Biden and Trump Barnstorm the Midwest as Election Day Nears

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

With President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. converging today on Wisconsin — a state the president won in 2016 by roughly 22,000 votes, or less than a percentage point — the key to winning the state could lie in places like the Fox Valley.

The valley, a three-county stretch from Green Bay to Oshkosh, is the most politically competitive region in one of America’s most hotly contested states, where Mr. Trump, who is holding a rally in Green Bay this afternoon, has trailed steadily in polls.

Democrats tend to focus their Wisconsin efforts on turning out voters in the liberal cities of Milwaukee and Madison — Mr. Biden is speaking at the airport in Milwaukee this evening — while Republicans concentrate on the conservative suburbs ringing Milwaukee. But it is often the Fox Valley where elections are won or lost.

And this year, there is a new wild card: the coronavirus is rampaging through the Fox Valley, with new case counts averaging nearly 600 a day.

The three counties — Brown, Outagamie and Winnebago — all backed Mr. Obama in 2008, and two of the three narrowly went for Mitt Romney in 2012 before they all backed Mr. Trump four years later. And in 2018, all three counties backed Gov. Scott Walker, a conservative Republican who narrowly lost his bid for a third term as governor, and Senator Tammy Baldwin, a liberal Democrat who coasted to re-election.

“It’s a purple region within a purple state, and purple regions swing back and forth depending on the times,” said Senator Ron Johnson, an Oshkosh Republican.

The combination of old factory towns and rural voters who have migrated to the Republican Party, college towns and small cities becoming increasingly Democratic, and Catholic voters inclined to back Democrats as long as they aren’t too strident on abortion rights has made the region a real presidential battleground.

It is the headquarters of the John Birch Society and the cradle of McCarthyism — Senator Joseph McCarthy was born in Grand Chute — but it reveres the Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, one of the N.F.L.’s most prominent social justice activists.

It is also an epicenter of the coronavirus surge battering Wisconsin. All three counties have new virus case counts that exceed the state’s average for the last week. Of the 15 cities with the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country, eight are in Wisconsin, and five — Appleton, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Manitowoc and Oshkosh — are in the greater Fox Valley. And that may change the political equation in an area that is not ordinarily driven by national issues.

ON the Trail







Trump Mocks Laura Ingraham’s Face Mask During Rally

President Trump called Laura Ingraham, a Fox News host, “politically correct” for wearing a mask during his rally in Michigan on Friday.

And I do believe Laura Ingraham is here someplace. Where is Laura? Where is she? Where is Laura? I can’t recognize you. Is that a mask? No way. Are you wearing a mask? I’ve never seen her in a mask. Look at you. She’s being very politically correct. Well I’ve never seen — Laura Ingraham. She’s fantastic. Thank you. Yes, I’ve never seen that before.

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President Trump called Laura Ingraham, a Fox News host, “politically correct” for wearing a mask during his rally in Michigan on Friday.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump accused doctors of trying to profit from coronavirus deaths and mocked the Fox News host Laura Ingraham for wearing a mask as she attended his first campaign rally of the day in Michigan on Friday.

Spotting Ms. Ingraham at the Waterford Township event, Mr. Trump said, “I can’t recognize you. Is that a mask? No way, are you wearing a mask? I’ve never seen her in a mask. Look at you. Laura, she’s being very politically correct. Whoa!”

Mr. Trump has continued to insist he has no problem with mask-wearing while mocking others for wearing them, and accusing them of making a political statement by doing so.

Health experts have said face coverings slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Ms. Ingraham attended the White House event last month when Mr. Trump announced the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court — an event where few people wore masks or practiced social distancing and which was later described as a superspreader event after numerous guests became infected with the coronavirus.

Many health experts believe that the coronavirus death toll — which stood at 229,239 on Friday afternoon, according to a New York Times database — is an undercount. But Mr. Trump repeated claims that doctors were trying to profit by attributing more deaths to the virus.

