There are six days left until Election Day. Yet tens of millions of people have already voted and continue to do so as coroanvirus cases spike in several crucial states. On the trail, President Donald Trump is expected to continue his busy travel schedule down the stretch, hitting multiple stops a day, while his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, is slated to make fewer, but just as strategic stops. According to polling averages, Biden holds a wide national lead over Trump, but his margins in battleground states are slimmer. Meanwhile, Democrats are widely expected to hold onto the House, but the battle for control of the Senate is much tighter.
Here are the top headlines:
The Supreme Court has denied a GOP request to block an extended deadline for receiving mail-in ballots in North Carolina, a victory for Democrats in the key battleground state.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the decision.
Republican lawmakers in North Carolina had asked the high court to block lower court rulings that allowed the state board of elections to extend the deadline for mail-in ballots until Nov. 12.
— Spencer Kimball
The Supreme Court won't decide until after Election Day whether the Pennsylvania supreme court erred by extending the deadline for receiving absentee ballots in the state, the justices said.
Pennsylvania Republicans asked the top court to consider their challenge to the state court's three-day extension on an expedited basis. The justices declined to do so. Republicans may still ultimately prevail, which could mean that ballots received after Election Day will be disqualified.
Pennsylvania said on Wednesday that it would keep ballots received after Nov. 3 separated.
Notably, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who started her term on Tuesday, did not participate in the case. While Democrats have called for her to recuse from election-related disputes, a court spokeswoman said that Barrett did not weigh in because she did not yet have time to review all of the filings.
The GOP lost a case at the Supreme Court over the issue earlier this month. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court's three liberals and the court deadlocked 4-4, leaving in place the lower court ruling. Barrett's ascension to the bench has raised the possibility that the GOP could win on try No. 2.
— Tucker Higgins
The FBI Agents Association has sent identical letters to President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden asking the candidates to allow Director Christopher Wray to finish his 10-year term "regardless of the outcome of the election."
Brian O'Hare, president of the agents association, asked Trump and Biden to "maintain the stability, credibility, and integrity of the Bureau" by keeping Wray at the helm.
"He has not led the Bureau in a political manner, and politics should not determine his fate as Director," O'Hare wrote. "While the President can remove an FBI Director, doing so could lead to instability and damage to the Bureau's operations, which is why Congress intended to insulate the position of Director from political whims."
The FBI has faced turmoil amid a contentious relationship with President Trump during his first term in office. Trump fired the bureau's former director James Comey in 2017 amid an FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
More than 90% of active duty FBI special agents are members of the association, which has more than 14,000 members.
— Spencer Kimball
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is calling for the end of marijuana prohibition ahead of a ballot initiative that would legalize recreational use of the herb.
Public Question 1 would amend the Garden State's constitution to legalize the possession of weed for people 21 or older.
Arizona, Montana and South Dakota will also vote on measures to legalize recreational marijuana this November. Mississippi will decided whether the state should legalize medical marijuana.
Eleven states have already legalized recreational marijuana, even though the plant is still outlawed by the federal government as a "Schedule I" controlled substance.
— Spencer Kimball
The 2020 election is now estimated to cost nearly $14 billion, as the battle between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden comes to a close.
That estimate came from a new report from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), after they previously expected the election to cost $10.8 billion.
The likely final spending total is between both the presidential and congressional campaigns.
By Election Day, next Tuesday, the presidential race is expected to end up seeing $6.6 billion in total spending, while congressional races are anticipated to finish with just over $7 billion.
Democrats have nearly doubled the spending by Republican candidates up and down the ballot. Democratic contenders are going into the final week of the election spending $6.9 billion while Republicans have put in $3.8 billion into the 2020 fight.
CRP changed its estimate from $10.8 billion to nearly $14 billion due in part to the huge amount of fundraising in the final months of the election.
Biden is on track to be the first candidate in U.S. history to end up raising $1 billion in a single election cycle, CRP said. President Donald Trump's campaign for reelection said that Trump raised north of $950 million during the 2020 election. Those totals do not include how much was raised by either the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee.
The new data shows that employees in certain industries, including those on Wall Street, have largely flipped to Democrats.
While CRP notes that Biden's campaign is powered in part by small dollar donors, it has seen a significant boost from executives in the securities and investment industry.
Biden finished the 2020 election cycle with over $74 million from people on Wall Street, compared to Trump, who received $18 million from those in the same industry.
— Brian Schwartz
Former Trump administration official Miles Taylor, who in recent months became a vocal critic of the president, revealed himself to be "Anonymous," the unnamed figure who in 2018 penned an infamous New York Times op-ed slamming Trump.
