to call, including the toss-ups of Georgia, Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina.

NOVEMBER 3, 2020 // 6:35 PM EST

Election Day? Plan on Election Week in Arizona, Officials Say

Tuesday is Election Day, but county election officials in Arizona are asking voters to think more in terms of election week. Recorders say they do not expect problems – in fact, they believe Arizona is in better shape than most states – but are trying to tamp down expectations in light of what could be record-breaking turnout for a highly emotional campaign.

“So many people don’t realize that election night is never the final count,” said Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman, who asks people to be patient so elections officials can get it right.

More than 2.6 million mail-in ballots had been returned by Monday, representing more than 70% of ballots mailed out this year, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office. That matches the total 2.6 million ballots cast in 2016. All those ballots will be tallied before Election Day, and with fewer ballots to process on election night, county election officials will have a more complete tally when the first returns are announced at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

But this is by no means the final result. Winners and losers of races cannot be declared until all the ballots have been counted and certified. — Copper Courier

NOVEMBER 3, 2020 // 5:09 PM EST

Florida Is On Track for Record-High Voter Turnout

In less than one hour the first polls will start to close, and tens of millions of Americans will watch with anxiety as the first batch of results pours in. Perhaps no state could be as determinative tonight as Florida, a toss-up state that counts mail-in ballots as they arrive. 

More than 9 million Floridians voted before Election Day, with an estimated 120,000 more registered Democrats casting ballots than Republicans, according to TargetSmart and NBC. While those numbers do not indicate which candidate the voters cast their ballots for, they represent a solid start for Democrat Joe Biden in his quest to unseat President Donald Trump.

Turnout in key regions of the state also continues to be high on Tuesday, as Miami-Dade and Broward counties were both reporting high Election Day turnout levels as of 2 p.m.

In Miami-Dade County, more than 88,000 voters have already cast their ballots today and the county is expecting a total Election Day turnout of between 200,000 and 300,000 people. That would put it on track to reach 80% turnout among registered voters, shattering its prior turnout rate of 73%, set in 2004. According to the Miami-Dade Elections Department, Democrats cast 35% of all votes on Tuesday, while Republicans were responsible for 31% and independents for 32%. 

In Broward County, more than 91,000 voters have turned out, for a 73% turnout rate, according to the county elections website. The county could also reach 80%, according to Steve Vancore, spokesman for the Broward County Supervisor of Elections. 

“We’re still picking up ballots at the post office and there’s been a nonstop line at drop boxes for mail-in ballots, so an 80% turnout is within reach,” he told the Miami Herald.

In total, more than 926,000 votes have been cast in Broward County as of 3 pm Tuesday, with Democrats accounting for 52% of the votes, Republicans making up 23%, and independents 24% of the votes cast. — Keya Vakil

November 3, 2020 // 2:45 PM EST

Pennsylvania and Nebraska Had Over 80% of Absentee Ballots Returned for Count

Several critical swing states are seeing record numbers of absentee ballots returned in the 2020 presidential election. 

Pennsylvania is one of them—about 2.5 million mail-in and absentee ballots were returned in the Keystone State as of Tuesday, CNN reported. The state had sent out about 3 million ballots to registered voters who requested mail-in voting options. According to Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, the 2.5 million returned ballots make up more than 81% of those that were sent to voters. 

Nebraska, meanwhile, has one of the highest percentages of returned mail-ballots. The Cornhusker State received 510,076 absentee ballots from voters—a 91% return rate, according to the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office. 

As of Tuesday, Nebraska has 48,382 absentee ballots that were not yet returned. On Monday, Nov. 2, the state received a total of over 27,000 mail-in ballots.

In order for votes to get counted, mail-in and absentee ballots can be deposited into a dropbox before polls close. Typically, absentee and mail-in votes are counted first and results should be available to the public after the polls close. — Sarah Amy Harvard

November 3, 2020 // 12:45 PM EST

Calm and Patience Persist on Election Day in Wisconsin

Some polling sites in Wisconsin have seen a drastic change in turnout on Election Day compared to the primaries in April. That, officials say, is largely due to early voting.

Riverdale High School in Milwaukee is one of several polling sites that have seen virtually no lines on Tuesday. During the primaries, lines of voters extended far beyond the school campus and around the block. 

