After 34 candidates, 14 debates and $2.5 billion total spent by both presidential nominees, Election Day 2020 is finally here.
Here are the places, themes, and potential voting issues we'll be watching tonight.
And don't forget - CBSNews.com will be providing live updates throughout Election Night. To follow along, go to cbsnews.com/election.
-CBS News Political Unit
FROM THE CANDIDATES
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
After zig-zagging many of the nation's battleground states Monday, President Donald Trump closed out his re-election bid in the same fashion as 2016: a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan that bled into Election Day. "We're gonna win the state of Michigan so easily. We want to do it just like last time, but let's give me a bit little more margin than that if you don't mind," the president quipped.
Yet as the nation confronts an unprecedented pandemic, its economic fallout and a nation divided over issues of race and culture, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says President Trump spent the final moments of his campaign venting about the media, his impeachment and America's electoral process.
If ballot counting in Pennsylvania extends several days, as predicted, Mr. Trump told supporters in Scranton, "cheating can happen like you have never seen." The president kicked off his Election Day morning with an early appearance on "Fox & Friends," where he reasoned his campaign has a "very, very solid chance of winning."
Mr. Trump also dropped by his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia to thank staff members before retreating to the White House to watch returns. About 400 of his closest supporters will gather for an election night party in the East Room of the White House, tonight.
The mood inside the Biden campaign is positive and optimistic about Joe Biden's chances for victory, several campaign sources tell CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson. One sign of this optimism is Biden's recent travel schedule: in the past few weeks, he has campaigned in Georgia, Iowa, and Ohio, reliably red states in previous recent elections.
But the campaign's number one priority is clearly Pennsylvania, as Biden spent his last two days with seven stops in the state. As polls opened Tuesday, Biden started his day in his native Scranton and will then head to Philadelphia, where the goal has been to turn out suburban and non-White voters.
After polls close, Biden is expected to address the nation from Wilmington, Delaware "probably late" into the evening, according to his campaign manager. Throughout the day on Tuesday, Biden's campaign said in order to counter suggestions of electoral impropriety by the president and his campaign, they will be sharing data from early voting counts and their internal return figures.
ISSUES THAT MATTER
CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte says more than 100 million people have already cast their ballots. Nationally, voters have cast 72.3% of the total votes counted in the 2016 general election.
On Monday, Montana (102.4%) and Washington (105.4%) became the third and fourth states to surpass their 2016 turnout following Hawaii and Texas. Other high performing states include Arizona(92.9%), Colorado (95.8%), Florida (93.7&), Georgia (93.9%), Nevada (96.7%), New Mexico (97.3%), North Carolina (95.4%) and Oregon (95.8%).
Looking at early vote battleground totals there are 3 groups emerging: states that already have +90% of their 2016 turnout (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Texas); states that are hovering around mid-50-mid-60% (Iowa Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin); and two states well below those (New Hampshire and Pennsylvania).
For decades a reliably red state, CBS News now rates Arizona's 11 electoral votes as a "toss up" going into Election Day. The overwhelming majority of Arizonans have for years cast their ballots by mail, though election officials are still bracing for record turnout Tuesday, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin.
Flipping this state would be a historic victory for Democrats, banking here in large part on trends that are buoying Democrats in suburbs across the country. Republicans still outnumber Democrats and independents here by 3 points among registered voters. But the Biden campaign and former astronaut Mark Kelly, who is challenging incumbent Republican Senator Martha McSally for her seat this year, have poured resources into everything from courting Republican and split-ticket voters to boosting Latino turnout among their base in this border state, key factors in a 2018 Senate win they hope to replicate this year.
The Florida Division of Elections reported Tuesday morning that 9 million votes have been cast in the battleground state of Florida, where 14.4 million voters are registered to participate in the 2020 general election.
With more than half of the ballots already cast, Democrats are outpacing Republicans with 673,838 more mail-in ballots. However, Republicans are edging out Democrats with 558,412 more in-person early votes cast.
On this Election Day, we'll continue to monitor voter turnout to see if this state might break its 1992 general election voter turnout record of 83%. All other voters throughout the state have until 7 p.m. on Election Day to cast their ballots.
