Emily Aubert

Emily Aubert is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at

First presidential debate topics include SCOTUS, coronavirus

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
September 23, 2020: Debate moderator Chris Wallace announced the six topics for the first presidential debate. Maine will use ranked-choice voting in the presidential election.

Presidential Facebook ads, 2019-2020 (September 14-20, 2020)

Notable Quote of the Day

“While everyone is talking about the significance of extending the mail-ballot deadline, it is the naked ballot ruling that is going to cause electoral chaos.”

– Lisa Deeley, Philadelphia City Commissioners chairwoman

Election Updates

  • Fox News anchor Chris Wallace announced the six topics for the first presidential debate: the Trump and Biden records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in our cities, and the integrity of the election. Wallace is moderating the debate on September 29.
  • The Maine Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a veto referendum on ranked-choice voting (RCV) did not reach the signature threshold required to appear on the ballot. RCV will be used for the first time in a presidential election.
  • The Joe Biden campaign announced it was running a radio advertising campaign in nine battleground states—Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nebraska, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—focused on the coronavirus pandemic and rural communities.
  • Biden is making his first visit to North Carolina since the Democratic primary season on Wednesday. He is attending a Black economic summit in Charlotte.
  • Donald Trump said he would announce his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.
  • Trump will speak at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday morning. The event is taking place virtually.

Flashback: September 23, 2016

NBC News reported on Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s debate prep.blank

Click here to learn more.

Biden gains cash advantage over Trump for first time in 2020 presidential election cycle

Joe Biden outraised Donald Trump by $150 million according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on September 20.

The Biden campaign raised $212 million in August, a percentage difference of 109% from the Trump campaign’s $62 million. Biden’s campaign spent $130 million to Trump’s $61 million. As of August 31, the Biden campaign had $60 million more in cash on hand than the Trump campaign ($181 million to $121 million), marking the first time his campaign has held a cash advantage over Trump. Biden also leads Trump in overall fundraising for the first time, cumulatively raising $541 million to Trump’s $476 million.

Biden’s campaign more than quadrupled its receipts from July in August ($50 million to $212 million), while Trump’s receipts declined by $10 million ($72 million to $62 million).

Biden’s $541 million in overall fundraising is the second-highest figure for any presidential candidate at this point in the past four cycles. The only candidate to have outraised him was Barack Obama (D), who had raised $598 million in inflation-adjusted funds at this point in 2008. Biden’s cash-on-hand total of $181 million is the highest of any candidate’s at this point in the election cycle, topping Trump’s $121 million this year and Obama’s $102 million in inflation-adjusted cash on hand in September 2012.

Biden and Trump’s combined $1 billion in fundraising is the highest across the four most recent election cycles. At this point in the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama and John McCain (R) had raised a combined inflation-adjusted $908 million.

Additional reading:

Biden spends $65 million on ads across 12 states

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
September 22, 2020: The Biden campaign is spending $65 million on ads this week in 12 states. Jo Jorgensen completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey.

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (Emerson College • North Carolina • September 16-18, 2020)

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (Trafalgar Group • Pennsylvania • September 15-17, 2020)

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (CBS News • Texas • September 15-18, 2020)

Notable Quote of the Day

“But the way Biden behaved in the primary debates isn’t necessarily a great guide to how he will show up against Trump—a fact that the president and his aides seem to be preparing for as they build an ouroboros of contradictory expectations, including that Biden is effectively brain-dead, on performance-enhancing drugs, a stumbling idiot who can’t get his words out, and a debater with skills on par with Cicero’s.

The key difference that Biden’s aides are counting on: He doesn’t like taking shots at his fellow Democrats, but he enjoys whaling on Republicans. He’s good at it—or at least he was the last time he had the chance, in the 2012 vice-presidential debate against Paul Ryan. Biden hates being pulled to the liberal edge of the party, like he was in the primaries, but loves to portray himself as the middle-of-the-road guy standing up for common sense.”

– Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic

Election Updates

  • The Joe Biden campaign is spending $65 million on ads this week in 12 states. A portion of the ad buy—across radio, digital, and broadcast channels—focuses on Black voters in Georgia.
  • Donald Trump is holding a campaign rally at Pittsburgh International Airport on Tuesday, marking his fourth appearance in the state this month.
  • Trump will give a prerecorded address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.
  • On Monday, Trump said he had spoken with several potential Supreme Court nominees and planned to meet a few candidates in person. He said he had narrowed his list to five women.
  • Howie Hawkins is holding a weekly livestream on Tuesday night with Madelyn Hoffman, a Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in New Jersey.
  • Jo Jorgensen completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click here to read her responses.