Lexi Michell was among those who voted at Riverside Tuesday morning. “We need everyone’s opinion,” she told UpNorthNews. “It’s everyone’s country, so we need everyone’s opinion.”

Wisconsin is a key swing state, and its election results will serve as one of the most crucial in the election. Then-candidate Donald Trump won the Badger State in 2016 with only a 0.7% margin against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The predominantly white midwestern state is also home to a highly coveted demographic that Democrats are looking to take back from Trump in the election: white working-class voters. 

The critical nature of Wisconsin’s swing-state status has also prompted “high-risk” alerts of voter intimidation on Election Day. Militia Watch, a research group, released an advisory warning Wisconsinites that their state could be a hot spot for voter intimidation. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project has a similar prediction, noting that the state has seen armed white militia members targeting Black Lives Matter protesters and people of color during the civil unrest following the police killing of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. 

Despite such concerns, the vast majority of voters have had a smooth and peaceful experience in casting their ballots. In fact, several first-time voters have cast their ballots on Tuesday and a few senior-aged individuals are working the polls with ease.

Sarah Amy Harvard

November 3, 2020 // 10:40 AM EST

‘It’s Good to Be Home’: Biden Returns to His Roots in Scranton

“It’s good to be home,” Joe Biden told several dozen volunteers who had gathered at a union hall in south Scranton early on Tuesday. He also made a quick stop at his two-story childhood home.

If Biden wins, the impact could be huge for the Electric City and its 77,000 inhabitants. “It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have the president of the United States not only be from your community but also to have hearkened to it,” Bob Durkin, the CEO of Scranton’s Chamber of Commerce, told The Keystone. Officials from 14 different countries have already contacted him about the city, he added, and a surge of visitors could help spur growth in the former coal mining center.

Joe Biden stopped at a union hall in south Scranton early Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (Keystone Photo/Patrick Abdalla)

The Keystone Staff

November 3, 2020 // 9:50 AM EST

‘It Hasn’t Been Too Busy’: Election Day Kicks Off in Michigan

The first few hours of voting in Michigan’s capital as well as its largest city has gone pretty smoothly so far, according to The ‘Gander, COURIER’s sister site. “It hasn’t been too busy, but it’s helped us to be able to be on top of our game with the pandemic protocols and making sure everyone is safe, and voters are feeling comfortable when exercising their right to vote,” said Kamali Clora, chairperson for Detroit’s 149th precinct at WSU.

Poll workers in Ingham County, where Lansing / Photo by Brian Rozman

The ‘Gander Staff

October 28, 2020 // 5:07 PM EDT

Red Montana Could Have Two Blue Senators in 2020

Increasingly, it looks as if control of the Senate could come down to what happens in Montana, where the state’s Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock is challenging Republican Sen. Steve Daines. 

While Montana typically votes Republican in presidential races, the state has a populist streak and often sends Democrats  like Jon Tester to Washington. Bullock, who is the state’s most popular politician, is running on his record of bipartisan legislation with the GOP-led legislature, which has allowed him to expand Medicaid and spend $400 million to improve the state’s infrastructure. Bullock has argued that he would be a more effective leader and work across the aisle as needed. 

The governor has also focused his campaign around protecting and expanding the Affordable Care Act, which Daines voted to repeal. 

“I’ll protect your access to health care, even in the middle of the pandemic,” Bullock said in a recent debate, noting that the Supreme Court would soon hear a case regarding the law thanks to a Republican effort to repeal it. 

Daines, meanwhile, has said he does not think the Court would overturn the law, even during the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who criticized the Court’s past decisions upholding the ACA. Daines, meanwhile, has tried to focus on Second Amendment gun rights and protecting the Montana way of life. Daines has also accused Bullock, a moderate Democrat, of being “too liberal” for Montana.

Bullock, meanwhile, has dinged Daines for his support of President Donald Trump’s payroll tax cut scheme, which would put Social Security benefits at risk for older Montanans. He has also emphasized the importance of addressing climate change and investing in renewable energies, while Daines has clung to the value of fossil fuels the key driver of greenhouse gas emissions that increase the risk of severe wildfires—like the kind Montana has dealt with in recent years. 

