Weekly Presidential News Briefing: September 18, 2020

Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.


Candidates by the Numbers

The Cook Political Report updated its race ratings on September 17, 2020:

  • Arizona moved from Toss Up to Leans Democratic.

Notable Quotes of the Day“While debates are often seen as gamechangers, it’s often the period after the conventions are in the rearview mirror and before the debates when the political environment becomes clear.

Take a look at all the election cycles since 1972. Specifically, look at where the national polling averages stood 35 days before the election (i.e. the day of the first 2020 general debate). The polls have been surprisingly predictive.

There has just been about a 3 point difference between where the polling average stood 35 days before the election and the eventual result. To put that into context, there has been about a 2 point difference between the polling averages and the results on the final day of the election.”

Harry Enten, CNN


“[Trump’s approval rating] is rising, and at a fairly steady clip. He isn’t at the 46% threshold yet, and it’s likely he’ll level off in the next few weeks, but that isn’t a given.

This is, frankly, a much better position for Trump to be in than the two most recent presidents who lost their reelection bids. President George H.W. Bush’s job approval was consistently in the mid-to-high 30s post-Labor Day, while Jimmy Carter’s job approval was in the low 30s. Trump’s job approval isn’t good, but it is closer to that of recent presidents who have won than to recent presidents who have lost.

Finally, in this vein, one of the more perplexing features of 2020 is that Trump’s job approval has outpaced his vote share in head-to-head polls. Who are these people who approve of the job he is doing but don’t plan on voting for him? My guess is they are eventual Trump voters, who either won’t admit to themselves or to the pollster that they are going to vote for him. Perhaps Trump will lose a substantial number of people who approve of the job he is doing, but I’m not sure I’d bet on it.

Sean Trende, senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics


Week in Review

Biden on the campaign trail

  • On Monday, Joe Biden discussed climate change and the economy during an event in Delaware.
  • On Tuesday, Biden met with veterans in Tampa and attended a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee.
  • On Wednesday, Biden delivered remarks about the coronavirus pandemic in Delaware.
  • On Thursday, Biden participated in a town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
  • On Friday, Biden campaigned in northern Minnesota.
Trump on the campaign trail

  • On Sunday, Donald Trump held his first indoor rally in three months in Nevada.
  • On Monday, Trump traveled to California to speak with local and federal officials about the wildfires across the state.
  • On Tuesday, Trump traveled to Philadelphia to participate in an ABC News town hall.
  • On Wednesday, Trump remained in Washington, D.C.
  • On Thursday, Trump held a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin.
  • On Friday, Trump campaigned in northern Minnesota.

Adelson, Bloomberg plan to boost presidential candidates

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg committed at least $100 million to help Joe Biden’s campaign. The spending will primarily be focused on television and digital advertising.

On Thursday, the Democratic-aligned Priorities USA announced that it was using $5.4 million from Bloomberg to air ads focused on the coronavirus pandemic in 10 media markets in Florida.

CNBC reported that casino executive Sheldon Adelson is expected to contribute $20 million to $50 million to Preserve America, the Republican National Committee, and other Republican groups to support Donald Trump’s campaign.

Battleground ads focus on pandemic, healthcare, Black voters, and economy

The Joe Biden campaign began airing new ads in battleground states on Wednesday focused on healthcare and the Affordable Care Act. The campaign is spending $65 million on television, radio, and print advertising this week.

Other pro-Biden and anti-Trump ads released this week include:

  • Spanish-language ads in Florida about the economy, coronavirus pandemic, and the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria
  • Two new ads focused on manufacturing and union jobs in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania
  • A series of digital and television ads aimed at Black voters in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin

Donald Trump launched an ad buy of more than $10 million focused on the economy. The ads will run nationwide and in Arizona, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Other pro-Trump and anti-Biden ads released this week include:

  • An ad that highlights the Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization agreement signed this week set to air nationwide and in Florida and Philadelphia
  • A new $9.7 million ad campaign from CatholicVote attacking Biden for his position on abortion in Michigan and Pennsylvania

Jorgensen qualifies for the ballot in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The Jo Jorgensen campaign announced on Monday that it had met ballot access requirements in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Jorgensen is the fifth Libertarian candidate to reach this milestone following candidates in 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2016.

Hawkins, West battle for ballot access in the courts

An Idaho court ruled on Wednesday that Kanye West could remain on the ballot as an independent presidential candidate despite being registered to vote in Wyoming as a Republican.

A Wisconsin judge upheld a decision by the state elections commission to block West from the ballot because an aide submitted the paperwork after the 5 p.m. filing deadline.

Wisconsin and Pennsylvania judges ruled that Howie Hawkins would not appear on those state’s ballots.

Want more? Find the daily details here:


Campaign Ad Spotlight



Facebook Spending


Poll Spotlight



Candidates on the Issues


What we’re reading this week

Flashback: September 14-18, 2016

  • September 14, 2016: Gary Johnson qualified for the ballot in all 50 states.
  • September 15, 2016: Donald Trump shared the results of a medical physical written by Dr. Harold Bernsein.
  • September 16, 2016: The country’s largest law enforcement union, the National Fraternal Order of Police, endorsed Donald Trump.
  • September 17, 2016: Bernie Sanders campaigned at Kent State University in Ohio on behalf of Hillary Clinton.
  • September 18, 2016: The Morning Call profiled Donald Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania coal country.



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