Tuesday briefing: America votes – and the world holds its breath

Tuesday briefing: America votes – and the world holds its breath

Workers collect from a ballot drop box in Seattle, Washington.
Photograph: Karen Ducey/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Trump’s final fearmongering before polls open … three victims and gunman killed during Vienna terror attack … why Sophia didn’t hand Grant marriage


Main image:
Workers collect from a ballot drop box in Seattle, Washington.
Photograph: Karen Ducey/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Top story: Biden – ‘Time to take back our democracy’

Hello, Warren Murray here – and please do not actually hold your breath for too long, you will turn purple.

Voting booths will open in the coming hours in the US presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. There’s a lot to take in, with the poll and its aftermath bound to sprawl across the news all week, so get started with this step-by-step guide. Keen UK readers might want to sneak in a nap today – because we expect the really serious action to commence after midnight GMT. Our US election live blog will be there at all times to shake you awake, should you find your endurance flagging.

The first major indicator is going to be Florida, where polls fully close at 8pm Miami time (1am Wednesday in Britain). If Biden notches an early victory, Democrats will sense a win across the nation. If it is close in that state, things may be more drawn out; and if Trump wins Florida then the whole contest remains up for grabs.

In terms of an overall national result: a landslide to Biden could mean a chance of a fairly quick declaration on Tuesday evening, US time. But would anyone be game enough to call it so early? If the vote is close a result may not be clear until Wednesday; or there could be a real cliffhanger, with the counting of mail-in ballots and possible lawsuits stretching it into days, or even weeks. And the outlook is excruciating: final polling shows Biden with a significant overall lead nationally – the majority in America want Trump out, Biden in – but the incumbent remains a threat in battleground states that could bring the electoral college votes he needs to win.

Published polling may show Biden headed for a win – but as our US data editor, Mona Chalabi, writes, that kind of polling was wrong in 2016. Chalabi points to the participation of millions of new voters as a powerful potential deciding factor. As coronavirus continues to kill Americans – with more than 80,000 new cases reported on Sunday – Trump has held the last of his super-spreader events in the form of campaign rallies. He has told his supporters that Joe Biden wants to lock down America, which is not true. Barack Obama has called Trump out for “lying every day”. As he continued to drag US democracy towards a tailspin, Trump threatened “violence on the streets” if the vote count is not wrapped up quickly – his tweet was promptly slapped with a warning label by Twitter, as was another carrying false claims of voter fraud.

David Smith writes that the president’s profligate campaign could neither escape the pandemic nor find a way to define Biden, but he has whipped up his base into a frenzy – will it be enough to keep him in office? Delivering his closing message on the last day of the campaign, Biden repeated his campaign message that the election was a “battle for the soul of the nation … The character of America is literally on the ballot,” he said at a drive-in rally in Cleveland, Ohio. “It’s time to take back our democracy.”

Vienna: three victims and gunman dead – Austrian police have continued overnight to hunt other gunmen still possibly at large after a string of shootings described by the chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, as a “repulsive terror attack” left three victims dead, while one assailant was killed by armed officers in the city centre. Fifteen people were receiving hospital treatment, with seven in a critical condition. Authorities have been saying that more than one perpetrator may remain at large. The attacker they killed was described as an Islamic State sympathiser who wore a fake bomb belt. Shooters sprayed bullets at people outside bars that were open for the last night before a coronavirus lockdown.

The initial shootings took place at six different locations in the city centre and authorities warned of a group of “heavily armed and dangerous” gunmen. Events unfolded near the Stadttempel synagogue, which was closed at the time. Emmanuel Macron has led the reaction by international leaders: “After France, it is a friendly country that is attacked,” said the French president, clearly referencing events including the church attack in Nice and the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist extremist. “This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they are dealing with. We will not give up anything.”

Depraved – Domestic violence charities have hailed the verdict from the high court trial in which Amber Heard gave accounts of an enraged Johnny Depp perpetrating drug and alcohol-fuelled abuse. The star has promised to appeal after a judge ruled he was not libelled by the Sun newspaper calling him a “wife beater”. Depp’s lawyers said the decision was “as perverse as it is bewildering” and the judge had disregarded evidence from police, doctors and other unchallenged witnesses that “completely undermined the allegations”. Depp is also suing Heard, his former wife, for defamation in the US where Heard’s lawyers said they would present “even more voluminous evidence … We are committed to obtaining justice for Amber Heard in the US court and defending Ms Heard’s right to free speech.” Ben Quinn notes how Heard stood essentially alone for much of a proceeding from which she had little or nothing to gain.

