As Trump Campaign Questions Vote Counting, Court Rejects G.O.P. Challenge in Texas

A drive-through voting site in Houston, which is offering them for the first time this year.
Credit…Go Nakamura for The New York Times

The Texas Supreme Court denied an effort by Republicans to throw out more than 120,000 votes that had already been cast at drive-through locations in Harris County, leaving Republicans’ only remaining option at the federal level.

The ruling from the court came without comment.

The effort to get rid of the votes from largely Democratic Harris County now hinges on a nearly identical effort at the federal level, where a judge has called an election-eve hearing for Monday.

The lawsuit contends that the 10 drive-through voting sites in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, are operating illegally and are arranged in locations that favor Democrats.

The system was put in place for the first time this year by Chris Hollins, the Harris County clerk, with unanimous approval by county commissioners, after being tested in a pilot program over the summer.

More than 127,000 voters have cast ballots at the sites and the number could grow to more than 135,000 through Election Day on Tuesday, said Susan Hays, a lawyer for Harris County. She said county officials planned to vigorously challenge the suit, which she described as an act of “voter suppression.”

“It’s nuts,” she said. “Votes should count.”

Democrats were hopeful on Sunday that the decision from the Texas Supreme Court, which leans conservative, would bode well for their battle at the federal level.

The case will be heard Monday morning by Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas who was appointed by President George W. Bush.

In a motion on Friday asking to intervene in the case, Democrats said it threatened to “throw Texas’ election into chaos by invalidating the votes of more than 100,000 eligible Texas voters who cast their ballots” at the drive-through sites. The motion was filed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the campaign of M.J. Hegar, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

The plaintiffs, who include State Representative Steve Toth and the conservative activist Steve Hotze, argue that drive-through voting “is a violation of state and federal law and must be stopped.”

In a telephone interview on Saturday, Mr. Toth said that only the legislature had the authority to implement a drive-though voting system. He also said the arrangement of the sites was tilted toward Democratic voters, noting that Mr. Hollins is vice chairman of finance for the Texas Democratic Party.

“If Hollins is really concerned that everybody is accurately represented, why is it that nine of the 10 are set up in predominantly Democratic areas?” said Mr. Toth, who represents part of neighboring Montgomery County.

He denied that the lawsuit was aimed at blunting Democratic momentum amid record rates of early voting in Houston and other strongly Democratic areas in the last days before the election.

“We’re not the ones who are disenfranchising anybody,” he said. “This is Hollins who did this.”

In a statement on Twitter on Saturday, Mr. Hollins said drive-through voting “is a safe, secure and convenient way to vote. Texas Election Code allows it, the Secretary of State approved it, and 127,000 voters from all walks of life have used it.”

He said his office was “committed to counting every vote cast by registered voters in this election,” and that voters would be notified if court proceedings required them to take any additional steps.

Jasper County elections officials sorted ballots in Newton, Iowa, on Saturday. In many states, it could take days of counting votes to get an accurate picture of the results.
Credit…Kathryn Gamble for The New York Times

For weeks, President Trump and his allies have been laying groundwork to challenge the results of the election if he loses. Now, they have settled on a closing argument with no basis in history or fact: that ballots should not be counted past election night.

“We should know the result of the election on Nov. 3, the evening of Nov. 3,” Mr. Trump said on Sunday, during a wind-raked rally in Dubuque, Iowa, in which he repeated a flurry of falsehoods. “That’s the way it’s been and that’s the way it should be.”

That is not true, it is not possible, and it never has been so. No state ever reports final results on election night, and no state is legally expected to.

Earlier on Sunday, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, made a remarkably blunt version of the same argument.

“If you speak with many smart Democrats, they believe that President Trump will be ahead on election night, probably getting 280 electoral, somewhere in that range,” Mr. Miller said on ABC. “And then they’re going to try to steal it back after the election.”

Mr. Trump’s statement is part of an end-of-campaign effort to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election, that includes encouraging his supporters to engage in voter intimidation.

Democrats — and many nonpartisan observers — believe that Mr. Trump will appear to be ahead on election night in swing states that report in-person votes before mail-in votes, because Democrats are disproportionately voting by mail.

