Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. filled Democrats with hope and fear when he announced on Monday that he would be campaigning in Iowa and Georgia, in addition to more traditional end-of-race stops in Wisconsin and Florida.
As Mr. Biden campaigned on Tuesday in a region of Georgia that is filled with signs and flags supporting President Trump, nervous Democrats had unpleasant flashbacks to 2016, when Hillary Clinton famously invested resources and visited Arizona in the final days of the race, while failing to set foot in Wisconsin.
Risk-averse Democratic voters wondered: Why wasn’t Mr. Biden simply spending the rest of his waking hours until Nov. 3 living in Pennsylvania? There was no need to spike any footballs — just a need for the campaign to avoid losing.
The Trump campaign tried to paint Mr. Biden as overly confident, just as Mrs. Clinton was four years ago. “We encourage him to spend time and resources in Georgia, where the president is definitely going to win,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communications director. “He’s wasting time in states he can’t win.”
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign deployed Melania Trump, the first lady, to Atglen, Pa., a very rare campaign stop — the only one this year — for one of the president’s most popular surrogates, who doesn’t particularly like campaigning. Mr. Trump spent Tuesday shoring up support in states in the Midwest, with rallies in Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
Other Democrats, however, said they were encouraged that the Biden campaign felt comfortable enough to devote resources to states like Georgia and Texas, forcing Mr. Trump’s campaign to use some of its limited cash to play defense in Georgia. And they noted that Mr. Biden appeared to be adding to his schedule states with important Senate seats where Democrats have a victory within reach.
The race between Senator Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa, and her Democratic challenger, Theresa Greenfield, is the most expensive Senate race the state has ever seen. In Georgia, two well-funded Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, are running competitive races for both of the state’s Senate seats.
The more important thing was that the Biden campaign was still spending on targeted ads in Pennsylvania and Florida.
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, was set to make two campaign stops in Arizona on Wednesday, pursuing his narrow path to victory. His campaign, however, noted that he will also travel this week to New Hampshire and Nevada, states Mrs. Clinton won four years ago.
With a week left until Election Day, the flood of people moved to cast their ballots early has grown so strong that the early vote has already exceeded half of the number of votes that were counted during the entire 2016 presidential election, according to data compiled by the United States Elections Project.
The coronavirus pandemic, the fear of postal delays and the passions inspired by the presidential candidates, both pro and con, have all contributed to the record early vote. As of Tuesday afternoon more than 69.5 million Americans had already mailed in their ballots or voted early in person, according to the data compiled by the project. That is 50.4 percent of the total number of votes that were counted during the entire 2016 election.
The early vote is even more dramatic in a number of key battleground states, including several that polls have suggested are unusually close this year. Texas has already received nearly 87 percent of the votes it counted in the 2016 election, Florida has already received more than two-thirds, North Carolina has received 72 percent and Georgia 71 percent. Wisconsin and Michigan are both approaching the halfway mark.
“The numbers are stunning,” Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida who gathers the data for the elections project, wrote in a recent analysis for the United States Elections Project, which tracks the early vote closely.
Not all states report the party affiliations of those who vote early. Those which do show a dichotomy in how the members of the two major parties choose to vote, though: Democrats have been much more likely to vote early by mail than Republicans, while Republicans have been a bit more likely to vote early in person than Democrats. President Trump has repeatedly railed against mail-in voting, making baseless claims that it is subject to fraud.
This trend means that the in-person vote reported on Election Day is more likely to show early Republican leads, and that Democrats may gain ground as absentee votes are tabulated in the days afterward.
Campaign officials and elections experts are still trying to determine the extent to which the high turnout so far reflects voters simply casting their ballots earlier than they normally would and to what extent it reflects high enthusiasm that could translate into a record turnout.
Dr. McDonald wrote in his analysis that the pace of early voting in some states suggests that they could surpass their 2016 vote totals this week.
AUSTIN, Texas — In a victory for Gov. Greg Abbott, the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld his order to restrict Texas counties to only one drop-off site for mail-in ballots.
With Election Day less than a week away, the ruling gives Mr. Abbott, a Republican, what appears to be the last word in a legal battle that has meandered through both federal and state courts through much of October. The Supreme Court decision and a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals this month overturned lower court rulings that sided with voting rights advocates who said Mr. Abbott’s order amounted to unconstitutional voter suppression.
“We knew it was coming,” said Susan Hays, legal counsel for the Harris County Clerk’s Office in Houston, which opposed the order. “We don’t expect anything to change between now and the election.”
Mr. Abbott said his Oct. 1 order limiting ballot drop boxes to one per county enhanced election security, and he maintained that he was expanding voter access by extending early voting from two to nearly three weeks, ending on Friday. But Democratic-backed lawsuits by civil rights groups and voting rights organizations contended that reducing the number of ballot drop-off sites imposed hardships on older and disabled Texans and increased voters’ potential risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas, a Republican, issued a statement praising the ruling, saying the decision “rightfully bolsters the security of dropped-off ballots” and “preserved election integrity.”
