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Election Wrap: 8 Days to Go, Early Voting Is Surging

Oct.26 — With eight days until the election, 59.4 million people have cast ballots in-person at early voting centers or by mail, according to the U.S. Elections Project. President Donald Trump holds events in Pennsylvania today. Joe Biden goes to Georgia tomorrow. Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli reports on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

Video Transcript

It will be extraordinary to see where we are two days from now and even two weeks from now. Kevin Cirilli joins us, our chief Washington correspondent. Kevin, I got eight zeitgeist ways to go this morning. Let me go where Mike Allen is over at Axios.

I want you to overlay these two big stories– your conventional politics with a pandemic that’s worsening; Mr. Allen goes to Montana and Wisconsin. How does the election change across the greater north, middle-west, and mountain states?

KEVIN CIRILLI: It doesn’t. You know, just in traveling the past couple of weeks, I think that there’s a very different reality in those parts of the country outside of the coasts, where there is an acceptance of the virus and an acceptance of the risk that comes in terms of voting. And just to note the trajectory, though, in terms of the polls, in the early voting–


KEVIN CIRILLI: –that we’ve seen in contrast with Democrats. You look at a state like Texas and Harris County, by Houston, where Houston is, and the early voting there, the mail-in voting there has just skyrocketed. I mean, absolutely skyrocketed.

I spoke with a Democratic strategist last night who said to me, the reason they’re so bullish on Texas– which, you know, behind the scenes they’re trying to quiet down some of the expectations, but it’s Harris County. I mean, when you look at the early returns in something like Houston– and it’s why Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, is headed to Texas. Because they’re thinking, all right, well, maybe we should do that. And there’s a map of the early voting per state, and it’s more than 6 billion, upwards of, in terms of how they’re shattering records in a state like Texas.

OK, but Kevin, we’re all one big walking Cook Political Report. Cut to the chase. What did Kevin Cirilli learn about the 47 polls out there in the last 24 hours? What is your tendency, your knowledge right now?

KEVIN CIRILLI: Well, look, I think the biggest unknown– this is really what it is, is that the biggest unknown is whether or not the mail-in ballots simply mean that there’s blue voters. And so that’s the biggest unknown. Because for as much as the president has criticized early voting, many Republicans are looking at the virus and are voting Republican, but are casting mail-in ballots for them as well.

So, you know, it’s hard for the pollsters and the data analysts to track whether or not early voting is going to necessarily mean Democrats. The way that they’ve been able to do it is by looking at traditionally Democratic-leaning parts of the states and suggesting that the early returns in those counties would mean a positive sign for Democrats.

And Kevin, much has been said about the polls now and the polls back in 2016. But what we did see in the final two weeks of campaigning was some real momentum behind the president to close the gap right into Election Day. We don’t see that right now, do we Kevin?

KEVIN CIRILLI: Well, I think that they would say that they have it. Democrats would say that they don’t. But to your point, in terms of the biggest unknown with regards to flashback to 2016 and the Hillary Clinton emails and the letter that came out from Comey and whatnot, you know, that felt like a real seismic jolt in the final weeks of the campaign.

I will tell you that the president’s campaign has seized upon some local issues such as energy policy. They are blasting that in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. They feel that that will be able for them to pick up votes on lost ground.

So it’s not just the presidency, it’s also control of the Senate very much at stake. And that’s very uncertain. And actually if you believe predicted, you could see a tightening gap there in terms of the odds, that there will be this blue wave that’s been increasingly priced into markets. What’s your sense of this theme? Republicans say they are registering more voters, more men who are white and who have not gone to college in particular, more likely to vote red down the ballot. How much is that going to change the calculus in the Senate front?

KEVIN CIRILLI: That helps them in Florida. That helps them in North Carolina. That helps them in South Carolina as well. Whether or not– you have to be– it’s very hard to understand whether or not the getting people to sign up to vote is the same with voter engagement of folks that have already been brought in in the 2018 cycle. Because the Democrats will push back on that data and say, well, they’ve been able to mobilize voters ever since 2016. So it’s– these numbers are so hard because both of the political parties are operating under their own metrics and their own rubrics. So it’s very difficult to understand from a comparative sense whether or not they’re actually actual.

In terms of the down ballot and the Senate and the blue wave, here’s what I would say. Look, I mean, you look at the markets and how they’ve priced in and how they’ve started to recalibrate and associate Biden with certainty, you know, that’s been quite interesting. And in terms of him being a little bit more predictable in his behavior geopolitically than President Trump, markets would view that as an asset. They would also view him much more to the center of someone like a Bernie Sanders.

Beyond that, in terms of a blue wave, you know, we just don’t know. And someone like a Senator Tillis– you know, I’m headed to Capitol Hill right after this. Someone like a Senator Thom Tillis– of course, there’s the ACB confirmation hearing later this afternoon. All of those issues also playing. And quite honestly, playing in a mobilization effort from the left in many of the cities.

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