With 12 days to go until Election Day, and President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden racing toward Nov. 3, voters are turning out in record numbers to cast their ballots early as the candidates head to Nashville for a final showdown.
Roughly 45 million Americans have already voted in the 2020 election, reflecting an extraordinary level of participation and interest despite unprecedented barriers brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The candidates will face off in the final presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle from Belmont University in Nashville this evening — their last chance to pitch themselves to tens of millions of voters in primetime before Nov. 3.
In the final weeks of campaigning, the president remains on defense as polls shows him trailing nationally and in several battleground states key to his reelection hopes.
Biden, maintaining a lead in national polls — his largest of the election, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average — stayed off the trail this week ahead of the debate, a pattern for the former vice president. The debate offers Biden a platform to solidify his lead so long as he avoids any major mistakes in the homestretch.
Polls indicate a huge pre-Election-Day edge for Biden and a sizable Trump advantage among those who plan to vote on Nov. 3 itself. Trump has sowed doubt in the mail-in ballot process — and imminent election results — for months.
All 50 states plus Washington, D.C., currently have some form of early voting underway. Check out FiveThirtyEight’s guide to voting during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
- Election officials urge voters to cast mail-in ballots now
- First couple departs for debate in Nashville
- Biden plans to focus on at-home viewers during debate
- Biden plans commission to reform ‘out of whack’ court system
- Plexiglass partitions erected for presidential debate
Here’s how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.
Sen. Kamala Harris underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected, according to an aide.
-ABC News’ Averi Harper
After the White House on Thursday did not respond to multiple requests from ABC News for information about whether President Trump had been tested for COVID-19 before the debate, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the president was tested on the flight from the D.C. area to Nashville and tested negative.
-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson
As he boarded his plane to Nashville for tonight’s final presidential campaign, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke briefly with reporters, telling them he’s looking forward to tonight and said he hope President Trump plays by the rules.
“There’s plenty of time to talk when this is over, OK? So hopefully he’s going to play by the rules. Hopefully everyone’s been tested. Hopefully it’s all worked out, the way the rules are. I’m looking forward to this,” Biden said before getting on the plane.
He also said he hopes everyone gets tested ahead of the event. Biden’s campaign announced he had tested negative for COVID-19 earlier today.
President Donald Trump and Melania Trump held hands as they departed Washington for Nashville to attend the final presidential debate, marking the first lady’s first public appearance since she and the president announced they tested positive for COVID-19.
The first couple emerged from the White House residence and waved to supporters who gathered to see them off. They stood at some distance from the assembled crowd, but they did not wear face coverings.
Once at Joint Base Andrews, the first couple again held hands as they walked across the tarmac with mask-wearing escorts. The pair did not take any questions.
Melania Trump was supposed to join the president on the campaign trail on Tuesday but that appearance was canceled due to a “lingering cough.”
The White House previously told ABC News that the president and first lady had both tested negative since falling ill but as of early Thursday afternoon hadn’t released information verifying negative tests ahead of the debate.
-ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps