President Trump is traveling to four critical states where he lags in polls and is already gearing up to challenge the results in Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden is holding three rallies today. Mr. Biden told supporters in Cleveland, “The power to change the country is in your hands.”
Whatever the outcome, the 2020 election is already one for the history books, with an astonishing 97.6 million ballots already submitted through in-person early voting and by mail — more than two-thirds of the number of votes cast in the entire 2016 election.
As of Monday afternoon, hours before Election Day, with some states still holding early voting, 35.5 million people had voted in person and 62.1 million had cast ballots by mail, according to the U.S. Elections Project, a nonpartisan website run by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who tracks county-level data.
Those numbers represent a tectonic shift away from one-day voting, the staple of the American electoral system for centuries.
And they make it likely that the total turnout for 2020 will break the record set in 2016, when nearly 139 million people voted.
They also create fresh uncertainty for two presidential campaigns facing the prospect of motivating a smaller, more-volatile reservoir of available voters to tap on Election Day itself.
Democrats, buoyed by polls showing Joseph R. Biden Jr. with small but durable leads in battleground states, have focused on turning out Black and Latino voters, who typically prefer voting in person, to offset an expected Election-Day surge by Trump supporters.
Texas and Hawaii have already surpassed their total 2016 voter turnout, and the battleground states of North Carolina, Georgia and Florida have topped 90 percent of their 2016 turnout.
In the 20 states that report the party registration of early voters, the elections project found that 45 percent of those who have voted early are registered Democrats, 30 percent are Republicans and 24 percent list no party affiliation.