Comments like Mr. Miller’s insinuate that fully counting mail-in votes will constitute an attempt to “steal” the election. But if states were to stop counting after Nov. 3, it would be an extraordinary subversion of the electoral process and would disenfranchise millions of voters who cast valid, on-time ballots.

In Pennsylvania, election officials are expecting 10 times as many mail-in votes as in 2016, Kathy Boockvar, the head of the Pennsylvania State Department, said on NBC on Sunday. That makes a longer count inevitable.

“But having said that, I want to be clear that elections have never been called on election night,” Ms. Boockvar said. “This is a process, and we want to make sure that every single vote of every valid voter is securely and accurately counted.”

When asked for comment, Thea McDonald, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump’s campaign, pointed to states that will count ballots received after Election Day if they were postmarked by Election Day — or, in some cases, if the postmark is not clear — and said this was “exactly the kind of late ballot counting President Trump has been fighting to prevent.”

But Mr. Trump has explicitly criticized the counting and tabulating of votes past Election Day, something that will happen no matter when the ballot receipt deadline is. Ms. McDonald declined to explain or clarify those statements on the record.

Biden supporters in Washington, Pa., on Saturday.
Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

As the election winds to a close, President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. are converging on Pennsylvania, with both candidates holding a flurry of events in a last-minute quest for votes.

Mr. Trump held four rallies in Pennsylvania on Saturday — in Newtown, Reading, Butler and Montoursville. And on Monday, in what is a clear attempt to needle Mr. Biden, he will head to Scranton, Mr. Biden’s hometown. Mr. Trump is also holding five rallies on Sunday across other Rust Belt states, as well as in the Southeast.

Mr. Biden, for his part, is heading to Philadelphia on Sunday, for a “Souls to the Polls” event in the afternoon and a drive-in rally in the evening. His campaign will then barnstorm the state on Monday, with appearances by Mr. Biden; his wife, Jill Biden; his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California; and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Former President Barack Obama recently campaigned on Mr. Biden’s behalf in the state as well.

The Biden campaign is also going on offense in neighboring Ohio, announcing on Sunday that the Democratic nominee would travel to Cleveland on Monday. Mr. Trump won the state by eight percentage points in 2016.

Recent surveys of Pennsylvania indicate the race there is close: An average of polls shows Mr. Biden with a six-point lead.

But beyond its electoral significance, the state carries great symbolic meaning for both parties. For Republicans, it was one of several longtime Democratic bastions that Mr. Trump flipped four years ago, underscoring the party’s new strength with union voters and suburban white women. For Democrats, the state was a key brick in its once stable “blue wall” of Northern swing states, and Hillary Clinton’s defeat there was a devastating electoral and psychological blow.

To win back the state, Democrats are not so much trying to flip counties that went for Mr. Trump in 2016, as they are doing in some other swing states. Instead, the focus is on whether voters who back Mr. Biden can prevent Mr. Trump from running up the score in white, working-class areas as he did in 2016. If Mr. Biden can cut into Mr. Trump’s margins in these areas while putting up big numbers in suburbs and cities, officials say his odds of winning the state look pretty good.

Of course, the Trump campaign has been doing all it can to hinder Mr. Biden from doing just that. In addition to its frenzy of activity, his campaign is also pursuing multiple strategies that would effectively suppress mail-in votes in the state.

There is a good chance Pennsylvania could hold the nation’s attention far after Election Day. Analysts don’t expect all of the mail-in ballots to be in until the later part of this week, meaning there most likely won’t be a winner called on election night. Even when the results are known, both parties are bracing for potential litigation.

Supporters of President Trump at a rally in Washington, Mich., on Sunday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

With less than 48 hours remaining before Election Day, President Trump was jetting across the country on Sunday to bring his closing message to five states, while Joseph R. Biden Jr. planned to concentrate his efforts in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Biden has just two events on his Sunday schedule, both in Philadelphia, while Mr. Trump is hopscotching between Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. His last event, in Opa-Locka, Fla., begins at 11:30 p.m., despite a curfew that begins at midnight.