“You know our doctors get more money if somebody dies from Covid,” Mr. Trump said, saying that in Germany and other countries that deaths are characterized differently if there are appear to be multiple causes. “With us, when in doubt, choose Covid.”

Earlier, Mr. Trump falsely claimed there would be a vaccine ready in “just a couple of weeks,” and falsely claimed that hospitals are overstating the number of coronavirus deaths in order to get additional federal money.

Then he predicted the way the press would cover him: “They’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s terrible what he said.’ ”








In Iowa, Biden Criticizes Trump’s Treatment of Farmers

Joseph R. Biden Jr. slammed President Trump on Friday for trade policies that have “cost farmers and manufacturing so badly.”

They’re Iowa values, they’re American values. You value honor, decency, respect and dignity. You know they all matter. They matter a lot. That’s who we are. And as we saw in the debate, we’re a farmer’s daughter knows a break-even point for price of corn, crops. You think that’d be fairly basic. That’s like my not knowing where the Delaware River was back home. Let’s not forget how Donald Trump’s weak and chaotic China trade policy has cost farmers and manufacturing. so badly. Agricultural exports to China during the Trump years have been 40% lower than during the Obama-Biden second term. On his watch. He says because of his bailouts, our farmers do better now than when they actually had a farm. I got to read that again. Our farmers actually doing better now than when they actually had a farm. Where’s this guy from? In 2008 and 2012, you placed your trust in Barack Obama and me, and we worked for you, for the entire country. Well, I’ll do it again in 2020.

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Joseph R. Biden Jr. slammed President Trump on Friday for trade policies that have “cost farmers and manufacturing so badly.”CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. hurled a barrage of attacks at President Trump during a drive-in rally in Iowa on Friday, slamming him on his mismanagement of the coronavirus response and denouncing his trade policies that have “cost farmers and manufacturing so badly,” in a sign of how competitive the state has become with just four days left in the campaign.

Speaking at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines, Mr. Biden made a series of direct appeals to Iowans, noting the surge of coronavirus cases in the state and speaking more than usual about trade policies in terms of how they have affected farmers, who make up a considerable part of the state’s economy.

And in an especially blunt entreaty, he reminded voters that they had helped elect him and former President Obama, who won the state twice.

“In 2008 and 2012, you placed your trust in Barack Obama and me, and we worked for you, for the entire country,” he said. “I’ll do it again in 2020.”

Mr. Biden also praised the Democratic candidate for United States Senate, Theresa Greenfield, who is in a very tight race against her Republican opponent, Senator Joni Ernst. In a particularly biting barb in a state blanketed with farms, he knocked Ms. Ernst for not knowing the correct break-even price of soybeans, a key crop in Iowa, at a recent Senate debate.

“You’d think that’d be fairly basic,” he said. “That’s like my not knowing where the Delaware River was back home.”

While Iowa could be crucial to a Biden victory this year, the state was not kind to him during the first-in-the-nation caucuses nine months ago, when he came in fourth.

But Mr. Biden now finds himself in a much stronger position, in part because of the bungled coronavirus response by Mr. Trump and Iowa’s mask-resistant Republican governor, Kim Reynolds. The state is seeing a sharp increase in coronavirus rates, with outbreaks racing through several meatpacking plants. The virus has killed more than 1,700 people there.

Iowa Democrats think Mr. Biden has a decent chance to win back a state where Barack Obama won by nearly 6 percentage points in 2012 but Mr. Trump won by more than nine points in 2016.

“People here are cautiously optimistic and see this as a real shot to win,” said Zach Wahls, a prominent state senator in eastern Iowa who supported Ms. Warren in the caucuses.

“On caucus night, I don’t think I would have ever said that I’d be excited to vote for Joe Biden,” he said. “And I was thrilled to vote for Joe Biden.”

