New Delhi: With the 2020 US presidential elections in its final stage and nearing the result day, President Donald Trump is trailing behind Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Joe Biden, according to national opinion polls. Also Read - Ahead of US Elections, Berlin's Madame Tussauds Dumps Donald Trump's Wax Statue in Garbage Bin
With the Republican Trump and former Vice-President in the Obama administration Biden locked in a dead heat in two states- North Carolina and Arizona, Biden appeared to have a narrow lead over Trump in Florida as per opinion polls. A week ago, polls showed Trump and Biden in a statistical tie across the three states. Also Read - US Election 2020: Trump-Biden Race Begins | When And Where to Follow Updates From India
Meanwhile, a national poll showed Biden with an outright majority among all likely voters: 52% said they were backing the Democratic nominee while 44% said they were voting for Trump. Also Read - US Elections 2020: 18 Trump Rallies Estimated to Have Led to Over 30,000 Covid Cases, 700 Deaths, Says Study
However, the race is seen as close in enough swing states that Trump could still piece together the 270 votes needed to prevail in the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the winner.
A record number of nearly 10 crore Americans have already exercised their franchise in the presidential election, with another six crore likely to vote on the real election day on Tuesday.
An estimated 16 crore people casting their votes in a presidential election is a record in itself in terms of turnout after 1900, according to Michael P McDonald, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida, who leads the US Election Project that tracks early voting.
An estimated 23.9 crore people are eligible to vote, according to the US Election Project.
“It appears likely that around 100 million early votes will be cast by the time Tuesday morning reports are processed,” McDonald said on Monday on the eve of the crucial election. The voter turnout, he said, will be higher than 2016, because some states have already exceeded their 2016 turnout or are close to doing so.
For instance, at least three states — Hawaii, Texas and Montana — have already exceeded their 2016 voter turnout. Other states such as North Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada and Tennessee have already witnessed a record early voting that has crossed more than 90 per cent of their 2016 turnout.
Early votes in the last couple of elections have looked very Democratic, McDonald told CNN in an interview.
“Examining each state in turn, and rolling up the state estimates to a national estimate, I arrive at a total turnout rate of 160.2 million votes, or a turnout rate for those eligible to vote of 67.0 per cent,” he wrote on his blog post on Monday.
According to McDonald, the early votes appear to confirm that there has been a swing to the Democrats since 2016, which should benefit the party’s presidential candidate Joe Biden. But the swing is not uniform and some of the closest states in 2016 — Florida and North Carolina — appear to be close again, he said.
The early votes are also signalling that unaffiliated voters will be participating at higher rates than 2016, he said, adding that these voters are not the same as self-identified independents in polls.
McDonald said there are 3,19,58,869 outstanding mail ballots that have not been entered as returned by election officials. There are many unknowns with the outstanding mail ballots, so it is difficult to take these numbers at face value, he added.
Election officials in many states have never had to process so many mail ballots, so reporting gets delayed and inconsistencies in reporting are understandable.
According to Biden supporter Ajay Jain Bhutoria, a record early voting is a good sign for the Democratic candidate. “Early vote — both in person and by mail — has seen a historic turnout across the country: 100 million Americans have voted early. At this point in 2016, 50 million Americans had voted,” he said.
“Trump needs to win Florida. It is the key to his path to victory. If Trump wins Florida, North Carolina and Georgia like he says he is going to, Biden still has a clear and multiple viable path to 270. We do not have a single path to victory, we have an expansive and offensive map,” Bhutoria added.
According to The Hill newspaper, the unprecedented early vote has given the Democrats hope going into Tuesday. “Overall, Democrats have outperformed Republicans in early voting, after President Trump spent months waging baseless attacks on mail-in ballots,” it said.
However, the Republicans and the Trump Campaign exuded confidence that they are in a good shape and asserted that the “silent majority” will get them through.
(With inputs from PTI)