“We need to keep coal, oil, and natural gas in this all-of-the-above energy portfolio,” Daines said during a debate earlier this month. Daines did not mention that he has accepted more than $449,000 in oil and gas donations during the 2020 election cycle, far more than Bullock’s roughly $82,000.

The race is expected to be close and polls currently show Daines and Bullock essentially in a statistical tie. The election could come down to how well Bullock does in turning out Montana’s Native American population, which makes up about 7% of the state. The state’s Native voters tend to vote for Democrats and Bullock has released a loose plan for how to help Montana’s tribes. Daines, meanwhile, has not. If these voters are sufficiently impressed by Bullock and turn out in full force, it could propel him over the top. — Keya Vakil

October 28, 2020 // 3:47 PM EDT

Yes, Jamie Harrison Could Pull Off an Upset on Lindsay Graham in South Carolina

When Jaime Harrison launched his longshot bid to unseat Lindsey Graham in the Senate, few expected he would one day be setting fundraising records. But nearly 18 months later, Harrison’s campaign announced that he raised more in the third quarter than any other Senate candidate ever, bringing in an astonishing $57 million. Now, armed with a war chest unlike any seen before, Harrison is aiming to win the seat once held by Strom Thurmond, the segregationist Democrat-turned-Republican who Graham replaced in 2003. 

Harrison has painted himself as a pragmatic Democrat focused on delivering results for South Carolina families. He wants to expand and protect healthcare coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, a stark contrast from Graham, who has repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act which guarantees those protections. Harrison has also focused on bread and butter issues, such as the closure of rural hospitals, the state’s collapsing infrastructure, and the closure of schools because of the government’s failure to manage the pandemic. 

He has also argued that Graham is out of touch with South Carolina and has put his own needs before the state. Harrison criticized Graham for supporting President Donald Trump’s effort to build a border wall, which has come at the expense of $11 million in funding for a military base in Beaufort. As Politico reported, Harrison used the Beaufort debacle to highlight how Graham has deferred to Trump at the expense of South Carolinians. 

Graham, meanwhile, has attempted to label Harrison as a radical. Over the past month he has focused his campaign on getting Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the Supreme Court. As Judiciary Committee chairman, Graham has played a key role in the GOP’s rush her confirmation, even as Senate Republicans have refused to pass comprehensive coronavirus relief legislation to help struggling Americans. 

Harrison didn’t say whether he would vote to confirm Barrett, but criticized Graham for reversing his 2016 position that the Senate should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee in an election year. 

For the most part, however, Harrison has remained above the fray and tried to paint himself as a different kind of candidate. “People are tired of the politics of division,” Harrison told Politico in a recent interview. “They’re tired of having folks who claim to be representing the people, but they lie to the people.”

Most polls still show Graham with a small lead and he remains the favorite to win the election, but Harrison’s fundraising prowess and strong campaign means he could still pull off the upset. — Keya Vakil

October 28, 2020 // 1:45 PM EDT

Trump Left His Supporters to Freeze on an Airport Tarmac After Omaha Rally

Supporters of President Donald Trump were stranded in bitterly cold weather and several were hospitalized for hypothermia after the president’s campaign rally in Omaha, Neb., last night.

The trouble came after Trump departed the rally on Air Force One, leaving hundreds of people behind in below-freezing temperatures. The supporters had been bussed from parking lots to the rally location. 

Attendees waited up to four hours for buses that were delayed—according to the Trump campaign—due to traffic issues on the two-lane road used to access Eppley Airfield, the site of the rally.  

At least 21,000 were in attendance, according to the Omaha World-Herald. Later on Wednesday, after the rally, the president also tweeted that he had an “incredible evening” in Nebraska. Notably absent from his tweet was any mention of supporters being stranded or hospitalized.  

Democratic nominee Joe Biden noted that the incident was “an image that captured President Trump’s whole approach in this crisis.”

Nebraska has hit record levels of COVID-19 infections throughout October, as a third wave of coronavirus infections races across the Midwest. Earlier in the night, the president falsely boasted about being immune to COVID-19—a claim which has no basis in science.

The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States is nearly 227,000 people at time of publication. Over 600 people in Nebraska are included in those fatalities. —Brandon Gates

October 28, 2020 // 11:45 AM EDT

Young Americans Are Already Breaking Voter Turnout Records

Young Americans are breaking records at the voting booth. With Election Day less than a week away, the country’s youth are outperforming their early voting turnout in several major swing states compared to around this time in the 2016 presidential election. By how much? Four million.