Complicating matters, however, may be the coronavirus, which continues to rampage across the state. On Thursday, NPR reported that voters would not be able to cast their ballots at polling places in cities including Waterloo, Fort Dodge and Council Bluffs because of closures resulting from the virus.

Mr. Biden is set to hold two more rallies on Friday, in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Texas, a 2020 jump-ball state once considered a layup for Republicans, is shattering turnout records, with the number of early in-person and mail- ballots now exceeding the total number of votes cast statewide in the 2016 election.

Early-voting turnout has been enormous across the country, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and one of the most bitterly contested presidential races in history, accelerating a years-in-the-making shift away from Election Day-only voting.

As of Friday morning, more than 83 million votes had been cast, representing more than 60 percent of the total ballots cast four years ago, according to the nonpartisan U.S. Elections Project.

In 11 states, voters have already submitted 80 percent of the ballots cast in those states in 2016, and five of them — Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada, along with Texas — are battlegrounds.

Texas, the nation’s second most-populous state, was the second to pass its 2016 threshold. (The first was Hawaii.) The Texas secretary of state’s office reported Friday morning — the last day for early voting in the state — that 9,009,850 people had already voted by mail, dropped ballots in boxes or showed up at polling sites. Four years ago, a record-breaking 8,969,226 Texans voted in the election.

The Texas increase has been fueled by huge turnout in urban, Democratic areas, like Harris County, home to Houston, but rural counties that have traditionally voted Republican have also seen significant jumps in voting.

Polls show a near dead-heat in the state, with a slight edge for President Trump.

Though Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, is making a late swing through the state today, with visits to Houston, McAllen and Fort Worth, the Biden campaign has not put significant time or money into the state, arguing that it is a bad investment: Texas has multiple expensive media markets and is not an essential stop on Mr. Biden’s path to 270 electoral votes.

Early-voting patterns, especially in big cities like San Antonio and Austin, suggest that the underlying dynamics of the race are less like 2016, when Mr. Trump won by 9 percentage points, than the 2018 midterms, when Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican, narrowly beat Representative Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat.

“There’s no doubt that it’s a real race,” Mr. Cruz said recently.

The surge in turnout comes despite the fact that Texas’s governor, Greg Abbott, a Trump ally, has limited the number of drop boxes to one per county, an order that greatly advantages low-population counties where Republicans predominate.

The drop-box limit has been offset by big new investments in election infrastructure in Harris County and elsewhere. Harris County officials opened 10 drive-through voting sites across the county, fighting off an effort by the state Republican Party to shut them down. A separate action by the governor, extending the statewide early voting period by six days, has also contributed to the increases.

Credit…Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, whose early efforts to lift pandemic restrictions in his state were deemed too hasty even for President Trump, has quarantined himself after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said.

The governor spoke at a mask-optional “Make America Great Again” event on Tuesday in Manchester, Ga.; another speaker at the rally, Representative Drew Ferguson, a Georgia Republican, announced Friday that he had tested positive for the virus.

Mr. Kemp was exposed “within the last 48 hours to an individual who recently tested positive” and will be quarantining, the governor’s office said in a statement Friday. The governor tested negative for the virus, the statement said.

It is not clear if Mr. Ferguson was the infected individual the governor’s statement was referring to, but he did interact with Mr. Kemp more than once this week, according to local press accounts.

Pictures of the pro-Trump event, during which Mr. Kemp touted his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, show dozens of attendees standing close together at an outdoor venue, with many not wearing masks.

The event was intended to counter Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s socially distanced campaign appearance in nearby Warm Springs. No infections have been reported in the wake of the Biden event.

Mr. Trump has mocked his opponent for employing social-distance circles at his speeches, including the one at the spa town in Georgia, which was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s favorite vacation and rehabilitation site.

Mr. Ferguson said he had cold-like symptoms on Thursday night, but he downplayed the danger to people he has encountered since contracting the illness. The LaGrange Daily News reported that Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Kemp had appeared together again Thursday night at an indoor campaign event for a local candidate in Hogansville.