Coronavirus latest – The number of furloughed workers in the UK is expected to more than double this month to as many as 5.5 million as England heads into lockdown and emergency Covid-19 wage support is expanded. Businesses are expected to claim for billions of pounds of extra state support. Many employers have scrambled to put people back on furlough after the scheme’s closure was reversed but for those already made redundant this has come too late. Retailers, hairdressers and restaurants in England have been extending their opening hours to accommodate a last wave of customers before lockdown hits. In Liverpool, up to half a million people are set to be tested under the UK government’s first attempt to embark on city-wide mass testing and track down every positive case. Covid coverage continues at our global live blog.

‘He didn’t propose’ – It was one of the greatest cinematic love stories of the 20th century, but Sophia Loren has revealed that Cary Grant never proposed to her on set. The 86-year-old Italian actor has previously detailed a love affair with Grant while filming the 1957 film The Pride and the Passion.

Sophia Loren and Cary Grant

Sophia Loren and Cary Grant. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/Paramount

In an interview with the Radio Times she said: “Cary Grant was a very handsome man and a wonderful actor, but he didn’t propose.” Loren was 23 at the time, 30 years younger than Grant. She said she was too young to have any clear ideas about love and relationships at the time. Loren ended up marrying the film producer Carlo Ponti and they remained married until his death in 2007.

Today in Focus podcast: Biden – his time?

If Joe Biden is elected president this week, it will be the culmination of a career in politics that has seen successes as well as controversies. Journalist and biographer Evan Osnos examines what his past can tell us about the kind of president that the former vice-president could become.

Today in Focus

Biden – his time?


Lunchtime read: The fall of Johnny Depp

In the 1990s, he was a different kind of film star – eloquent, artistic and cool. But this week, with the loss of his court case against the Sun, the dream has decisively soured, writes Hadley Freeman.

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder in Los Angeles, 1990

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder in Los Angeles, 1990. Photograph: Barry King/WireImage


Fresh from winning the Giro d’Italia, Britain’s latest Grand Tour winner, Tao Geoghegan Hart, has spoken exclusively to the Guardian about leadership, why the team comes first and how he doesn’t want his recent success to be a one-off. Hopes of a reprieve for grassroots sport before a second national lockdown this week have been dashed by the prime minister, with community sports and facilities forced to close, even those which operate outdoors. Gary Chilton, whose father, Chris, scored a record 222 goals for Hull City, has accused the PFA of treating former players with dementia “like the elephant in the room”. Leicester moved up to second after a 4-1 victory at Leeds – their fourth successive away win in the Premier League.

Toronto Wolfpack have failed in their bid to be readmitted to Super League in 2021, after clubs overwhelmingly rejected their proposal to return to the top-flight next season. Feliciano López beat Filip Krajinovic in straight sets in the first round and remains on course to meet his Spanish friend Rafael Nadal at the Paris Masters. The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, has said he believes Lewis Hamilton is far from finished with Formula One after the world champion suggested he is considering ending his career. And Diego Maradona has been admitted to hospital in Argentina with undisclosed “health problems” although it is not related to Covid-19 and his condition is not thought to be serious.


Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Tuesday as investors watched for US election results, with analysts hoping for a win by challenger Joe Biden in the presidential race that might lead to more economic stimulus. Benchmarks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney advanced. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday. The FTSE was 40-50 points higher at time of writing while sterling was worth $1.291 and €1.108.

The papers

Our Guardian third edition squeezed the Vienna attacks on to the front thanks to some hectic work by print colleagues. The lead story is “Hard-hit Liverpool to embark on first attempt at mass Covid testing”. The Times has the “terrorist gun rampage in Vienna” across the top – its splash is the president’s reckless outburst that “Voting delay will put US in danger”. The Telegraph echoes it too: “US braced for victory delay and violence” is the picture lead, Vienna makes the front, and the splash is the Liverpool story: “Mass testing plan to offer way out of lockdown”.

Guardian front page, Tuesday 3 November 2020

Guardian front page, Tuesday 3 November 2020.

The Mail leads with “Earl Spencer: BBC’s vile slurs to entrap Diana”. The Mirror initially gave a full front page to its Remembrance Day campaign, but for the late edition it cut that back to a half-page pic to fit in “City’s terror horror – Vienna under attack”. The Express stuck with “Virus battle will be won by spring” and a picture of Johnny Depp pointing to the court verdict story inside. In the Metro you’ve got “Johnny Rotten” for the actor and “Crony virus” for Kate Bingham, the Conservative minister’s spouse and venture capitalist heading Britain’s vaccine taskforce, who is claimed to have shown US financiers “official sensitive” government documents during a $200-a-head conference.

The splash headline in the i is “Covid hope: rapid test trial starts this week”. The FT leads with “Under-fire Johnson insists winter lockdown is time limited” and the Sun revels in being able to say of Johnny Depp: “He IS a wife beater”.

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