6:27 PM - October 26, 2020
6:27 PM - October 26, 2020

Biden makes surprise campaign stop in Delaware County

Joe Biden arrives to speak with supporters outside a Delaware County voter services center on Monday with U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D., Delaware).
Andrew Harnik / AP
Joe Biden arrives to speak with supporters outside a Delaware County voter services center on Monday with U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D., Delaware).

Joe Biden greeted campaign volunteers outside a Delaware County voter services office in the city of Chester on Monday afternoon.

“I feel good,” he told a group of campaign volunteers, adding “it’s not over 'til it’s over.”

Biden thanked the volunteers and criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I wish I could shake each one of your hands and thank you personally,” Biden said, wearing a mask and keeping a distance from the supporters.

Bob Brady, chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party and a former congressman whose district included Chester, attended Biden’s drop-in and gave the former vice president a fist bump. U.S. Rep Mary Gay Scanlon (D., Delaware), also attended.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden fist bumps Bob Brady, chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party, in Chester on Monday afternoon.
Andrew Harnik / AP
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden fist bumps Bob Brady, chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party, in Chester on Monday afternoon.

Biden addressed reporters outside of Chester City Hall, where onlookers and supporters stopped to take pictures and wave to him.

He said Trump should have “a little bit of shame, because people are dying” of the coronavirus, and struck back against Trump’s claims that he would kill Pennsylvania’s oil industry.

“I’m not shutting down oil fields, I’m not eliminating fracking,” Biden said.

In the next week, Biden said, he will travel to Wisconsin, Georgia, and Florida. He said he hoped to win Pennsylvania “with the grace of God."

“It’s a matter of a great deal to me, personally as well as politically," he said of winning the state.

Biden said he continue to avoid campaign events that could become “super spreaders," like Trump’s crowded rallies, when he travels to battleground states in the next several days.

“The blue wall has to be reestablished,” he said.

Laura McCrystal, Jonathan Tamari

6:07 PM - October 26, 2020
6:07 PM - October 26, 2020

Trump finishes Pa. blitz with Martinsburg rally

President Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally at the Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg, Pa., on Monday.
Gene J. Puskar / AP
President Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally at the Altoona-Blair County Airport in Martinsburg, Pa., on Monday.

President Donald Trump wrapped up his three-stop blitz of Pennsylvania on Monday with a rally in Martinsburg, attacking Democratic nominee Joe Biden on a range of issues and promising to rebuild the economy if he wins a second term.

“He’s against oil. He’s against guns, Second Amendment. And he’s against god,” Trump said of Biden. “Remember: guns, oil and God.”

The claims were part of Trump’s repeated but baseless depiction of a Biden administration immediately banning fossil fuels, seizing Americans guns, and ending religious liberty. Biden, who is a practicing Catholic, has called for a gradual phase-out of fossil fuels, and some gun restrictions, such as banning military-style assault rifles.

Trump won Martinsburg’s Blair County by 46 percentage points in 2016. His frequent appearances on areas that supported him against Hillary Clinton during the homestretch of this year’s campaign contrasts sharply with Biden’s strategy, which indicates the Democrat is confident he can expand the map of competitive states.

First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Chester County on Tuesday, the Trump campaign announced. It will be her first major campaign event this year.

Sean Collins Walsh

4:30 PM - October 26, 2020
4:30 PM - October 26, 2020

Early voters avoid ‘mammothly crowded’ Election Day polls

Frank Price, 69, a former police officer and Marine veteran from Wynnefield, tapped his feet to the music as he waited in line Monday afternoon to vote in Overbrook.

As a person who is partially handicapped and uses a motorized scooter, he said voting on Election Day would be even more difficult for him than Monday’s wait.

“I know on Nov. 3, it’s going to be so mammothly crowded,” said Price, who was about halfway through the line and had already waited nearly an hour and a half. As a former Marine, he said it’s ingrained in him to always respect the commander-in-chief, but he doesn’t think Trump is fit for the job. He, too, like most in line, were waiting to vote for Biden.

“I feel sorry for him. He’s not a good president,” Price said of Trump. “If he wins again, it’ll be devastating.”

Price said he’s prepared to wait for the election results and to go to bed on election night not knowing who the winner is. But just in case, he said, he’s going to have a glass of champagne at the ready to toast if Biden wins.

