HOW A STORM CAN IMPACT AN ELECTION … BATTLE FOR THE SENATE … VP DEBATE (WHY BOTHER) … THIS WEEK’S UNEXPECTED PRESIDENTIAL RACE ENDORSEMENT … ASIAN AMERICAN AND PUERTO RICAN VOTE … And other news of the week.
It’s Friday. We are only about a month from Election Day. SET YOUR CLOCKS NOW – Sunday is Debate Night. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS Clinton and Trump will be back for Round Two. The format is town-hall style — half the questions will be posed by uncommitted voters, and the candidates will have two minutes to respond to each question as Martha Raddatz of ABC and Anderson Cooper of CNN serve as moderators. The history of presidential debates done in this style suggests that stagecraft, body language and empathy matter more than they do in conventional settings
HOW A STORM LIKE HURRICANE MATTHEW CAN IMPACT AN ELECTION The Fix “Given Florida’s status as a hugely important swing state (and even Georgia’s status as a surprising battleground), there will be plenty of debate about the political impact the storm could have come Nov. 8. And the political fight over it has already begun, with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Thursday declining the request of Democrats to extend voter registration in that state.
Here are ways in which storms like this can affect elections —
1. Reducing Turnout. Florida professor Daniel A. Smith notes that 50,000 Floridians registered to vote in the final days of the 2012 election. Democratic registrations during this period far outpaced Republican ones, by about 73%. And people who register shortly before an election would seem pretty likely to want to vote. Fifty thousand voters in a state where 8.5 million people voted in 2012 isn’t a huge number, and a drop of a point or two in overall turnout doesn’t seem like a massive shift. But this is the point at which I remind you that Florida in the 2000 presidential race was decided by just 537 votes.
2. The Government’s Response. Storm responses can have massive impacts on how the politicians who handle them are viewed. Neither Clinton nor Trump are in charge of disaster response, but given the fact that Clinton has tied herself to Obama — and Obama is pretty popular right now — views of how his administration handles the response could theoretically filter down in some way.”
President Barack Obama’s approval rating stands at 55% in a new CNN/ORC poll, the highest mark of his second term, and matching his best at any time since his first year in office.
POTUS in The Economist, “The way ahead”: “Wherever I go these days, at home or abroad, people ask me the same question. What is happening in America’s political system? How has a country that has benefitted-perhaps more than any other-from immigration, trade and technological innovation suddenly developed a strain of anti-immigrant, anti-innovation protectionism? Why have some on the far-left and even more on the far right embraced a crude populism that promises a return to a past that is not possible to restore-and that for most Americans, never existed at all?” Full Article.
SNOWDEN 2.0 OR HOARDER? NYTs “On a half-dozen occasions in the last three years, top-secret information has leaked from the National Security Agency and appeared on the web. Government analysts concluded with alarm that the documents, including intercepted communications from Europe and Japan and the computer code for the N.S.A.’s hacking tools, had not come from the huge collection taken by Edward J. Snowden.That meant there was at least one more leaker still at large, and when F.B.I. agents found in August that a former agency contractor had been taking home top-secret material, they thought they might have the culprit. NOT SO SURE Harold T. Martin III, the contractor arrested by the F.B.I. on Aug. 27, brazenly violated basic security rules, taking home a staggering quantity of highly classified material. He had been doing this undetected, agency officials were chagrined to learn, since the late 1990s. But, officials say, they have not been able to definitively connect Mr. Martin, 51, a Navy veteran, to the leaked documents.”
BATTLE FOR SENATE The Fix ” In our latest Senate race ratings, we’re making a couple of big changes in Democrats’ favor and moving one lower-tier race toward the GOP. THE BIG MOVES: Both Missouri and North Carolina are moving from “lean Republican” to “toss-up.” The other move is Iowa, which we’re moving from “lean Republican” to “safe Republican.” As we noted a couple of weeks back, even as Republicans had gained a perhaps-fleeting advantage, it was important to remember that Democrats had many more opportunities on the cusp of becoming toss-ups. Now that they’ve moved a couple of those GOP-held seats into the toss-up column, they have a slight edge. What we know for sure is that this was and remains a competitive race, with a very sizable chance of a Democratic takeover. And either way, it will go down to the wire. The Recap:
MISSOURI — “lean Republican” to “toss-up” This is the most surprising toss-up on our map. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) wasn’t considered a top Democratic target to start the cycle, but he has struggled to put away Democrat Jason Kander, even though he comes from a state that Donald Trump is expected to win. Kander has been the standout recruit for Senate Democrats this cycle. The Afghanistan veteran — who assembled an assault rifle blindfolded in the best ad of the cycle — is trying to expand the map and knock off veteran Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt. The effort, which months ago seemed like a long shot, has become more real as most recent polls have Kander leading or even with Blunt.”
NORTH CAROLINA — “lean Republican” to “toss-up” There is a ton of polling here, thanks to it being a highly competitive state at the presidential level. And of the 10 high-quality polls conducted in September, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) led in five, Democratic challenger Deborah Ross led in four and the 10th was a tie. The newest poll — just released by Quinnipiac University — also shows a 46-46 tie. That’s closer than Republicans would like for it to be, given that Ross, a former ACLU lawyer, wasn’t a highly touted Democratic recruit. But she’s clearly made up ground and looks like she’s turned this race into a pretty pure toss-up.
