As Tuesday bled into Wednesday, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden were running a tight race. Trump was projected to win some key battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Texas, while Biden was projected to win New Hampshire and Minnesota. Meanwhile, election officials in three other key states, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona, still have millions of ballots to count.
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NBC News Exit Poll: Voters divided over which national issues are most important
As the 2020 presidential race unfolds amid a global pandemic, economic downturn, and protests about racial injustice in the United States, the economy has emerged as the top voting issue for the electorate.
According to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters, about a third of voters said the economy was the most important issue to their vote. Racial injustice was the most important issue for 21 percent of voters, while another 18 percent said the coronavirus outbreak was their top issue.
But Trump and Biden voters are divided on the most pressing issues. Biden voters are significantly more likely than Trump’s voters to point to racial inequality and the coronavirus as important issues. Trump voters are more likely to point to the economy and crime and safety.
NBC News Exit Poll: Less than half of voters approve of Trump's performance as president
Less than half of Americans casting ballots in the 2020 presidential election — 47 percent — approve of Donald Trump’s performance as president, according to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters. Fifty-two percent disapprove of his performance.
Trump elicited strong sentiments in both directions. A third of voters expressed strong approval of Trump’s presidency; about 4 in 10 voters said they strongly disapproved.
Trump’s approval rating among voters is a few ticks higher than the final NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Conducted Oct. 29-31, the poll found 45 percent of registered voters approved of Trump’s performance as president. Trump’s approval rating among voters in the exit poll is also higher than polling averages of the public tracked by FiveThirtyEight (which puts his rating at 45 percent) and RealClearPolitics (46 percent).
With the exception of the first few months of his presidency, Trump’s approval rating has been below 50 percent in most public polls of Americans, an unusually consistent level of unpopularity compared to other U.S. presidents.
Read more on the methodology of the NBC News Exit Poll.
Judge to hear case Wednesday on pre-processing Pa. ballots
A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for 9 a.m. Wednesday on the lawsuit over pre-processing of mail ballots in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
A lawyer involved in the case said the county was notifying voters if their ballot envelopes had some obvious problem, like a missing date or signature. And the county was also weighing envelopes to see if they contained the required inner security envelope. The county was not, however, opening the envelopes, so one question is whether these procedures violated the state law against pre-canvassing ballots before election day.
A Republican candidate for Congress, Kathy Barnette, claims that county officials illegally began the process of pre-canvassing — or pre-processing — mailed ballots before the time specified in state law, which is 7 a.m. on election day.
She says more than 3,900 ballots were pre-canvassed and that when problems were discovered, individual voters were notified and given a chance to fix any defects that would have made their ballots void. State law doesn't allow that, she argues, and it violates the guarantee of equal protection if voters in one county are afforded such opportunities when those in others are not. Her lawsuit asks a federal judge for an order disqualifying any ballots that were cured under the above procedure.
Kelly Cofrancisco, communications director for the county’s board of commissioners, said the state Supreme Court has ruled that while notifying voters of potential problems with their mail ballots is not required, it is also not prohibited.
“Our process in no way takes the place of the procedures that are followed as part of the canvass of ballots, and at no point prior to canvass is a determination made on whether a ballot will or will not be accepted," Cofrancisco said. "We believe in doing whatever we can to afford those who have legally requested and returned a ballot a fair opportunity to have their vote count.”
Vote Watch: Twitter takes fast action on accounts violating platform’s policies
Twitter has banned several high-profile accounts that frequently posted about fringe politics on Election Day for breaking the company’s spam or hateful conduct policies.
The company appears to be taking substantial steps to curb spam, election disinformation and violent rhetoric in the final day of a contentious election cycle. Former Congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero was suspended from Twitter on Tuesday afternoon shortly after publishing a tweet that baselessly claimed immigrants would enter the U.S. and commit violence if Trump is not elected. Twitter told NBC News that Tesoriero’s account, which had over 393,000 followers, “was permanently suspended for repeated violations of the Twitter Rules.”
Tesoriero was also a proponent of the false QAnon conspiracy theory. She did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A ring of other accounts that purported to be independent journalists was also removed by Twitter on Tuesday. Accounts in the group, which had over 100,000 collective followers, were often the source of misleading or politically charged images and videos from protests in recent months. A Twitter spokesperson told NBC News the accounts were suspended for violating its rules on spam and platform manipulation. That policy specifically addresses “coordinated activity” and “attempts to artificially influence conversations through the use of multiple accounts.”
Strong turnout in Florida's most populous county after record-breaking early voting
MIAMI — Election Day brought strong voter turnout in Miami-Dade County, the state’s most populous, after a record-breaking amount of ballots cast by mail and during the early voting period.
As of 2 p.m., 88,000 people had voted on Election Day. But even before the day started, 1,135,078 or 65 percent of registered voters had already voted, according to Miami-Dade Elections Department. By comparison, in 2016, a total of 998,000 ballots were cast.
At the Coral Gables Branch Library, in Miami-Dade County, there was only a trickle of voters throughout most of the day, after having been one of the busiest in the county during the early voting period.