Over 6 million voters between the ages of 18 to 29 have cast their ballots early in the 2020 election as of Monday, according to data compiled by NBC News Decision Desk in collaboration with Target Smart, a Democratic political data firm.Around the same time four years ago, that figure hovered around 2 million.

The surge of young early voters is seen in swing states like Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina—all of which have seen more than twice the number of ballots cast from this demographic compared to 2016.

In Florida, more than 514,000 young voters have cast their ballots. In 2016, the state received 230,000 votes around the same time. 

Texas has seen the most drastic increase in early votes among young voters, despite Gov. Greg Abbott refusing accommodations concerned with exposure to the coronavirus. Four years ago, the Lone Star State had 288,000 young early voters around this time in October. Now, with Nov. 3 only six days away, more than 800,000 young Texans have already voted. 

Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan—which are all viewed as key battleground states in this election—have seen an exponential increase in early voter turnout, and particularly among 18- to 29-year-olds. The number of young voters who cast their ballots early in Pennsylvania is eight times more than in 2016. Wisconsin’s turnout is about three and half times as large, and it’s almost seven times higher in Michigan.

The surge in young early voters is part of a larger trend of increased voter turnout among all US demographics. As of Wednesday morning, more than 71 million eligible people have already cast their ballots, according to the US Elections Project. That number was 16 million four years ago. 

NBC News Decision Desk predicts that by Election Day, about 100 million people will have voted. — Sarah Amy Harvard

October 21, 2020//6:34 PM EDT

‘We Have Been Forgotten’: North Carolina Workers Rip Sen. Thom Tillis for Dropping the Ball on COVID Relief

With unemployment at least twice as high as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, North Carolina workers are increasingly feeling the pain caused by Senate Republicans’ inaction on a coronavirus relief plan. Much of that anger is directed at Sen. Thom Tillis, who is facing a tight race to keep his US Senate seat against Democratic former State Senator Cal Cunningham. While Tillis says he supports passing a federal coronavirus relief package before Election Day, constituents are less than optimistic. “If protecting these jobs and the families they support isn’t an urgent issue, I don’t know what is,”  Zattier Marvin, an American Airlines employee who has witnessed furloughs at the company, told COURIER sister site Cardinal & Pine this week. READ MORE HERE.

OCTOBER 21, 2020 // 2:49 PM EDT

Blue Texas? It’s Making Sen. John Cornyn Nervous

Could Texas Sen. John Cornyn become the first Republican to lose a statewide race to a Democrat since 1994? He seems to think it’s a possibility. The three-term incumbent has spent much of October attempting to distance himself from President Donald Trump, who is not especially popular in the once deep-red state. 

In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cornyn said he avoided getting into public arguments with Trump and had given up on trying to influence or change him. The Senator also told the paper that “when I have had differences of opinion” with Trump, “which I have, [I] do that privately. I have found that has allowed me to be much more effective, I believe, than to satisfy those who say I ought to call him out or get into a public fight with him.”

Cornyn also told the Houston Chronicle that Trump “let his guard down” on the pandemic, which has killed more than 17,000 Texas residents, the second most of any state in the country, behind only New York. While Cornyn is attempting to break from Trump, he has voted with Trump 95% of the time on the issues, the third highest mark of any current senator, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Cornyn himself has also come under fire for past comments that have been interpreted as minimizing the severity of the coronavirus. He has also said that providing jobless workers with $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits was a “mistake.” Most recently, Cornyn has received scrutiny this week over his ties to private equity companies that spent millions of dollars on ads in Texas and pressured Cornyn to help kill a bill that sought to end surprise medical billing.

During his campaign, Cornyn has sought to depict his opponent, MJ Hegar, as being “too liberal for Texas”, even though Hegar voted for John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Hegar, a former Air Force helicopter pilot who ran for Congress in 2018 but has never held elected office, has painted herself as an outsider change agent that would better represent Texas than Cornyn.