Another thing we'll be watching is whether voters wait up to the minute to drop off ballots in drop boxes or try to vote in-person. Miami-Dade County has been tabulating votes since October 15. As one election official described it, the voting machines are calculators that have been counting votes since October 15, so on Election Day at 7 p.m., their office is able to hit the "equal sign," adding them all up.
As a result, we'll be looking at the timeline in which Florida counties begin releasing election results. In Miami-Dade, vote-by-mail results that were received prior to Election Day are scheduled to be released at 7 p.m. At 7:30 p.m. early voting totals in the county are slated to be released and every 30 minutes after this point, the precincts will report their totals.
The last votes counted will be ballots that are dropped off on Election Day and while the hope is for results to be in by 10 p.m., one county board of elections spokesperson told CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell that during the state primary in August, 20,000 ballots were brought in on Election Day and their team didn't leave the building until 2:30 a.m., when all the ballots were counted.
In Broward County, the second largest county in the state, Mitchell says we'll be keeping tabs on election management because as one Florida-based union organizer put it, "if there are issues with the election in Florida, they'll happen in Broward." In 2018, the former Democratic Broward County supervisor of elections resigned after a controversial vote recount in the Senate race between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson highlighted issues within the county's board of elections office.
In Georgia, 3.9 million votes have been cast as of 8 p.m. on October 31. In a state with 7.6 million registered voters, we'll be watching to see how the state's historic early voter turnout translates into Election Day in-person voter turnout.
In Fulton County -- the largest county in the state by population --CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that a county election official told reporters Monday that if 150,000 Georgia voters turn out on Election Day, the county will be looking at 80% turnout for this election.
Also in Fulton, we'll be monitoring long lines and whether technical difficulties arise with voting machines or the ability to process voter information during check-in. These are all issues that have come up in previous elections this year. A Fulton County election official told reporters Monday that in some cases, the team has re-allocated voting equipment and moved some devices from areas with lower turnout to polling places with higher voter turnout. In October there was a report that Fulton County election officials in one warehouse had tested positive for COVID-19.
A county election official said Monday that in total there were 25 confirmed positive coronavirus cases in the warehouse, and October 23 is the last time anyone tested positive. In addition, Fulton County has announced that Atlanta police officers will be assigned to each polling site in the county to ensure safety amid potential security concerns.
President Trump and former Vice President Biden both visited Iowa in the final days of the campaign. Some recent polls have suggested the presidential race in Iowa will be closer than 2016 when Trump won the state by more than 9 points, according to CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar.
President Trump campaigned on the eastern edge of the state on Sunday while Biden campaigned in Des Moines on Friday. Mr. Trump won many of the eastern counties by double digits in 2016 but the area is traditionally blue collar with Democratic roots and could swing back to Biden.
The Des Moines suburbs saw several state house seats flip red to blue in 2018. Keep an eye on Dallas County, which has long been Republican but also trending Democrat in recent elections. Marshall County is another area to keep in mind. While Iowa is overwhelmingly White, the largest minority population is Latino. Marshall County is 23% Latino and Obama won here by 9 points in 2012 but in 2016 President Trump won by 8.5 points.
Many of the voters in this county work in agriculture and meatpacking plants, which were hit hard by coronavirus outbreaks this summer. Lastly, independent voters were part of the reason Mr. Trump won the state in 2016. In the fall, polling showed President Trump's support with independent voters was fading but in recent days, he's regained much of that support that will be critical to winning the state again this year.
President Trump is hoping to repeat his 2016 victory in Michigan, when he was the first Republican to win the state since former President George H.W. Bush in 1988. Mr. Trump narrowly won Michigan, and its 16 Electoral College votes, by 10,708 votes four years ago, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster.
He was fueled by significant support from White voters without college degrees throughout the state (62%-31%) and carrying independent voters by 16 points (52%-36%), according to exit polls.
Democrats also saw a drop in turnout in some key strongholds, including Detroit. Mr. Trump closed out his campaign with a rally in Grand Rapids, just as he did four years ago. He held four rallies in the state between Friday and Election Day. Meanwhile, Democratic nominee Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama campaigned in Flint and Detroit on Saturday.
