Dow futures pointed to a nearly 400-point gain at Tuesday's open as Americans who haven't already voted go to the polls to make a stark choice between President Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden. Nearly 100 million votes have already been cast early in an attempt to reduce crowds on Election Day during the Covid-19 pandemic. The move Tuesday in Dow futures added to the 30-stock average's 423 point advance Monday. However, a two-day gain of about 800 points would only put a small dent in last week's more than 1,800-point, or nearly 6.5%, decline, the worst weekly drop since March, a month that saw Wall Street plunge to a coronavirus low.
Trump and Biden made their final pitches to voters on election eve in rallies in battleground states. The populist economic message that fueled Trump's last campaign was absent this time. Instead, the president attacked adversaries in his closing argument for reelection during events in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Biden spent his final day campaigning in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The central point of Biden's 11th-hour pitch remains that Trump has not and will not take the necessary steps to control the pandemic. Biden also stressed national unity.
While the final NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed a 10-point national lead for Biden, the races in swing states are much closer, giving Trump a chance for another upset. Biden leads in six states that the president needs to defend in his bid for a second term.
According to the CNBC/Change Research poll, Biden held a small edge in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A separate national CNBC/Change Research poll showed the same margin as the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: Biden leads Trump by 10 points 52% to 42%, nationally.
Control of the Senate is also in play on Election Day, with the GOP majority and the future of additional pandemic relief in the balance. The status quo — Trump as president, a Republican Senate and Democratic House — does not favor the odds of a large stimulus package. If the Senate were to flip Democrat — and there's no expectation that Democrats would lose the House — a reelected Trump might be pushed into more stimulus than he and Republicans want. If Biden were to win the presidency and the Senate were stay in GOP hands, the former vice president might have to accept a smaller stimulus than he wants. A blue sweep — Biden wins and Democrats take the Senate — would favor a much larger stimulus approach.
As coronavirus cases surge in a third peak in the U.S., Dr. Deborah Birx, who has been rather silent lately, broke with the president and joined Trump administration scientists sounding the alarm. Echoing top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci's recent comments, Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, wrote in a memo, "We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic." Birx also said the U.S. has not been implementing "balanced" measures needed to slow the spread of the virus. After Friday's worst-ever daily Covid-19 cases of 99,321, new infections over the weekend and Monday averaged in the low 80,000 range.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow all the developments on Wall Street in real-time with CNBC's live markets blog. Also follow our Election Day blog and our coronavirus blog.