“While the vast majority of my recent schedule has been virtual, we are beginning the process of reaching out to anyone I have seen in recent days,” said Mr. Ferguson, adding that he was well enough to work from home.

Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

For Joseph R. Biden Jr. to capture Florida, he needs a lot of voters who cast their ballots for President Trump four years ago and eventually came to regret it.

That includes voters like Gerry Miller, a retiree who wrote in his own name for president in 2016 to protest the choice between Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton and is appalled by how Mr. Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

“I probably have friends of mine that wouldn’t speak to me again,” said Mr. Miller, 71, who lives with his wife in a beachfront condo in Southwest Florida, a Republican bastion that has helped elect Republican candidates in election after election and was pivotal for Mr. Trump in 2016.

Older voters make up a crucial electoral demographic in Florida, where more than a quarter of the population is over the age of 60. National and state polls show that Mr. Biden has made inroads with them, including with voters age 65 and older, who typically vote Republican.

Especially notable are older Floridians who skipped the last presidential election but have cast ballots this year. New voters tend to be younger. But this year, more Florida voters age 65 and older who did not vote in 2016 have voted than new voters age 30 and younger.

“There are a lot of seniors in Florida who stayed home in 2016,” said Tom Bonier, the chief executive of TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm. “But we’re seeing them come out now.”

But there are signs that Mr. Trump’s base is turning out in a big way again: As of Friday, the turnout in Collier and Lee counties, both of which the president won in 2016, was among the highest in the state, at 70 percent and 61 percent, respectively. (The highest was 75 percent, in Sumter, which includes most of The Villages, a vast retirement community in Central Florida.)

In Lee County, which Mr. Trump won by 20 points, Jim Rosinus, 68, the vice chairman of the local Democratic Party, said he stopped counting the number of volunteers this year after it reached 1,000. In 2016, that number was about 200, he said. The party’s crammed office space features a framed portrait of former President Barack Obama, a cutout of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and $5 sunglasses — “Joe aviators.”

Annie Brown contributed reporting.


Credit…Nitashia Johnson for The New York Times

FORT WORTH — Senator Kamala Harris urged Texas Democrats on Friday to keep fighting hard, as early voting numbers shattered records in this traditionally ruby red state.

More than 9 million people have already voted in Texas, more than cast ballots in the state in the entire 2016 election. About a quarter of those voters did not cast ballots in 2016, according to TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm,

“You all have been doing your thing,” Ms. Harris, told a socially distanced audience gathered on a sunny afternoon in Fort Worth. “Now, we know this is no time to let up on the pedal, though.”

That Ms. Harris plans to spend much of the day in Texas, with stops in McAllen and Houston tonight, underscores the political changes sweeping this fast-growing state. Polling shows a near dead heat, giving only a slight edge to President Trump.

Much of the increased Democratic support in Texas has come from demographic changes in the suburbs of Dallas and Houston, where voters have been turned off by the president’s divisive rhetoric and disapprove of how he’s handled the coronavirus pandemic.

The Biden campaign has not put significant time or money into Texas, despite the pleas of local Democrats. Strategists in the state see a path to winning that largely mirrors Ms. Harris’s itinerary: Record turnout in urban areas, capturing suburban swing voters and boosting numbers in traditionally lower turnout border areas.

Ms. Harris warned of Republican efforts to suppress voting rights, pointing to lawsuits and complicated rules for mail voting.

In Texas, a state that does not permit no-excuse absentee voting, Gov. Greg Abbott extended early voting by an additional six days over the objections of his fellow Republicans. But he’s also aggressively sought to limit the drop-off locations for absentee ballots.

“They know our power,” she told the largely Black audience. “They know that when we vote, we win.”

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The 2020 Cooperative Election Study released preliminary data on Friday, offering a detailed picture of the U.S. electorate with particular insights into the voting habits of small subgroups.