She has made health care a key focus of her campaign, embracing a system similar to that proposed by Joe Biden, which would provide a public option to Americans lacking health insurance. She has also criticized Cornyn over his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, his failure to speak out after reports alleged that Trump called veterans “suckers” and “losers,” and over the millions of dollars in donations he’s accepted from special interests.

Whether her efforts succeed remains to be seen. Recent polls show Cornyn with a comfortable 8-point lead, on average. If Hegar manages to pull off the upset, she’ll do what Beto O’Rourke couldn’t in 2018: Become the first Texas Democrat to win a Senate seat since 1994. — Keya Vakil

OCTOBER 20, 2020 // 12:00 PM EDT

Americans Trust Biden on COVID by Double Digits

A clear majority of American voters believe Democrat Joe Biden will do a better job of managing the coronavirus pandemic than President Donald Trump, according to a new poll from The New York Times/Siena College Research Institute. 

Fifty-two percent of voters said they trusted Biden to do a better job on the pandemic, while only 40% said they favored Trump. Those findings indicate that Trump’s seven-month effort to downplay the severity of the coronavirus—which has claimed more than 220,000 American lives and wrecked the economy—has failed. 

On Monday, Trump once again attempted to wish away the virus, suggesting that Americans were “tired” of hearing about the pandemic from “these idiots” in the government. 

“People are tired of Covid,” Trump said during a call with his campaign staff Monday. “I have the biggest rallies I’ve ever had. And we have Covid. People are saying: ‘Whatever. Just leave us alone.’ They’re tired of it.”

Americans may well be tired of the virus, but that doesn’t mean it’s “disappearing,” as Trump has said. The US recorded nearly 70,000 new cases on Friday and more than 57,000 new cases on Monday.

Trump also took aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease official, who warned Americans to “hunker down” and prepare for a tough winter during an interview CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday.

Trump’s attacks against Fauci pose a stark contrast to the doctor’s standing among Americans. According to a September poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 68% of Americans trust Fauci to provide reliable information about the virus. Only 40% of Americans trust Trump, that same survey found. 

Trump also ridiculed his opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, for saying he would listen to scientists like Fauci. In his response to Trump’s comments, the former vice president said he considered Trump’s “criticism” for listening to scientists a “badge of honor.”

“Mr. President, you’re right about one thing: The American people are tired. They’re tired of your lies about this virus. They’re tired of watching more Americans die and more people lose their jobs because you refuse to take this pandemic seriously,” Biden said in a statement. “Now, more than ever, we need a leader to bring us together, put a plan in place, and beat this virus—but you have proven yourself yet again to be incapable of doing that.”

The New York Times/Siena College poll underscores Biden’s point: Americans are aware the virus isn’t going away. In fact, only 37% of Americans believe the worst is over, according to the poll, while 51% believe the worst of the pandemic is yet to come. —Keya Vakil

OCTOBER 16, 2020 // 2:58 PM EDT

Musing About Cutting Social Security and Medicare Might Cost Georgia Sen. David Perdue His Job

Georgia Sen. David Perdue raised eyebrows earlier this month when he suggested that he would work to cut spending on Social Security and Medicare if elected to a second term in the US Senate this November. Perdue argued that unless the nation limited spending on the social safety net, it could lead to a “runaway debt crisis.”

“This is the huge one,” Perdue told a local radio station. “This is what I hope to get at in my second term. That is, Social Security and Medicare—the things that you’ve already alluded to—are what’s causing the huge run-up.”

A spokesperson for the Senator later denied that he wanted to issue cuts to the programs, but Perdue has previously discussed cuts to Social Security, suggesting in 2015 that the government ought to restrict Social Security benefits to the neediest. He has also previously pointed to Social Security and Medicare as the “drivers” that are adding to the national debt. 

Perdue, however, voted for the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which disproportionately benefited the wealthy and corporations, and is projected to add up to $2 trillion to the debt. The incumbent also voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the reversal of which would rob an estimated 1 million Georgians of their health insurance and leave people with pre-existing medical conditions vulnerable to discrimination by insurance companies. 