IOWA — “lean Republican” to “safe Republican” Democrats hoped Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley’s (R-Iowa) refusal to hold hearings on Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland would be their silver bullet, and they recruited an established candidate in former lieutenant governor and agriculture secretary Patty Judge. But it just hasn’t panned out. The Garland attack doesn’t seem to have hurt Grassley or Republicans more broadly, and Democrats don’t even really mention it much these days. All three polls in September showed Grassley up between 12 and 17 points.
FOOT IN MOUTH Politico: “SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R) was asked in a debate last week if Donald Trump is a role model for kids. She said ‘absolutely,’ and later had to walk it back. FOOT IN MOUTH 2.0 The Fix “Minutes after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) revealed in a debate Sept. 30 that she had been a victim of domestic violence, her Republican opponent – BUD PIERCE – said that educated women are less susceptible to such abuse. It’s a comment that has given his campaign bad headlines for days and caused one of his top staffers to resign. On Thursday, the fallout continued for Pierce when he told reporters it’s given him name recognition. (FYI, Oregon is not a competitive governor’s race, Fix rates it as safe Democratic.)
NOBODY IS HAVING A BETTER ELECTION YEAR THAN ROB PORTMAN WashPo “A Monmouth University poll published yesterday puts Hillary Clinton ahead in Ohio by 2 points. The same poll has Republican Sen. Rob Portman leading by 15 points.The Buckeye State was supposed to be ground zero in the battle for the Senate. Portman trailed in the polls as recently as this spring, but several handicappers have now taken the race off the map. National Democrats have canceled more than $7 million in Ohio advertising reservations, which has prompted GOP super PACs to follow suit. His surprising strength has increased the odds of the GOP holding onto its majority.
… in a year when The Donald has thrown out the rulebook, the un-Trump is demonstrating the enduring value of running a professional, un-Trumpian campaign. Based on conversations with several operatives on both sides, here are nine explanations for why Portman is running so far ahead of Trump in Ohio:
1. Started early.
2. Carpet bombing his opponent.
3. Turning on trade (former U.S. Trade Rep. came out against the TPP)
4. Picking off labor endorsements.
5. Localizing the race.
6. Passing legislation (The number one issue in Ohio is the opioid epidemic. Portman sponsored a bill called the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that passed the Senate in March.).
7. Doing Hispanic outreach in a state where Latinos account for only 2% of the electorate.
8. Playing for the middle, not the fringe.
9. Investing in the ground game.
VP DEBATE A RATINGS BOMB From CNN Money: About 37.2 million people tuned in to the nine television channels that carried the debate live, according to Nielsen. … The 2012 VP debate, between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, averaged 51.4 million viewers. The Biden-Sarah Palin debate in 2008 ranks as the most-watched VP debate ever, with 69.9 million viewers, largely attributed to curiosity about Palin. The 2004 Dick Cheney-John Edwards match-up drew 43.5 million. To find a lower-rated VP debate than Tuesday, you have to go back to 2000, when 28.5 million people watched Cheney and Joe Lieberman debate. NO IMPACT Politico: “An astounding 84% said the 90-minute tit-for-tat would not change their vote. … .Despite the Beltway narrative that voters would prefer Kaine and Pence to be atop the ticket, the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows it’s a fantasy: Fifty-nine percent say they prefer Trump atop the ticket to Pence, and 84% say they want Clinton as the nominee, and not Kaine.
DEBATE UNDERSCORES THE TRUMP-PENCE GOP FOREIGN POLICY DIVIDE Politico: “Will the real Republican foreign policy please stand up? The morning after Mike Pence offered core foreign policy positions that diverged from those of his running mate, Donald Trump, Republicans puzzled over what to make of them and what, if anything, they might suggest about a potential Trump administration. …”Trump has spent months saying friendly things about Russian President Vladimir Putin and has repeatedly suggested that the U.S. should avoid choosing sides in Syria’s civil war, except to strike the Islamic State. But during his vice presidential debate Tuesday night with Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Pence parted ways with Trump on both those points – arguably the two most important questions in American foreign policy.” TRUMP ON PUTIN? Reuters noted this quote from a rally Wednesday: “I don’t love Putin, I don’t hate. We’ll see how it works. We’ll see. Maybe we’ll have a good relationship. Maybe we’ll have a horrible relationship. Maybe we’ll have a relationship right in the middle.”