Flashback: September 22, 2016

Donald Trump said Chicago should institute a stop-and-frisk policy to address violence in the city.blank

Click here to learn more.

Biden, Trump respond to Supreme Court vacancy

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
September 21, 2020: Joe Biden and Donald Trump responded to the Supreme Court vacancy. Joe Biden and Donald Trump released cash-on-hand figures for September.

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

“It’s easy to imagine a Supreme Court vacancy as the great interruptor, particularly to a group of journalists, analysts and politicos looking for a fall surprise. But it’s less clear exactly how it will move a significant number of voters in a different direction.

Trump is an incredibly polarizing figure. According to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, 52 percent of national likely voters disapproved of his job performance, including 46 percent who strongly disapproved. Another 43 percent of likely voters approved of Trump’s job performance, including 33 percent who approved strongly. Opinion surrounding the president has hardened, and everything he touches becomes a partisan issue, including sports, beans and the color of baseball caps.

More qualitatively, people triggered by the Supreme Court were probably already planning to vote and had made up their minds about whom they would vote for before Ginsburg’s death. It’s unlikely there are many ‘soft’ Supreme Court voters.”

– Nathan L. GonzalesRoll Call

“While the political implications remained murky, the financial calculations are more clear.

The vacancy almost immediately amplified an already intense grab for campaign cash in the final weeks of the campaign. Supreme Court confirmation fights are often extremely lucrative fundraising opportunities for third-party super PACs and other groups that will use the money to run advertisements in battleground states.

ActBlue, which raises money for Democratic candidates, reported raising $57 million online through Saturday afternoon. The group raised $6.2 million in the first hour after the justice’s death become public, the New York Times reported, more than any other one-hour period since the group launched 16 years ago.”

– David Jackson, John Fritze, and Michael CollinsUSA Today

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden and related Democratic Party committees began September with $466 million in cash on hand. Donald Trump and his joint Republican Party committees started the month with $325 million in cash on hand.
  • On Monday, Biden is making his second Wisconsin campaign stop in two weeks in Manitowoc.
  • Biden will begin advertising on Iowa’s network television stations—as opposed to cable or digital channels—for the first time on Tuesday. The ads will focus on healthcare, COVID-19, and economic recovery.
  • Biden said Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement on the Supreme Court should not be nominated and confirmed until after the 2020 presidential election.
  • Trump said he would name a Supreme Court nominee by Saturday. He also said the nominee would be a woman and that he had narrowed the list down to five candidates.
  • Trump will make two campaign stops in Ohio on Monday: a stop in Vandalia focused on the American worker and a Great American Comeback event in Toledo.
  • Jo Jorgensen tweeted that she would not comment on the Supreme Court vacancy until Ginsburg’s family had the opportunity to mourn.

Flashback: September 21, 2016

Hillary Clinton discussed the treatment of people with disabilities during a speech in Orlando.blank

Click here to learn more.

Biden, Trump campaign in northern Minnesota

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
September 18, 2020: Joe Biden and Donald Trump are campaigning in northern Minnesota on Friday. The pro-Biden Priorities USA is airing ads in Florida.

Notable Quote of the Day

“[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

Election Updates​​​​

  • Joe Biden began airing two new ads focused on manufacturing and union jobs in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Those same battleground states and Minnesota will also see a second ad featuring a Pennsylvania voter who previously supported Donald Trump.
  • Biden is campaigning in Duluth, Minnesota, on Friday. This is his first visit to the state since December 2017.
  • In a call with Democratic senators on Thursday, Biden discussed staffing, fundraising, and voter outreach for the general election.
  • The Democratic-aligned Priorities USA announced on Thursday that it was using $5.4 million from a donation from former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to air ads focused on the coronavirus pandemic in 10 media markets in Florida.
  • Trump is holding “Great American Comeback” rallies in Minnesota on Friday and North Carolina on Saturday.
  • 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 Trump’s campaign.
  • The Trump campaign is airing a new ad nationwide and in Florida and Philadelphia that highlights the Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization agreement signed this week.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Howie Hawkins could not appear on the ballot due to errors in a placeholder Green candidate’s nomination.
  • Jo Jorgensen will campaign in Montana on Friday and Saturday and South Dakota on Sunday.

Flashback: September 18, 2016

The Morning Call profiled Donald Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania coal country.blank

Click here to learn more.

CNN hosts Scranton town hall with Biden

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

September 17, 2020: CNN is hosting a town hall with Joe Biden on Thursday night. Donald Trump is holding a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin, on Thursday night.

