With just a few days until voters cast the last ballots in the U.S. presidential election, the top candidates were focusing their campaign efforts Thursday in the southeastern state of Florida.
“If Florida goes blue. It’s over. It’s over,” former Vice President Joe Biden told a drive-in rally outside Broward College, referring to the Democratic Party color. He is to hold a second, similar event in Tampa later Thursday.
Biden criticized President Donald Trump, amid the coronavirus pandemic, for holding packed rallies where most attendees are nor wearing masks, calling them "super spreader events."
The president is “spreading more than just coronavirus. He’s spreading division and discord,” Biden said at a second drive-in rally later in the day in Tampa that was cut short by rain.
Trump, addressing a large crowd in a stadium parking lot in Tampa, again predicted heavy Republican voter turnout — a great Red Wave — on November 3.
“We’re going to win this election so big. You watch,” predicted the president.
Trump had been scheduled to hold another rally later Thursday in North Carolina, but because of “very bad weather,” including high winds, the event was postponed until Monday, he told reporters.
Trump, in his speech in Tampa, also said the country would have a vaccine for COVID-19 “in a few weeks,” promising that “seniors will be first in line to have it.” In Florida, people over age 65 this year could make up about a third of those voting for president.
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.
According to an average of major polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, Biden and Trump are virtually tied in Florida and North Carolina, while the president trails the former vice president in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
National polls typically show Biden with a lead of 7 or 8 percentage points over Trump, although the margin is about half that in several key battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome in the Electoral College.
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 during the pandemic.
More than 80 million people had already voted as of Thursday, well above half of the overall 2016 vote count, which was 138.8 million.
About two-thirds of America’s early voters have mailed in or dropped off 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 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 as a percentage of the electorate since 1908, when 65% of the country’s eligible voters cast ballots.