By packing his schedule, Mr. Trump hopes to make a dent in five competitive states, four of which also have Senate seats that Republicans hope to keep or claim. Mr. Biden’s focus on Pennsylvania reflects the belief that it could be the state that flips the election — Mr. Trump held four events there on Saturday, and plans another event on Monday.

While Mr. Trump plans five rallies, Mr. Biden’s campaign is making a major push in Pennsylvania in the final hours of the presidential election, launching a full-court press across five media markets in an effort to shore up the Democratic nominee’s strength in the state.

Mr. Biden, Jill Biden, Senator Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, are expected to fan out across the state on Monday, with Mr. Biden heading west after campaigning Sunday in Philadelphia. He and Dr. Biden are expected to conclude the day with a drive-in rally in Pittsburgh, while Ms. Harris and Mr. Emhoff will do the same in Philadelphia on Monday night after campaigning in the eastern part of the state.

Mr. Biden’s campaign said that the four would be seeking to engage the range of constituencies that make up the Biden coalition, including Black voters living in big cities, younger voters and white moderates in the suburbs, while seeking to cut into Mr. Trump’s base of white working-class voters.

“This campaign isn’t just about turning out the base, or growing support with persuadable voters — it’s always been about both, and then some,” the campaign said in a statement.

President Trump bracing himself against the cold in Washington, Mich., on Sunday, where he repeatedly made comments about the weather.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump made a closing pitch to Michigan voters on Sunday morning by making false claims that he saved the auto industry and complaining repeatedly about the freezing temperatures and the wind blowing “directly” into his face.

Taking the stage in the city of Washington while dramatically bracing himself against the wind, Mr. Trump thanked Michigan for voting for him four years ago, and told the crowd: “I gave you a lot of auto plants, I think we’re even.”

His remarks marked a continuation of the same false claims he has made about bringing back the auto industry every time he has campaigned in the state.

“I stopped the moves and now many plants are being built,” Mr. Trump said. “The automobile business is coming back.” He also claimed, inaccurately, that Michigan “didn’t have any auto plants four years ago.”

In fact, the number of manufacturing jobs in Michigan related to motor vehicles and the manufacturing of auto parts has gone down during Mr. Trump’s tenure in office. Mr. Trump, according to PolitiFact, can truthfully only claim credit for bringing one new car plant, set to open in 2021, to the state. In 2019, auto industry employment in Michigan dropped by about 3,000, according to PolitiFact.

Mr. Trump also embraced the actions of some of his supporters in Texas who surrounded a Biden campaign bus on Saturday, in an apparent attempt to slow it down and run it off the road. Mr. Trump claimed the vehicles bearing Trump flags and signs that surrounded a Biden-Harris campaign bus were “protecting his bus, yesterday, because they are nice.”

The rally in Michigan kicked off a five-state tour on Sunday that was set to take Mr. Trump also to Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

In Michigan, a state Mr. Trump won four years ago by less than 1 percent, a recent A New York Times/Sienna poll showed Mr. Trump trailing Mr. Biden by a eight points.

Now, the state is part of the principal battleground region of the county. On Sunday, Mr. Trump also made fun of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for campaigning with his signature aviation sunglasses on. “Got the little shades on, doesn’t have to work on the eyes,” he said, adding: “They’re too small, they should be bigger.” He also called the former vice president a “dummy and a half.”

And he floated baseless claims that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, had stolen $2 million from her campaign. “Why aren’t they looking at her, Justice Department?” he said.

Throughout the rally, he made little mention of the coronavirus, which is surging in Michigan. Over the past week, there have been an average of 3,111 cases per day there, an increase of 121 percent from the average two weeks earlier.

“Today you should wear them anyway, probably,” he said of face masks, referring, once again, to the freezing cold.

He maintained that he had more enthusiasm behind his campaign than Mr. Biden did. “They went as a twosome and they had less people,” he said of a joint appearance Mr. Biden made on Saturday with President Barack Obama in Michigan.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. speaking at a rally in Detroit on Saturday.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. released a list of 817 campaign bundlers on Saturday night — his top fund-raisers who gathered at least $100,000 for his presidential campaign and for joint party operations, in addition to their own giving — revealing a swell of support from major financiers that has helped him surpass President Trump’s fund-raising.

