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Anxiety, pandemic prelude U.S. Election Day as presidential candidates make final push

(Xinhua)    09:12, November 03, 2020

-- U.S. presidential candidates are making final pitches to voters before ending a campaign season that has been largely reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

-- Three of 4 voters express concerns about the possibility of violence on Election Day.

-- The novel coronavirus disease, as of Sunday, has infected more than 9.1 million people and killed nearly 231,000 in the country.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- As the Election Day is around the corner amid anxiety over its implications, U.S. presidential candidates are making final pitches to voters before ending a campaign season that has been largely reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sitting President Donald Trump, also Republican presidential nominee, held rallies in five states in a campaign blitz on Sunday, while his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, spent the day in Pennsylvania, a critical battleground state where polls showed the former U.S. vice president leading the incumbent.

Photo taken in Arlington, Virginia, the United States on Oct. 22, 2020 shows C-SPAN live stream of U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden attending their final debate in the 2020 presidential race. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

TIGHT RACE

The race between Trump and Biden is also tight in other battlegrounds, including Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Arizona. According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Biden leads Trump only by 3.2 percentage points in these five states plus Pennsylvania.

Darrell West, vice president and director of Governance Studies at Washington, D.C.-based think tank Brookings Institution, told Xinhua that the battlegrounds will likely "determine the winner."

Nationally, Biden's support stands at 52 percent to Trump's 42 percent among registered voters, according to the final NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday.

People line up to vote at a polling station in Brooklyn of New York, the United States, Oct. 27, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

"This is the 11th survey we've done in 2020, and so little has changed," Democratic pollster Peter Hart told NBC News. Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted the survey with Hart, cautioned that Trump has the ability to outperform on Election Day.

"This is the most competitive election I could imagine if you're down 10 points nationally," said McInturff.

Speaking to a rally in Dubuque, Iowa on Sunday, Trump said he likes "Election Day, and most of you do too," while predicting that a "red wave" would occur, as Republicans supporters are more likely to vote in person on that day, while more Democratic voters have cast their ballots early, with a majority using mail-in voting.

Trump has told confidants that he will declare victory on Tuesday night if it looks like he's "ahead," according to U.S. news website Axios, citing three sources familiar with his private comments.

His team is also reportedly preparing to claim that mail-in ballots counted after Nov. 3 -- a count expected to favor Democrats -- are evidence of election fraud, which has been repeatedly refuted by election experts and legal pundits.

During a campaign stop in North Carolina later on Sunday, Trump called the Axios story "false" but said that he believes it is "a terrible thing" ballots are being counted after Election Day, vowing to launch legal battles when the election is over. Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Biden also weighed in on the report, saying that "my response is, the president is not going to steal this election."

Photo taken on Nov. 1, 2020 shows a postbox near the United States Postal Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

West said he thinks disputes over mail-in ballots "could be decisive" if the race is close. "But if Biden wins big, the legal challenges won't matter and that controversy will fade away," he said.

Besides the presidential race, Election Day will also see all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate in play. Thirteen state and territorial governorships, as well as numerous other state and local elections, will also be contested.

UNCERTAINTY, ANXIETY

Due to the high volume of mail-in ballots this year, many states are not likely to finish counting them by the end of Election Day, as the ballots generally require more time to process than those cast in person. Election officials have said the country should be prepared not to know who won the White House that night.

Likely to make the situation even more complicated, some states, including Pennsylvania, where Trump stunned then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by a margin of less than one percentage point in 2016, extended the deadline for mail-in ballots until after Nov. 3.

"We're sure it will take more time than it used to," Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said Thursday. "We probably won't know results on election night."

The windows of a bank are boarded up in preparation for possible election-related protest in Washington, D.C., the United States, Nov. 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Meanwhile, Americans are increasingly worried about what will happen at the finish line of the upcoming election, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll published on Oct. 28.

Three of 4 voters express concerns about the possibility of violence on Election Day. Only 1 in 4 say they are "very confident" that the country will have a peaceful transfer of power if Biden defeats Trump. Despite hesitation to make the commitment for weeks, Trump said in October that he would accept a peaceful transfer of power.

Many U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, have been on high alert for election-related violence, looting, and vandalism, drawing from the lesson of this summer when protests erupted across the country following the death of African American man George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Photo taken on Nov. 1, 2020 shows the Washington Monument and voting slogans in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

In downtown Washington, D.C., doors and windows of hotels, office buildings, coffee shops, and restaurants, just blocks away from the White House, have been boarded up.

D.C. Metro Police Chief Peter Newsham revealed on Thursday that there were no "credible threats right now of violence," but said a number of groups had applied for permits to conduct large demonstrations and the entire police department would be working on Election Day.

COVID-19 SURGING

The elections will come as the COVID-19 pandemic is surging in the United States. The novel coronavirus disease, as of Sunday, has infected more than 9.1 million people and killed nearly 231,000 in the country. Both numbers are highest in the world.

Trying to make sure people can vote safely, precautions have been put in place at polling stations across the country.

"We'll be wiping down each machine between each individual use. We'll be wiping down other equipment, pens, tables, everything," Washington, D.C. Board of Elections spokesperson Nick Jacobs said before in-person early voting started in the U.S. capital on Oct. 27. "We'll be enforcing social distancing, and you must wear a mask to enter a vote center. We will have masks available if you forget."

People wait in line to fill out their ballots at a polling center during early voting in Washington, D.C., the United States, Oct. 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

The pandemic has also drastically changed this year's campaigns. During the first months of the outbreak, both presidential candidates put on hold in-person activities. But Trump returned to the campaign trail in June despite concern from health experts and local officials, while Biden has sticked to virtual and small-scale events. The president caught COVID-19 in October but has recovered.

Most of Americans disapprove of Trump Administration's handling of the pandemic, according to polls, which has put a drag on his reelection bid and has been targeted by Biden, who has promised to roll out a national strategy for testing, mandate mask wearing in federal buildings and interstate transportation, close personal protective equipment gap, and make safe and effective vaccines free to everyone.

"We are going to beat this virus. We are going to get it under control. And the first step to beating this virus is to beat Donald Trump," Biden said on Sunday. Trump, for his part, has fiercely defended his response to the pandemic and repeatedly claimed the United States is "rounding the corner."

In addition to COVID-19, economy, healthcare, race relations, Supreme Court, climate change, immigration, national security, and leadership are among top concerns for American voters. On some of these issues, Trump and Biden have presented sharply different visions and plans, a reflection of deep political and social divisions in the country.

Photo taken on Nov. 1, 2020 shows the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Sumner Brown, a Democratic volunteer at an early-voting station in Charlottesville, Virginia, told Xinhua that she thinks Biden is a calm, competent, and experienced leader who can "bring the country together."

Mason Pickett, who often holds signs with words criticizing what he said are leftist agenda near the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said that he does not vote for Trump's personality but loves his "law and order message" and that he supports the president's tough stance on border security.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Wen Ying, Bianji)

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