The study, which reached over 70,000 online respondents from late September through this week, will be matched up after the election with official voter data to determine precisely how groups across the country turned out. Set for release in February 2021, the resulting data will be similar to an exit poll, while in some ways offering more precise and detailed information.

It will also be publicly accessible, as the study always is. This year, for the first time, the results are easily accessible via a portal, allowing everyday users to view and analyze the data.

“People can get online and just peruse it, see what they see in the tables and charts,” Stephen Ansolabehere, a professor of government at Harvard University who helps lead the study, said in an interview.

The preliminary release on Friday — using data assembled by YouGov, which utilizes a non-probability sampling method to reach a huge swath of Americans online — offers an opportunity to drill into the voting preferences of demographic groups on the eve of the election. Because of its enormous sample size, the Cooperative Election Study can be particularly useful in analyzing subgroups that are too small for most pre-election polls to accurately capture.

For instance, the study’s results show that Asian-Americans are set to vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr. by more than 2-to-1, nearly matching Hillary Clinton’s success with this group four years ago.

The survey also found that, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the related economic downturn, Mr. Biden is overwhelmingly supported by voters who were currently unemployed, those who said they knew someone who had caught the virus and those who had been laid off within the past year.

This year, for the first time, the survey also tabulated how respondents voted for president four years ago. It found Mr. Biden holding onto the support of 95 percent of voters who had cast ballots for Mrs. Clinton in 2016, while Mr. Trump was retaining 90 percent of his supporters from four years ago. Among voters who had not turned out in 2016, Mr. Biden led by a 2-to-1 margin, although many in this group didn’t express a vote preference.

The study, which was previously known as the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, has been conducted since 2006 by a consortium of university researchers spearheaded by Harvard.

Credit…Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

President Trump’s photo op on Thursday night with Lil Wayne, the multiplatinum rapper, immediately went viral on social media. The backlash came swiftly too, making Lil Wayne the latest in a line of rappers to align themselves, however briefly, with the president’s re-election campaign, only to face criticism from fans and fellow artists.

“Just had a great meeting with @realdonaldtrump,” Lil Wayne posted to his nearly 35 million followers on Twitter after the two posed together in Florida, earning a retweet from the president. “He listened to what we had to say today and assured he will and can get it done.”

Lil Wayne, like Ice Cube before him, had cited the president’s Platinum Plan, a vague two-page document rolled out in September that promised to “increase access to capital in Black communities by almost $500 billion” over the next four years.

Charlamagne tha God, a host of the radio show The Breakfast Club, responded in a segment on Friday morning, calling Lil Wayne’s apparent endorsement a distraction. While he noted that Black voters are not monolithic, Charlamagne added, “Trust me when I tell you, Black people are not on the Trump administration’s agenda, nor will we ever be. All of our civil liberties are at risk.”

Earlier this month, the New York rapper 50 Cent also seemed to endorse President Trump in a post on Instagram, claiming Joseph R. Biden Jr. would raise taxes. “I don’t care Trump doesn’t like black people,” 50 Cent wrote. “62% are you out of ya [expletive] mind.” (Instagram marked the post as “missing context” and in need of a fact-check.)

But the rapper soon walked back his support for Mr. Trump, and on Thursday, he reacted negatively to Lil Wayne’s political post.

“oh no,” 50 Cent wrote on Thursday evening. “I WOULD HAVE NEVER TOOK THIS PICTURE.”

Ice Cube, a founding member of N.W.A., who released a song called “Arrest the President” as recently as 2018, faced similar scrutiny after it was announced this month that he had consulted with the Trump administration on the Platinum Plan. He said later that he hoped to work with both sides, and was not endorsing Mr. Trump, adding, “I don’t trust none of them.”

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Trump has called himself the best president for Black Americans since Abraham Lincoln, despite having stoked racial divisions before and since being elected president and repeatedly refusing to denounce white supremacists. His campaign has said that it hoped to slightly improve on its performance with Black voters in 2016, when he earned the support of about 8 percent of Black voters.

