First Thing election special: is Biden's big lead getting bigger?

Tim Walker
·5-min read
<span>Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP</span>
Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Good morning.

With less than three weeks until election day, a poll for the Guardian and Opinium research suggests the gap between Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger is, if anything, growing wider. Fifty-seven per cent of likely voters surveyed said they intend to vote for Joe Biden, while 40% support the president – a 17-point margin just shy of the popular vote lead Ronald Reagan held before his landslide re-election in 1984.

Speaking in Florida a day after Trump’s visit to the key swing state, Biden said the Covid crisis proved that the president views older voters as “expendable” – and the Democrat’s pitch to sunshine state seniors appears to be resonating, as Richard Luscombe reports from Miami. In the final sprint to 3 November, Biden is also drawing from a deep bench of campaign surrogates:

  • Barack Obama is set to hit the campaign trail shortly on behalf of his former vice-president, Biden said on Tuesday.

  • Pete Buttigieg, known as “Mayor Pete” during the primaries, has acquired a new nickname following his lethal appearances on Fox News.

  • Kamala Harris has already faced attacks over her race and gender since becoming Biden’s running mate. That only amplifies a theme that has run through her entire political career, writes Joan E Greve: it’s not easy being the first.

‘No hints, no previews’: Barrett ducks Democrats’ questions

Amy Coney Barrett is a judge with no opinions, or so she appeared to suggest at the second day of hearings on her supreme court confirmation. As Democrats tried to draw her on her views regarding abortion, Obamacare and the possibility of the supreme court deciding the outcome of the 2020 election, Barrett quoted the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, saying she would give “no hints, no previews, no forecasts” of her positions on the issues, outside of reviewing specific cases, adding:

If I give off-the-cuff answers, I would basically be a legal pundit.

Why the world is watching the US election so anxiously

The world beyond the US has barely got a mention in this election cycle. Of the 54 bullet points that make up Trump’s brief manifesto, just five are about foreign policy – a grand total of 41 words. Yet for the global community, writes Julian Borger, this is arguably the most consequential presidential race in history. That’s largely down to two issues, on which the two candidates are worlds apart: climate change, and nuclear proliferation.

In other election news …

Mitt Romney: &#x002018;The world is watching America with abject horror.&#x002019;
Mitt Romney: ‘The world is watching America with abject horror.’ Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA
  • Mitt Romney has decried the state of US politics, which he said, in a pre-election statement posted to Twitter, “has moved away from spirited debate to a vile, vituperative, hate-filled morass, that is unbecoming of any free nation”.

  • The US census count has been cut short by two weeks after the supreme court ruled in favour of an administration bid to end the survey early, despite warnings that it would result in inaccurate data with severe consequences for the coming decade.

  • Twitter has suspended a network of spam accounts purporting to be those of Black Trump supporters, which used stolen images and identical, inauthentic language including the phrase: “YES IM BLACK AND IM VOTING FOR TRUMP!!!”

Stat of the day

Harris County, Texas consists of 2,000 sq miles, containing the city of Houston and 2.4 million voters, 43% of them Hispanic and 20% Black. Democratic officials planned to provide a total of 12 drop-off boxes in locations around the county, where voters could return mail-in ballots before election day.

But thanks to a proclamation by the Republican Texas governor, Greg Abbott, which has been upheld by an appeals court, the number of drop-off boxes in Harris County has been reduced – to one.

View from the right

As Trump speeds towards what looks like an electoral cliff-edge, Republicans are oddly calm about the prospect, writes Stephen L Miller for the Spectator. That’s because their Faustian bargain with the president has already paid off, in the form of Amy Coney Barrett.

In the event of a Biden administration, she could act as a bulwark against questionable executive actions. If the Republican party can hold on to a slim majority in the Senate as well, Joe Biden’s first-term agenda is effectively dead. He can spend his days swivelling around in the Oval Office before retiring.

Don’t miss this

Michael Null, left, one of the men charged for the plot to kidnap governor Gretchen Whitmer, takes part in an anti-lockdown rally at the Michigan state capitol in April.
Michael Null (left) one of the men charged for the plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer, takes part in an anti-lockdown rally at the Michigan state capitol in April. Photograph: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

The far-right group that plotted to kidnap the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, was involved in a discussion of a similar plan to snatch Virginia’s Democratic chief executive, Ralph Northam, an FBI agent has testified. And with fears of post-election violence growing, armed militia groups mingled with conspiracy theorists last weekend at the Red Pill Expo in Georgia, as Ed Pilkington reports.

Last Thing: Stevie Wonder is voting for ‘justice’

Wonder has released two pointedly political new tracks, including Can&#x002019;t put it in the Hands of Fate.
Wonder has released two pointedly political new tracks, including Can’t put it in the Hands of Fate. Photograph: AP

Stevie Wonder has released two politically charged new songs in the run-up to the election, telling a live-streamed press conference: “We’ve got to vote justice in and injustice out.” One of the tracks, the pointed Can’t put it in the Hands of Fate, contains the lyric: “You say you believe that ‘all lives matter’ / I say I don’t believe the fuck you do.”

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