But Democrats blasted the ruling and said it was an incentive to propel their voters to the polls.
“The Texas Republican Supreme Court continues to bend the law in any which way to secure Republican political power,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. “The only option for free and fair government is to vote Democrat all the way down the ballot.”
President Trump lashed out at Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s Democratic governor, during a rally in the state’s capital on Tuesday, accusing her of imposing too many restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus and saying she was “not a good governor.” He smiled broadly as his supporters chanted “lock her up.”
“Hey governor, let your state open, get your kids back to school. Not a good governor,” Mr. Trump said in Lansing during an hourlong rally, the first of three campaign stops as he began the final week of his re-election campaign. Ms. Whitmer lifted the state’s stay-at-home order on June 1, and schools have been allowed to reopen, with local school districts determining when and how to do so.
“I’m also getting your husbands — they want to get back to work, right? They want to get back to work. We’re getting your husbands back to work,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s a choice between a Trump boom or a Biden lockdown, but you’re already locked down. I mean, this state. We got to get her going, I don’t know.”
Some supporters of Mr. Trump at the rally were also organizing a recall effort against the governor and collected signatures for a petition to limit her powers next to signs that read, “The governor is an idiot.”
Federal officials announced in early October that they had foiled a plot by a right-wing extremist group to kidnap Ms. Whitmer out of frustrations over virus lockdowns in the state. Earlier this year, Mr. Trump had tweeted that he wanted people in Michigan and elsewhere to “liberate” their states from such restrictions.
On Tuesday, Ms. Whitmer laid the blame for the alleged kidnapping plot firmly at Mr. Trump’s feet, accusing him of “sowing division and putting leaders, especially women leaders, at risk” with his divisive rhetoric.
In an op-ed published in The Atlantic, Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat in her first term, vowed not to “stand back and let the president, or anyone else, put my colleagues and fellow Americans in danger without holding him accountable.”
In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, Mr. Trump denied that he had attacked Ms. Whitmer even though he has repeatedly insulted her and made derisive comments about her leadership.
Michigan, which Mr. Trump won narrowly in 2016, is grappling with record numbers of new coronavirus infections. The state is crucial to his re-election hopes, but he has been steadily behind there in polls.
One week before Election Day, Joseph R. Biden Jr. stormed into Georgia to deliver his campaign’s closing argument, invoking faith and history to promise a new chapter of national unity as he cast President Trump as a charlatan who has surrendered in the face of crisis.
In his first stop in Georgia, a traditionally red state that is now a battleground, Mr. Biden appeared in Warm Springs, long a destination for candidates seeking to embrace the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had hoped the therapeutic waters would help him recover after polio left him paralyzed.
“This place, Warm Springs, is a reminder that though broken, each of us can be healed,” Mr. Biden said. “That as a people and a country, we can overcome this devastating virus. That we can heal a suffering world. And yes, we can restore our soul and save our country.”
Roosevelt guided the nation through the Great Depression and World War II, and Mr. Biden described the nation, deeply divided and grappling with crises of public health, economic devastation and racial injustice, as being on wartime footing again, of a different kind.
Mr. Biden outlined the stakes of the election in among his starkest terms to date, likening his opponent to the “charlatans, the con men, the phony populists, who have sought to play to our fears, appeal to our worst appetites, and pick at the oldest scabs we have for their own political gain” throughout the nation’s history.
“This election is about who we are as a nation, what we believe, and maybe most importantly, who we want to be,” Mr. Biden said, seeking to deepen his appeal to independent voters and moderate Republicans who are disillusioned by Mr. Trump. “It’s about our essence. It’s about what makes us Americans.”
That Mr. Biden is traveling to Georgia at all, let alone in the final stretch of the presidential race, suggests that his campaign sees an opportunity to expand its electoral map. Recent polls show Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, who won Georgia by five points in 2016, locked in a virtual tie.
At the same time, two Democratic candidates, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, are in tight races for the state’s two Senate seats. Some Democrats are even optimistic about the party’s chances of taking the State House.
Traveling through hundreds of miles in the Midwest battlegrounds of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and western Pennsylvania, the New York Times photographer Ruth Fremson documented a transformation of the American suburbs.
Lawns are packed with campaign signs, leaving no doubt where residents stand in the presidential contest. Supporters of President Trump have decked out their homes with banners and flags as if decorating for Halloween or Christmas. The smaller signs for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, are more a period than an exclamation point on his supporters’ determination to turn the tide in November.
President Trump’s campaign website was briefly taken over by hackers who defaced the site on Tuesday.
