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Wake Up To Politics - November 2, 2020

It’s Monday, November 2, 2020. Election Day is tomorrow. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

My latest podcast episode is out. The episode is all about what to expect on Election Night, featuring interviews with Fox News Decision Desk Director Arnon Mishkin and election analyst Niles Francis. Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

ICYMI: My full interview with “West Wing” actor Bradley Whitford can be found here. Thank you to the readers who pointed out that Friday’s newsletter contained a broken link.

The first round of WUTP merch has been shipped! Thank you so much to those of you who ordered face masks, shirts, hoodies, and more. If you haven’t yet, you can get your own here. Once you get yours in the mail, send me a picture wearing your WUTP gear (especially while watching election returns), and you might be featured in the newsletter.

  • And thanks to the readers who shared the newsletter with their friends last week — the randomly selected winners of the mug or face mask are: David Stopp, Ariel Frager, Barbara Melton, Peter Engel, and Ella Fernandez. Congratulations! I will be in touch with you soon. And stay tuned for more promotions.

Campaign 2020

Five things to watch on Election Eve

Exactly 1,382 days after President Donald Trump formally launched his 2020 re-election campaign (on the day of his 2017 inauguration), and one historic impeachment and one global pandemic later, Election Day is finally in sight.

Here are five things to pay attention to as the 2020 campaign winds down:

The race in Pennsylvania. With just one more day of campaigning left, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, his running mate Kamala Harris, and their spouses are barnstorming Pennsylvania today. President Trump made a swing through the state on Saturday and will be returning for a rally today; Vice President Mike Pence will make several stops there today as well.

If there is one state that is crucial — although not necessarily essential — for both campaigns, it is Pennsylvania. Whoever wins the state’s 20 electoral votes on Tuesday night will be in the driver’s seat, although both parties are preparing for legal disputes there in case the results are not clear until the following weeks.

As FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver points out, Biden’s continues to lead the polls in Pennsylvania, but by a notably thinner margin (~5%) than his advantage in the two other “Blue Wall” states Trump flipped in 2016: Michigan and Wisconsin (about ~8% each), a gap that has “actually grown in the waning days of the election.”

The polls. The final round of 2020 state polling is mostly in, and — in line with the past several months — it is mostly good news for Biden. In major surveys released today or over the weekend, he led a Washington Post/ABC poll of Pennsylvania (+7); New York Times/Siena polls of Florida (+3), Arizona (+6), Pennsylvania (+6), and Wisconsin (+11); and a Monmouth poll of Pennsylvania (+7).  

Trump, meanwhile, led a Post/ABC poll in Florida (+2) and a Des Moines Register poll in Iowa (+7), which Nate Cohn of the New York Times called the president’s “best poll of the cycle.”

According to the Times, if the polls in each state were as wrong as they were in 2016, Biden would still be leading by at least 2% in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — which would be enough to win him the White House, granted he also picks up the electoral vote in Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district. But if the polls are off by that much, his margin in each state would be threadbare, a scenario that spooks many Democrats still wrestling with PTSD from Trump’s come-from-behind victory in 2016.

The early vote. As of 8 a.m. Eastern Time, almost 95 million early votes have already been cast in the United States, which accounts for about 68% of the total votes counted in the 2016 general election. Two states — deep-blue Hawaii and purpling Texas — have already exceeded their 2016 turnout before Election Day has arrived.

Polls have suggested for months that Biden supporters were preparing to vote early (either by mail or in-person) in greater numbers, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Democrats have a sizable early-vote advantage in the states that report party registration data. But the flood of early votes that have been cast create a clear challenge for Trump: can he push enough voters to the polls on Tuesday, to counteract the votes that Biden has already banked in the last few weeks? As usual, it will all come down turnout.

The virus. The sprawling health crisis that has repeatedly upended the 2020 race is only worsening in the campaign’s closing days. The number of U.S. coronavirus cases surged past 9 million on Friday, the same day that the nation reported nearly 100,00 new infections — a record.

Cases are now rising in 38 states, including every presidential battleground, followed closely by hospitalizations and deaths. As the U.S. fall surge comes into focus, President Trump has continued to spar with his public health advisers, especially Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. Despite Trump’s assertion that the U.S. is “rounding the turn,” Fauci warned on Friday that the United States “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” for the coming winter.