Erin McCarthy

3:32 PM - October 26, 2020
3:32 PM - October 26, 2020

Long lines at Philly City Hall cause voters to try other early voting locations

About 75 people waited under a fine drizzle Monday afternoon outside Julia de Burgos Elementary School in North Philadelphia, some of whom had been sent away from other locations.

Symone Saunders said she kept her son out of virtual school in order to get to a satellite election office Monday. They first tried the Liacouras Center, where they were told to try Julia de Burgos Elementary School for a shorter line.

Connie Hsu, 18, a University of Pennsylvania freshman, waited with two other college students for an hour and a half at City Hall before they were told to get on a free shuttle to the elementary school because the line at City Hall would take four hours.

In North Philadelphia, they waited more than an hour before they got in. They all said they were excited to vote in a swing state, where they believed their votes would actually count.

“If I voted in my state, it wouldn’t have meant that much,” said Hsu, who is from Tennessee.

Meanwhile at City Hall, voters remained in long lines.

Ava Speight of Olney said she didn’t wake up Monday morning intending to vote, but said she took it as “a sign” when she passed a canvasser and decided to get in line.

“Trump has spread a lot of hatred," she said. "This is the city of brotherly love. We’ve got to get back to that love.”

Speight said she had lost track of how long she’d been waiting “in the rain and in pain,” but said it would be worth the wait.

Juliana Reyes, Oona Goodin-Smith

2:51 PM - October 26, 2020
2:51 PM - October 26, 2020

Trump plays up support from famously apolitical Amish community in Lancaster County

Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at Lancaster Airport in Lititz on Monday.
Alex Brandon / AP
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at Lancaster Airport in Lititz on Monday.

Speaking in Lancaster County in his second of three rallies in Pennsylvania on Monday, President Donald Trump said he would win significant support from the area’s historically apolitical Amish community.

“Don’t tell anybody, but the Pennsylvania Dutch are voting en masse. They’re voting. I heard that the other day,” Trump said in Lititz, before adding a dig at his Democratic rival Joe Biden’s decision to eschew large rallies for smaller and fewer campaign events due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“They said, ‘We work hard. We can’t have a man who sleeps all day in the basement,’” Trump said to the crowd, which included some Amish supporters.

The secluded and conservative Amish, about 75,000 of whom live in Pennsylvania, are Anabaptists of German descent known for their rejection of technology. But many also forgo other aspects of modern living, including voting.

One study found that only about 1,000 Amish Pennsylvanians voted in 2016, a small fraction of the more than 6 million ballots cast in the state. Amish people who are politically engaged, however, are overwhelmingly Republican, presenting a tantalizing opportunity for the party and leading GOP operatives to launch a political action committee to turn out Amish supporters of the president for this year’s election.

Sean Collins Walsh

2:26 PM - October 26, 2020
2:26 PM - October 26, 2020

Voters wait three-hour line to get mail ballots in Overbrook

Marlene Mills-Richardson got in line for early voting in Philadelphia’s Overbrook neighborhood just before 11:30 a.m. Monday.

“We’re doing this!” she said as she unfolded a blue lawn chair, zipped a pink fleece jacket up over her grey Eagles sweatshirt, and took her place in line on the sidewalk. She applied for a mail ballot but never received it, she said, so she was prepared to wait to fill out and cast a ballot inside.

Three hours later, Mills-Richardson, 70, walked out of the satellite election office after filling out her ballot.

The line had grown behind her, with many more voters ready to wait for hours.

“This is great,” she said. “People really care.”

Others in line also had chairs and signs in support of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

“My ancestors had to fight to vote,” said Deborah Ryles, 72, of University City.

Ryles said she brought two neighbors along with her so they could also vote, and was determined to submit a mail ballot Monday “so that my vote will count.”

Erin McCarthy

1:56 PM - October 26, 2020
1:56 PM - October 26, 2020

Line for early voting snakes around Philly City Hall

Philadelphia voters waited in the rain for hours to vote Monday at Philadelphia City Hall.

Tuesday is the last day to apply for mail ballots at satellite election offices, where voters can also fill out the ballots and return them all in one stop. By 1 p.m. on Monday, the line wrapped around City Hall.

Josh Pezzulo, 22, got to City Hall an hour before the office opened, standing in line for around 2 hours. He applied for a mail ballot in September, but said he worried when it didn’t come.

