The United States presidential election is tomorrow.
Here is a summary of the top 5 political issues making headlines today.
1. Trump, Biden in race to the finish for victory
On the last full-day of campaigning, U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, ahead in the polls nationally and in most battleground states, focused again on Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes.
They could be key in getting the former vice president the 270 electoral votes he needs to win the presidency.
In the Pittsburgh suburbs Monday, Biden said he would be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” and that he was a uniter and U.S. President Donald Trump was a divider.
“That’s wrong. That’s not who we are,” Biden said. “Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. Let’s keep showing them who we are. We choose hope over fear. Unity over division. Science over fiction. And yes, truth over lies.”
“We are so much better than this,” he said. “It’s not about blue states and red states but the United States.”
Also campaigning in Pennsylvania, Trump hit back from Biden’s hometown Scranton.
“A vote for Biden will be a vote to ban fracking, outlaw mining, explode energy costs and destroy Pennsylvania,” Trump said, calling Democrats “globalist, socialist, communist, wealthy, liberal hypocrites.”
In a Monmouth University poll released Monday among all registered voters in Pennsylvania, 50% support Biden and 45% back Trump.
New polling by Quinnipiac University shows Biden maintaining his lead over Trump in Florida and Ohio, two other key states that could determine the election.
Now, after billions have been spent and hundreds of polls conducted, the final votes will be cast and counted. But all that may take some time, considering the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump had reportedly said that if it looks like the swing states are going his way, he will call himself the winner on Election night. The president has since denied making the comment.
But most analysts say that due to the pandemic, the millions of early votes and absentee ballots sent in, it might be a while before a winner is clear, barring a landslide, something some predict is a possibility not for Trump but for Biden.
2. Democrats sweeping becomes a looming possibility
Aside from choosing their next president, the other major political contest on the national level that still seems much in doubt for U.S. voters in control of the Senate. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority.
As for the House of Representatives, Democrats are expected to increase their 35-seat advantage in the 435-member body, and Nancy Pelosi of California is likely to remain the speaker.
In the Senate, 35 seats are at stake in Tuesday’s elections and 23 of those now belong to Republicans and 12 to Democrats.
Democrats would need to win four seats from the Republicans for a majority, or three seats if Joe Biden wins the White House. In that case, his vice president, Kamala Harris, would cast a deciding vote on a 50-50 split on legislation.
The non-partisan Cook Report says there are now nine Republican-held seats rated as either leaning Democratic or toss-ups.
The last time Democrats controlled the White House and Congress was in 2009-2011 under President Barack Obama.
What would happen if the Democrats win the presidency and take control of both the House and Senate this time?
“Biden will be tempted to take the more ambitious path, but he might have to hand over more authority to Democrats in Congress if he wants to go big,” predicts Shawn Zeller in CQ Roll Call.
3. Texas court ruling hints at legal battles to come
A federal judge in Houston, Texas, rejected an effort Monday by Republicans to toss out nearly 127,000 ballots cast by drive-through voting in recent days in the state’s largest county, which leans heavily Democrat.
Texas is usually a Republican almost assured win in a presidential election, but this year polls have the race between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden very close.
A Trump loss in the state and its 38 electoral votes would make it extremely difficult for him to be reelected.
The court case is one of dozens that are expected to wind their way through the U.S. legal system as both sides challenge the voting procedures and results in various states.
“Uncertainty breeds litigation,” Edward Foley, an election law expert who directs the election program at Ohio State University, told Axios, a quick in-the-know look at U.S. political and business news.
The more the litigation and the greater the political will to win, the more likely cases will end up before the Supreme Court, Foley said.
a. Could the 2020 US election really be decided by the supreme court? – The Guardian
4. Attorneys general vow to crack down on intimidation
Attorneys general in seven U.S. states have jointly promised to crack down on voter intimidation “whether it happens in person or from a car,” after a group of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump had surrounded a campaign bus of his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, in Texas.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was joined by his counterparts in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in issuing the November 2 warning, a day before the U.S. general elections.
“Voter intimidation is illegal in every state — whether it happens in person or from a car. As state attorneys general, we are working closely with our partners in law enforcement to make sure everyone has safe access to the polls. Voters have the right to cast a ballot free from intimidation or harassment, and we won’t tolerate anything less.”
In a separate email to The Washington Post, Stein said:, “We are living in tense times and people are acting out across the country.”
Concerns about violence erupting before and after the election results are released have grown in recent days.
Seth Jones, a former U.S. counterterrorism official, told Time magazine: “Even when a winner is declared, voters’ pent-up anger for the candidates will not go away.”
a. Fears of election violence are widespread, poll finds – LA Times
5. Australia warns citizens about traveling to the United States
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has updated its advisory about citizens traveling to the United States — and the warning is not just a precaution against becoming infected with the coronavirus as cases continue to mount in America.
The United States has been given the highest alert status on Australia’s rating scale, a level four “do not travel,” due to the heightened fear of unrest as Americans vote on their next president as well as concerns about covid-19, Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s office said.
“Take precautions to keep safe during the election season,” the advisory reads. “Protests and demonstrations continue in several US cities. Avoid areas where protests are occurring due to the ongoing potential for violence.”
The Australian government warning also mentions the possibility of terrorist threats.
“The US has a heightened risk of terrorist attacks. Terrorists may use vehicles, knives, homemade bombs, and poisons or toxins. Be alert, particularly in public places and at events.”
A Twitter message sent under the name Beaux said:
b. Us Election: Biden Twice as Popular as Trump Among Australians – The Australia Institute