Taylor, who had served as chief of staff to former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, confirmed in a blog post on Medium that he had written the op-ed. The Times also identified Taylor in its own story, and Taylor was set to appear on CNN later Wednesday.
But the big reveal had been preempted by tweets from media insiders and was quickly met with scorn online.
Trump campaign press secretary Hogan Gidley ripped Taylor in a scathing statement.
"This is the least impressive, lamest political 'reveal' of all time," Gidley said. "I worked with DHS officials while I was in the White House, and even I had to research who Miles Taylor was. He's just another standard-issue arrogant, Washington, DC swamp bro who loved President Trump until he figured out he could try to make money by attacking him."
Taylor, a Republican who is now working to get Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden elected, had also written "A Warning," a book that was equally critical of Trump.
Taylor had been tapped by Google last fall to work on government and national security issues. But the hire prompted harsh reactions from some lawmakers and employees.
In the blog post, Taylor explained he had been torn about anonymously criticizing the Trump administration while he was still a part of it.
"The decision wasn't easy, I wrestled with it, and I understand why some people consider it questionable to levy such serious charges against a sitting President under the cover of anonymity," Taylor wrote.
"But my reasoning was straightforward, and I stand by it. Issuing my critiques without attribution forced the President to answer them directly on their merits or not at all, rather than creating distractions through petty insults and name-calling. I wanted the attention to be on the arguments themselves."
— Kevin Breuninger
While Democratic candidate Joe Biden remains ahead in the polls against President Donald Trump, uncertainty in the market should be more tied to the outcome of Senate races across the country, according to a note from JPMorgan. If Republicans hold onto the Senate or force run-offs in certain races, it would lower the odds of a large fiscal package from a Biden administration, according to the note.
"If Republicans have a strong showing on Election Day, the Senate may not be decided until January as run- off elections will likely be necessary for certain states like Georgia. Fiscal expectations remain tethered to the Senate outcome as execution of any policy agenda relies increasingly on uniform control of government," the note said. — Jesse Pound
Pennsylvania told the Supreme Court that it will keep ballots received after 8 p.m. ET on Election Day separated from ballots received before that deadline as the justices continue to weigh whether the later votes will count.
J. Bart DeLone, the state's chief deputy attorney general, notified the justices in a letter.
Republicans are challenging a state supreme court ruling that extended the deadline for counting absentee ballots in the state from Election Day to Nov. 6, three days later, citing Covid-19 related mail delays.
The Supreme Court rejected Republicans' initial attempt to halt that ruling on Oct. 19 by a 4-4 vote in which Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court's three liberals. The GOP renewed their challenge a few days later, and since then, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative, has joined the bench.
Pennsylvania's action on Wednesday will not have an impact on whether votes received after Election Day are counted, but will prepare the state to disqualify those ballots in case the newly constituted top court sides with Republicans and orders them to do so.
-- Tucker Higgins
President Trump revealed endorsements from three Nevada workers' organizations before heading off to Arizona to host a campaign rally.
Representatives from the Nevada Trucking Association, the Retail Association of Nevada and the Associated Builders and Contractors joined Trump at his own hotel in Las Vegas.
Biden has held a lead over Trump in recent polls of Nevada, according to RealClearPolitics' average of the state.
The nation's largest truckers union is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which endorsed Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, in August.
— Kevin Breuninger
Former President Barack Obama will join Joe Biden on the campaign trail Saturday in the key battleground state of Michigan, where the Biden campaign says the two men will "discuss bringing Americans together to address the crises facing the country and win the battle for the soul of the nation."
The Biden campaign did not release any additional details, but the popular former president is proving to be a potent force this week on the campaign trail, where his drive-in rallies in Pennsylvania and Florida have drawn large, enthusiastic crowds.
Obama has assumed the role of "attack dog" for his former vice president in recent days, unleashing a barrage of pointed criticism at President Donald Trump.
— Christina Wilkie
Seven people were hospitalized and hundreds of other attendees at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump were stranded for hours in biting cold after that gathering Tuesday at an Omaha, Nebraska, airfield.
Omaha police said that 30 people in total at the rally were contacted for medical reasons, some of whom needed medical attention during the event itself.
Buses carried about 25,000 people to the event over a 10-hour period before it began at 8 p.m. local time.
When Trump finished his speech at about 9 p.m., and as temperatures hovered in the mid-30s, many people were left at the field waiting for a ride on the 40 buses ferrying attendees to off-site parking lots, the nearest of which was about 2.5 miles away.
