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Unless polls are way, way off, Trump is running out of time

President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden at

President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden at the final presidential debate last week. Credit: Composite: AFP via Getty Images / Morry Gash, Jim Watson

Is his number up?

Everyone, particularly the pollsters, remembers what happened in 2016. So New York Times polling analyst Nate Cohn looked at Joe Biden's leads in the states that will decide 2020 and massaged the numbers to reflect what it would mean if the polls are as wrong now as they were at this point four years ago.

The result: It still looks much better for Biden than for President Donald Trump, with the Democrat favored to take 319 electoral votes to 219 for the incumbent. That's because eight states that went red four years ago, giving Trump the victory, move to the blue column.

This year's election presents new X factors, including how many mail-in ballots could go uncounted amid legal battles, postal delays or voter mistakes filling them out. But if the new polls out Wednesday are anywhere close to the mark — and with more than 74 million Americans, or 36% of registered voters, reported to have cast their ballots early, according to a CNN survey of election officials — it's getting harder every day to see how Trump can pull off a game changer.

Nationwide polls still show Biden with a strong advantage among likely voters — 12 points with CNN and 10 points with Reuters/Ipsos.

Wisconsin went Biden's way by 5 points in a Marquette Law School poll, 9 points in Reuters/Ipsos and a staggering 17 points in a Washington Post/ABC News poll, which also put Biden leading by 7 points in Michigan. The New York Times/Siena College poll saw an 8-point Biden edge in Michigan.

A Monmouth University poll of Georgia finds Biden ahead of Trump by 4 points. In September, Trump held a slight advantage there. If the election came down to a single electoral vote, Biden is ahead by 4 points in Maine's 2nd Congressional District, which Trump won in 2016, according to a Colby College poll.

Reuters/Ipsos polling finds Trump within 1 point of Biden in Arizona, where the president campaigned Wednesday, and in North Carolina. Trump is 2 points behind in Florida, where he heads next. Biden holds a 5-point advantage in Pennsylvania. All of these numbers are for likely voters.

Supreme Court no lock for Trump

Trump's Republican allies suffered a setback Wednesday after they went back to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking reversal of last week's 4-4 decision that will allow the counting of Pennsylvania ballots received up to three days after Election Day even if there is no legible postmark.

The GOP hoped the newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett, would tip the result in their favor. But Barrett did not participate in the consideration of the motion because she had not had the time to fully review the filings, the court's public information officer said.

The possibility remained open for the court to consider the case after Election Day. State officials ordered ballots received after polls close on Tuesday to be segregated from those received earlier.

But Democrats scored a clear win when the court ruled 5-3 that absentee ballots in North Carolina can be received and counted up to nine days after Election Day. That won't please Trump, who said earlier Wednesday that he hoped the courts won’t allow for even the counting of ballots after Election Day — his most direct criticism to date of what has been standard practice in U.S. elections.

Following the trail

Biden cast his vote in Delaware Wednesday and then he gave a brief speech assailing Trump’s handling of the pandemic as well as the president’s desire for the Supreme Court to rule Obamacare unconstitutional.

"I’m not running on the false promise of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch," Biden said after receiving a briefing from disease experts. "But what I can promise you is this: We will start on Day One doing the right things. We’ll let science drive our decisions."

Trump said again, contrary to experts' assessments, that the country was "rounding the turn" on the coronavirus. As financial markets reeled from a surge in COVID-19 cases, he told an Arizona rally: "This election is a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression."

In the waning days of the race, Trump dropped a bit of self-parody into a tweeted video claiming that the Biden family is "such corruption." Said Trump: "I really don't want to be talking about an opponent in a negative way. Hard to believe, it's me talking, but that's true."

The Washington Post reports that Trump appears to be ending his 2020 campaign as he began it — by visiting his own for-profit businesses. He began Wednesday at his hotel in Las Vegas and was scheduled to spend Wednesday night at his Trump Doral resort near Miami.

Janison: Can't wish pandemic away

Imagine President Lyndon B. Johnson had run for a second full term rather than bow out of the 1968 race as he did. And picture Johnson complaining at every campaign stop about all the public and media attention paid to the carnage in Vietnam.

That would not have helped him, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. In the final approach to this election, President Donald Trump's fiery wreck of a COVID-19 political narrative continues to burn.

He complains: "The Fake News Media is riding COVID, COVID, COVID, all the way to the Election." Trump added in a tweet this week: "Losers!" But all over the electoral battleground map, the coronavirus news is disturbing. On Tuesday, Wisconsin broke its daily record for COVID-19 deaths (64) and new cases (5,262).