DPNB campaign ad comparison feature, 2020 ("Red Handed" – Democratic National Committee)

DPNB campaign ad comparison feature, 2020 ("Joe Biden Has Done Absolutely Nothing for America" – Donald Trump)

“But with Florida’s registered Democrats for the first time requesting hundreds of thousands more mail-in ballots than Republicans, overseas ballots going out on Sept. 19 and polls showing a tight contest in the nation’s most populous swing state, a Trump loss is being considered as a possibility. The Trump campaign is considering pathways to the White House that do not include Florida.

A defeat in Florida would trigger a set of circumstances that just one Republican nominee in the last 100 years has been able to emerge from victoriously. Former President Calvin Coolidge in 1924 lost Florida but won the national election.

Without Florida’s 29 electoral college votes, Trump would be completely reliant on a trio of Upper-Midwest battleground states he narrowly won in 2016 — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — and would need the electoral votes of at least one additional battleground state he previously lost, such as New Hampshire or Minnesota, in order to win a second term.”

– Francesca Chambers and David Smiley, McClatchy DC

Election Updates

  • CNN is hosting a town hall with Joe Biden on Thursday night in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Anderson Cooper will moderate the event.
  • The National Postal Mail Handlers Union endorsed Biden on Wednesday.
  • The Donald Trump campaign requested a federal judge prevent mail-in ballots in New Jersey from being counted 10 days prior to the election while a lawsuit is pending. It also requested that mail-in ballots without a postmark should not be accepted up to two days prior to the election.
  • Trump is holding a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin, on Thursday night. The event was previously scheduled for Friday.
  • 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.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: September 17, 2016

Bernie Sanders campaigned at Kent State University in Ohio on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

Click here to learn more.

CatholicVote launches $9.7 million anti-Biden campaign

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

September 16, 2020: National political advocacy group CatholicVote launched a $9.7 million ad campaign against Joe Biden. The Jo Jorgensen campaign announced that it had met ballot access requirements in all 50 states.

Facebook Spending, September 7-13, 2020

“Campaigns have also been forced to reconsider their conception of Pennsylvania’s political geography. The conventional wisdom was that western and eastern Pennsylvania were Democratic and central Pennsylvania was solidly Republican (memorably summarized by Democratic strategist James Carville’s quote that, between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was just Alabama). While this may have been true (at least politically) in, say, 2000, working-class western and northeastern Pennsylvania have slowly but surely been getting redder. As a result, Pennsylvania’s new geographic divide is between southeastern Pennsylvania and the rest of the state — in other words, the parts of the state that are culturally Northeastern and the parts that are culturally Midwestern or Appalachian.”

– Nathaniel Rakich, FiveThirtyEight

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden is delivering remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, about public health concerns and a COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.
  • The 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.
  • Scientific American endorsed Biden on Tuesday, marking the popular science magazine’s first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history.
  • National political advocacy group CatholicVote launched a $9.7 million ad campaign against Biden beginning with digital ads in Michigan and Pennsylvania focused on abortion.
  • Donald Trump will remain in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, where he will hold a call with Jewish leaders in the afternoon and deliver remarks at the National Republican Congressional Committee Battleground Dinner in the evening.
  • Trump discussed his response to the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare, and policing standards during a town hall in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
  • The Jo Jorgensen campaign announced on Monday that it had met ballot access requirements in all 50 states. Jorgensen is the fifth Libertarian candidate to reach this milestone following candidates in 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2016.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: September 16, 2016

The country’s largest law enforcement union, the National Fraternal Order of Police, endorsed Donald Trump.

Click here to learn more.

Trump launches eight-figure ad campaign in battleground states

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

September 15, 2020: Donald Trump is launching an eight-figure ad campaign focused on the economy. Joe Biden is campaigning in Tampa and Kissimmee.

Poll Spotlight

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (OH Predictive Insights • Arizona • September 8-10, 2020)

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (Gravis Marketing • Arizona • September 10-11, 2020)

Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (New York Times/Siena College Research Institute • Wisconsin • September 8-10, 2020)

Notable Quote of the Day

“A flip is also more plausible if you consider history. Texas is in the long process of realigning — again. It did so from the 1960s through the 1980s, culminating in 1994 with George W. Bush winning the governor’s mansion, much of it the result of Midwestern Republicans moving to the Texas suburbs. The same process is happening again but in reverse, from the early 2000s to today, from Republican to Democrat.

Texas has been purple a long time, with Democrats controlling the big cities but Republicans controlling the big state offices. The rest you know: In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by only 9 points, the smallest Republican margin in modern history. In 2018, not only did O’Rourke nearly upset Cruz, but he created a bow-wave of new Democrats swamping Republican congressional districts and elected judgeships.”