“I’m not messing around,” he said.

Voters also lined up at other locations for early voting.

For some, voting early felt like a personal safety measure, and say fears of voter intimidation have been fueled by President Trump’s focus on Philadelphia.

“I think there is going to be a whole lot of dumb stuff on Nov. 3,” said Anita Hall, 54, a Southwest Philadelphia resident. “I still got to take some seniors to vote on Nov. 3, that don’t want to come now.”

Hall is dreading it: “There’s gonna be some stuff going on at the polls that may make people not want to stay and vote, because of what Trump has said about Philadelphia.

Hall said her top issues are health care, social security and the pandemic response. “I have grandchildren. I have to look out for their future. And, the seniors: Now, people are scared to retire because they say that they’re taking everything.”

Oona Goodin-Smith, Samantha Melamed

1:48 PM - October 26, 2020
1:48 PM - October 26, 2020

Doctors urge Trump to cancel rallies due to COVID-19 risks

Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Allentown on Monday.
Alex Brandon / AP
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Allentown on Monday.

As President Donald Trump is set to hold three rallies in Pennsylvania on Monday, dozens of local physicians have urged him to cancel such large gatherings, citing data analyses that found COVID cases spiked in counties around the country after Trump rallies were held there.

Seventy-five doctors led by the Committee to Protect Medicare, a healthcare advocacy PAC, first signed a letter last week asking Trump to cancel a campaign rally in Erie. This Monday, CTP’s state lead, Max Cooper, an emergency physician in Chester, and Meaghan Reid, an emergency physician in Drexel Hill, hosted a Zoom press conference again asking the president to cancel his rallies here.

“It’s the second time we’ve asked the president to avoid visiting our state -- this time we hope he understands that public health must come before politics,” Reid said. “Our most recent 14 day volume is the highest ever. President Trump’s campaign rallies will increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 to more people [the rallies] are packing thousands of people together in the middle of a pandemic that is killing 1,000 Americans every single day.”

The physicians cited a recent data analysis in USA Today that showed COVID-19 cases rose at a faster rate after Trump rallies in at least five counties around the country, including Lackawanna and Dauphin Counties in Pennsylvania.

And an analysis published by two physicians in STAT earlier this month looked at new coronavirus case numbers in 14 cities and townships before and after Trump held rallies there. They found that cases spiked in seven of those cities after the rallies -- including after a rally in Old Forge in Lackawanna County.

Authors of both analyses said that it’s not possible to definitively say that Trump rallies are causing spikes in COVID cases. The limitations of counties' current contact tracing capacity; the fact that Trump rallies draw crowds from around a region, not just the county in which they’re held; and other factors that can lead to spikes in cases, like schools re-opening, make finding the source of a case spike in a single county extremely difficult.

Simply hosting large gatherings of unmasked people, though, as COVID cases are rising around the country, goes against public health recommendations and puts people in danger, Cooper said.

“All of us have a duty to practice behaviors to prevent unnecessary sickness and death, starting at President Trump himself,” Cooper said. “President Trump’s rallies endanger health and safety, and do not justify the risk to the individuals [attending].”

Aubrey Whelan

1:34 PM - October 26, 2020
1:34 PM - October 26, 2020

Democrats have control of the Pennsylvania state House within their reach

Jonathan Kassa, the Democratic nominee for a state House seat in Montgomery County, talks to a voter in North Wales, Pa., on Oct. 7. The district held by incumbent Republican Rep. Todd Stephens is one Democrats hope will help them flip control of the chamber.
MONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer
Jonathan Kassa, the Democratic nominee for a state House seat in Montgomery County, talks to a voter in North Wales, Pa., on Oct. 7. The district held by incumbent Republican Rep. Todd Stephens is one Democrats hope will help them flip control of the chamber.

Pennsylvania Democrats are in striking distance of taking control of the state House, strategists in both parties say, as President Donald Trump’s unpopularity in the suburbs threatens down-ballot Republicans, and Democrats pummel GOP incumbents on the airwaves.

Democratic candidates and outside groups are outspending Republicans by a margin of more than three to one across the most competitive battleground districts, according to data from the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. Democrats need a net gain of nine seats to win a majority.

Republicans have a tighter grip on control of the state Senate, though Democrats are also spending heavily in their bid to flip the four seats necessary for an effective majority.