The stories Trump has told about COVID-19 are now ash. His chatter about an "Easter miracle," chloroquine hopes, hot-weather relief and bleach-cure buzz all have come and gone. The "COVID, COVID, COVID" plague goes on. That is the true arc of Trump's story.

More like Anony-mehs?

More than two years after writing a New York Times op-ed as a part of a covert "resistance" within the administration reining in the president's worst impulses, "Anonymous" stepped forward Wednesday. The "senior official" wasn't quite as high-ranking or famous as some had speculated.

He's Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, who previously went public in August as an anti-Trump Republican and administration veteran now endorsing Biden. He tweeted Wednesday that Trump is "a man without character" and "it’s time for everyone to step out of the shadows."

Taylor was still "Anonymous" when he wrote a follow-up book. He is now a contributor on CNN, where until Wednesday he had denied his secret identity. Current White House officials derided Taylor's coming out as unworthy of attention. "I’ve seen more exciting reveals in Scooby-Doo episodes," tweeted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Publication of the "Anonymous" op-ed set off a furious hunt by Trump to identify the author, with some White House officials wrongly casting suspicion on colleagues, including a National Security Council aide, Victoria Coates, who was transferred to the Energy Department.

First lady Melania Trump’s deputy chief of staff Emma Doyle tweeted that "a lot of people" owe Coates "a public apology for private slander." On Twitter, Coates called for a retraction of a story by right-wing writer Paul Sperry that named her.

Philadelphia story

Trump and Biden weighed in on rioting and looting in Philadelphia following the Monday killing of Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man whose fatal shooting by police is under investigation.

Trump blamed Biden, saying, "The city of Philadelphia was ransacked by violent mobs and Biden-supported people. These were all Biden-supported people. And he wouldn't even call them out."

Trump's comment came after Biden condemned the lawlessness.

"There is no excuse whatsoever for the looting and the violence," Biden said. While protesting is legitimate, he said, "there’s no excuse for looting."

When Trump fans turned blue

Hundreds of Trump supporters were left in the cold for hours after his rally at an airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday night, waiting for buses that were supposed to take them back to their cars parked about 3 miles away.

Seven people were taken to area hospitals, suffering from a variety of conditions, and there were a total of 30 "contacted" for medical reasons, the Omaha Police Department said in a statement, NBC News reported.

Trump campaign officials said a larger-than-expected crowd slowed the bus pickups. Biden compared the botched arrangements to Trump's approach to the coronavirus crisis, saying the president "gets his photo op, then he gets out," leaving "everyone else to suffer the consequences of his failure to make a responsible plan."

More coronavirus news

See a roundup of the latest regional pandemic developments from Long Island and beyond from Newsday's reporting staff, written by Bart Jones and John Valenti. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.

What else is happening:

  • White House senior adviser Jared Kushner boasted in a just-released recorded interview from April with Bob Woodward about his father-in-law, the president, wresting back control of the coronavirus response. "Trump's now back in charge," Kushner told the veteran journalist. "It's not the doctors." Kushner also told Woodward that "the most dangerous people around the President are overconfident idiots" and they were being replaced by "more thoughtful people who kind of know their place." (Hear audio clips.)
  • The 14,000-member FBI Agents Association called on Trump and Biden to allow embattled FBI Director Christopher Wray to finish out his 10-year term. Trump has talked privately about firing Wray.
  • An impatient Trump hazed Sen. Martha McSally, an embattled Republican incumbent, as he called her to the stage at an Arizona rally. "Martha, come up. Just fast. Fast. Fast. Come on, quick. You got one minute. One minute, Martha, they don’t want to hear this, Martha. Come on, let’s go. Quick, quick, quick, quick. Come on, let’s go," he said as she hurried to the stage, The Washington Post reported. (See a video clip.)
  • The Trump administration recently removed the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, installed climate-change skeptics on the staff and imposed a tighter rein on the agency's communications, The New York Times reported.
  • Early-voting hours were cut short Wednesday in three counties in Florida’s conservative Panhandle, a likely Trump stronghold, ahead of Hurricane Zeta, which has killed at least one person in Louisiana.
  • Add to Trump's "Fake News" complaints: "Fake Trending." He tweeted Wednesday: "Why isn’t Twitter trending Biden corruption? It’s the biggest, and most credible, story anywhere in the world. Fake Trending!!!"
  • Total spending on the presidential and congressional campaigns in 2020 is expected to hit $14 billion, more than double that of four years ago, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

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