The list included big names in Hollywood (Jeffrey Katzenberg, the film producer), influential figures in the legal world (Brad Karp, the chairman of the Paul Weiss firm), Wall Street leaders (Hamilton E. James of Blackstone) and associates of Mr. Biden (Mark Angelon, the vice chair of the Biden Foundation before it suspended operation).

The biggest two states for bundlers, by far, were California, which had 195, and New York, which had 112. The Washington area was also heavily represented, with 83 bundlers in the District of Columbia, 38 in Maryland and 32 in Virginia.

Mr. Biden released his list on Saturday evening, after more than 90 million Americans had cast their ballots. Mr. Trump has never released a list of bundlers, which is not legally required but which every Democratic presidential candidate dating back to 2004 has done.

The Biden campaign, which has collected checks worth more than $700,000 in its joint committee with the Democratic National Committee and state parties, did not include donors who made $100,000-plus contributions themselves, but only those who raised at least that much from others.

As of the end of September, $100,000-plus donors had contributed nearly $200 million to Mr. Biden and his joint operations with the Democratic Party.

Saturday’s disclosure was Mr. Biden’s first in the general election. The last time Mr. Biden released a list of his bundlers was in December 2019, when he announced 235 people who had collected at least $25,000 for his campaign.

Mr. Biden’s campaign also tracks higher levels of bundlers. The $100,000 threshold is the second-lowest to qualify to be on the campaign’s national finance committee. The top level, a “Biden Victory Partner” is reserved for donors who raise at least $2.5 million, followed by “Delaware League” ($1 million, “Philly Founder” ($500,000), “Scranton Circle” ($250,000), “Unifier” ($100,000) and “Protector” ($50,000).

President Trump’s election night party will be held at the White House.
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

President Trump’s election night party will be held in the East Room of the White House, and aides are discussing inviting roughly 400 people, according to two officials familiar with the discussions.

The party had been moved from the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, the original venue chosen by the campaign, in part because of rules in Washington prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people indoors to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Now, what had initially been expected to be a small gathering in the East Room has ballooned into a large indoor party with several hundred people expected.

The event is certain to raise questions about safety, given that the coronavirus spreads more easily in indoor spaces. An event on Sept. 26 for Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, at which people were bunched together both indoors and outside in the Rose Garden, was widely seen by health experts as a point of spread of the virus.

A White House official and a spokeswoman for the first lady, whose office oversees the East Wing of the complex, did not respond to requests for comment. A campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign announced on Saturday that he would address the nation on election night from his hometown, Wilmington, Del.

The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, a Democratic Senate candidate in Georgia, in Atlanta last week.
Credit…Lynsey Weatherspoon for The New York Times

In three key states, early voters, campaign volunteers and 2020 candidates readied on Sunday for the culmination of an extraordinary election season:

Hundreds of people on Sunday morning tuned in to an online worship service streamed by the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once helmed the pulpit and whose current senior pastor, the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, is a leading Democratic candidate for the Senate in Georgia.

“Make sure, this Tuesday, that you go to vote,” Dr. Warnock said. “If you’ve already voted, I want you to reach out today to your friends and your family and ask, ‘Have you voted? Can I help you? Do you need a ride to the polls?’ Let’s make sure that everybody gets to the polls.”

Dr. Warnock then handed off his digital lectern to the Rev. Robert Michael Franklin Jr., a president emeritus at Dr. Warnock’s alma mater, Morehouse College.

“If there is a Trump-Pence victory, we will comport ourselves with dignity and determination, even if the weight of disappointment may seem heavy,” he said. “We will patiently challenge every apparent wrongdoing in all elections. We may be loyal opposition, but we will ultimately accept legitimate outcomes.”

Residents of Philadelphia, where the police killing of a Black man prompted street protests and confrontations less than a week ago, said Sunday that they feared a new round of demonstrations after Nov. 3 regardless of which presidential candidate appears to have won.

“I think there will be unrest regardless of whichever candidate is in the lead,” said Caitlin Foley, 36, a physician who voted for Joseph R. Biden Jr. “There is still a lot of anger and unhappiness related to the recent shooting. People are upset and scared and frustrated.”