THIS WEEK’S UNEXPECTED ENDORSEMENT The Atlantic: “For the third time since The Atlantic’s founding, the editors endorse a candidate for president. “The case for Hillary Clinton” — the magazine previously endorsed Lincoln in 1860 and LBJ in 1964: WHY? “Donald Trump … has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”
The Editorialists Have Spoken; Will Voters Listen?” by NYT’s Jim Rutenberg: “This is the time in the election cycle when media columnists write about whether endorsements have much to do with the outcome. The answer is usually, if not always, ‘no.’ But the question takes on another dimension this year because of the sheer weight of the endorsements against Mr. Trump. They are overwhelmingly against him, and they just keep coming, in language that is notable for its blunt condemnation of the candidate and its ‘save the Republic’ tone … [Atlantic editor Scott Stossel] knows that the power of endorsements can be limited. But, he said, ‘One hopes that our endorsement, along with many of these others, will have an amplification effect that sort of ripples out.’ ‘If it affects only a few people at margins in a few key states,’ he said, ‘that may make a difference.’
WHY THE ORIGINAL ATARI DEM STILL MATTERS Politico: “Millennials will be 27% of the electorate – this is a generation that embraces innovation, that cares enormously about climate and which embraces technology – and there is no better public figure on these three issues than Al Gore. … he helped lead on tech policy that supported the information economy. He embraced disruptive innovation as a tool to advance the human condition. And he fought to address the issue of climate change long before it was politically accepted. Millennials are potentially the dispositive voice in this election – and they over-index when it comes to hearing about solutions for the issues that will continue to define their generation.”
INSIDE THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN by AP: “Each night, Hillary Clinton’s data experts head to a conference room on the 11th floor of her Brooklyn headquarters, to start counting votes. The sessions in the ‘early voter boiler room,’ as it’s been dubbed by campaign aides, stretch into the early hours of the morning. The team pores over turnout patterns in states where advance voting is already underway, projects how many votes Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have already received, and updates crucial targeting lists of the voters she still needs. For Clinton, October is when she’s likely to win or lose the election, not Nov. 8. By the third week of this month, Clinton’s campaign hopes to have a solid enough sample of the early vote to know whether the Democrat is on track to win the White House.”
HOW HACKERS COULD SEND YOUR POLLING STATION INTO CHAOS Technology Review “[E]lection security experts say Internet-connected voter registration databases could prove to be the biggest vulnerability this Election Day. They say election officials should develop contingency plans to safeguard their precincts from cyberattacks, like ensuring that there is a paper record or other kind of reliable backup of the voter database on hand at the polling station.”
ASIAN AMERICAN VOTE A national survey of Asian Americans finds Clinton with a massive 41-point lead over Trump, besting the real estate developer 55% to 14%.
PUERTO RICAN VOTE The Fix “There’s a mass exodus underway from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland. … a range of challenges on the island have dispatched millions of Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland for decades, but as early as the tail end of the 2000s, the epicenter of that relocation activity shifted from traditional places such as New York and New Jersey to the I-4 corridor in Florida. There are so many Puerto Ricans in Florida now that the state’s Democratic-leaning Puerto Rican population was credited with delivering narrow but critical victories in that state to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. In addition to the growth in Central Florida’s Puerto Rican population, more recent Cuban immigrants and Cuban Americans who have never lived on the island are proving a more politically progressive group than those before them. WHY THIS MATTERS? … because Florida remains a much-sought after swing state where the 29 electoral college votes up for grabs makes every presidential candidate and campaign eager to put resources and effort into winning votes in the state. And, it appears that this demographic change is poised to deliver a possible state victory for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
BORN WITH A SILVER SHOVEL IN HIS MOUTH Newsweek “It wasn’t just 1995. Five years of tax information from the 1970s that [Trump] provided to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety show mismanagement and losses that could have pushed him into personal bankruptcy—but for the largesse of his Dad. …Trump’s success in [his first major] deal—as well as every project that preceded it—came because he was born with a silver shovel in his mouth. … Fred Trump personally guaranteed his son’s first construction loan from his banker at Chase Manhattan in 1978, allowing his son to rebuild what is now the Grand Hyatt New York. Through the same banker, Fred also arranged for his son to obtain a personal line of credit of $35 million – issued without so much as even a written agreement. Trump’s personal finances collapsed in the same year.”
U.N. WATCH Antonio Guterres, a socialist former prime minister of Portugal, is the unanimous choice of the United Nations security council to lead the organization, from 2017 to 2021.
Younger adults prefer to get their news in text, not video Pew Research “Digital publishers may be pouring time and energy into cranking up their video operations, but for a lot of their potential viewers, text is still the way to go. … While 46% percent of Americans overall say they prefer to watch the news over reading it, that number is far lower for Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 – only 38% of that group named video as their preferred news consumption format. In contrast, 42% said that they actually prefer text (which they prefer to read online, of course).”
ATTN: ‘NARCOS’ WATCHERS Skimm Today, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos won the prize for his work to bring, yup, peace to his country. Colombia’s been in a 50-year civil war between FARC rebels and the gov. It all started in the 60s when the rebels were part of a communist movement…and over the years, they became involved in the drug trade. More than 200,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in decades of war. After a lot of back-and-forth, Santos and the rebel leader managed to ink a peace deal to stop the fighting. But a few days ago, Colombians gave it a thumbs down in a referendum. The deal was expected to get a ‘si,’ but apparently lots of people thought it conceded too much to the rebels. Despite the rejection, Santos has promised to keep trying to make everyone get along. So the Nobel committee broke him off a peace.”