Police said that many people ended up walking to the parking lots instead of waiting for a bus.
The last bus left the event site at 11:50 p.m., almost three hours after the rally concluded.
Democratic presidential Joe Biden on Wednesday cited the logistical snafu in criticizing Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Just look what happened last night in Omaha, after the Trump rally ended, hundreds of people, including older Americans and children were stranded in sub-zero freezing temperatures for hours," Biden told reporters.
"It's an image that captured President Trump's whole approach in this crisis ... he makes a lot of big pronouncements, but they don't hold up."
Trump campaign spokeswoman Samantha Zager said, "President Trump loves his supporters and was thrilled to visit Omaha last night. Despite the cold, tens of thousands of people showed up for his rally."
"Because of the sheer size of the crowd, we deployed 40 shuttle buses – double the normal allotment – but local road closures and resulting congestion caused delays," Zager said. "At the guest departure location, we had tents, heaters, generators, hot cocoa, and hand warmers available for guests. We always strive to provide the best guest experience at our events and we care about their safety."
— Dan Mangan
Top White House aide Stephen Miller, the architect of President Donald Trump's restrictive immigration policy, joined the Trump campaign's daily press call Wednesday, where he claimed that if Democrat Joe Biden is elected, there will be an immediate "rush on the border on a global scale, unseen before in human history."
Miller said he was helping the campaign in a personal, volunteer capacity, before making many of the same hyperbolic claims about the alleged dangers posed by immigrants and refugees that he makes on television in his official White House role as a senior advisor to the president.
Miller touted a new proclamation from Trump that the United States will further limit the number of refugees it accepts in the coming year, from 18,000 last year down to 15,000. In 2017, the Obama administration admitted 110,000 refugees.
Biden has promised to lift most, if not all, of the Trump administration's draconian immigration policies, including the so called "remain-in-Mexico" policy that forces non-Mexican asylum seekers to wait in Mexico, sometimes for years, while their applications are processed. Biden has also vowed that "there will not be another foot of [border] wall constructed in my administration."
Miller's appearance was timed to coincide with Trump's visit to the southern border state of Arizona Wednesday. Shifting demographics in the suburbs of Phoenix and Tucson are helping to turn this formerly red state blueish purple, and polls show Biden with a narrow lead over Trump.
Arizona is also the site of a pivotal Senate race this year, and polls currently show Democrat Mark Kelly leading incumbent GOP senator Martha McSally by an average of 4.4 points.
A new poll shows Joe Biden opening up a lead over President Trump in Georgia, a traditionally Republican-leaning state that has become competitive in the 2020 race.
Biden holds 50% support among registered voters in Georgia, compared with 45% for Trump, according to Monmouth University's latest poll of the state. A survey last month gave Trump a 1-point edge over the Democratic nominee.
Still, Monmouth's polling director Patrick Murray said Trump still has a good chance to win the state on Election Day.
"The Democratic voters left on the table at this point tend to be less engaged and thus harder to turn out. So, it is still possible for Trump to make up his deficit in the early vote," Murray said in a press release.
The statewide poll conducted phone interviews with 504 Georgia voters. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points.
Trump won Georgia's 16 electoral votes in 2016, defeating then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by about 5 percentage points. The Peach State has voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every election since 1992.
Journalist and statistician Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight said that Monmouth's poll "is a real warning sign for Republicans" in Georgia.
— Kevin Breuninger
Joe Biden and his wife Jill cast their votes in Wilmington, Delaware today.
"I'm going over to vote with my wife and I'll be happy to take your questions after I vote," Biden told reporters earlier during remarks on health care and the coronavirus.
The former vice president made the announcement after attending a public-health briefing, where he heard from medical experts including former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
President Trump cast his ballot in person on Saturday during a trip to West Palm Beach, Florida. Trump, who was born and raised in Queens, New York, become a resident of the Sunshine State late last year.
"I voted for a guy named Trump," the president said.
— Kevin Breuninger
Protests in Philadelphia continued Tuesday night following the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who suffered a mental health episode.
Demonstrations were largely described as peaceful, though looting took place in parts of the city, according to NBC News. Protesters have called for accountability after officers shot Wallace on Monday. Police have said he approached officers on the scene while holding a knife.
The shooting, along with other police killings of Black Americans this year that sparked nationwide outrage, has illustrated the gulf in how the U.S. presidential contenders aim to address racial justice and police reform. In a statement, President Donald Trump's press secretary Kayleigh McEnany blamed the unrest on what she called "Liberal Democrats' war against the police."