While rappers like Cardi B, Offset and Snoop Dogg have expressed support for Mr. Biden, others like Waka Flocka Flame and Lil Pump, who is of Mexican and Cuban descent, have signaled an openness to supporting the president.

President Trump will cap off the 2020 presidential campaign with a two-day, seven-state, 10-rally mad dash that embodies his total saturation approach to politics and his faith in overcoming obstacles through perpetual motion, force of will and a torrent of talk.

As a warm-up, Mr. Trump, who was briefly hospitalized with the coronavirus just a few weeks ago, will make a three-rally trip to the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Saturday, with stops in Reading, Butler and Montoursville, where he is expected to appear with other Republican candidates.

The real frequent flying happens Sunday and Monday, a pair of five-rally days intended to emulate the breakneck pace of his 2016 homestretch, a golden and nostalgic period for Mr. Trump, who believes he outworked Hillary Clinton to win the presidency.

Mr. Trump’s Sunday starts in Macomb County, Mich., outside Detroit, long viewed as a national bellwether, with a morning rally at the Total Sports Park Complex. From there he flies to Dubuque, Iowa, for an afternoon event, then east to Hickory, N.C., for an evening rally.

The day concludes with stops in Rome, Ga., where he is expected to campaign with the embattled Republican Senator David Perdue, and an 11:30 p.m. rally in Opa-locka, Fla., near Miami, an hour’s drive south of his residence at the Mar-a-Lago Club.

On Monday, Mr. Trump works his way back north, flying to Fayetteville, N.C., for a morning speech (a makeup of a rally he canceled on Thursday), then on to Scranton, Pa., Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s hometown, in the afternoon, and on to Traverse City, Mich., for a 5 p.m. “Make America Great” event.

His last day on the trail concludes with a nighttime rally in Kenosha, Wis., and another in Grand Rapids, Mich. — his third trip to the state in two days, and the site of his 2016 campaign finale.

Still, there is one notable difference from his final appearance four years ago.

In 2016, Mr. Trump spoke at the DeVos Place, a convention center named for the father-in-law of his eventual education secretary, Betsy DeVos. This year, he will address supporters at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, which was named after a one-term Republican president.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

There are four days until Election Day. Here are the schedules of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates for Friday, Oct. 30. All times are Eastern time.

President Trump

1 p.m.: Holds a rally in Waterford Township, Mich.

4 p.m.: Holds a rally in Green Bay, Wis.

6:45 p.m.: Holds a rally in Rochester, Minn.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

1 p.m.: Holds a drive-in rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

4:45 p.m.: Holds a drive-in rally at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul.

7:30 p.m.: Speaks at Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee.

Vice President Mike Pence

1:30 p.m.: Holds a rally in Flagstaff, Ariz.

4:30 p.m.: Holds a rally in Tucson, Ariz.

Senator Kamala Harris

Afternoon: Speaks at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas.

Afternoon: Speaks at an event with former Representative Beto O’Rourke and the former federal housing secretary Julián Castro in McAllen, Texas.

Evening: Speaks at a rally in Houston.

Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former President Barack Obama will make their first public joint appearances of 2020 at rallies in Detroit and Flint, Mich., as the Biden campaign makes a final push for a Blue Wall state that crumbled on Democrats four years ago.

Mr. Biden’s campaign announced on Friday that the two men — whose chilly early alliance blossomed into a genuine friendship over eight years in the White House — “will travel to Michigan to discuss bringing Americans together to address the crises facing the country and winning the battle for the soul of the nation.”

The campaign, in keeping with its tight-lipped approach to major events, did not release specific times or locations for the appearances. Both will be “drive-in” rallies in which supporters gather in parking lots at pandemic-appropriate social distances, with an afternoon rally in Flint followed by an evening event in Detroit.

