Trump and Biden running neck-and-neck in vital battleground of Florida
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump was narrowly leading Democratic rival Joe Biden in the vital battleground state of Florida on Tuesday, while other competitive swing states that will help decide the election outcome, such as Georgia and North Carolina, remained up in the air.
The two contenders split the first U.S. states to be projected in the White House race, with conservative Indiana and Kentucky going to Trump and Democratic-leaning Vermont and Virginia going to Biden, according to projections by television networks and Edison Research.
But in Florida, a must-win state for Trump in his quest for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, Trump was leading Biden 50.3% to 48.7% with about 89% reported. Biden still has multiple paths to the 270 electoral votes he needs without Florida despite having spent lots of time and money trying to flip the state that backed Trump in 2016.
Voters, many wearing masks and maintaining social-distancing to guard against the spread of the coronavirus, experienced long lines in a few locales and short waits in many other places. There were no signs of disruptions or violence at polling sites, as some officials had feared.
The winner – who may not be determined for days – will lead a nation strained by a pandemic that has killed more than 231,000 people and left millions more jobless, racial tensions and political polarization that has only worsened during a vitriolic campaign.
A third of U.S. voters listed the economy as the issue that mattered most to them when deciding their choice for president while two out of 10 cited COVID-19, according to an Edison Research exit poll on Tuesday.
In the national exit poll, four out of 10 voters said they thought the effort to contain the virus was going “very badly.” In the battleground states of Florida and North Carolina, battleground states that could decide the election, five of 10 voters said the national response to the pandemic was going “somewhat or very badly.”