Perdue’s opponent in November, Jon Ossoff, a former journalist and aide to Congressman John Lewis, has repeatedly criticized the senator’s votes on healthcare and his party’s failure to renew federal unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Ossoff has vowed to protect and strengthen the ACA and Medicare and stop the price gouging from drug companies. He also supports debt-free access to public college and historically black colleges and universities and has criticized Perdue for selling off stocks shortly after receiving a briefing about the pandemic’s severity back in January. Perdue has defended himself and said his finances were managed by an “outside adviser,” but Ossoff has highlighted the senator’s sell-off as part of his quest to root out corruption in Washington.

For his part, Perdue has centered his campaign around further reopening the economy, even as the pandemic continues to spread, falsely attacking many Democrats as socialists, and lying with claims that Ossoff wants to defund the police.

The two candidates are locked in a tight race and the average of recent polls have shown Perdue’s lead narrowing to under 3 points, with others even showing Ossoff ahead. The election is all but certain to be a toss-up, according to the Cook Political Report. — Keya Vakil

OCTOBER 16, 2020 // 2:55 PM EDT

How Insider Trading and Atilla the Hun Could End Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s Career in the Senate

In what might be the messiest Senate race of the year, incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is not just fending off a Democratic challenger in Reverend Raphael Warnock, but thanks to the state’s special election rules, she has to overcome fellow conservative Rep. Doug Collins as well. 

Loeffler, who along with her husband is worth an estimated $500 million, has had a rough first year in the Senate after being appointed to the seat by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in December 2019. Since then, Loeffler has been investigated over allegations of insider trading and publicly feuded with members of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream—a team she is co-owner of—over their support of Black Lives Matter and demands for racial justice. 

The Dream’s players have publicly expressed support for Warnock, who has served as senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta since 2005. The church has played a critical role in civil rights history, serving as the location for the funerals of both Martin Luther King Jr. and the late Congressman John Lewis.

Warnock has centered his campaign on expanding racial equality, defending and expanding the Affordable Care Act, fighting for “people without a voice, people almost at the bottom,” and reaching out to Georgians who he says have been left behind by the government. 

Loeffler, meanwhile, has attempted to paint herself as more conservative than Atilla the Hun, the brutal ruler has been described as a “barbarian” for his savage attacks against the Roman Empire. She and Collins have been battling over their conservative credentials and working to convince voters that they are each more loyal to Trump than the other. 

That push to outflank each other on the right has created an opening for Warnock, who holds a commanding lead in recent polls. But in order to win outright on Nov. 3, Warnock must clear 50%, a difficult proposition that means a January runoff between he and either Loeffler or Collins is all but certain. — Keya Vakil

OCTOBER 16, 2020 // 2:18 PM EDT

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner Could Lose His Seat After Backing Insurance Repeal for 600,000 Coloradans

When Republican Cory Gardner ran for the US Senate in 2014, he promised he would be a “new kind of Republican” that delivered results for Colorado. Gardner, running as a moderate, won that race in a minor upset. Six years later, the senator’s embrace of President Donald Trump, who is massively unpopular in Colorado, has put his seat in jeopardy. Gardner has voted with Trump nearly 90% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. 

Those votes include an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have taken away health insurance from nearly 600,000 Coloradans and left countless more who live with pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes vulnerable to discrimination by insurance companies. Gardner has since said he wants to protect coverage for pre-existing conditions, but hasn’t said how he plans to do so, instead releasing a bill that merely amounts to a PR exercise

Gardner has also declared that he will vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court, despite her stated opposition to the ACA and Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling which affirmed a woman’s right to abortion care. 

Gardner’s opponent, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, has repeatedly criticized Gardner’s record on the ACA and has focused his campaign around reducing healthcare and drug costs and addressing climate change and creating renewable energy jobs. Climate change is a huge issue in the state, as 81% of Coloradans say clean air and water, wildlife and public lands are important factors in their voting decisions, according to a poll from Colorado College. 

While Gardner has acknowledged the reality of climate change, he also opposed the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are the major driver of climate change. He also supported the nomination of former oil company lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, which has overseen dozens of environmental rollbacks under Trump.

While Gardner has tried to carve out his own path in the race, the outcome is likely to be a referendum on his support for Trump, which could ultimately make Gardner a one-term senator. Recent polls show Hickenlooper with a sizable lead that will be difficult to overcome in the final weeks of the race. — Keya Vakil

OCTOBER 16, 2020 // 2:10 PM EDT

The Maine Event: Republican Sen. Susan Collins Job on the Line Due to Kavanaugh

Since entering the US Senate in 1997, Susan Collins has depicted himself as an independent, moderate voice for Maine—a designation that has helped her coast to re-election with at least 58% of the vote in her past three bids for re-election. In 2014, she won 68% of the vote in Maine, a state that hasn’t voted to send a Republican to the White House since 1988. 