Regardless of the voting outcome, the city’s election machinery will work as it should, said David Thornburgh, chief executive of the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan nonprofit group that works to ensure the integrity of elections. “I continue to be confident that we’ll be OK,” he said.

Lake County, Ohio, has long been a bellwether county in a bellwether state. A middle-class, mostly white suburban area just east of Cleveland, the county has voted for the winner in all but two presidential elections since 1960.

Races in Lake County have been close in recent presidential elections, but President Trump blew that tradition away four years ago, beating Hillary Clinton there by more than 15 percentage points. The question this year is whether that result was an outlier, or if the area’s aging population is tilting steadily to the right.

The views over the weekend outside the Lake County Board of Elections in Painesville were, of course, varied.

“We haven’t changed at all,” said Lisa Hudson, a Republican county volunteer. “This county has gone red and will stay red.” She added, “The national polls are all wrong.”

About 50 yards away was Ann Reiss, passing out Democratic Party material. She said the current feeling in Lake County feeling was “less disillusionment than there was four years ago,” a good sign for Democrats.

Sean Keenan, Jon Hurdle and

Coronavirus precautions at a curbside voting site in Newton, Iowa. More than anything, the campaigns have been defined by the pandemic.
Credit…Kathryn Gamble for The New York Times

President Trump began the fall campaign rooting for, and trying to orchestrate, a last-minute surprise that would vault him ahead of Joseph R. Biden Jr.

A coronavirus vaccine. A dramatic economic rebound. A blockbuster Justice Department investigation. A grievous misstep by a rival he portrayed as faltering. A scandal involving Mr. Biden and his son Hunter.

But as the campaign nears an end, and with most national and battleground-state polls showing Mr. Trump struggling, the cavalry of an October surprise that helped him overtake Hillary Clinton in 2016 has not arrived.

That has left Mr. Trump running on a record of an out-of-control pandemic, an economy staggered by disease, and questions about his own style and conduct that have made him a polarizing figure.

Some events that flashed across the political landscape gave Mr. Trump’s political circle hope for a lift: an opening on the Supreme Court, street protests that the president sought to blame on Democrats and even his three-day hospitalization with the coronavirus, which some advisers had hoped might make him more empathetic.

None of it appears to have made a difference. If anything, the come-and-go nature of what seemed like earth-moving moments underlined the central and fundamentally stable dynamics of the race. Opinions about Mr. Trump are largely set.

More than anything, the race was defined by the pandemic that exploded into the public consciousness in March and that Mr. Trump has struggled to manage as both a health care and a political issue.

Flags at the D.C. Armory grounds in Washington representing those who have died of the coronavirus in the United States. The lasting effect of President Trump’s relationship with the truth may be most evident in terms of the pandemic.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Born amid made-up crowd size claims and “alternative facts,” the Trump presidency has been a factory of falsehood from the start, churning out distortions, conspiracy theories and brazen lies at an assembly-line pace that has challenged fact-checkers and defied historical analogy.

But now, with the election two days away, the consequences of four years of fabulism are coming into focus as President Trump argues that the vote itself is inherently “rigged,” tearing at the credibility of the system. Should the contest go into extra innings through legal challenges after Tuesday, it may leave a public with little faith in the outcome — and in its own democracy.

The nightmarish scenario of widespread doubt and denial of the legitimacy of the election would cap a period in American history when truth itself has seemed at stake under a president who has strayed so far from the normal bounds that he creates what allies call his own reality. Even if the election ends with a clear victory or defeat for Mr. Trump, scholars and players alike say the very concept of public trust in an established set of facts necessary for the operation of a democratic society has eroded during his tenure with potentially long-term ramifications.

“You can mitigate the damage, but you can’t bring it back to 100 percent the way it was before,” said Lee McIntyre, the author of “Post-Truth” and a philosopher at Boston University. “And I think that’s going to be Trump’s legacy. I think there’s going to be lingering damage to the processes by which we vet truths for decades.”

