What you need to know about the 2020 U.S. election today

President Donald Trump’s taxes are set to dominate the election agenda Monday, even as Senate Republicans try to push ahead with the rapid confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

The New York Times reported that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, after years of reporting heavy losses from his business enterprises to offset hundreds of millions of dollars in income. According to Reuters, Trump has dismissed the report as “fake news.”

Barrett is set to start meeting with senators ahead of a multi-day confirmation hearing scheduled to begin on Oct. 12, when she will face questions about her judicial philosophy and approach to the law.

The Supreme Court nomination and Trump’s taxes are likely to be hot topics in Tuesday’s first televised debate between Trump and his challenger, Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Voting has already begun in some states

But for millions of Americans, Election Day has already arrived.

State election officials have already issued more than 3 million absentee or mail ballots in Arizona, nearly 5 million in Florida, and more than 1.1 million in Wisconsin, according to data collected by The Associated Press. Early voting is going on in several other states as well, including Minnesota, North Carolina and Virginia.

As expected, Democrats have a significant advantage in the number of ballots issued so far in most states. It’s too early to read too much into the numbers, except to remember that everything that happens from here on out has the potential to move votes in real time. It’s on.

Investor view

Investors are already trying to identify potential winners and losers in the markets.

For the markets, “the challenge is less about who wins and more about how narrow the victory could be, resulting in a contested election and leaving the market in congressional gridlock at a time when government support is critical,” Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a commentary.

Stocks have been erratic this month, with indexes setting new highs to start the month and then falling sharply as investors worried that values for some of technology giants had risen too high.

U.S. perspective

Global deaths from coronavirus are expected to reach a grim milestone this week, passing the million mark. Biden has made Trump’s handling of the pandemic a key part of his campaign.

Americans are more likely to see Biden as the stronger candidate when it comes to steering the nation’s coronavirus response, preserving civil rights, and restoring trust in government, according to Reuters/Ipsos national polling. Trump is more likely to be perceived as better for the economy.

According to the Associated Press, the race is tightening somewhat in some states, but Biden is maintaining a remarkably stable lead over Trump in most national polls five weeks before Election Day as early voting intensifies. Still, the Republican president has at least two major opportunities to improve his standing this week.

First, Trump and his allies are poised to dominate the national conversation as they escalate their push to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, whom the president formally introduced to America on Saturday. Trump’s team is betting that the evolving confirmation fight will help unify Republicans behind his candidacy and shift the national conversation away from his struggle to control the pandemic.

Second, the first general election debate gives Trump a prime-time opening to test Biden’s physical and mental strength once and for all. Trump and Biden face off Tuesday night in Cleveland, a highly anticipated affair expected to feature a sharp contrast in policy and personality. Biden is being advised to avoid direct attacks, but based on past performance, Trump won’t make it easy to take the high road.

And while Trump has opportunities this week, so does Biden. Democrats have seized on a New York Times report that the president paid little to no federal income taxes for several years because of huge losses in his businesses.

— With files from Reuters

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