Trump, the Republican incumbent, held a campaign rally in the city of Greenville.
Despite the dangers posed by large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has visited the state several times. Democratic challenger Joe Biden, a former Vice President, has mounted a strong campaign. But no one knows which man will win over voters in North Carolina, a key battleground state in November’s presidential election. Other states that could vote either way this year include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Michigan.
Trump has been criticized for holding large rallies with no social distancing and no requirements for face coverings. Biden has stuck with small gatherings and online meetings. He wants to make the case that he can handle the coronavirus pandemic more responsibly than Trump has. As of October 16, more than 218,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, the contagious illness caused by the virus. More than 8.4 million people, including Trump and his wife and son, Barron, have been infected.
So far, Biden has made a strong case in the state, drawing enthusiastic early voters. According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, 11% of North Carolina’s 7.2 million registered voters voted on October 15, with a total of 272,000 ballots cast. That vastly outnumbers the 166,000 ballots cast on the first day of early voting in 2016.
“If Biden wins North Carolina, it might be true that he’ll win the presidential election,” Pope McCorkle, a professor of public policy at Duke University in Durham, told me during a video interview.
Recent nationwide polls show Biden leading Trump by 9 to 11 percentage points. But the election is still weeks away.