– Richard Parker, Houston Chronicle

Election Updates

  • On Monday, Joe Biden unveiled a series of digital and television ads aimed at Black voters in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Two clips feature discussion in barbershops about voting and the coronavirus pandemic and a third ad focuses on criminal justice.
  • Biden is meeting with veterans in Tampa on Tuesday. He will also attend a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee. The events mark his first public appearances in Florida since becoming the Democratic presidential nominee.
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) and media producer Haim Saban co-hosted a fundraiser for Biden on Monday night that brought in $4.5 million.
  • Donald Trump is launching an eight-figure ad campaign on Tuesday focused on the economy. The ad campaign, which Fox News reported cost more than $10 million, will run nationwide and in Arizona, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
  • Trump is traveling to Philadelphia on Tuesday to participate in an ABC News town hall at the National Constitution Center.
  • Trump spoke at a Latinos for Trump Coalition roundtable in Phoenix, Arizona, on Monday.
  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Howie Hawkins would remain off the state ballot on Monday.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: September 15, 2016

Donald Trump shared the results of a medical physical written by Dr. Harold Bernsein.

Click here to learn more.

Bloomberg pledges $100 million to help Biden in Florida

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
September 14, 2020: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg committed at least $100 million to help Joe Biden’s campaign in Florida. Donald Trump held his first indoor rally in three months in Henderson, Nevada, on Sunday.

The Cook Political Report updated its race ratings on September 10, 2020:

  • Florida moved from Leans Democratic to Toss Up.
  • Nevada moved from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball also updated its race ratings on September 10, 2020:

  • Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District moved from Toss Up to Leans Democratic. Nebraska and Maine are the only states to appoint individual electors based on the popular vote statewide and in each congressional district.

Notable Quote 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

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden will discuss climate change and the economy during an event in Delaware on Monday.
  • Biden is airing new Spanish-language ads in Florida about the economy, coronavirus pandemic, and Donald Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria.
  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg committed at least $100 million to help Biden’s campaign in Florida. The spending will primarily be focused on television and digital advertising.
  • Trump held his first indoor rally in three months in Henderson, Nevada, on Sunday. With thousands of attendees, the city said the gathering was in violation of the state’s emergency directives. Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh responded, “If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the 1st Amendment to hear from the President of the United States.”
  • Trump is traveling to McClellan Park, California, to speak with local and federal officials about wildfires across the state.
  • A Wisconsin judge upheld a decision by the state elections commission to block Kanye West from the ballot after an aide submitted the paper after the 5 p.m.filing deadline.

Flashback: September 14, 2016

Gary Johnson qualified for the ballot in all 50 states.

Click here to learn more.

Biden, Trump travel to Pennsylvania for 9/11 memorial

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
September 11, 2020: Joe Biden and Donald Trump are both traveling to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to commemorate September 11. Howie Hawkins can stay on the ballot in Pennsylvania. Kanye West is blocked from the ballot in Ohio.

Notable Quote of the Day

“Should any [election law] cases make their way to the Supreme Court, it’s not clear how the justices would rule — especially without knowing the precise nature of the dispute. In the few disputes related to voting and Covid-19 that the court has ruled on to date, it has delivered a mixed bag of outcomes.

In one illustration of the court’s unpredictability, last month it rejected an effort by Republicans opposing eased vote-by-mail rules in Rhode Island that were supported by state officials. The month before, it blocked a court ruling that would have imposed similar eased rules in Alabama.

In both cases, and in several other similar ones, the court has shown more of a reluctance to second-guess state officials than support for any particular voting rules.”

– Tucker Higgins, CNBC​​​​​

Election Updates

  • More than 2 million absentee ballots have been requested in Michigan, beating the previous all-time record eight weeks before the general election. Ohio also received 1 million requests, hitting that benchmark a month faster than it had in 2016.
  • Joe Biden and Donald Trump are both traveling to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to commemorate September 11 at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Friday. Their appearances will take place at separate times.
  • Biden is also attending a ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City in the morning. He also temporarily pulled his television ads for the day, which has become a precedent for presidential campaigns since 2004.
  • CNN announced it is hosting a town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania with Biden on September 17.
  • Trump is still expected to campaign in Nevada over the weekend. He originally planned to hold rallies at airport hangars in Reno and Las Vegas, but the events were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • An appellate court judge in Pennsylvania ruled that Howie Hawkins could appear on the ballot after Democrats challenged his paperwork. Hawkins’ running mate, Angela Nicole Walker, will not appear on the ballot.
  • The Ohio Supreme Court upheld a decision to bar Kanye West from the ballot because of issues with his nominating petition.

Flashback: September 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both visited Ground Zero in New York City to commemorate September 11.blank

Click here to learn more.