The White House fired back at Fauci, calling his comments “unacceptable,” while Trump suggested at a Sunday night rally in Florida that he might soon dismiss the doctor. “Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!” his supporters chanted at the rally, to which the president responded: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice.”

The possibility of overtime. The final question shadowing the last chapter of the 2020 race is whether it even will be the last chapter after all. Democrats and Republicans alike are gearing up for court battles in key states, with partisan clashes brewing over the tallying of mail-in votes.

Trump signaled last night that he will quickly begin litigating the election promptly: “We’re going to go in night of,” he told reporters in North Carolina. “As soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers.” According to a report by Axios, the president plans to declare victory on Tuesday night if the vote totals in by then show him “ahead.”

Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, claimed on Sunday that margins changing in key states after Election Day ends will be the result of Democratic “hijinks.” In fact, vote totals are never finalized on Election Night, and since some states could take days to count the swarm of mail-in ballots they expected to receive, it would not be illegitimate at all for votes to continue to be counted after November 3.

Today on the Trail

All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will hold campaign rallies in Fayetteville, North Carolina (11:45 am); Avoca, Pennsylvania (2:15 pm); Traverse City, Michigan (5:15 pm); Kenosha, Wisconsin (8 pm); and Grand Rapids, Michigan (10:30 pm).

  • Vice President Mike Pence will campaign in Pennsylvania, holding rallies in Latrobe (11:30 am) and Erie (1:50 pm). He will also join the president at the rallies in Traverse City and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • First Lady Melania Trump will hold a campaign event in Huntersville, North Carolina (4 pm).
  • Ivanka Trump will hold campaign events in Eaton Rapids, Michigan (12:30 pm), and Des Moines, Iowa (4 pm).
  • Donald Trump Jr. will hold a campaign event in Scottsdale, Arizona (12 pm).
  • Lara Trump will campaign in Florida, holding events in Palm Beach Gardens (10 am), Coral Springs (12 pm), and Miami (2:30 pm).

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will campaign in Ohio, holding an event in Cleveland, and in Pennsylvania, holding a canvass kick-off with union members and labor leaders in Beaver County (2:40 pm), a drive-in event with African-American voters in Pittsburgh (5:40 pm), and a drive-in rally with Lady Gaga in Pittsburgh (7 pm).

  • Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will campaign in Pennsylvania, holding a canvass kick-off in Luzerne County (11:20 am), an event with Latino voters in the Lehigh Valley (1:05 pm), and a drive-in rally with John Legend in Philadelphia (7 pm).
  • Dr. Jill Biden will campaign in Pennsylvania, holding a canvass kick-off in Erie (11:10 am), an event with rural voters in Lawrence County (1:35 pm), and an event with suburban women in Allegheny County (3 pm). She will also attend the Pittsburgh rally with her husband.
  • Doug Emhoff will campaign in Pennsylvania, holding a canvass kick-off in Lancaster (11:30 am), an event with veterans in Ephrata (12:30 pm), and events in Montgomery County (3 pm) and Bucks County (4:15 pm). He will also attend the Philadelphia rally with his wife.
  • Former President Barack Obama will hold a drive-in rally in Atlanta, Georgia, and a rally in Miami, Florida.

Today in Washington

All times Eastern.

The Senate is not in session.

The House will meet at 10 am for a pro forma session.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases, the first with Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the bench:

  • United States Fish and Wildlife Serv. v. Sierra Club: The justices will delve into the Freedom of Information Act, which enshrines the public’s right to access government records – except, among other exceptions, documents that were part of government officials’ “deliberative process” when making policy. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service argues that it cannot release informal documents from 2014 because they were part of a deliberative process; the Sierra Club argues that even though these documents were informal, that doesn’t mean they were deliberative, as they explained and shaped the outcome of the government’s policy on water cooling systems. The Supreme Court will decide when the U.S. government is allowed to withhold documents from a curious public.
  • Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Bd.: When railroads deny their workers disability benefits, workers can appeal their cases to federal courts. But when exactly are their cases reviewable? The Supreme Court will consider that complex question this morning, taking into account a morass of prior cases, the Railroad Retirement Act, and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act during the hourlong oral arguments.

— Supreme Court case summaries contributed by Anna Salvatore

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