Democrats are hoping to build off of their success in the 2018 midterm elections, when the party swept statewide elections, thanks in part to large support from suburban voters and women. One of the key places to watch as returns come in from Michigan is Kent County, a longtime GOP stronghold that Governor Gretchen Whitmer won in 2018.
The suburbs around Detroit in Oakland and Macomb counties will also play a pivotal role. Macomb County is a swing county home to many working-class voters that make up the president's base that he carried by 11.5 points in 2016.
Oakland County is a wealthier county that's been safe territory for Democrats in recent presidential elections and Biden's team is hoping to build on Hillary Clinton's 8-point win in 2016. Another key piece to the puzzle is whether Democrats will be able to boost turnout with Black voters in cities like Detroit, where turnout fell by about 40,000 votes from 2012 to 2016.
Republicans have also made a significant push to increase their support with Black voters in Michigan.
Finally, keep an eye on whether Mr. Trump can hang on to traditionally Democratic counties that have many White working-class voters, like Saginaw and Bay counties, and if he can hold or boost his margins in rural places like Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Minnesota offers 10 electoral votes and has been a top target for President Trump and his campaign since narrowly losing the state to Hillary Clinton in 2016. A Republican candidate for president has not won the state since 1972. Since becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, Biden has made two stops to Minnesota, while Mr. Trump has made three trips to the state since September 1.
The latest CBS News Battleground Tracker poll rates this as "Lean Dem." In 2016, the president made inroads in the Iron Range, where there is a historically strong Democratic coalition of blue-collar workers.
Both Mr. Trump and Vice President Pence have made trips to the region pitching an economic message. CBS News polling shows that more White non-college educated voters in Minnesota believe that Mr. Trump will be better than Biden on manufacturing, agricultural and farming issues.
But the poll also found that Biden has clear advantages over Mr. Trump with college-educated White women. Biden's margin among that demographic is 13 points better than how Mrs. Clinton performed among that demographic in 2016. The poll showed that Biden's margin is closer to what helped power Democrats to regain the House in 2018. Months after the killing of George Floyd, a majority of Minnesota registered voters agreed with the ideas of the Black Lives Matter movement, according to CBS News polling. In addition, the poll found that 62% of Minnesota registered voters believe that police reforms are the best way to address racial and systemic discrimination.
The Iron Range region will be a place to watch to see if Mr. Trump can continue to build off his 2016 performance to make Minnesota a close race.
In addition, turnout in the Twin Cities and its metro area will be interesting as a U.S. appeals court ruled five days before Election Day that absentee ballots received within seven days after Election Day will be segregated, so it's possible these ballots may not be counted.
There was a consent decree order in place for months that allowed absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day to be received up to a week after Election Day. Following the ruling, Democrats, including Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, have pushed voters to drop off their mail-in ballot at a ballot drop box by 3 p.m. on Election Day or to vote in person to ensure that their vote counts.
In a press call on Monday, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon urged voters to check the status of their ballot if they have mailed in their ballot. If their ballot is still in transit and has not been received by their county or their city, they can vote in person to override the ballot in transit.
"That's not considered voting twice and the reason it isn't, is because there's a barcode attached to every single ballot that connects that ballot and that intended voter with a ballot," Simon said on Monday. "And so that will just be canceled. The in-transit ballot upon voting in person will be canceled."
On Monday, Simon said his office does not know if there will be post-election litigation over the segregation of ballots, but he did note that his office does not plan to have separate vote tallies.
He also mentioned that if any individual or entity wants to invalidate the segregated ballots, they need to "ask the court to specifically invalidate certain ballots that are in that pile." Simon added, "The physical ballots will be segregated and the vote counts, but we are not going to be weighing, you know, separate vote tallies. It will be a running total through Tuesday, November 10."
As of November 2, there are 3,588,563 registered Minnesotans, according to data from the Minnesota Secretary of State's office. Minnesota has received 2,055,519 absentee and mail only requests and 1,716,575 of those ballots have been accepted, which amounts to 58% of 2016 turnout, according to Simon. There are 338,944 outstanding absentee ballots.