Joseph R. Biden Jr. holds a clear advantage over President Trump across four of the most important presidential swing states, a new poll shows, bolstered by the support of voters who did not participate in the 2016 election and who now appear to be turning out in large numbers to cast their ballots, mainly for the Democrat.

Mr. Biden, the former vice president, is ahead of Mr. Trump in the Northern battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well as in the Sun Belt states of Florida and Arizona, according to a poll of likely voters conducted by The New York Times and Siena College. His strength is most pronounced in Wisconsin, where he has an outright majority of the vote and leads Mr. Trump by 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent.

Mr. Biden’s performance across the electoral map appears to put him in a stronger position heading into Election Day than any presidential candidate since at least 2008, when in the midst of a global economic crisis Barack Obama captured the White House with 365 Electoral College votes and Mr. Biden at his side.

The New York Times /
Siena College poll

Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump in four key battleground states just days before the election.

Arizona Ariz. (n=1,252)

+4 Trump

+6 Biden 49-43

Florida Fla. (1,451)

+1 Trump

+3 Biden 47-44

Pennsylvania Pa. (1,862)

<1 Trump

+6 Biden 49-43

Wisconsin Wis. (1,253)

<1 Trump

+11 Biden 52-41

Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely voters from Oct. 26 to Oct. 31.

Mr. Trump’s apparent weakness in many of the country’s largest electoral prizes leaves him with a narrow path to the 270 Electoral College votes required to claim victory, short of a major upset or a systemic error in opinion polling surpassing even the missteps preceding the 2016 election. Should Mr. Biden’s lead hold in three of the four states tested in the survey, it would almost certainly be enough to win, and if he were to carry Florida, he would most likely need to flip just one more large state that Mr. Trump won in 2016 to clinch the presidency.

In the closing days of the campaign, Mr. Biden has a modest advantage in Florida, where he is ahead of Mr. Trump by three points, 47 percent to 44 percent, a lead that is within the margin of error. He leads by six points in both Arizona and Pennsylvania. In no state did Mr. Trump’s support climb higher than 44 percent.

The margin of error is 3.2 percentage points in Wisconsin and Florida; 3 points in Arizona and 2.4 points in Pennsylvania.

Supporters of President Trump at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, last month.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

You could be forgiven for feeling déjà vu after looking at Ann Selzer’s latest poll of Iowa, where President Trump campaigned on Sunday as part of a five-state tour that includes parts of the Rust Belt and the Southeast.

The survey, released Saturday, showed a late shift toward Mr. Trump, after months in which he and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, had been running neck-and-neck in her polling of the state.

The most respected political polling operation in Iowa, Selzer & Company was the rare firm to pick up on the last-minute shift in support toward Mr. Trump in 2016 that would ultimately deliver him Iowa, other Midwestern states and the Electoral College.

The new survey, conducted as usual on behalf of The Des Moines Register, showed 48 percent of likely Iowa voters supporting Mr. Trump, and 41 percent backing Mr. Biden. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Selzer polls conducted in June and September had found the candidates locked in a statistical tie, most recently at 47 percent each.

When pressed, an additional 5 percent of likely voters in the new poll said they knew whom they would vote for — or already had — but didn’t want to tell. Altogether, 94 percent of likely voters said they had either cast their ballots already or come to a firm decision on whom to support, meaning there are few persuadable voters left in the race’s final days.

Four years ago, Ms. Selzer’s pre-election poll in early November found Mr. Trump ahead, also by seven points. That poll was conducted in the days after the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, informed Congress about a new review of the Hillary Clinton email case. It was not the only survey taken of Iowa voters during this time period, but it was the only one capturing the shift toward Mr. Trump. And it was pretty close to accurate: He ultimately beat Mrs. Clinton by nine points — two points more than in the Selzer poll.

Among battleground states, the heavily white and heavily rural Iowa is one of the more favorable to Mr. Trump this year. Still, any poll showing a seven-point Trump lead in a contested state — especially from such an esteemed pollster — is bound to turn heads.

The poll also found Senator Joni Ernst with the edge over her Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield, in a highly competitive race that will help determine control of the Senate.