The defacement lasted less than 30 minutes, but the incident came as Mr. Trump’s campaign and that of his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., as well as law enforcement and intelligence agencies, have been on high alert for digital interference ahead of next week’s election.
In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, confirmed the website’s defacement and said it was “working with law enforcement authorities to investigate the source of the attack.” He added, “There was no exposure to sensitive data because none of it is actually stored on the site. The website has been restored.”
The F.B.I. did not immediately comment on the incident. The defacement was first noted on Twitter by Gabriel Lorenzo Greschler, a journalist at the Jewish News of Northern California, while researching an article on climate change.
It was not clear whether the defacement was the work of foreign hackers or cybercriminals. But in a screed posted to Mr. Trump’s website — donaldjtrump.com — the hackers claimed to have compromised “multiple devices” that gave them access to the president and his relatives “most internal and secret conversations,” including classified information.
The hackers also accused the Trump administration, without proof, of having a hand in the origins of the coronavirus and cooperating with “foreign actors manipulating the 2020 elections.”
The hackers appeared to be looking to generate cryptocurrency. They invited visitors to donate cryptocurrency to one of two funds — one labeled “Yes, share the data,” the other labeled “No, Do not share the data.” They solicited payments in Monero, a hard-to-trace cryptocurrency.
“After the deadline, we will compare the funds and execute the will of the world,” they wrote, without specifying a deadline. The hackers also posted what they said was their encryption key to Mr. Trumps’ campaign site. The key corresponded to an email address at a nonexistent internet site.
Though the defacement appeared to be part of a common cryptocurrency scam to get people to irreversibly donate money online, the incident took on added urgency one week before the election.
Intelligence agencies have been closely monitoring hacking groups, including teams backed by Iran and Russia, that have tried to break into election-related systems and have been involved in influence operations in recent weeks.
Last week, John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, identified Iran and Russia as two nations responsible for disinformation and some limited intrusions into voter registration databases.
He cited threatening emails, ostensibly from the far-right group the Proud Boys, that were sent to voters in Florida and elsewhere. But the emails relied on publicly-available information; no hacking was necessary. And they were written in broken English — as was the defaced Trump website.
Last week, Mr. Trump told a campaign rally in Tucson, Ariz.: “Nobody gets hacked. To get hacked you need somebody with 197 I.Q. and he needs about 15 percent of your password.”
Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman and David E. Sanger contributed reporting.
The financial crisis was in full swing when Donald J. Trump traveled to Chicago in late September 2008 to mark the near-completion of his 92-floor skyscraper.
The fortunes of big companies, small businesses and millions of Americans — including the Trumps — were in peril. But the family patriarch was jubilant as he stood on the terrace of his gleaming glass tower.
He and his family hoped the Trump International Hotel & Tower would cement their company’s reputation as one of the world’s marquee developers of luxury real estate.
Instead, the skyscraper became another disappointment in a portfolio filled with them. Construction lagged. Condos proved hard to sell. Retail space sat vacant.
Yet for Mr. Trump and his company, the Chicago experience also turned out to be something else: the latest example of his ability to strong-arm major financial institutions and exploit the tax code to cushion the blow of his repeated business failures.
The president’s federal income tax records, obtained by The New York Times, show for the first time that, since 2010, his lenders have forgiven about $287 million in debt that he failed to repay. The vast majority was related to the Chicago project.
How Mr. Trump found trouble in Chicago, and maneuvered his way out of it, is a case study in doing business the Trump way.
When the project encountered problems, he tried to walk away from his huge debts. For most individuals or businesses, that would have been a recipe for ruin. But tax-return data, other records and interviews show that rather than warring with a notoriously litigious and headline-seeking client, lenders cut Mr. Trump slack — exactly what he seemed to have been counting on.
Big banks and hedge funds gave him years of extra time to repay his debts. Even after Mr. Trump sued his largest lender, accusing it of preying on him, the bank agreed to lend him another $99 million — more than twice as much as was previously known — so that he could pay back what he still owed the bank on the defaulted Chicago loan, records show.
Ultimately, Mr. Trump’s lenders forgave much of what he owed.
Those forgiven debts are now part of a broader investigation of Mr. Trump’s business by the New York attorney general.
Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, said the company and Mr. Trump appropriately accounted for and paid all taxes due on the forgiven debts.
“These were all arm’s length transactions that were voluntarily entered into between sophisticated parties many years ago in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis and the resulting collapse of the real estate markets,” Mr. Garten said.
Carolyn Gibbs puts on the striped pants first, then the striped jacket. The hat is the final touch. That’s if it’s an Uncle Sam day. For Statue of Liberty, it’s a mint green dress, a foam halo and a political sign, usually, standing in as the torch.