Capped by a push over the final weekend by a stream of high-profile surrogates - from Governor Gavin Newsom out of neighboring California to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who won Nevada's caucus earlier this year -- the Biden campaign has rushed to shore up support in a state where Democrats in recent years captured nearly every statewide office and both of Nevada's U.S. Senate seats. Nevada is among the states to mail ballots to all active registered voters this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though in-person early voting has also drawn record lines as well, notes CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin.
In Southern Nevada, the majority-minority communities that had manned the state's now-crippled hospitality industry have been a key factor in recent Democratic successes in the state. The Trump campaign's longshot bid to retake the Silver State's six electoral votes will hang in large part on whether the Democrats' famed turnout machine here can overcome new GOTV obstacles posed by the pandemic.
Home to the closest Trump-Clinton voter margin in 2016, Democrats won by approximately 3,000 votes here last presidential cycle. This time around, the Trump campaign hopes to put the state that gave President Trump his first 2016 primary win in their column.
But no longer helped by a third-party vote, all signs point to the Granite State remaining blue. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says Democrats have out-registered Republicans in the Granite State and flipped both chambers of the state legislature in 2018. President Trump visited the Granite State earlier this month, but Joe Biden has not returned since his expedited swing ahead of New Hampshire's Democratic Primary in February.
All five voters in the tiny New Hampshire town of Dixville Notch, which is the first town to vote in the country, cast their ballots for Joe Biden at the stroke of midnight on Election Day.
North Carolina has also seen unprecedented early voting totals this cycle. To date, 4,578,596 votes have been cast in a state that has roughly 7.4 million registered voters in the 2020 general election.
CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that voter protection organizations like Democracy NC will be ensuring that voters can cast their ballots and get their questions answered at their polling place on Election Day. Thousands volunteered to serve as "Vote Protectors," in part to provide turnout data updates to voters as they head into their polling place to vote.
The historical battleground state of Ohio has 18 electoral votes up for grabs, reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. President Trump won this state in 2016, after President Obama won the state twice.
The Buckeye State has picked the winner of the presidential election since 1964 and a Republican president has never won the White House without winning Ohio. Since September 1, both Mr. Trump and Joe Biden have made three trips to the state, including for the first presidential debate in Cleveland.
The latest CBS News Battleground Tracker poll currently rates this race as a "toss up." Similar to other states, the economy is a top issue in Ohio and likely Ohio voters believe Mr. Trump will do a better job on handling economic issues and protecting manufacturing jobs, according to the latest CBS News polling.
At an event in Cleveland on Monday, Biden criticized Mr. Trump for diminishing the work of public health officials and for his handling of COVID-19. "Trump said he was going to fire Dr. Fauci. Isn't that wonderful?" Biden quipped in Cleveland. "I got a better idea. Elect me and I am going to hire Dr. Fauci and we are going to fire Donald Trump."
In 2016, the president performed well with rural voters, with White voters with a college degree and with White voters without a college degree. CBS News polling showed that the president still has a sizable margin with White voters without a college degree but has lost significant support among White voters with a college degree.
According to 2016 exit polls, Mr. Trump won White voters with a college degree by 15 percentage points, but the latest CBS News poll showed that Biden has a 12-point margin over Mr. Trump with that demographic. Some of the battlegrounds within the state to keep an eye on include turnout in the metropolitan cities of Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland.
In addition, Democrats are hoping to break into Mr. Trump's support in the suburbs of these cities. There are nine pivot counties -- counties that voted for Mr. Obama and flipped for Mr. Trump -- and one of those counties is Trumbull County, which was home to the General Motors Lordstown plant. The plant closed in 2019 resulting in job layoffs after Mr. Trump visited the county in 2017 and urged industrial workers to not sell their homes. According to Secretary of State's Frank LaRose's office, there are 8,073,829 registered Ohio voters as of November 1.
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden both consider Pennsylvania an essential state to winning the election, with Mr. Trump making 12 trips there this year and Biden making 18 since becoming the Democratic nominee. But if the results are close there, the country might not know the state's results until sometime after today, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak.
For the first time in a general election, Pennsylvanians can cast ballots by mail without an excuse for doing so. Fears of contracting COVID-19 at the polls drove mail voting numbers to multiples of what was expected in the state's June primary, causing some counties to take as long as two weeks to count all their ballots.
