Weekly Presidential News Briefing: October 23, 2020

Friday, October 23, 2020:

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail. This week we discuss the latest presidential debate and updates on absentee ballot deadlines as well as provide you with your weekly overview of campaign ads, spending, and more.


Presidential Race Ratings

Inside Elections updated its race ratings on October 16, 2020:

  • Iowa and Ohio moved from Tilt Republican to Toss Up.
  • Wisconsin moved from Tilt Democratic to Lean Democratic
  • New Hampshire moved from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic.
  • Kansas and Missouri moved from Likely Republican to Lean Republican.

Notable Quotes of the Week“Presidential races have been tight in North Carolina over the last three cycles. No party has won the state by more than 4 points. Barack Obama won it by less than a point in 2008. Mitt Romney took it by 2 points in 2012. And Trump won it by a little less than 4 points in 2016, making it one of only six states Trump won by less than 5 points in 2016.

But unlike a lot of other important swing states, North Carolina has a history of voters casting a lot of ballots early. The state allows those early votes to be processed before Election Day, so it shouldn’t take days to count much of the vote. We’re not talking about Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, two states that are expecting a wave of absentee voters because of the coronavirus pandemic and have no real experience counting a lot of early votes. …

In other words, unless the race is really close (which it could be), North Carolina should give us a fairly good insight into both the presidential and Senate landscapes on Election Night.”

Harry Enten, CNN

“For the most part, however, each man jabbed at his opponent in predictable, intermittently effective ways and revealed, yet again, personalities that have either attracted or repelled millions. Trump did nothing but scorn Biden as a do-nothing politician who somehow hid his role as the mastermind of a great corruption scheme. Biden was most comfortable talking about policies he would implement—and damning Trump for mishandling the pandemic. Any voter who learned anything new must have been on a very long hiking trip for the past year or so, without a smartphone.”

Michael Kazin, professor of history at Georgetown University


Week in Review

Trump on the campaign trail

• On Sunday, Trump held a rally in Nevada.

• On Monday, Trump held two rallies in Arizona.

• On Tuesday, Trump held a rally in Pennsylvania.

• On Wednesday, Trump held a rally in North Carolina.

• On Friday, Trump was scheduled to speak in The Villages and Pensacola in Florida.

Biden on the campaign trail

• On Sunday, Biden campaigned in North Carolina.

• From Monday to Wednesday, Biden did not hold any public events to prepare for the debate.

• On Friday, Biden was scheduled to deliver remarks in Delaware.

Trump, Biden clash over coronavirus, immigration in final debate

Donald Trump and Joe Biden met in Nashville, Tennessee, for the final presidential debate on Thursday night.

NBC News’ Kristen Welker moderated the event. The candidates discussed the coronavirus pandemic, election interference, foreign conflicts of interest, China, North Korea, healthcare, economic stimulus, immigration, race, and climate change.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Monday that each candidate’s microphone would be muted during the other candidate’s two-minute opening remarks for each of the six debate segments. During the rest of the debate, the microphones were on for open discussion.

Trump spoke for 41.3 minutes, while Biden spoke for 37.9 minutes. Here are highlights for each candidate:

  • Trump said a coronavirus vaccine would be available sooner than what his officials projected. He said schools and businesses needed to reopen. Trump said Biden failed to address immigration and criminal justice reform while he was vice president. He also said that Biden and his family received money from foreign countries. Trump said his tax and regulatory policy would help rebuild the economy. He said success would unify the country.
  • Biden said Trump did not take responsibility for the 220,000 deaths caused by the coronavirus in the United States or have a plan to safely reopen the economy and schools. He said his healthcare plan, Bidencare, would be Obamacare with a public option. Biden said Trump’s family separation policy violated the nation’s values. Biden called climate change an existential threat. He said the country needed to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy over time.

Howie Hawkins responded to the presidential debate in a video streamed from Nashville. Jo Jorgensen participated in a town hall interview on Thursday night.

Obama hits campaign trail for the first time for Biden

Former President Barack Obama campaigned for Joe Biden in Philadelphia on Wednesday, marking his first time on the campaign trail for Biden. Obama is also campaigning for Biden in Miami on Friday.

Biden raises $281 million, Trump raises $81 million in September

Joe Biden outraised Donald Trump by $200 million in September. Both Biden and Trump increased their receipts from August to September: $212 million to $281 million for Biden and $62 million to $81 million for Trump.

As of September 30, the Biden campaign had $114 million more cash on hand than the Trump campaign ($177 million to $63 million), marking the second consecutive month that the Biden campaign has held a cash advantage over Trump.

Court decisions allow extended absentee ballot deadlines

The U.S. Supreme Court split 4-4 on whether to grant a stay of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision allowing ballots received until November 6 to be counted. As a result, the state court’s decision stands.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled on North Carolina’s deadline extension for absentee votes on Tuesday, holding that ballots could be received and counted up to nine days after the election if they were postmarked on or before November 3.

Jorgensen completes Ballotpedia’s Candidate Conversation series

Jo Jorgensen participated in Ballotpedia’s Candidate Conversation series. Click here to watch her interview.

Want more? Find the daily details here:


Facebook Spending


Poll Spotlight



Campaign Ad Spotlight



What we’re Reading


The Candidates on the Issues: Prescription Drug Costs


Flashback: October 19-23, 2016

  • October 19, 2016: The third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was held in Las Vegas.
  • October 20, 2016: Donald Trump said during a rally, “I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.”
  • October 21, 2016: Hillary Clinton released an ad featuring Gold Star father Khizr Khan.
  • October 22, 2016: The Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project projected that Hillary Clinton had a better than 95 percent chance of winning.
  • October 23, 2016: The Las Vegas Review-Journal endorsed Donald Trump for president.

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