Trump camp projects confidence, despite some positive signs for Biden

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Minutes before the first statewide polls closed on Tuesday, Trump campaign officials said they felt more confident at this early hour than they did on election night in 2016.

“With the lack of a ground game on the Biden side, they left a ton of votes on the table and we are driving votes today,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien told reporters on a call, claiming the president’s team has internal data showing depressed Election Day turnout on the Democratic side and a surge of Republican votes.

“They were very much hoping to slam the door shut on Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin and Arizona — that simply hasn’t happened,” Stepien contended.

While turnout surpassed 2016 levels in some GOP-leaning counties by Tuesday afternoon, many counties that Biden is favored to win also saw record turnout. In Florida, for example, the Democratic stronghold of Broward County reached nearly 75 percent turnout by 5 p.m., up three percent from overall turnout levels in 2016. Youth turnout has also surged in the weeks leading up to Election Day, providing a likely edge to the Biden campaign given the demographic’s liberal skew.

The Trump campaign call came hours after President Donald Trump visited his reelection headquarters in the Washington suburbs for a brief pep talk ahead of what could be a long night without a decisive winner. Senior campaign adviser Jason Miller said the president, who did not have concession or victory speeches written as of Tuesday morning, has seen “spectacular” turnout in battleground Florida among Cuban Americans, Venezuelan Americans and Colombian Americans, and expects a significant share of the Black voter in Georgia.

Part of the campaign’s confidence appeared to come from a Biden campaign call Tuesday morning where the Democratic nominee’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, discussed alternative paths to victory should former Vice President Joe Biden fail to clinch Florida and Pennsylvania, which offer a combined 49 electoral votes.

“We believe this to be a tight race,” Stepien said. “It’s going to come down to turnout and we believe we are better positioned in that campaign. We are executing the plan we have been building the last four years.”

“Conversely,” he continued, “you see the Biden campaign staging emergency trips to Philadelphia, emergency trips to Detroit. They are alarmed. They are doing their best to turnout voters that don’t exist. The voters they’re trying to turnout were scared into staying home on Election Day.”

The president also spent the lead-up to Election Day barnstorming states his campaign previously said he would win with ease, including Iowa and Ohio, and states that have traditionally backed Republican candidates in modern presidential elections. On Sunday, Trump rallied thousands of his supporters in Georgia, a state no Democrat has carried since President Bill Clinton in 1992.

Should Florida and Pennsylvania, a state where the final tabulations are not expected Tuesday night, land in Trump’s column, Miller predicted the president would secure a second term with ease.

“You’re not going to magically be bad in Pennsylvania and Florida, but then way over-perform in Arizona and North Carolina and sweep the upper Midwest,” Miller said.

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