But Collins, who has painted herself as a defender of women’s reproductive rights, has come under intense scrutiny during the Trump era for her vote to confirm Brett Kavanugh to the US Supreme Court, despite fears that he might overturn Roe v. Wade and credible allegations of sexual assault. She also drew backlash over her vote for the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act which disproportionately benefited corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Mainers, and will leave the poorest 80% of Mainers facing higher taxes in 2027, according to a 2019 report from the Maine-based 16 Counties Coalition. 

As a result, Collins’ popularity has plummeted and she faces a wave of opposition led by women who have lined up behind her opponent, Sara Gideon. Currently serving as speaker of the Maine House, Gideon has criticized Collins for her votes to confirm Kavanaugh and pass Trump’s tax cuts, as well as what Gideon views as her failure to sufficiently stand up to Trump. Gideon has focused her own campaign on protecting and expanding healthcare access, her past efforts to address the opioid epidemic and poverty in the state, and the economic and public health catastrophes that the coronavirus has created. 

For her part, Collins has tried to maintain her moderate profile while simultaneously bashing her opponent, claiming Gideon “will say or do anything to try to win.” In recent weeks, those attacks have gotten uglier and more personal

Recent polls have shown Gideon with a narrow lead, but the race remains a toss-up according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. — Keya Vakil

OCTOBER 16, 2020 // 2:01 PM EDT

Iowa’s Close: Democrat Theresa Greenfield Takes on Republican Sen. Joni Ernst

When Joni Ernst ran to represent Iowa in the US Senate in 2014, she promised to make Washington DC ‘squeal’ and bring ‘the Iowa way’ of cutting taxes to Washington. During her term, Ernst did vote to cut taxes—but the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act massively benefited corporations and the wealthiest Iowans, while leaving the lowest 40% of earners in the state received average cuts of only $430 or less, according to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Ernst has also voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would take away insurance from an estimated 230,000 Iowans and leave people with pre-existing medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease vulnerable to discrimination by insurance companies.

Theresa Greenfield, Ernst’s Democratic challenger in 2020, has repeatedly hammered Ernst over her ACA vote and her vote for corporate tax cuts, accusing her of selling out to corporate interests.

Greenfield, a real estate agent, has centered her campaign around rebuilding the collapsing economy, protecting and expanding the ACA, and protecting Medicare and Social Security. Greenfield herself experienced the importance of these benefits, as she relied on Social Security survivor benefits to get by after her husband died while she was pregnant with her second child. Greenfield also made a commitment to expand opportunities for Iowa farmers and has spoken out about the impact of climate change on the state, which has been devastated by a string of droughts, floods, heat waves, and most recently, a series of inland hurricane-like wind storms that destroyed an estimated 40% of the state’s crops.

The Ernst campaign has meanwhile attempted to depict the moderate Greenfield as a “voice for the radical left,” calling her an “extremist,” and misrepresenting her stances on issues like police reform. Ernst has also argued that the GOP is the best party on the economy, even though she opposes raising the minimum wage and is part of the Senate majority that has obstructed an extension of federal unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

Recent polls have shown Greenfield with a small lead in the race and early voting is already underway in the state, leaving Ernst less and less time to turn things around. — Keya Vakil

OCTOBER 14, 2020 // 4:57 PM EDT

Biden Plans to Send Seniors a Ton of Money. Here’s How.

COURIER reports on Democratic nominee Joe Biden in Florida, who explained how Trump is a threat to Social Security and Medicare, and detailed his own plans to change Social Security for the better. “This president has plans to terminate the tax that is dedicated to financing social security,” Biden said. One of the Democratic nominee’s ideas for Social Security is to change the way cost of living expenses are calculated, so that seniors get more money in each check. This week, the Social Security Administration announced that seniors would get a 1.3% annual increase in their Social Security checks, another small “cost of living” increase after years of only seeing modest increases. READ MORE HERE