With days until voters cast the last ballots in the U.S. presidential election, the top candidates are focusing their campaign efforts Thursday in the southeastern state of Florida.
In every election since 1996, the winner of Florida has won the presidency. The winner there earns 29 of the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch the election.
President Donald Trump begins his campaigning day with a rally in the city of Tampa before traveling for an evening rally in the state of North Carolina.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is set to speak to supporters in Broward County in the afternoon and then head to his own event in Tampa in the evening.
According to an average of major polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, Trump trails Biden in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, while the two candidates are virtually tied in Florida and North Carolina.
Trump on Wednesday cast doubt on major polls, telling reporters in Las Vegas that his battleground state poll numbers are better than those the surveys show.
“Poll numbers are very good. You don’t see the real poll numbers,” Trump said.
National polls typically show Biden with a lead of 7 or 8 percentage points over Trump, but with about half that margin in key battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome in the Electoral College.
Biden on Wednesday, after receiving a public health briefing, again criticized Trump for holding large outdoor rallies amid the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the previous night’s rally in Omaha, Nebraska, left “hundreds of people, including older Americans and children, out in sub-freezing temperatures for hours. Several folks ended up in the hospital.”
Americans are voting early for Tuesday’s presidential election in unprecedented numbers, a product of strong feelings for or against the two main candidates and a desire to avoid large crowds at Election Day polling stations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 76 million people had already voted as of early Thursday, totaling more than half of the overall 2016 vote count, which was 138.8 million.
About two-thirds of America’s early voters have mailed in their ballots, and the rest voted in person at polling places throughout the country.
Biden voted Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware, while Trump cast his ballot on Saturday at a library in West Palm Beach, Florida, near his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Voting experts say voter turnout for the contest between Republican Trump and Democratic challenger Biden could be the highest percentage of the electorate since 1908, when 65% of the country’s eligible voters cast ballots.