JERUSALEM – Election Day in the United States has finally arrived.
Everyone in the Middle East is watching closely, knowing the stakes are high for the future of U.S. policy towards the region.
But sky-high turnout and rapidly tightening polls, especially in the key “battleground states,” means we may not have a clear winner by Tuesday night.
We may not even know the winner by the end of the week.
HERE’S WHAT TO WATCH
Campaign spending in the U.S. is blowing out all records.
The final tally is expected to be $14 billion – more than double what was spent in 2016 – according to a report by CNBC.
Voter turnout in the U.S. is also going to break all records.
In 2016, a total of 138 million Americans cast their ballots.
But as the sun rises in the U.S. on Election Day, nearly 100 million Americans have already voted early.
Some 35.7 million Americans voted in-person over the past two months.
Another 63.9 million Americans voted by absentee or early mail-in ballots.
The Democratic challengers – former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris – are well ahead in national polling.
The Real Clear Politics average of all credible, scientific national polls as of Tuesday morning gave the Biden-Harris ticket a 6.7 point lead.
But the incumbents – President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence – are quickly closing the gap, according to polls in the all-important battleground states.
The Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of all the polls just in the battleground states alone, as of Tuesday morning, showed Biden-Harris with only a 2.8 point lead.
KEY STATES IN PLAY
- Pennsylvania – The Keystone State could prove the key to the entire election. If Biden wins it, it could be game-over for Trump. Biden was born and raised there, after all, though he served in the Senate from Delaware where he moved as a young adult. In the summer, the RCP average put Biden ahead by 8.5 points. Today, however, Biden is ahead by only 2.6 points, and the most recently released point puts Trump ahead by 1 point.
- North Carolina – This is a must-win state for Trump. In the summer, the RCP average of state polls put Biden ahead by 5.7 points. But today Trump holds a 0.2 point lead.
- Arizona – The steady growth in the Hispanic vote, and Californians moving to Arizona, have generally taken this rock-solid Republican state and made it a possible pick-up state for Biden and the Democrats. As recently as Sept. 13, the RCP average put Biden ahead by 5.7 points. But today Biden’s lead is only 0.9 points. And the most recent poll by NBC News has the race a dead heat.
- Florida – Almost always too close to call, Florida had been going for Biden all year. In the summer, the RCP average put Biden solidly ahead by 5 points. Today, his lead is only 1.8 points – and the two most recent polls both have Trump ahead by 1.
- Iowa – Trump beat Hillary Clinton here by 9 points in 2016. But Biden has been ahead in most polls for most of the year – until this past week. The four most recent polls all have Trump ahead, and on Sunday the Des Moines Register poll, widely considered the state’s “gold standard,” had Trump ahead by 7.
As election results begin to pour in, also keep a close eye on three key states in the American Midwest – Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Historically, these have been solid Democratic states. All year polls have shown the Biden with huge leads in all three.
Even now, the RCP averages would appear to give Biden comfortable victories. But the travel patterns of both presidential campaign teams suggest otherwise.
Trump and Pence have been crisscrossing all three states for weeks, and have intensified their efforts in the last few days.
Internal Republican polling is clearly suggesting they have a real shot there.
To many political analysts, this seems far-fetched.
But internal Democratic polling must also be picking up signs of movement towards the Republican ticket. There can be no other reason that Biden and Harris have spent so much time in recent days in three states they should have in the bank.
Bottom line: Biden and Harris have the lead, but it is shrinking.
Odds are the Democrats are poised to retake the White House, and possibly gain control of the Senate.
But it is not the “lock” that is was just one month ago after Trump had a disastrous debate.
WHAT TO PRAY FOR
Given the record-high turnout, we may not even have a declared winner on Tuesday night.
We may not even have one by the end of the week.
- Please pray for fair elections – that there would be no cheating, and anything illegal would be caught quickly and vigorously prosecuted .
- Please pray for safe elections – no terror attacks, no violence whatsoever at the polls, and no rioting, looting or other violence in the election’s aftermath
- Please pray for decisive elections – whichever team you are rooting for, we need to pray that there will be a clear and decisive victory for one side or the others, that the results will not have to be litigated, that the nation will accept the results and see the conclusion as legitimate.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.