Their objective in a state President Trump carried by just 10,704 votes in 2016 was far less of a mystery: Hillary Clinton’s loss was the result, in part, of lackluster turnout among Black voters in Detroit and Flint.

Mr. Trump has also spent much of his recent time in the state. He is scheduled to hold a rally this afternoon in Oakland County, a moderate suburban bellwether that has been slipping away from Republicans.

Mr. Biden has held a steady lead in the state for months, but his campaign has warned against the kind of overconfidence that prompted Mrs. Clinton to scale back campaigning in the Upper Midwest four years ago.

Credit…Jim Mone/Associated Press

A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that Minnesota election officials must set aside any ballots that arrive after 8 p.m. on election night, throwing into uncertainty the seven-day grace period that had been in place for ballots postmarked by Election Day.

The fate of the segregated ballots remains up in the air. Another court ruling could come down instructing officials whether or not to accept them. The divided state legislature, where Republicans control the Senate and Democrats control the House, could rush through a law regarding the ballots, though that is unlikely.

The ruling, issued just five days before the election, comes as an estimated 578,000 absentee ballots that had been requested in the state have not been returned, according to the U.S. Elections Project. Many of those ballots could already be in the mail, or voters can still return ballots in person.

Citing the ruling, several officials urged voters to return their ballots in person. “DO NOT put your ballots in the mail,” Representative Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter.

It also comes as President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. plan to hold rallies in the state today. Mr. Biden has held a steady polling lead in Minnesota for most of the campaign.

In its 2-to-1 ruling, the court said that the Minnesota secretary of state had “extended the deadline for receipt of ballots without legislative authorization.”

“The consequences of this order are not lost on us,” the court majority wrote. “We acknowledge and understand the concerns over voter confusion, election administration issues, and public confidence in the election.”

But, the court said, “we conclude the challenges that will stem from this ruling are preferable to a postelection scenario where mail-in votes, received after the statutory deadline, are either intermingled with ballots received on time or invalidated without prior warning. Better to put those voters on notice now while they still have at least some time to adjust their plans and cast their votes in an unquestionably lawful way.”

Judge Jane L. Kelly, in a dissenting opinion, said that the decision “will cause voter confusion and undermine Minnesotans’ confidence in the election process.” She said it also risked disenfranchising voters in Minnesota.

Elections officials in the state have been instructing voters who had not mailed their ballots by Tuesday to return them by drop box or to vote in person. But the decision still puts the fate of an unknown number of ballots at risk.

The court instructed elections officials to segregate and maintain all ballots that arrive after the 8 p.m. deadline.

Democrats in Minnesota denounced the decision.

“In the middle of a pandemic, the Republican Party is doing everything to make it hard for you to vote,” Senator Amy Klobuchar, the senior senator from Minnesota and a Democrat, said on Twitter. “Stand up for YOUR rights: Vote in-person or take mail-in ballot directly to ballot box.”

Credit…John Amis/Associated Press

It’s a familiar line in Texas political circles: The last time Democrats carried the state in a presidential race was when Jimmy Carter won in 1976. Now, at 96, the man who accomplished that feat is lending his name to a fund-raising appeal to help his party possibly flip as many as 10 congressional seats in the Lone Star State.

“We have a chance to turn Texas blue,” the 39th president says in an emailed pitch on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “In just four days, we have a chance to do something that hasn’t been done since I won the presidency.”

Democratic candidates haven’t won a statewide contest in Texas since 1994, but with Election Day approaching, polls show Joseph R. Biden Jr. nearly neck-and-neck with President Trump in Texas, as turnout surges in Democratic strongholds such as Houston.

Although the former president’s message is tailored to congressional races, state Democratic officials say the support of a revered former leader reminiscent of the party’s better days in Texas can boost momentum overall. In 1976, running at a time when Democrats were then the party in power in Texas, the former Georgia governor defeated then-President Gerald Ford with a little more than 51 percent of the vote in Texas.