"The Trump Administration stands proudly with law enforcement, and stands ready, upon request, to deploy any and all Federal resources to end these riots," she said in a statement that did not mention Wallace's name.
Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, issued a statement in which they said "Walter Wallace's life, like too many others', was a Black life that mattered." At the same time, they said that "looting is not a protest" and "draws attention away from the real tragedy of a life cut short."
"As a nation, we are strong enough to both meet the challenges of real police reform, including implementing a national use of force standard, and to maintain peace and security in our communities," they continued, arguing Trump fans "the flames of division in our society."
Pennsylvania will be a pivotal swing state in Tuesday's presidential election.
— Jacob Pramuk
Hillary Clinton said in remarks aired on Wednesday that she agreed with Biden's plan to create a bipartisan commission to study how to reform the federal judiciary.
"In the middle of a campaign, you can't stop and look at, 'Well, do we want term limits, do we want to add numbers, what about the circuit courts?' I mean, there's really complicated issues," the 2016 Democratic nominee said on the progressive "Signal Boost" radio show hosted on SiriusXM.
"If you're going to treat the courts like this, having denied Merrick Garland, having packed the circuit courts with unqualified Federalist Society ideologues, most of whom have never tried a case, are robots for the right-wing agenda. What do you expect us to do? There are consequences," Clinton said.
The interview came a day after Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's third appointee, officially began her tenure on the Supreme Court.
Calls for expanding the number of justices on the nine-judge panel escalated after Trump named Barrett to fill the seat vacated by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.
Biden resisted pledging to do so if elected and instead said on CBS's "60 Minutes" earlier this month that he will form a "commission of scholars" to recommend solutions for reforming the court system.
— Tucker Higgins
Texas, a GOP stronghold for more than four decades, now looks to be a neck-and-neck race between Trump and Biden less than a week before the election.
Cook Political Report, a widely followed and respected election-tracking operation that periodically issues ratings in presidential and congressional races, on Wednesday moved Texas from "Lean Republican" to its "Toss Up" column.
NBC News' own battleground map labeled Texas a toss-up state a day earlier.
"Texas is a state that Biden doesn't need to win, but it is clear that it's more competitive than ever," Cook's Amy Walter wrote.
The Lone Star State has voted for the Republican nominee in every presidential race since 1976. It boasts 38 electoral votes, the second-largest share in the nation behind California.
RealClearPolitics' average of polls in the state shows Trump maintaining a narrow 2.4-point lead over Biden. That gap has shrunk a few percentage points in recent days.
Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate, is scheduled to campaign in Texas on Friday. More than 7.8 million people have already voted in the Lone Star State, about 87% of the state's total turnout in 2016, according to the U.S. Elections Project. — Kevin Breuninger
On January 20, 2021, the president of the United States, whether he is Donald Trump or Joe Biden, will face a plethora of foreign policy challenges across the globe.
Here's a look at President Trump's and Biden's foreign policy positions ahead of the U.S. presidential election.
— Amanda Macias
Vice President Mike Pence tested negative for coronavirus today as he gears up to make campaign stops in Michigan and Wisconsin. President Trump won both states in 2016, but Joe Biden has enjoyed consistent polling leads in each.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, is experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases. Asked whether that gave Pence and the campaign any pause in their plans to hold a rally in the state, Trump campaign official Hogan Gidley told CNN: "No, it doesn't. The vice president has the best doctors in the world around him. They've obviously contact traced and have come to the conclusion that it's fine for him to be out on the campaign trail."
— Mike Calia
Wall Street's top investment banks and brokerages have advised clients throughout October to be prepared for any combination of election outcome. CNBC reviewed dozens of recent reports published by the largest firms to distill common takeaways based on which candidate wins the presidency and which party controls the Senate.
All of the major brokerages believe Democrats will keep their majority in the House.
Biden wins, Democrats flip Senate — The so-called Blue Wave scenario is expected to benefit cyclical stocks, or those that rise and fall based on the health of the U.S. economy. An all-Democratic government would be able to muscle through a large stimulus bill and enact many of the Biden campaign's infrastructure and development plans.
Biden wins, Republicans keep Senate — Of immediate concern to Wall Street in this scenario is the timing and size of a stimulus package. Democrats would likely have to capitulate to Senate Republicans, who have in recent months called for far-smaller relief packages.
Trump wins, Republicans keep Senate — Like the prior outcome, a status quo result could delay or water down any eventual stimulus, a possible overhang for consumer discretionary stocks and other cyclical names.
CNBC Pro subscribers can read more here.