A takeover of either chamber would boost Gov. Tom Wolf’s agenda during his final two years in office on issues like infrastructure spending, the minimum wage, and protections for the LGBTQ community. That would be a stark contrast from the first six years of his tenure when the legislature often brawled with Wolf, a Democrat, on taxes and spending. During Wolf’s early years in office, the state went months without passing a budget. More recently, the governor and GOP majority have clashed over the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the stakes are even higher this year: The next General Assembly will draw new congressional district boundaries that will shape Pennsylvania politics for years to come.

Andrew Seidman, Ed Mahon of Spotlight PA

12:47 PM - October 26, 2020
12:47 PM - October 26, 2020

Southwest Philly voters wait in line hours before early voting location opens

Carol Kilgore, left, and Shirley Blackwell vote at Tilden Middle School in Southwest Philadelphia on Monday.
Samantha Melamed
Carol Kilgore, left, and Shirley Blackwell vote at Tilden Middle School in Southwest Philadelphia on Monday.

The line of more than 100 voters stretched down the block and around the corner by 11:30 a.m. Monday at the satellite early voting center at Tilden Middle School in Southwest Philadelphia.

Shirley Blackwell, 70 and first in line, had been there since 8:30 a.m.

“We were told it would start at 9:30 a.m.,” she said. But even after she found out that had been bad information, she decided to wait.

“I’m anxious to get in here and put my vote in. There have been too many problems with the mail,” she said.

A DJ, brought in on behalf of the Working Families Party, set up in the parking lot to generate an air of festivity, and volunteers passed out folding chairs to voters settling in for a long wait. But it didn’t seem to cheer up voters who described a stressful election season, including misinformation, confusion and weeks of phone calls chasing after mail-in ballots that never arrived.

Ann Cherry votes at Tilden Middle School in Southwest Philadelphia on Monday.
Samantha Melamed
Ann Cherry votes at Tilden Middle School in Southwest Philadelphia on Monday.

Carol Kilgore, 64, said she’d requested a mail ballot twice, before deciding to go ahead and line up Tilden at 8:30 a.m. “I just want to vote and get it over with. The stress involved is too much,” she said.

And Ann Cherry, 64, who arrived a few minutes later, said she’d started at 7 a.m., driving around to three different locations that she knew had been polling places in the past before she finally made it to Tilden.

“It’s a lot of turmoil,” she said of the election. “I want to make my vote count.”

Samantha Melamed

12:23 PM - October 26, 2020
12:23 PM - October 26, 2020

Trump makes false statements about Pa. voting at Allentown rally

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at HoverTech International, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Allentown.
Alex Brandon / AP
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at HoverTech International, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Allentown.

In his Allentown rally, President Donald Trump incorrectly said Wolf would be counting ballots in Pennsylvania. Ballot-counting is conducted by county elections officials, not the governor.

“This is the guy that’s counting our ballots? It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. So be vigilant and watch,” Trump said.

Trump then raised a recent court case over his campaign’s attempt to have campaign staffers enter satellite election offices, and made several false statements.

First, he said that his campaign was sued for wanting to have poll watchers in Philly polling places. In fact, it was his campaign that sued the city.

Second he described the campaign staffers who were turned away as poll watchers. In Pennsylvania, poll watchers must be certified, and at the time of the incident, Trump’s campaign had not applied to register a single poll watcher in Philadelphia.

Lastly, he said his campaign staffers were turned away from polling places that campaigns in previous elections were allowed to monitor. That is not the case: The poll watchers were attempting to enter several of Philadelphia’s new satellite election offices, created to facilitate voting by mail during the pandemic, not polling places where voters cast ballots on machines. State law only provides for legal election monitors in locations where voters cast ballots on voting machines and where the votes are tabulated.

“This judge… said ‘No, you can’t have poll watchers.’ But we’re going to appeal it, and we’ll end up winning,” he said. “Who ever heard of a thing like that?”

— Sean Collins Walsh

11:55 AM - October 26, 2020
11:55 AM - October 26, 2020

Trump begins Pa. barnstorm with baseless attacks on Gov. Tom Wolf, mail ballots

Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at HoverTech International, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Allentown, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon / AP
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at HoverTech International, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Allentown, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump kicked off his three-stop barnstorming of Pennsylvania on Monday with a rally in Allentown, where he attacked Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s energy plans as well as Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus safety restrictions.

