Trump dismisses 'fake' polls, while Biden says it's time to end the 'chaos'

Almost 100 million people have already voted

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Donald Trump on Monday made a final call for votes in Joe Biden’s native city on the eve of election day, dismissing polls that predicted a loss as his Democratic challenger urged Americans to end four years of “chaos”.

The rivals spent Monday campaigning in swing states that will decide the election, before converging on the key battleground of Pennsylvania where both were holding major rallies.

Mr Trump had a surprise victory in the state in 2016, but Mr Biden has maintained a steady if narrowing lead there, and will make an 11th-hour election day trip to his gritty childhood home town of Scranton.

The president flew into the city for a raucous event on Mr Biden’s home turf after rallying supporters in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he said: “I watch these fake polls. We’re going to win anyway.”

Mr Trump’s shots at pollsters, journalists, social media chief executives and his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton reflected the bitter mood as he faces the possibility of being removed from the White House.

As he returned to his months-long attempts to portray Mr Biden as “sleepy” or corrupt, the crowd chanted: “Lock him up.”

And Mr Trump sought to recapture the spirit of his shock win four years ago, telling the crowd: “You elected an outsider as president who is finally putting America first.

“Get out and vote, that’s all I ask.”

But Mr Biden, who has built his campaign on portraying Mr Trump as a reckless failure during the pandemic, senses victory.

Opinion polls give him small but steady advantages in all of the swing states and even have him threatening Republican strongholds such as Georgia and Texas.

“It’s time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home,” Mr Biden, 77, told supporters at a socially distanced event in Cleveland, Ohio.

“We’re done with the chaos. We’re done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility.”

After Ohio, Mr Biden went to Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania where he was joined by pop superstar Lady Gaga – in black platform shoes and a dazzling bejewelled “Vote” mask – for a drive-in rally.

In chilly central Pittsburgh, nurse Justine Wolff said she had already cast her ballot for Mr Biden and was cautiously hopeful that he would win the state.

“I hope that people have seen the writing on the wall,” said Ms Wolff, 35. “We need some kind of change because this isn’t working for anybody.”

Mr Biden will be back in Pennsylvania on Tuesday – election-day campaigning is rare but legal – heading first to Scranton and then to the state’s largest city, Philadelphia.

Barack Obama was also lending star power to his former vice president, rallying supporters in Georgia and Florida, where the vote is on a razor’s edge.

Tuesday is formally election day but in reality it marks the end of a drawn-out month.

With a huge expansion in mail-in voting to protect against the Covid-19 pandemic, almost 100 million people have cast ballots, highlighting the passion in what is turning into a referendum on the norm-shattering Republican’s first term.

Throughout Washington, businesses boarded up windows in expectation of unrest, and a new “unscalable” fence was reportedly planned around the White House, behind growing layers of fortifications since a summer of anti-racism protests.

While the Trump administration warned of left-wing extremists causing havoc, the president’s supporters made their own show of force, driving in caravans of flag-bedecked pick-up trucks and blocking roads around the country.

Mr Trump, who mocks Mr Biden’s modestly attended events as proof that the opinion polls must be wrong, was capping his closing surge of 14 rallies in three days with visits to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

The last rally will be Monday night in Grand Rapids, where Mr Trump delivered the final speech of his victorious 2016 campaign and where he hopes once more to spark an upset.

Lynn Gionte, 60, a nurse attending the president’s Scranton rally, predicted that he would ride “a red wave" to re-election.

“I’ve seen more Trump signs than Biden signs here,” Ms Gionte told AFP. “I’ve never seen this much excitement for a president.”

But Mr Trump has clearly fretted over the record early vote count, which tends to lean towards the Democrats.