WASHINGTON — Polls opened across the country Tuesday morning after a highly contentious presidential campaign, with voters deciding whether to re-elect President Donald Trump to another four years or elect Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The final day of the election cycle comes amid a deeply divided nation and after a record-breaking almost 100 million votes already cast either through early voting or through mail-in ballots. As millions more Americans cast their ballots Tuesday, the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen with 40 states seeing a 25 percent rise in cases over the last two weeks. In total, the United States has had 9.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 232,000 people have died. According to the NBC News Polling Average, Biden leads Trump nationally 51.5 percent to 44.4 percent.
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Trump made a brief Election Day visit to the Republican National Committee annex office in Arlington, Virginia, which is where his campaign headquarters is based.
"I hear we're doing very well in Florida, we're doing very well in Arizona, we're doing incredibly well in Texas," Trump told his campaign staff. "The lines have been amazing and I think we're gonna have a great night."
Trump said that he isn't thinking about a concession or acceptance speech yet.
"Hopefully, we'll be only doing one of those two and you know, winning is easy. Losing is never easy — not for me it's not," he said.
He's spending the rest of the day at the White House where he’s planning to spend election night as the results start rolling in.
The White House's election night event is expected to take place in the East Room, the latest example of the president blurring the lines between official and political events on White House grounds. According to a source familiar with the guest list, 300 to 400 people have been invited, and Covid-19 testing will be required. It's unclear whether attendees will be required to wear masks and it could be difficult to practice social distancing inside.
In a phone interview with Fox News' "Fox and Friends" on Tuesday morning, Trump said he also plans to make a series of calls to "very loyal" and "very important" people. He suggested that Biden's last-minute campaign stops Tuesday indicate that his campaign is nervous about losing the election.
When asked when he might declare victory, Trump said, "I think we'll have victory, but only when there's victory, and there's no reason to play games." He added he has a "very solid chance of winning."
During the day, first lady Melania Trump was spotted outside her assigned polling place in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she cast her ballot. The president took advantage of Florida's early voting period and cast his ballot there in late October while he was in town for a campaign stop.
The Biden campaign, meanwhile, is taking advantage of the final hours of the campaign to get out the vote in states that Trump won in 2016, whose electoral votes could be the key to winning.
Before leaving for the final events of his campaign, the former vice president and some of his family members attended a church service at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church just after 7 a.m. ET in Wilmington, Delaware. While there, he visited his family's gravesite where his son Beau Biden, who died in 2015 after battling brain cancer, is buried.
Biden then traveled to the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where he visited his hometown of Scranton and Philadelphia.
"Welcome home,” Biden said as he stepped off his plane in Scranton with his granddaughters Finnegan and Natalie. “These are the only two of my grandchildren who have never been to Scranton. So we’re going home!”
Biden stopped by a canvass kickoff event at the Carpenters Local Union Hall 445, welcomed by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.
During his Scranton stop, Biden visited his childhood home with his granddaughters and was greeted by Anne Kearns who has lived in the house for years. Supporters lined the street, cheering him on. One person shouted “four more years.” Biden told the crowd it felt good to be back home and waved to an elderly woman at a home across the street, who he said has lived there since he was a child. Biden then asked Kearns if he could show Finnegan and Natalie the kitchen, the location of many memories he has recounted on the campaign trail.
Biden said that he signed his name years ago on the third floor where he said his Aunt Gerdy lived, and they permitted him to sign his name again Tuesday. "They just had me sign it behind a picture in the living room. I'm afraid it's attracting a lot of people to their home.” Biden wrote on the wall, "From this house to the White House with the grace of God. Joe Biden 11-3-2020.”
Jill Biden is spending Tuesday campaigning for her husband in two other critical swing states that Trump carried in 2016. She was scheduled to attend a get-out-the-vote event in St. Petersburg, Florida, and a canvass kickoff in Tampa. She’ll then visit a polling site in Cary, North Carolina.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Biden’s vice presidential nominee, made several stops near Detroit, Michigan, another key state, and her husband, Doug Emhoff was scheduled to rally voters Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.
After polls close and results come in Tuesday evening, Biden is expected to address the nation from Wilmington, joined by his wife and Harris and her husband.
In the wee hours of the morning, Trump kicked off Election Day after returning to the White House from the campaign trail by tweeting a video montage of him dancing to the song “YMCA” at some of his recent rallies and encouraging people to vote.
The first round of polls close at 6 p.m. ET in parts of Indiana and Kentucky. Polling sites close in other regions of those two states at 7 p.m. ET as well as a few others including Georgia, which has become a swing state for the first time in decades. A growing and diverse population in the region surrounding Atlanta has put this historically red state into play for the Democrats.