Trump also reiterated, without evidence, his claims that the increased use of mail ballots will lead to widespread voter fraud, and said Wolf would use the opportunity to support Biden. There is no evidence of widespread mail ballot fraud in the United States, and Trump has voted by mail in the past. There is evidence, however, that mail ballots will overwhelmingly favor Biden in Pennsylvania this year because registered Democrats have requested them at a much higher rate than Republicans .

“We’re watching you, Gov. Wolf, very closely. We’re watching you,” he said. “The only way we can leave in my opinion is massive fraud and that’s what’s happening.”

Before his attack on mail ballots, Trump turned his attention to Biden and Wolf’s response to the coronavirus.

“Biden’s plan is an economic death sentence for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Trump said. “He will eradicate your energy and send Pennsylvania into a crippling depression.”

Trump has repeatedly accused Biden of promising to immediately end natural gas fracking, a claim that Politifact has rated as false. Biden has called for a gradual transition from fossil fuels to clean energy in order to address climate change.

Trump also dismissed concerns about the coronavirus, cases of which are now peaking for the third time in the United States.

“We’re rounding the turn. All they want to talk about is COVID. By the way on Nov. 4, you won’t be hearing so much about it,” he said.

Trump also criticized Wolf, a Democrat, first complaining that the Wolf administration’s coronavirus safety restrictions made it difficult for him to secure rally venues and then baselessly accusing Wolf of planning to rig the election for Biden.

“I’m going to remember it, Tom. ‘Hello, mister president. This is Gov. Wolf. I need help. I need help,’” Trump said, implying he would withhold federal support for Pennsylvania if Wolf asks for it in Trump’s second term. “You know what? These people are bad.”

— Sean Collins Walsh

11:30 AM - October 26, 2020
11:30 AM - October 26, 2020

Over 3 million mail ballots requested in Pennsylvania, so far

More than 3 million Pennsylvania voters have requested mail ballots ahead of next week’s election, according to state data released Monday. Tuesday is the last day voters can request mail ballots.

Democrats have requested 1,906,636 ballots, or 63% of the total, compared to 761,811 ballots (25%) for Republicans and 349,907 (12%) for voters unaffiliated with either party.

Voters have returned a total of 1,712,013 ballots to county election offices, according to the Department of State.

— Andrew Seidman

11:15 AM - October 26, 2020
11:15 AM - October 26, 2020

Melania Trump to hold campaign event in Chester County

First lady Melania Trump arriving before the start of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez / AP
First lady Melania Trump arriving before the start of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Pennsylvania on Tuesday to hold a campaign event in Chester County, the Trump campaign announced. It will be her first major campaign event this year, coming just a week before Election Day.

The event, which is scheduled for Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. in Atglen, Pa., will be moderated by former White House Counselor and South Jersey native Kellyanne Conway, who left the administration in August.

Trump had been scheduled to appear alongside the president during a campaign rally in Erie, Pa. last week, but nixed the trip due to a lingering cough as she recovered from COVID-19.

— Rob Tornoe

10:50 AM - October 26, 2020
10:50 AM - October 26, 2020

Why some Philly Democrats are anxious

Melissa Retano, a Montgomery County Democrat, casts her ballot at the Voter Services Office in Norristown, on October 23, 2020.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Melissa Retano, a Montgomery County Democrat, casts her ballot at the Voter Services Office in Norristown, on October 23, 2020.

Less than two weeks ahead of the presidential election and Democrats across the region are feeling anxious, recoiling as they remember the shock 2016. Many aren’t allowing themselves to believe the polls that consistently show Biden ahead of Trump, nationally and in critical swing states. They worry the slightest bit of optimism will set them up for another heartbreak.

It doesn’t help that Biden’s campaign and its supporters have downplayed the data themselves, like the chair of a pro-Biden super PAC taking issue with a poll that showed the candidate up big in two swing states, or the campaign’s Pennsylvania director tweeting this month: “polls don’t mean s—.”

And so many are convinced their idea of a personal hell is going to happen again, polls be damned. Because in some ways, it does feel a bit like we’ve been here before. Trump has been behind for months — most analysts say he is about to lose. Pennsylvania matters a lot. There are articles citing anonymous Trump staffers complaining they’ll be jobless soon. There’s even October news about the Democrat and some emails, though this time around, it’s a lot more murky.

