The Note: Battleground-state spikes keep campaign focused on COVID-19

Among 13 battleground states, coronavirus positivity rates are going up in 11.

October 27, 2020, 6:04 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

If President Donald Trump is tired of talking about COVID-19, his biggest problem one week from Election Day may be that voters he needs are living it – still, and especially now.

You wouldn't know it from his rallies. And you wouldn't know it from Monday night's celebration for the swearing-in of just-confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett outside the White House, which featured more masks than her announcement event but no real social distancing at what amounted to be a late-night outdoor party.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks flanked by Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas before the swearing in of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as an US Supreme Court Associate Justice during a ceremony, Oct. 26, 2020.
President Donald Trump speaks flanked by Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas before the swearing in of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as an US Supreme Court Associate Justice during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Oct. 26, 2020.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The view from the ground: Among the 13 most competitive battleground states, coronavirus positivity rates are going up in 11 of them -- including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona, according to an ABC News analysis of COVID Tracking Project data.

Hospitalization rates are up in nine of the 13 top-targeted states, including the five top-tier battlegrounds just referenced. The number of daily deaths is up in six critical states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio and Minnesota.

PHOTO: Supporters attend President Donald Trump's campaign event in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, Oct. 26, 2020.
Supporters attend President Donald Trump's campaign event in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, Oct. 26, 2020.
Leah Millis/Reuters

Trump's three campaign rallies Monday barely included a mention of the pandemic and the president did not reference the recent outbreak among White House staff. The president attacked former Vice President Joe Biden for prescribing "doom and gloom" when he predicted a long road ahead.

The race's dominant issue, though, has remained COVID-19. The inability to control the pandemic is not just a concession from the White House chief of staff -- it's a statement of reality as being lived by voters, including some with an outsized voice in the election.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

In yet another clear attempt by Trump to sow doubt and spread misinformation about the election, Trump tweeted Monday evening: "Must have final total on November 3rd."

Of course, it is not up to the president when exactly state and local officials finish counting and certifying their vote, nor is that work ever done in an official capacity on election night.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Londonderry, New Hampshire, Oct. 25, 2020.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Londonderry, New Hampshire, Oct. 25, 2020.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Michigan's Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson responded directly, writing, "Nope. Wrong again. Candidates don't get to decide when results are announced, election administrators do. In Michigan, and in every other state, we will securely count every valid vote to ensure the total, whenever announced, is an accurate reflection of the will of the people."

The president heads to a rather blue part of Michigan, its capital city, to campaign Tuesday.

More than two million voters in Michigan have already cast their ballots early, and 25% of those voters say they did not vote in 2016, according to data compiled by TargetSmart.

The TIP with Soo Rin Kim

Trump and the Republican Party are entering the final week of the presidential race far behind Biden and the Democratic Party on ad spending -- as Trump's team is scheduled to run $24.2 million worth of television air time in the final week before Election Day and Biden's team has committed $38.5 million, ad spending data from Kantar/CMAG shows.

Curiously, the president's team on Monday pulled much of its airtime reservations from the campaign account and transferred them to a coordinated account between the campaign and the Republican National Committee, suggesting an attempt to free the cash-strapped campaign from expensive ad expenditures. At the end of Monday night, Trump’s team had $2 million less airtime reserved than before, while the Biden campaign had added a whopping $21 million that day.

Florida remains the Biden's team's top priority in the final week as they spend more than $6.4 million in the Sunshine State, but they're continuing to cast a wider net in the last stretch, investing more than $5.7 million in national broadcast and cable airtime, while also focusing on Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan and Arizona.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to reporters while visiting a voter mobilization center, Oct. 26, 2020, in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks to reporters while visiting a voter mobilization center, Oct. 26, 2020, in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Trump's team in contrast has pulled many of its ads away from Florida, which had for months been its top-spending state. Now the president's biggest market is Michigan, where they have invested $5.3 million. North Carolina, Arizona and Pennsylvania also continue to be among his top markets.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver, who tells us what to make of early voting numbers so far. ABC News' Katherine Faulders recaps Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court Monday night. And Maya Wei-Haas from our partners at National Geographic explains why NASA's announcement about water on the moon is so significant. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast. Election Day is just eight days away, and more than 60 million Americans have already voted -- that's about 45% of all the votes counted in 2016. So could any new developments still affect the race? In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew looks at how October surprises have -- or haven't -- shaped past elections and what issues are driving the final days of the 2020 campaign. They also shake out the mailbag and answer some listener questions. https://apple.co/23r5y7w

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