Oct 26, 2020 - Health

The swing states where the pandemic is raging

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, The Cook Political Report; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, The Cook Political Report; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Several states that are likely to decide which party controls Washington next year have exceptionally large coronavirus outbreaks or are seeing cases spike.

Why it matters: Most voters have already made up their minds. But for those few holdouts, the state of the pandemic could ultimately help them make a decision as they head to the polls — and that's not likely to help President Trump.

The big picture: The U.S. is seeing a third wave of coronavirus cases, setting us up for a brutal winter. On Friday, a record 83,757 cases were recorded across the country.

  • Joe Biden has consistently polled ahead of Trump when voters are asked who they trust more to handle the coronavirus.
  • Worsening outbreaks could also impact key Senate races, which will ultimately help decide how much power the president has.

Details: Wisconsin and Montana have the largest outbreaks of all states with close Senate races or that are competitive in the presidential election.

  • Maine — where Sen. Susan Collins is fighting to keep her seat — is the best off by far, with a low per capita case count that isn't growing very quickly.
  • Florida, which has the most Electoral College seats up for grabs of all tossup states, has a smaller-than-average outbreak, which could mean less headwinds for Trump.

The bottom line: The virus isn't under control almost anywhere in the U.S., and even states like Florida have a relatively large and growing outbreak. Whether it's at the top of voters' minds or not, the winner of the election will be dealing with the pandemic and its fallout for a long time.

  • And given the current state of things, that person could be facing a worst-case scenario when they take office at the height of winter.
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