But this is not 2016. Trusted pollsters have corrected what experts saw as the biggest problems, including better account for education level, and the polls are much more stable than in 2016. There are far fewer undecided voters this time around, and no strong third-party candidate to siphon votes. And voters in general simply don’t hate Biden like they did Clinton, whether because of baggage or gender or something else entirely.

— Anna Orso

8:40 AM - October 26, 2020
8:40 AM - October 26, 2020

Video of people dancing in Philly while waiting to vote goes viral

A long line of Philadelphia voters dancing to the “Cha Cha Slide” while waiting to vote on Sunday has gone viral. Among those who shared the clip were Selma director Ava DuVernay, actor Mark Ruffalo, and comedian Wanda Sykes, who lives part-time in Media.

Nelini Stamp, campaign director for Election Defenders and an organizer with the progressive Working Families Party, said the nonpartisan “joy to the polls” effort is aimed at motivating voters standing in lines that are longer than usual.

While lines at Philadelphia’s satellite election offices have generally moved quickly, voters have reported waiting for hours to cast ballots in other states, in some cases because there are fewer polling locations open this year than in the past because the pandemic.

“There has been so much coverage and social media that has been focused on white supremacists, militias, intimidation tactics, aggressive electioneering. ... We’re figuring we can do something for the voters,” Stamp told the Inquirer last week. “We are here for the voters to motivate them, to stop the demobilization efforts, and bring some joy and love and happiness to people while they wait for a really long time on line.”

— Rob Tornoe

8:10 AM - October 26, 2020
8:10 AM - October 26, 2020

Biden continues to hold a solid lead over Trump in Pa. with 8 days to go, poll says

Joe Biden continues to hold a solid lead over President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania with just more than a week until Election Day, a new poll found.

Biden has support from 52% of likely Pennsylvania voters, compared to 44% for Trump, according to the survey from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The poll released Monday also found a massive lead for Biden among people voting early: 87% of Pennsylvanians who have already voted favored the Democrat, the poll found. The poll only surveyed 193 voters in this category, however, a relatively small sample, which increases the margin of error for the group. As of Friday, almost 1.5 million Pennsylvanians had cast mail ballots early, in a sign of extraordinary voter turnout.

Of those who have not yet voted, 59% support Trump, according to the poll.

Overall, Biden’s 8-percentage-point lead falls within the range of most recent Pennsylvania surveys from top-rated pollsters, which have found him leading by between 5 and 10 points. The advantage for Biden leaves open a wide range of eventual outcomes, from a rout for the Democratic nominee to a neck-and-neck finish if there’s a modest closing shift in Trump’s favor or a polling error like the ones seen in 2016.

— Jonathan Tamari

7:30 AM - October 26, 2020
7:30 AM - October 26, 2020

Trump is holding 3 Pennsylvania rallies Monday as he baselessly attacks the state’s ‘corrupt politics’

President Trump appears at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown Oct. 13, 2020.
TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
President Trump appears at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown Oct. 13, 2020.

President Donald Trump kicks off the last full week before Election Day by barnstorming through Pennsylvania, with three different airport rallies in the state.

  • 11 a.m.: Allentown (Lehigh County)
  • 1:30 p.m.: Litiz (Lancaster County)
  • 4:30 p.m.: Martinsburg (Blair County)

The triple-visit makes clear how important the Keystone State is to Trump’s bid for a second term. An average of polling in the state by the website FiveThirtyEight showed former Vice President Joe Biden with a 5.7% lead over Trump on Sunday, while an average by the website RealClearPolitics showed Biden up by 5.1%.

Trump on Sunday vaguely tweeted about “Pennsylvania Ballot ‘mistakes’” putting Republicans “at great risk.”

”Corrupt politics in Pennsylvania must be investigated immediately," Trump said, while tagging the U.S. Department of Justice in his tweet. “Philadelphia is out of control.”

It’s not clear what Trump was referring to. As The Inquirer’s Jonathan Lai noted, it might have been about a simple error made by a printing company in Ohio:

Trump’s tweets, part of a relentless campaign to falsely discredit mail ballot as susceptible to widespread fraud, prompted swift push-back from two of the state’s most prominent Democrats. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is seeking a second term, tweeted “FAKE NEWS!!” at Trump in response.

“A President attempting to sow such confusion and distrust in our electoral system is disgusting," Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) wrote on Twitter.

