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October 29, 2020

What to expect in Washington (October 29)

With Justice Barrett confirmed to the Supreme Court, Congress out of session and coronavirus relief negotiations again at an impasse, the focus is solely on the election. Both President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden are campaigning in Tampa, Florida, today (Thursday). The state's 29 electoral votes, close races in the past and neck-and-neck status in this year's election make it a focus. Biden's campaign announced former President Obama will join the candidate in Michigan on Saturday.

Asked on MSNBC yesterday where Biden should focus his campaigning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, "Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin." Some reports suggested Democrats are urging the Biden campaign to be attentive to battleground states over potential pick-up states given the memory of losses in 2016. Regarding President Trump's comments that a winner of the presidential race should be determined on November 3, Speaker Pelosi said, "some states have said you can't start counting the ballots until all the polls are closed. For example, Michigan passed that in their legislature. So, the votes will be counted until they're finished being counted."

The Washington Post reported that the Supreme Court October 28 "allowed extended periods for receiving mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina," to November 6 and November 12, respectively.

The Washington Post also reported, regarding a CNN poll showing Biden leading President Trump 54%-42% among likely voters nationally, "The 12-point overall margin is 7 points larger than the advantage the last CNN poll of 2016 gave Hillary Clinton, then Trump's opponent."

Reuters/Ipsos opinion polls released October 28 showed the two candidates statistically even in Florida, with Biden leading President Trump 49%-47%. The polls also showed:

  • Biden leading President Trump 48%-46% in Arizona
  • Biden leading President Trump 52%-43% in Michigan
  • Biden leading President Trump 49%-48% in North Carolina
  • Biden leading President Trump 53%-44% in Wisconsin
  • Biden leading President Trump 50%-45% in Pennsylvania

In most of those states, about a third of respondents said they had already voted.

A New York Times/Siena College poll of likely voters in Michigan showed Biden leading President Trump 49%-41%.

A Monmouth University poll released October 28 showed that, among all registered voters in Georgia, Biden is supported by 50% and Trump is supported by 45%. More than half (58%) of registered voters in Georgia report having already cast their ballots and Biden leads among those voters 55%-43%. President Trump leads 48%-44% among those who have yet to vote. More Georgia voters (51%) expect President Trump to win a second term, compared to 42% who expect Biden to win.

In the Georgia Senate regular election, Democrat Jon Ossoff leads Senator David Perdue (R-GA) among registered voters 49%-46%. The two participated in a contentious debate October 28, with the AP reporting: "Perdue repeatedly accused Ossoff of backing radical, socialist policies while Ossoff slammed Perdue's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and Republican efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act."

In the Georgia Senate special election, which will go to a January 5, 2021, runoff if no candidate receives 50% of the vote November 3, the Monmouth poll shows Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock leading with 41%, followed by Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) at 21%, and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) at 18%.

Coronavirus relief

Speaker Pelosi said on MSNBC of coronavirus negotiations, "We continue to exchange paper. We haven't stopped working because the president said it's going to be until after the election." The Wall Street Journal reported the Speaker as saying that the details of the relief bill she has been discussing with the Trump administration could change in a lame-duck session given shifting incentives for both parties after the election. "There's very little that we have a commitment from them on. We have, shall we say, narrowed our differences," she said.

Further to that, and new this morning: a lengthy list of items the Speaker has asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to provide the Administration's response to, including "an answer on whether the White House will provide funding to strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit." The Speaker said in the letter to the Secretary, "Your responses are critical for our negotiations to continue. The President's words that 'after the election, we will get the best stimulus package you have ever seen' only have meaning if he can get Mitch McConnell to take his hand off the pause button and get Senate Republican Chairmen moving toward agreement with their House counterparts." On Friday, November 6 (at 12:00 p.m. ET), is the EY Webcast, "Tax in the time of COVID-19: Post election outlook." The coronavirus (COVID-19) and the resulting economic crisis — all occurring in an election year — have made reacting to tax and trade developments more complicated and more difficult. After election day, what might be on the horizon for tax policy, tax legislation and any further economic stimulus? Panelists will provide updates on: (i) elections, US economy and tax policy; (ii) breaking developments; and (iii) what's happening at the IRS. Register for this Thought Center Webcast.


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For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
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