And the state Supreme Court in September extended the deadline for counties to accept ballots returned by mail to three days after Election Day, so long as they don't show a postmark from after it. Mr. Trump's campaign has signaled it will continue attempts to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule the extension. In Pennsylvania's primary, over 100,000 mail ballots arrived at county offices after the election. That number could double in the general election, and if the court decides to throw those ballots out, it could swing the election. Mr. Trump won the state by only about 44,000 votes in 2016.
Democrats are hoping that 2020 may finally be the year that they turn Texas blue, but Republicans are feeling confident that they'll be able to keep the state in the GOP's win column, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. There are 38 electoral college votes on the line in the Lone Star State. President Trump visited Texas several times over the past two years, including several White House official events, campaign fundraisers and a few rallies. Democratic nominee Joe Biden hasn't been to Texas since the Democratic primary, but his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, went to Texas Friday October 30, the final day of early voting in an effort to boost turnout.
More people have already voted in Texas than during the 2016 election. Democrats hope that record turnout may put them over the edge to make Biden the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Texas since Jimmy Carter. A recent New York Times/Siena College poll showed the president leading the state by 4 points.
One of the key areas to watch will be in the Dallas metroplex. While Dallas County has been reliably Democratic in recent presidential elections, the neighboring counties that make up the metroplex, Tarrant (Fort Worth), Collin and Denton, have been strong for Republicans. Former President Lyndon Johnson was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win any of those counties. The areas have experienced some demographic change, including people moving in from out of state as companies relocate. Beto O'Rourke won Tarrant by less than 1 point in 2018 and closed the gap in Collin and Denton counties compared to Mr. Trump's margins in 2016.
Houston and its more traditionally Republican suburbs will also play a crucial role. Harris County, home to Houston, has seen record voting in this election. Texas' 5.6 million eligible Latino voters are second only to California's 7.9 million, according to Pew. The New York Times poll showed Biden leading with Latino voters, 57%-34%. The Rio Grande Valley will be a key place to watch for Latino turnout. President Trump will also be looking to keep his solid margins in Texas' smaller cities and rural areas.
President Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to win Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan in 1984. He captured the Badger State's 10 Electoral College votes by 22,748 votes. According to exit polls, Mr. Trump's success in Wisconsin, as it was in other Rust Belt states that he flipped in 2016, was fueled by White voters without college degrees (62%-34%) and winning enough independent voters (50%-40%). CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster says Democrats also saw turnout drop in critical cities like Milwaukee during that election and young voters, 18-29, backed Hillary Clinton by just 3 points, according to exit polls.
Mr. Trump has made 10 campaign trips to Wisconsin since the start of 2019, including holding 5 rallies from October 17 - November 2. Biden has made three trips to Wisconsin since becoming the Democratic nominee.
Democrats had a strong showing during the 2018 midterms. They won back the governor's mansion, and other statewide seats, and held on to a Democratic U.S. Senate seat. One of the key areas to watch in Wisconsin are the so-called BOW counties(Brown, Outagmie and Winnebago) in northeast Wisconsin, which are home to many White working-class voters.
This includes Green Bay and its surrounding areas. Former President Barack Obama won the counties by 10.8 points in 2008 and narrowly lost them by 0.2 points in 2012. In 2016 Mr. Trump carried the counties by 10.3 points, but Democrats narrowed margins in the elections since then.
The other trio of counties to watch are the WOW counties(Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington) in suburban Milwaukee. They've been the heart of the Republican Party in Wisconsin, but the counties were soft in their support for Mr. Trump four years ago, compared to other recent Republicans. The president won the WOW Counties by 28.3 points, down from Mitt Romney's 35-point win in 2012 and Scott Walker's 44+ point wins in 2010 and 2014.