— Chris Brennan

7:30 AM - October 26, 2020
7:30 AM - October 26, 2020

A Pennsylvania county that swung from Obama to Trump — and where Trump needs a repeat

A Trump flag is shown in Wind Gap, Pa. Wednesday, October 14, 2020.
JOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer
A Trump flag is shown in Wind Gap, Pa. Wednesday, October 14, 2020.

The 2,700-resident town of Wind Gap is part of Northampton County’s Slate Belt, a series of former mining towns about 20 miles south of the Poconos. It’s a county Trump captured by just fewer than 5,500 votes four years ago, a place where voters pride themselves on being independent-minded and willing to choose policy over party.

One of three Pennsylvania counties where voters twice backed Barack Obama then flipped to Trump, Northampton is a coveted electoral prize in a state that could determine who wins the White House.

With a mix of rural and suburban areas, the county mirrors the statewide trends that helped propel Trump to the presidency, but also those that now point to trouble for his reelection hopes. It’s part of the Lehigh Valley, a political bellwether that sits between the increasingly Democratic Philadelphia suburbs and the state’s post-industrial northeast, an epicenter of where voters with deep Democratic roots broke for Trump in 2016.

— Allison Steele

7:20 AM - October 26, 2020
7:20 AM - October 26, 2020

Erie shows signs of potential Democratic rebound after swinging to Trump

A Biden/Harris sign is located on West 7th street in Erie, Pa.
Robert Frank
A Biden/Harris sign is located on West 7th street in Erie, Pa.

The rural portions of Erie County look a lot like other similar areas in Western Pennsylvania these days: roads and homes are loaded with Trump signs.

But there’s something different here in the Northwest corner of the state: A significant number of Joe Biden signs stand in response, on lawns, at intersections, on barns, and even in a small office in Union City — a rural town where no one can ever remember seeing a Democratic presence before.

Of the areas in Pennsylvania that swung to Trump in 2016, Erie is one of the few that has shown signs of a potential Democratic rebound.

Erie, once a manufacturing powerhouse that has seen a steep loss of industrial jobs, became a symbol of Trump’s surprise victory and blue collar appeal in 2016. Despite its Democratic, labor union roots, Erie County saw a 21,000-vote swing to Trump compared to the previous election, a huge factor in a state decided by just 44,000 votes.

Political analysts and campaign operatives have been watching Erie ever since to see if Trump can retain his hold. If he slips here, the thinking goes, it could be a sign of erosion with his base of white, working class voters across key Midwestern swing states.

It might be “Pennsylvania’s electoral ground zero,” wrote David Wasserman, an analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

— Jonathan Tamari

7:00 AM - October 26, 2020
7:00 AM - October 26, 2020

Health experts question Pence campaigning as essential work after COVID-19 exposure

Vice-president Mike Pence waves to supporters at a campaign rally Saturday October 24, 2020 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Steve Cannon / AP
Vice-president Mike Pence waves to supporters at a campaign rally Saturday October 24, 2020 in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

Health policy specialists questioned White House officials' claim that federal rules on essential workers allow Vice President Mike Pence to continue to campaign and not quarantine himself after being exposed to the coronavirus.

A Pence aide said Sunday that the vice president would continue to work and travel, including for campaigning, after his chief of staff and some other close contacts tested positive. Pence tested negative on Sunday and decided to keep traveling after consulting White House medical personnel, his aides said.

Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, was among those who tested positive. President Donald Trump, said early Sunday that Short was quarantining.

That usually means isolating oneself for 14 days after exposure in case an infection is developing, to prevent spreading the virus to others. The Department of Homeland Security spells ou 16 categories of critical infrastructure workers, including those at military bases, nuclear power sites, courthouses and public works facilities like dams and water plants.

“I don’t see campaigning on the list,” said Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice at Johns Hopkins University and former Maryland state health department chief. “Anything that does not have to be done in person and anything not related to his job as vice president would not be considered essential.”

Pence held a rally in North Carolina on Sunday, and has an event planned in Minnesota on Monday.

— Associated Press

6:45 AM - October 26, 2020
6:45 AM - October 26, 2020

Weekend roundup: Voting from space

NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, here during a 2016 mission, cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential election from space on Oct. 22.
NASA / MCT
NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, here during a 2016 mission, cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential election from space on Oct. 22.