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: More voters say coronavirus containment efforts are not going well
As U.S. coronavirus infections topped 9 million confirmed cases this weekend, many voters across the country say efforts to contain the pandemic are not going very well. According to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of Election Day and early voters, 51 percent of voters nationwide say containment efforts are going badly — that includes 35 percent who say they are going very badly.
But voters’ priorities around dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak are divided: 52 percent of voters say it is more important to contain the coronavirus now, even if it hurts the economy. A considerably smaller share (42 percent) says it is more important to rebuild the economy now, even if it hurts efforts to contain the coronavirus.
Biden and Trump voters are divided in their priorities. Biden voters are considerably more likely to say getting case counts under control is more important (79 percent). Trump voters emphasize shoring up the economy (70 percent).
NBC News Exit Poll: Most voters say coronavirus surge was important factor in their choice
As the United States grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases, a majority of voters said rising case counts were an important factor in their vote for president.
According to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters, 61 percent of those casting ballots said rising coronavirus cases were a significant factor in their vote — including a quarter who said the surge was the most important factor. Only 33 percent of voters said recent spikes in Covid-19 cases were not important to their vote for president.
Voters who supported Joe Biden were far more likely than President Trump's voters to say that rising coronavirus cases were important to their vote: 83 percent of Biden’s voters said this compared with just 46 percent of Trump voters.
Trump campaign projects confidence in final hours of voting
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said on a call with reporters Tuesday evening that whatever ground Joe Biden had gained during early voting, Donald Trump was making up for it on Election Day.
"The Biden campaign cannibalized their vote," Stepien said. "They simply moved those who traditionally vote on Election Day to vote early. And to that, we say congratulations.”
Senior campaign adviser Jason Miller addressed the "mood in the room," and said that everyone in the campaign, including the president, felt "more confident" tonight than they did this time four years ago.
Miller also said he was hopeful Trump would win enough electoral votes for the race to be called tonight, throwing cold water on warnings from Democrats and election experts that it could take days to count all of the votes in some close battleground states like Pennsylvania.
NBC News Exit Poll: Voters say Biden would better handle the coronavirus
As the coronavirus and the economy emerge as important voting issues in the 2020 election, Biden is favored among voters overall to better handle the coronavirus pandemic.
According to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters, 53 percent of voters nationwide say Biden would better manage the virus; 42 percent of voters say Trump would do a better job. The Trump administration has faced significant criticism over the president’s handling of the virus, and he has sparred with public officials in recent days as case counts spike across the country.
But as the U.S economy strives to recover from record job losses and an economic downturn this year, Trump and Biden are more competitive among voters on the economy: 49 percent of voters say Biden would better handle the economy, while a nearly identical share say Trump would do a better job (48 percent).
Why one Nevada Republican says he's voting for Biden
Harry Rosenthal has been a lifelong registered Republican. But when he cast his vote on Election Day in Las Vegas, he voted for former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I felt it was important to put decency back back into the White House,” said Rosenthal, 44, a civil defense attorney, who cast his ballot in person at a west side polling location in Las Vegas on Tuesday. “I think there are a lot of Republicans who feel that way.”
Rosenthal added that he did not vote for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election and considers himself a “never-Trump Republican.”
There are several voters across the country who echo Rosenthal’s sentiment such as those at the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super PAC made up of mostly Republicans.
“The country is not going in the right direction and Trump is definitely not the right choice to get it back on track,” Rosenthal said. “I’m unsure about Joe Biden, but I’m willing to take that chance.”
Biden's busy Election Day
This may have just been Joe Biden’s busiest day on the campaign trail to date, with he's making 11 stops between Delaware and Pennsylvania. Of course, none of these should be qualified as rallies given that they were all brief stops in cities that are close to Biden’s heart:
—Wilmington, Delaware: Home for decades.
—Philadelphia: Where he officially launched his presidential campaign & where his HQ is based.
—Scranton, Pennsylvania: Where he was born and lived for the first 10 years of his life.
NBC News Exit Poll: Nearly half of voters say economy is doing well — a bigger share than in 2016
Despite the economic hit delivered by the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans voting in the 2020 presidential election said the economy is doing well than said the same in 2016, according to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters.
When asked to assess the condition of the nation’s economy, 48 percent of voters said the economy is either “excellent” or “good," compared to 50 percent who said it was either “not so good” or “poor.” These are better numbers for the economy than in 2016, when roughly 6 in 10 voters gave it a negative rating.
Compared to the economy as a whole, Americans have sunnier assessments of their own finances. When asked to compare their financial situation to four years ago, only 20 percent said their family’s finances are worse than when President Trump took office; the rest said their finances are the same (38 percent) or better (41 percent).
Tradition brings several voters out at one Las Vegas polling location
Tradition and ensuring their ballots were counted motivated several voters at one west side Las Vegas polling location to cast their ballots in person on Election Day.
“It’s been a ritual for me growing up,” said Desiree Solis, 46. She brought her two sons, Maximus, 8, and Viggo, 7, with her to vote at the polling site, located in the Las Vegas Ballpark parking lot in the city’s west side. “I wanted them to experience this process and know how important it is to have your voice be heard.”
Nevada lawmakers passed a bill during this summer that gave voters for the first time the choice between voting by mail and going to the polls if the state is under a declaration of disaster or emergency. While about 55 percent of more than 1.1 million votes cast by Tuesday morning in the state were through mail-in ballots, several voters like Solis still came out to the polls on Election Day.
"This is how I’ve always done it and I think it’s the best way to do it," said Steve Wynn, 50, a registered nurse, who moved to Las Vegas about four months ago.
Lines at the Las Vegas Ballpark polling location were short, with voters saying they were able to cast their ballots in about 15 minutes. Several voters coming to the location also opted to vote on election day, but by using their mail-in ballots. All Nevada polling locations also double as ballot drop off sites.
“I didn’t want to potentially be in a crowd and wait any amount of time,” said Lisa Silvani, 30, who works in the food and beverage industry. Silvani added that she also felt more secure about dropping off her ballot than using the United States Postal Service. “To me, that’s how there’s the least room for error in making sure it counts.”
NBC News Exit Poll: Voters look for strong leader, good judgment in presidential candidates
About a third of voters said the quality of a strong leader was most important in their vote for president, according to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters.
About quarter of voters said showing good judgment was most important, while a fifth said caring for people like them was key, and another fifth said it was important for the candidate to unite the country.
But at the end of the day, about three-quarters of voters said the candidate's position on issues was more important to them than the candidate's personal qualities.
Read more on the methodology of the NBC News Exit Poll.
NBC News Exit Poll: Fewer voters in 2020 than 2016 made their decision in final week
After enduring the onslaught of a 2020 campaign during which an estimated $14 billion was spent to convince voters, just 4 percent of Americans say they waited until the week before Election Day to decide on their presidential candidate, according to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll of early and Election Day voters. That’s a substantially smaller share than those who waited until the last minute to decide in 2016, when 13 percent of the electorate waited until the final week to decide on their vote.
Most voters (74 percent) say they made up their mind before the campaign began in earnest on Labor Day. The remainder said they decided sometime in September or October.