The State of the Election: Where’s Joe and Kamala?

On Monday, Ivanka Trump, daughter and special adviser to Pres. Donald Trump, held a so-called campaign “fireside chat” in Wilmington, talking about what she saw as her father’s accomplishments during the course of his almost four years in office.

It was her second North Carolina event in recent weeks.

This coming Saturday, the president is scheduled to hold a campaign rally in a hangar at Fayetteville Regional Airport. Trump held a rally in Winston-Salem just last week, as well as in Wilmington, and Charlotte for part of the Republican National Convention.

Clearly, the Trump campaign is in the hunt for North Carolina’s all-important 15 Electoral College votes, which would come in handy in what is seen as what could ultimately be a close presidential election with Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Thus far, according to RealClearPolitics and other national polls, the race between Trump and Biden in North Carolina is a virtual dead heat at 47.6 for Biden, and 47.3 for Trump once at least seven major polls are averaged.

Assuming that the Biden campaign sees the same polls that the Trump campaign are obviously using to determine this key battleground state as essential enough to repeatedly send the Republican incumbent to, observers are asking the question, Why hasn’t Joe Biden or Sen. Kamala Harris, his vice presidential partner, been to North Carolina yet, and what is keeping them?

True, Democrats, in what is considered by many to be a “purple” swing state, are seen as having the momentum to keep the governor’s office, and possibly take back the N.C. General Assembly, but, as proven just four years ago in 2016, when Democrats won the governor’s seat but still came up short regaining the legislature or helping to elect Hillary Clinton, North Carolina voters can be fickle, especially with less than 50 days to go to the Nov. 3rd Election Day.

But, there are several factors now in 2020 that may give Dems hope, even as Republicans pullout all stops to kill their momentum.

North Carolina, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, was the first state in the nation to begin absentee balloting by mail on Sept. 4th, meaning that North Carolinians were the first in the nation to begin voting, even weeks before the official One Stop-Early Voting period of Oct. 15 to Oct. 31st.

As of last week, more than 10 percent of North Carolina’s 7,119,097 registered voters, or 758,057, have requested absentee ballots for the Nov. 3rd elections. That is up 140 percent from 2016, when only 50,425 were requested.

As of Sept. 12th, 23,443 absentee ballots have been returned, and of that number, 22,709 have been accepted. 458 were designated “witness information incomplete (meaning that they were mailed or brought back with the one witness signature required), 256 were “spoiled,” 4 were designated as “returned undeliverable,” and a few others were also not counted for a variety of other reasons.

All of note, as of Sept. 12th, 388,711 absentee ballots were requested by Democrats, 239,325 by unaffiliated, and 127,226 by Republicans.

The final day voters may request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27th, and voters are reminded to ignore Pres. Trump’s recent direction to vote once by mail and once in person. That is illegal.

If you want to check to see if your completed ballot was received by the state Board of Elections, go to https://northcarolina.ballottrax.net/voter/ and follow the instructions to track your ballot online to ensure that it has been received and counted.

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