Less than a week from US election day, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is solidifying his lead in Midwestern states that Hillary Clinton lost in 2016, as Covid-19 cases spike significantly and are hurting US President Donald Trump's chances at re-election on Tuesday.
In Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, Mr Biden has opened a wide lead against Mr Trump, according to the latest polls on Wednesday. The election data website Five Thirty Eight shows Mr Biden leading in Michigan by an average of 8 per cent, in Wisconsin by 9.1 per cent and in Minnesota by 9.3 per cent.
Even in Iowa, where Mr Biden was trailing Mr Trump during the summer, he now leads by an average of 1.5 per cent.
These numbers outperform former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton who narrowly lost Wisconsin by 0.77 per cent Michigan by 0.23 percent, and lost Iowa by 10.5 per cent to Mr Trump.
The widening Biden lead offers him a good cushion if it holds on election night and if he performs badly in Southern states such as Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
The Democrat challenger and his wife Jill cast their votes on Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware.
Mr Biden's surging popularity in the Midwest accompanies a spike in Covid-19 cases in that region of the US. Since mid October, there has been a 25 per cent surge in cases. Wisconsin reported on Tuesday it highest deaths toll (64), hospital admissions (220) and cases (5,262) from the pandemic in a single day.
Mr Trump's message to contain the pandemic is not resonating, and in poll after poll Mr Biden is seen as more trusted by voters in handling the issue. A New York Times poll last gave Mr Biden a 12 per cent advantage over the US President in dealing with the health crisis.
The Biden campaign is trying to highlight contrast with Mr Trump by having the candidate do less open rallies and focus on the pandemic in virtual meetings from his residence in Delaware. While Mr Trump was traveling between Nevada, Arizona and Florida on Wednesday, his opponent received healthcare briefing from his advisors on a potential third wave.
But the spike in the virus cases is not translating in low voter turnout. According to the US election project, more than 73 million Americans have already voted, a historic record in early personal and mail-in voting. Texas, a traditionally red state has seen more than 8 million people vote, and is at 90 per cent of its total turnout from 2016.
Polling gives Mr Biden better margins than former Democratic nominees in the State. Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris will be visiting the lodestar state on Friday. No Democrat has won Texas and its 38 electoral votes since 1976, but the Cook Political Report is now moving it to a toss up.
But fears over voter suppression and intimidation continue in this election. A new poll of college students showed on Tuesday that over 4 in 10 (42%) US college students think there is an effort by government officials or politicians to actively suppress the student vote, compared with 32 percent who do not.
The poll conducted by Chegg.org / College Pulse found that almost 6 in 10 (59 per cent) students think there is an effort by US government officials or politicians to actively suppress minorities from voting.
Only 26 per cent of those polled think this is not the case.