Before Donald Trump became president, Ms. Gibbs, 59, rarely dressed up for Halloween, only occasionally for a costume party.
But for the better part of four years, she has shown up to rallies in shopping centers of suburban Pittsburgh in elaborate costumes, ready for the role of playful protester.
“I’m willing to make a fool of myself for democracy,” is how she often puts it.
Yet for all her playfulness — and it is boundless — Ms. Gibbs is driven by a sense of anger and residual shock. How could so many of her neighbors in western Pennsylvania vote for a man she saw as a threat? She still finds herself stuck on the question.
“I had begun to think we were including and serving everybody in this country,” Ms. Gibbs said. “But that’s totally not true anymore.”
For the past four years, Ms. Gibbs and half a dozen women (along with one man) have poured countless hours into Progress PA, a political group they created to get Democratic candidates elected in western Pennsylvania, a part of the state that helped fuel Mr. Trump’s victory last time. Joseph R. Biden Jr. is counting on voters like them — older, suburban dwellers — to win back Pennsylvania, where polls show him ahead. But their work is less about their enthusiasm for the former vice president than their revulsion at the current occupant of the White House.
Before the Trump era, these women were hardly radical. Many have voted for Republicans, including George W. Bush. They represent not just the kind of feminist activism that Mr. Trump’s victory ignited, but the particular had-it-up-to-here-with-my-Republican-neighbors anger of suburban western Pennsylvania, where dozens of similar groups have cropped up in the past four years.
“I had never had this kind of burning unquestioning desire to do something myself,” Stacey Vernallis, 60, said, of her political life before 2016. “I was always willing to let it be another person’s job and just be a voter and maybe a donor.”
Over 100 million eligible, voting-age Americans did not vote in 2016, more than the number who voted for either presidential candidate. In Georgia, about 60 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in that year’s presidential race, roughly on par with the national figure of 55 percent.
As Democrats eye Georgia for possible gains this November — the first step toward a larger goal of remaking their path to victory in statewide races throughout the South — high turnout will be the name of the game, and that means persuading nonvoters to become voters.
In traditional swing states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, most political observers believe that turnout is largely fixed and that campaigns rise and fall based on their ability to persuade a set of voters. But in the new set of battleground states in the South, as well as Arizona in the Southwest, the priority is converting nonvoters into voters.
The thinking goes: If the party is able to reshape the electorate with new arrivals to the state — including young people, Latinos and Asian-Americans — as well as greater participation from Black residents and immigrants, a red state becomes a blue one.
But experts who study nonvoting populations and the failed Democratic campaigns of recent years warn that the work of changing electorates is hard and complicated. There is no such thing, they say, as an inevitable demographic destiny.
Nse Ufot, the executive director of the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan group that has sought to turn out voters among the state’s new residents, said that doing so in a meaningful way could not happen with “five-minute conversations that you have on people’s porches.”
“It is a sustained campaign that requires smart targeting, messaging and research,” she said.
Americans living outside the United States have been making plans to vote in the general election since the summer. But amid the coronavirus pandemic and global mail disruptions, their ballots still may not arrive in time to be counted on Nov. 3. And recent Supreme Court decisions mean that late arrivals in some states will not be counted at all.
Of the 7.7 million military service members and other American citizens living overseas, more than 630,000 returned ballots in 2016. Nearly half of those votes were in battleground states, where close races sometimes come down to absentee ballots.
More than 30 states allow overseas voters to return ballots by fax, online or both, including states like Missouri that amended their rules this year because of the pandemic. But the rest of the states accept ballots only by mail. Postal delays persist overseas, and once a ballot arrives in the United States it can take weeks more to reach its final destination.
Last month, a group of 10 Americans living in seven countries sued election officials in seven mail-only states — Georgia, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin — arguing that having to return their ballots by mail this year effectively deprived them of the right to vote. They requested a court order that the seven states allow overseas voters to return their ballots by email or fax.
Benjamin Cole, a Ph.D. student in Germany, had no problem voting from abroad in 2016 and 2018 for elections in Georgia, where he lived before moving overseas. But this year, concerned about mail delays in the pandemic, he took his completed ballot to the post office in Cologne the same day he received it on Sept. 16.
Over the next weeks he tracked it to New York and then to Georgia, where it stopped at a sorting facility in Macon on Sept. 27. On Sept. 28, 29 and 30 he received notifications that his ballot was in transit to its final destination in Warner Robins, about 20 minutes away. Then nothing.
Mr. Cole worried for weeks about the fate of his ballot. Finally, he checked the state election website and learned that it had been received on Oct. 2. According to the U.S. Postal Service, his ballot is still in transit.
“It’s really, really frustrating to me,” Mr. Cole, who is coordinating get-out-the-vote efforts for his local chapter of Democrats Abroad, said of the obstacles facing voters this year.