The Note: Biden plays on expanded map as Trump tends to base

Biden’s campaign is looking to play all over during the final stretch.

October 26, 2020, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's either brilliant or delusional -- a sign of changing realities or political hubris. There's no way to know which for at least another eight days.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign is seeing an expanding map and looking to play all over it during the final stretch of the race.

Biden will spend Tuesday in Georgia, with Sen. Kamala Harris expected in Texas this week and former President Barack Obama being deployed again to Florida. Democrats are playing in a battleground map of 17 states -- when all they needs to do is flip the right three.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a drive-in campaign event at Bucks County Community College in Bristol, Pa. Oct. 24, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Those key three are where President Donald Trump is spending his Monday and Tuesday, with a crush of rallies that both defy social-distance guidelines and remain the kind of events that only he could pull together.

Trump's focus is falling on the trio Democrats have stressed over for four years running: Pennsylvania, where he will have three rallies Monday, then Wisconsin and Michigan Tuesday, with the president campaigning primarily in GOP strongholds inside those states.

President Donald Trump reacts to the crowd while walking to the podium during a campaign event at the Waukesha County Airport in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Oct. 24, 2020.
Tom Brenner/Reuters

One school of thought will always second-guess any time spent by either candidate anywhere else. But Biden is flush with both cash and eager surrogates, and is watching early turnout numbers blow past expectations while new COVID-19 spikes keep the race focused on where he wants it.

Trump still has to worry about a crumbling coalition of states the GOP considered safe. He never wanted to have to campaign in Ohio or Florida at this stage of the race, to say nothing of Nebraska -- where he will squeeze in a trip Tuesday -- or South Carolina, where Vice President Mike Pence will be that same day.

Polling and pandemic realities confirm something smart political minds have long said: 2020 is not 2016. But the thought that pursuing close to 400 electoral votes could make the path to 270 even a little harder will haunt some Democrats until the end of this long race.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Republicans Sunday voted to end an attempted filibuster by Democrats aimed at slowing the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. As it stands, the chamber is now set to conduct its final vote on the president's nomination Monday night.

Should she be confirmed -- and there is still every indication that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does in fact have 51 votes -- she would take her new post after tens of millions of Americans have already cast their ballots in this election. Moreover, her elevation would come right as Republicans and the president's team in several key battleground states continue to ask for judicial interference to stop or roll back new measures for counting and accepting ballots.

In this file photo Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies on the third day of her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on October 14, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Ken Cedeno/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

That is to say, it is still possible that President Trump's nominee takes a seat days before the final votes are cast in an election where one party seems eager to get the highest court involved.

Just this weekend the president's campaign for example asked the Supreme Court to block North Carolina's current plan for counting absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day. A federal court of appeals decision last week told state officials to continue with their plan to count ballots that arrive before Nov. 12 as long as they are postmarked by Nov 3.

Of course some of these rules around counting mailed-in ballots will likely only matter if the race in any given state is neck-and-neck.

Asked repeatedly during her confirmation hearings if she would recuse herself from cases related to this election, Barrett punted and said it would be premature to decide.

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

Leave it to the Lonestar State to lead the nation with the largest number of early votes. The Texas-sized total as of Sunday is 7.2 million -- already 80% of the state's entire 2016 vote.

Democrats were hopeful they could further their momentum from the 2018 midterms, when they flipped two of the state's House seats, came within 5% in six others, and saw Beto O'Rourke nearly upset Sen. Ted Cruz. But along with this year's soon-to-be record-setting turnout, the possibility of Texas flipping blue feels more realistic than ever.

Voters wait in line outside of an Ace Hardware store in Odessa, Texas, for the first day of early voting in Texas on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.
Eli Hartman/AP

Some Republicans, however, are wholly unmoved.

"The president is going to win Texas," Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told reporters on a press call Sunday, after it was noted that President Trump won't hold events in the state during the campaign's final stretch.

"Texas is not a battleground state -- it's that simple," added former energy secretary and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a comment undermined by the most recent Quinnipiac University poll showing a 47-47 race among the state's likely voters.

As for what could break that tie in the final eight days? According to a source familiar with her plans, Kamala Harris travels to Texas on Friday.


After two contentious debates and more than $1.5 billion in advertising, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden enter the closing week of a bitter campaign with their favorability ratings relatively unchanged since at least the summer, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday. Trump's favorability is significantly underwater in the new survey, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos' Knowledge Panel, with more than half of Americans -- including more than half of men (53%), Americans over 65 (53%), and independents (57%) -- viewing him unfavorably. The president's favorability deficit stands at minus-22 in the poll, similar to where he stood on the eve of the 2016 election. But unlike four years ago, when both Trump and Hillary Clinton headed into November deeply unpopular -- Trump's favorability at 38% to 60% and Clinton's at 42% to 56% in the final ABC News/Washington Post poll -- Biden is seen significantly more favorably.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Monday morning's episode features ABC News Senior Editorial producer John Santucci, who tells us how the White House is responding to a COVID-19 outbreak among the vice president's staff. ABC News Capitol Hill producer Trish Turner explains how Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation vote could impact Senate races in next week's election. And ABC News Chief National correspondent Matt Gutman tells us about his traveling to Billings, Montana, which is being hit hard by the new COVID-19 surge.

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast. Our national polling average shows Joe Biden with about a 10-point lead, while the state-level polls indicate his lead is closer to eight points. Meanwhile, some recent polling in congressional districts shows margins for Biden that suggest he's leading by more than 10 points nationally. In this installment of Model Talk on the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, editor-in-chief Nate Silver talks to Galen Druke about why those polls are showing different degrees of competitiveness. They also answer listener questions about how long it took to build the forecast and what the chances are of a Georgia runoff deciding who controls the Senate.


  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., joins ABC's "The View."
  • President Donald Trump delivers remarks to American workers at a rally in Allentown, Pennsylvania, at 11 a.m., then holds a Make America Great Again Victory Rally in Litiz, Pennsylvania, at 1:30 p.m., and another rally in Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, at 4:30 p.m.
  • Vice President Mike Pence holds a Make America Great Again Victory Rally in Hibbing, Minnesota, at 2 p.m.
  • Jill Biden travels to Macon and Savannah, Georgia.
  • Doug Emhoff travels to North Carolina.
  • On Monday evening, the Senate will hold a floor session and the Senate is expected to hold its final confirmation vote on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.

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