Mr. Trump regained his strength in the new Iowa poll largely by flipping independent voters back to his camp; it showed him winning independents in Iowa 49 percent to 35 percent, something he’s been failing to do almost everywhere else. Along the way he cut deeply into Mr. Biden’s lead among women in the state, which dropped to nine points from 20 points in September.

Still, the Selzer poll is just one poll of the state; a survey released Thursday by Quinnipiac University found Mr. Trump with just a one-point lead. And while poll watchers will certainly wonder what the Selzer poll might indicate about trends in the Midwest, Mr. Biden does not need Iowa itself, with its six electoral votes, to win the presidency. His campaign has not made a major investment in the state.

When given a list of six possible electoral issues, Trump supporters said that the economy and taxes were driving their support of him; 37 percent of the president’s voters selected that topic. Iowa’s unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent last month, the fifth best in the country.

Among Biden supporters, the most commonly referenced subject was “his ability to restore what is good about America,” with 26 percent choosing it.

Over all, just 9 percent of all likely voters supporting one of the major nominees said that his approach to the pandemic was their main area of focus. That’s despite the fact that Iowa currently has one of the nation’s highest per capita case rates.

Carlos A. Gimenez, center, the Republican mayor of Miami-Dade County, in Miami last month.
Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

MIAMI — President Trump’s fifth and final rally on Sunday in Opa-locka, Fla., was moved to 9:30 p.m. after being scheduled to kick off at 11:30 p.m., a late hour for attendees and viewers — and a potential problem for local officials. To try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Miami-Dade County has a nightly curfew that begins at midnight.

The county owns the venue for the rally at the Opa-locka airport near Miami. Public records show that when the Republican National Committee emailed the county about the rally on Thursday, it listed the event as starting at 10 p.m. The county issued a permit until 2 a.m. so that “essential workers” could dismantle and clean the hangar after the rally.

On Saturday, a spokeswoman for Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez of Miami-Dade County said the administration did not know where the time change had come from.

By Sunday, the mayor’s office said it had gotten assurances from the R.N.C. that the outdoor rally would “begin at 9:30 p.m. Sunday and is expected to end before midnight.”

Mr. Trump, however, was already running late in his schedule by the middle of the afternoon.

The county will hand out fliers listing public-health rules that mandate face coverings and social distancing. The R.N.C. will distribute masks and hand sanitizer, according to the county.

“As with any other events, the county will continue to enforce the curfew,” Mr. Gimenez said in a statement. “We will be flexible, as we have been with recent late-ending sporting events, so that people get home safely.”

Mr. Gimenez, a Republican, is running for Congress in Miami and has been endorsed by Mr. Trump. Miami-Dade was hard-hit by the virus.

The curfew has vexed Miami-Dade ever since a circuit court judge ruled in favor of Tootsies, a Miami Gardens strip club, which sued to overturn the restriction. County lawyers have been trying to make the case on appeal that the curfew is crucial to public health.

The R.N.C. told the county it expected 6,000 to 10,000 attendees, which would make it one of the largest events to be held in Miami-Dade since the pandemic began in the United States in March.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci at the Capitol in July.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert whose criticism of President Trump’s pandemic response has steadily grown in pitch, gave a bleak appraisal of the administration’s coronavirus response in an interview with The Washington Post on Friday.

“You could not possibly be positioned more poorly” heading into the winter, when people will be gathering indoors more, he said.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt,” he said in the interview, which was published on Saturday.

And in comments likely to grate on Mr. Trump, who has called Dr. Fauci “a disaster” as he has batted away the doctor’s growing criticism, Dr. Fauci praised the Biden campaign’s approach to the coronavirus, saying it was “taking it seriously from a public health perspective.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign was “looking at it from a different perspective,” he said, which was focused on the economy and reopening the country.

The interview was the latest instance of Dr. Fauci, who was once the face of the government’s response, refusing to join in on the Trump administration’s efforts to insist the virus is under control. His influence has given way to Dr. Scott W. Atlas, Mr. Trump’s pandemic adviser who has questioned mask use and offered a number of other contrarian philosophies.

In the interview, Dr. Fauci directly criticized Dr. Atlas, saying “I have real problems with that guy.”

