People line up to cast their vote at a polling station on election day in Surprise, Arizona, the US, November 3 2020. Picture: REUTERS/EDGARD GARRIDO
People line up to cast their vote at a polling station on election day in Surprise, Arizona, the US, November 3 2020. Picture: REUTERS/EDGARD GARRIDO

Washington — President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden both projected confidence on Tuesday, touting long lines at some polling stations as signs they were poised for an election day victory.

Early voting passed 100-million ballots, shattering previous highs, and pollsters predicted that overall turnout could also prove to be record-breaking.

While there were reports of high voter turnout in states including Texas, Florida and Arizona, there were no signs of disturbances that many had feared.

“I think we’re going to have a great night,” Trump told reporters when he stopped in at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, before returning to the White House to await polling results and work the phones.

He said he was seeing signs of a “big red wave” among Republicans who cast their ballots in person rather than vote early or by mail as many Democrats had done.

Voters will get their first glimpses of how the race is trending when polls begin to close in Georgia and parts of Florida. While official results may take hours — and even days — to report, county-level data will start to reveal if Biden is living up to polling that has consistently shown him ahead in key battleground states.

A Florida victory for Biden could all but end Trump’s chances of re-election. Early turnout information suggested that Republicans had erased Democrats’ lead in mail-in and early voting. But many areas have yet to report their numbers and voters still have a couple hours to cast ballots.

“It feels good,” Biden told volunteers in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Tuesday morning. “You know, we’ve got to run through the tape, man.”

Regardless of who wins, this year’s election will be historic. It takes place amid a new surge in coronavirus cases — some 93,000 were reported on Monday — and a political environment even more polarised than in 2016, with both sides warning that a vote for the opposing candidate risks plunging the country into ruin.

Voters were also choosing the governors of 11 states and senators in 34 states. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog gave Democrats a 3-in-4 chance of flipping the Senate and predicted Democrats would maintain their control of the House of Representatives. If Biden wins and those predictions bear out, Democrats could take control of both houses of Congress and the presidency for the first time since 2010.

Anxiety about the possibility of voter harassment and civil unrest was still running high, with shops and offices in the nation’s capital boarding up their windows. A larger fence was put about the White House in anticipation of protests later in the day.

But while there were scattered reports of problems at polling places and long lines, the process appeared to be running relatively smoothly. But questions remained over ballots sent by mail, after a federal judge ordered the US Postal Service to immediately sweep facilities in several crucial swing states to locate any undelivered mail-in votes and send them promptly to election officials.

While Trump made only one stop outside the White House on Tuesday, Biden returned to his   hometown of Scranton before heading to Philadelphia. Biden said he wanted to restore “basic decency and honour” and unite a country he said has fractured under the Trump administration.

“I can say Texas, Arizona, a few of them are looking really very strong,” Trump said in Arlington. “I think if anything, we’re going to do very well.”

Bloomberg

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