Outside the library, Nicole Gonzalez, 27, said she voted for Biden, “because we need to care about each other and that’s what it comes down to.” The Cuban-American artist cited racism and “anything that makes people feel unsafe” as reasons to vote for the Democratic nominee.
She said her family leans Republican and she doesn’t feel heard by them sometimes.
Miami-Dade is the most populous county in the state and it’s 70 percent Latino. Hillary Clinton won the county by 300,000 votes in 2016. But since then alliances have shifted. Trump’s deluge of messaging attacking Democrats as socialists has been effective with the large Cuban-American community, Venezuelan Americans, Colombian Americans, and other groups.
Outside the library, Marianne Brandon, 84, said she was directed to another precinct because voter ID had expired. Brandon, born in Hungary and raised in Colombia, said she would vote for Trump because she “doesn’t like the other communists.”
Brandon, retired from the insurance business, said “I have traveled a lot in my life. I know what communism is and it doesn’t work.”
Texas twins in a truck: Julián and Joaquín Castro make final attempt to get out the vote
Democrats Julián and Rep. Joaquín Castro threw out a double whammy of encouragement to voters in their hometown of San Antonio, Texas, Tuesday.
The two rode in the back of a white Chevy Silverado festooned with Texas and American flags through the streets of their old West Side neighborhood. They were followed by a few cars with Biden-Harris signs and blue balloons. The caravan was intentionally limited to avoid any security issues after a Biden-Harris campaign bus was forced off the road by a Trump caravan.
The Castros waved and threw thumbs up at largely enthusiastic motorists they passed and people outside their homes. One pedestrian gestured with his thumb turned down as the cars drove by.
Julián Castro said the caravan was a throwback to the sort of political campaigning — trucks with bullhorns shouting political messages — that used to be seen in his neighborhood and other Latino communities, and still seen in Mexico and parts of Latin America.
"We're going old school today," Castro said. "We could go over 12 million votes in Texas, which would be a record and we want to make sure everybody gets out and expresses their voice through their vote."
Texas has been a reliably Republican state for years but has been trending Democrat with growth in Hispanic and Asian populations and higher engagement of young voters. The presidential race is tight, giving Democrats some hopes of turning Texas blue this year.
"Just like everybody else I'm still really anxious," said Joaquín Castro about the chances of a Texas turnover. With the state already having set an early voting record of 9 million votes and a potential total voting record, "that's a good sign for Democrats."
Biden outspent Trump on Facebook, Google ads down the stretch
Biden spent about twice as much money on Facebook ads as Trump did in the final week of the campaign, according to data from the tech company.
Biden’s campaign spent $14 million on Facebook and Instagram versus $6 million spent by Trump’s campaign, according to an analysis of Facebook data for Oct. 25 through Oct. 31 by Acronym, a liberal group that tracks ad spending and runs anti-Trump ads through an affiliate. NBC News confirmed the numbers through Facebook’s ad library.
The ad spending was despite technical problems that both campaigns said they experienced on Facebook last week.
Biden also spent more than Trump on Google and its properties including YouTube, according to the analysis of Google data: $9.7 million by Biden versus $7.9 million by Trump.
A big budget isn’t always the most effective for internet ads, where an auction usually determines the price an advertiser pays. The Markup, a tech news website, reported last month that Biden was paying 11 percent more on average for Facebook ad impressions than Trump’s campaign was, a difference Facebook attributed to the campaigns’ strategies.
The scene at Biden election headquarters
Greetings from the Biden campaign's election night headquarters in the main parking lot of the Chase Center on the Riverfront, in Wilmington, Delaware!
This parking lot will serve as the venue for the campaign’s election night drive-in car rally, although at the moment it remains empty of supporters as workers put the finishing touches on the construction of the platform and podium where Biden will speak later.
It’s a currently a crisp 64 degrees here, with grey skies. While reporters are gradually streaming into the media area on the perimeter of the lot, the only sounds to be heard presently are the din of traffic on nearby I-95 and the continuing hum of construction vehicles.
That will all change in a few hours, when about 300 cars will be let into the lot for the rally.
How is DACA influencing voters?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is trending on Twitter as voters discuss how DACA influenced their decisions on Election Day. Others are dedicating their votes to DACA recipients who are not eligible to vote.
The DACA program has become a point of contention under the Trump administration, which sought to end the program. DACA currently protects over 600,000 teens and young adults who were brought to the U.S. as undocumented children and lack legal status. The Obama-era program gives them a chance to study and work without fear of deportation.
The Trump administration began rejecting new applicants to the program this summer about a month after the Supreme Court blocked the White House from ending the program completely. In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the administration was “arbitrary and capricious” in its attempt to end DACA.
“We are going to take care of DACA, we’re going to take care of Dreamer, it’s working right now, we’re negotiating different aspects of immigration and immigration law,” President Trump said during an NBC News town hall on Oct. 15. “We’re working very hard on the DACA program.”
In his campaign platform, Biden has pledged to reinstate the DACA program and explore "all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation."