Timeline: Key moments of the US election campaign

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It has been a US presidential election campaign like no other. Here are some key moments that framed the race.

March 3*: Super Tuesday

The Democratic Primaries day, known as Super Tuesday because of the number of states in play, was Joe Biden's moment. This is where he edged in front of his main contender Bernie Sanders. Sanders, a champion of the progressives, formally bowed out of the Democratic race on April 8.

May 25: The death of George Floyd

George Floyd's death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer sparked waves of anti-racism protests across the US and the world. The long-running demonstrations were pivotal episodes in the presidential campaign, further pushing left and right into their respective corners and laying bare the depths of America's racial divide.

August 11: Joe Biden selects Kamala Harris as his running mate

Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor from the state of California, became the first woman of colour to be selected for national office by either of the two major political parties.

August: Conventions go virtual

The COVID-19 pandemic cast a long shadow over the entire presidential campaign, but it was never more evident than at the Democratic and Republican national conventions, where the parties formally nominate their presidential candidates.

Usually held in front of large and raucous crowds, the events this year were held in mostly empty halls and broadcast to the true believes online and on television.

September 18: Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a stalwart liberal on the US Supreme Court since 1993, died at age 87, giving Trump a chance to expand its conservative majority with a third appointment at a time of deep divisions in America with a presidential election looming.

September 26: Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court

Trump moved fast to replace Ginsburg with conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett. The Republican base delighted in the choice. Democrats fumed that any pick for the Supreme Court should wait until after the next president was confirmed. Justice Barrett was confirmed on October 26.

September 29: First presidential candidate debate

Described as "belligerent, earsplitting, deeply depressing" by The New York Times, the first televised debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is widely regarded as the worst of its kind in US history.
Most of the blame was placed on Trump, who continuously interrupted his opponent and turned the focus of discussion onto Biden's son, Hunter, at every opportunity. The next debate on October 22 was a much more civil affair aided by the introduction of a mute button (it was used only once).

October 1: Trump hospitalised with COVID-19

Trump, who has downplayed the coronavirus and mocked people wearing masks and made various misleading statements to the American people, announced his positive diagnosis via Twitter late at night.
He was hospitalised shortly after, when the US death toll from the virus was more than 208,000, and treated with a cocktail of drugs. He recovered quickly and was soon back on the campaign trail.

November 2: Early votes

Prompted by the pandemic, a record more than 103 million people cast their votes in person or by mail ahead of the election on November 3, according to AP.

(*) all US time

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Understand the election result and its aftermath with expert analysis from US correspondent Matthew Knott. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald‘s newsletter here, The Age‘s here, Brisbane Times‘ here and WAtoday‘s here. 

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