— Thomas Franck
The United States has tallied record numbers of coronavirus cases on the eve of the presidential election.
For the past three days, the U.S. has set new all-time highs in the average daily Covid-19 cases reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of new U.S. cases on Tuesday hit a new peak of 71,832 on a seven-day-average, a CNBC analysis showed.
More than a dozen states are also grappling with record-high numbers of people hospitalized.
The pandemic, which appears to be entering its third wave in the U.S., has consistently ranked as a central issue in the election between Trump and Biden. The candidates' messaging on the virus could hardly be more different.
Biden's campaign has taken pains to adhere to epidemiologists' guidelines for avoiding transmission of Covid-19. The Democratic nominee has traveled less than his rival and has not held any in-person events with large crowds of supporters.
Trump was hospitalized with the virus earlier this month, but has since resumed holding tightly packed rallies in which many of his supporters refuse to wear masks or take other safety precautions.
The president, who has consistently downplayed the threat of the virus, recently started suggesting that the media's focus on the pandemic is politically motivated even as cases surge across the country.
"They will talk about nothing else until November 4th., when the Election will be (hopefully!) over," he tweeted Wednesday morning. "Then the talk will be how low the death rate is, plenty of hospital rooms, & many tests of young people."
— Kevin Breuninger
Democrats have seen success during the Trump era in U.S. suburbs that have grown more diverse and prosperous.
One such U.S. House district outside of Houston will play a role in determining whether Democrats can expand their House majority — or even make statewide races competitive.
Texas' 22nd District race pits a Republican, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, against Democratic former foreign service officer Sri Preston Kulkarni. The Democrat lost to retiring GOP incumbent Rep. Pete Olson by only about 5 percentage points in 2018 in an area the Republican has represented since 2009.
As a rising Asian American population adds to an already large share of Latino and Black voters, the district has become one of the most diverse in the country. With ample housing and a strong job market driven by health care, energy and NASA, the region's median incomes and education levels have climbed in recent years — two signs of political trouble for Republicans during Trump's first term.
The 22nd District is one of about a dozen House races that could be competitive on Nov. 3. Democrats see Texas as a massive opportunity to add to their majority as Trump drags on some candidates.
Polls have also found Democrat Joe Biden only narrowly trailing President Donald Trump statewide in the race for one of the biggest electoral college prizes.
— Jacob Pramuk
arly voting totals climbed higher, having already surpassed the total number of votes cast before the 2016 election with six days still left in the 2020 campaign.
More than 71 million Americans have voted in the election, according to U.S. Elections Project data updated overnight. Nearly one third of those votes were cast in person at polling places, with the rest sent by mail.
The flood of mail-in ballots was widely anticipated amid the coronavirus pandemic. Many state leaders expanded access to the alternative voting method in an attempt to avoid spreading Covid-19 in their areas.
According to the Elections Project data, Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans in the total number of early votes tallied, while more Republicans so far have cast their ballots in person than Democrats.
— Kevin Breuninger
Hundreds of Trump supporters, several of them elderly, were left stranded in near-freezing temperatures after the president held a rally last night in Nebraska, according to reports. Multiple people were reportedly taken to the hospital due to the effect of the cold weather.
A CNN reporter on the scene said that, nearly an hour and a half after President Trump left the state on Air Force One, police and rally attendees were waiting for "at least 30 more buses."
Trump was campaigning in reliably red Nebraska, a state he won easily in 2016, because there's a good chance he could lose one of its electoral votes to Joe Biden. The Democrat holds a slight polling edge in Nebraska's 2nd District, and he has a 78% shot at winning it, according to data analytics site FiveThirtyEight. Nebraska and Maine are the only states that don't distribute their Electoral College votes in a winner-take-all manner.
— Mike Calia
Joe Biden is making the coronavirus a major part of his closing argument as Covid-19 cases surge across the country. Today, he will receive a briefing from health experts and make a speech about his plan to combat the disease as well his health care proposals. The campaign didn't give any timing for the remarks.
Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate, will venture to Arizona today for events in Tucson and Phoenix.
— Mike Calia
President Trump is scheduled to hold two rallies in Arizona today. He won the state by a little more than 3 percentage points in 2016.
This time, though, polls have generally shown him trailing Joe Biden in the quest for the southwestern state's 11 electoral votes. There's also a Senate seat on the line, too. Democratic former astronaut Mark Kelly has consistently led GOP incumbent Martha McSally in polls.
Trump will speak at 2 p.m. ET in Bullhead City and again at 4:45 p.m. ET in Phoenix.
— Mike Calia