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How Trump, Biden Are Approaching Final Days Of Presidential Race


It's time for the closing arguments in the 2020 presidential race with only one more full day of campaigning ahead for President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden before the final voting day, Election Day, is here. And today, a definite contrast in the itineraries for the two candidates - Biden focused on just one of the key swing states this election with two campaign events scheduled, both in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, President Trump had a packed schedule that included planned stops in five states - Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

So where does the race stand with less than 48 hours to go? We're going to begin this hour with NPR's senior political editor and correspondent, Domenico Montanaro.

Domenico, welcome once again.


MARTIN: So, first of all, what's your take on where the candidates are focusing their time and energy in the final stretch?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, it's a lot of where they've been focusing their time and money on the airwaves as well. I mean, you think about Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona and Florida have been the places that have gotten almost 9 out of 10 dollars of the billion dollars that have been spent on television ads in this campaign.

And for Biden, focusing on Pennsylvania - you know, it's not just a sentimental thing for him, where he grew up in Scranton, right? But his campaign is based there, and they know that those 20 electoral votes are so key. They could be a tipping point state. And Democratic strategists have been talking about that for almost a year. And Republicans know that President Trump needs to win Florida, and his best other chance to peel off a state leaning toward Joe Biden is Pennsylvania.

MARTIN: So I know you're keeping an eye on the polls and adjusting the NPR electoral map analysis coming into the final days. What states will you be watching most closely on Tuesday night?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, when you split out that, you know, Upper Midwest, Great Lakes states, versus the Sunbelt, I'm really interested to see how the new sort of diversifying South goes. We're going to get some - we're expected to see Florida and North Carolina and Arizona to have results fairly quickly. So how those states go could be determinative of how the rest of the night goes.

President Trump has almost no path without Florida. Right now, Biden is leading very, very narrowly in the polls. If that were to hold, and he were to win, you get a sense then of the fact that it's almost impossible for Trump to win. You know, if the opposite is true, and Trump wins all three, you know, we could be in for a long night or a few days.

MARTIN: So on ABC this morning, Trump adviser Jason Miller raised some eyebrows by saying - I'm going to quote here - "if you speak with many smart Democrats, they believe that President Trump will be ahead on election night, and then they're going to try to steal it back after the election." Again, that's a quote. What did he mean with that? And could you just fact-check that for us, please?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, he's baselessly casting doubt on the election. You know, Democrats have been running up the score with early voting, and Republicans know this. Many states can't start counting those mail-in votes until Election Day itself. And places like Pennsylvania that aren't used to this volume of mail-in votes are likely to be taking a while to do this. It could be days until they get all of the votes counted.

There's nothing nefarious about that. You know, that's how this works. States have weeks in many cases to certify the results. Election results are never, ever final on election night.

I just think back to 2016. The Associated Press, who we rely on for calls, didn't make the call in that race until 2:29 a.m. on Wednesday. I wrote a post at 3:06 in the morning, and President Trump was still up in the popular vote. And I said, by the back-of-the-envelope math, Hillary Clinton could win the popular vote by 1.8 million votes - wound up being 3 million because of all that vote count in California that takes some time because they have so many millions of people.

And they're already in California at three-quarters of what their 2016 vote. Almost 11 million people have voted there already.

MARTIN: We're going to talk more about this in just a few minutes. And that was NPR's Domenico Montanaro.

Domenico, see you Tuesday night. Thank you as always.

MONTANARO: See you Tuesday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.