“He’s a smart guy who’s talking about things that I believe he doesn’t have any real insight or knowledge or experience in,” Dr. Fauci said. “He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t make any sense.”

In a statement, Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said that it was “unacceptable and breaking with all norms” for Dr. Fauci to “play politics” three days before the election.

Senator Lindsey Graham speaking to reporters in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday.
Credit…Gavin McIntyre for The New York Times

Senator Lindsey Graham, a vulnerable Trump ally from South Carolina, on Sunday suggested that any young woman in America can “succeed” — provided they follow his prescribed path of opposing abortions, supporting religion and embracing a “traditional family structure.”

Mr. Graham’s comments came three weeks after he made a strikingly similar effort to dictate the political rules of engagement on racial matters, saying that Black people “can go anywhere in this state” as long as they are “conservative” and not liberal.

“I want every young woman to know there’s a place for you in America if you are pro-life, if you embrace your religion and you follow a traditional family structure — that you can go anywhere, young lady,” said Mr. Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who is facing a surprisingly strong challenge from Jaime Harrison, a Democrat, who is Black.

“First @LindseyGrahamSC said that Black folks can do anything in SC… as long as they’re conservative,” Mr. Harrison wrote in a Tweet early Sunday. “Now he says young women can have a place in America if they’re pro-life and come from ‘traditional families.’ Any other requirements we should know about, Lindsey?”

Mr. Graham, speaking at a campaign event in Conway, S.C., made the comments after praising Justice Amy Coney Barrett as an example for other women to follow.

“You know what I like about Judge Barrett? She’s got everything,” the senator said. “She’s not just wicked smart, she’s incredibly good. She embraces her faith,” Mr. Graham said at an outdoor rally while he paced the stage in a baseball cap.

Mr. Graham holds a narrow lead over Mr. Harrison in recent polls, but has suffered from the same political afflictions that have plagued Mr. Trump — the defection of white suburbanites, a massive gender gap and overwhelming opposition from Black voters.

At times, his folksy, frank and freewheeling style — which has endeared him to reporters in Washington — has backfired back home.

“If you are a young African-American, an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state, you just need to be conservative, not liberal,” Mr. Graham said during a candidate forum on Oct. 10.

An email to Mr. Graham’s spokesman was not immediately returned.

Amira Randolph, left, and Meri Mazang canvassing in Milwaukee on Sunday.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Amira Randolph, 15, and about 25 other young people braved strong wind and near-freezing temperatures on Sunday to encourage people in Milwaukee’s Near South Side to turn out and vote. Wearing masks, the canvassers stepped back six feet after ringing doorbells.

One resident, Maribel Piña, accepted information on voting from Ms. Randolph, but then deferred to her son, Rodolfo Geron, 19, who is more fluent in English.

Mr. Geron, a student at Carroll University in Waukesha, was glad for the reminder. “I was planning to vote today, yeah,” he said, adding that he would cast a ballot for Joseph R. Biden Jr. “I watched the debates and Biden aligns with what I believe in, too, along with the change I want in this country.”

The canvassing effort is led by Youth Empowered in the Struggle, or YES, a multicultural group that is part of Voces de la Frontera, a Milwaukee nonprofit that advocates immigrant, student and workers’ rights.

Many of the students who were canvassing were Hispanic, like Katherine Villanueva, 16, who said her year-round involvement in the teenage group helped her overcome the anxiety she felt growing up in a family with mixed immigration status.

Other teenagers, like Fatoumata Guisse, 15, whose parents are Muslim and immigrated to Milwaukee from Senegal, joined the effort recently. “It’s important to vote and for youth, this vote is for our future,” Ms. Guisse said. “So why not go out and encourage people to vote?”

One voter, Mike Allen, 48, quickly donned a hoodie as he stepped onto his porch. Mr. Allen, who is African-American, said he had already voted by mail and had been encouraging younger family members to also vote.

“I’m almost 50,” he said, “but I told them, ‘This is for your future.’” As if on cue, a car pulled up and a young woman called to him through a rolled-down window, asking if he knew where she could still vote today. “That’s my niece,” Mr. Allen said with a smile.

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