Walker saw his smallest margins in the WOW Counties in 2018 (+35.1 points), a sign Democrats have made some inroads. Western Wisconsin is home to many of the small cities, towns and villages where Mr. Trump cobbled together lots of votes en route to his statewide victory. There are more than a dozen counties along the Mississippi River and in the state's southwest corner that voted for Mr. Obama twice then Mr. Trump in 2016. Democrats won some of those areas back during the midterms and are hoping to cut into Mr. Trump's margins in the region this year. Of course, another major factor in determining the statewide winner will be turnout in Milwaukee. About 40,000 fewer people voted in the Democratic stronghold in 2016 compared to 2012.
IN THE SENATE
Today we will be watching to see if Democrats' record fundraising and spending on advertisements across the country can translate into flipping the Senate. Republicans currently hold the Senate with a 53-47 majority.
Democrats would need to flip three seats if Joe Biden wins the White House and four seats if he doesn't, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Of the 35 seats up for reelection this cycle, 23 are held by Republicans and 12 are held by Democrats.
The battlegrounds Democrats are hoping to flip include Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina. Democrats have to defend Senator Doug Jones' seat in Alabama and Senator Gary Peters in Michigan. The record fundraising by Democratic candidates has expanded where Democrats are on the offense like in South Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, Montana, and Texas.
Election Day will show how far record-breaking fundraising numbers go towards winning an election. Another trend to watch is whether there is any ticket splitting between the Senate candidates and presidential candidates. The 2016 presidential election was the first presidential election in modern history where all of the states' Senate races went towards the same party as the presidential winner in that state. Can some of these strong recruits outperform the top of the ticket? It's worth looking at how GOP candidate John James fares in Michigan compared to President Trump and how Democratic Governor Steve Bullock does in his Senate race compared to Biden in Montana.
Lastly, the control of the Senate could rest in the hands of Georgia where there are two Senate races this cycle. The rules in Georgia for both the regular Senate election and the Senate special election require a candidate to win a majority, and if none of the candidates clear the 50 percent threshold, the race goes to a runoff in January. Recent polling in the race between incumbent GOP Senator David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff has been tight, and the presence of a libertarian candidate on the ballot could prevent either Perdue or Ossoff from clearing the majority. In the special election, 21 candidates have qualified to be on the ballot including Democrat Raphael Warnock who has led in recent polls and GOP candidates Senator Kelly Loeffer who was appointed to the seat last year and Congressman Doug Collins. If no candidate clears the majority, that race will also go to a runoff in January.
IN THE HOUSE
The expectation from strategists on both sides, campaigns and pundits is that Speaker Pelosi will retain her gavel and that the Democratic caucus will likely grow their majority by flipping anywhere between 5 to 15 Republican seats. Republicans need to see a net gain of 17 seats to flip the House and initially felt that impeachment (remember that?) would be their golden ticket to unseating so many of the moderate freshmen Democrats that ran on moderate profiles in 2018. But Democrat incumbent 'Frontliners' raised record amounts of money, as well as Democratic challengers, and the political environment for the GOP in the suburbs to Alaska seemed to worsen due to the President's handling of the pandemic.
Republican outside groups and the NRCC are now having to play defense in just as many districts they were playing offense in, a big change from when they planned to funnel most of their resources into targeting 30 Democrats sitting in Trump-won districts.CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarrosays a high number of House races may not be called tonight. In 2018, 18 House races weren't called on election night and with the influx of mail/absentee ballots this year, some campaigns in tight races (i.e. New York's 11th) are expecting a long count.
Eleven states have gubernatorial elections today, though only a handful are expected to be competitive reportsCBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. For all states, the pandemic has elevated the responsibility and importance of the governor. This has resulted in some initially targeted Republicans, such as Phil Scott in Vermont and Chris Sununu in New Hampshire, being taken a bit off the table due to their high approval ratings. The pandemic has also made some races more competitive due to criticism over their governor's handling of the pandemic, such as Missouri's race between GOP incumbent Mike Parson and Democratic State Auditor Nicole Galloway.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has seen acclaim from Democrats due to his shutdowns and attempts to mitigate the virus. But the economic impact of those shutdowns have also been a targeted issue for his Republican opponent, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest.
Montana's open seat race between Democrat Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney and Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte is the only pure "Toss Up" gubernatorial race this cycle. The state has a history of ticket splitting, voting for the Republican presidential candidate since 1996 but having a Democratic senator or governor since 2005.