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Wake Up To Politics - October 19, 2020

It’s Monday, October 19, 2020. Election Day is 15 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

New: The latest episode of the Wake Up To Politics Podcast takes a deep dive into the Electoral College, how it was created, and how it works. Listen to “Who Actually Picks the President?”

Campaign 2020

Where do the races for the White House and Congress stand, with a little more than two weeks to go until Election Day? Here are four things you should know:

1. A record level of votes have already been cast. More than 28.1 million Americans have already voted early in-person or by mail in the 2020 election, according to data collected by the U.S. Elections Project. That’s a historic level of early voting, accounting for 20% of the total votes that were cast in the 2016 general election. In-person early voting opens in five more states today, as well as in 52 out of 67 counties in the battleground state of Florida.

TargetSmart, a Democratic firm, projects that Democrats have cast 51% of those early votes, compared to 38% by Republicans and 10% by unaffiliated voters. But it can be risky to extrapolate final results from early voting trends, especially in a year like 2020: while Democratic campaigns have promoted mail-in voting for months now, Republicans are counting on a surge of in-person Election Day voting that could offset their early voting disadvantage.

2. Democrats are outraising and outspending Republicans across the map. At the outset of the 2020 campaign, President Trump’s fundraising machine — which his aides referred to as the “Death Star” — far outpaced Joe Biden’s. Democrats have quickly caught up in the final weeks: Biden outraised Trump by about $135 million in September. Trump is also being outspent by his opponent, particularly in television advertising: according to the New York Times, Biden now claims a nearly 2-to-1 advantage on the airwaves, as a cash shortage has forced Trump to scale back on ads in key states.

But the Democratic “green tsunami” is not just limited to the presidential level. As the Washington Post notes, “every Democratic Senate candidate running in the 15 races considered competitive outraised his or her Republican opponent,” taking in a combined $370 million, compared to $150 million for the GOP candidates. In the fundraising quarter that ended in September, three Democratic Senate candidates — Jaime Harrison of South Carolina, Sara Gideon of Maine, and Mark Kelly of Arizona — eclipsed the previous record for a quarterly fundraising haul that had been set by Beto O’Rourke in 2018.

3. Trump is reprising many of his 2016 tactics. President Trump called for his Democratic rival to be jailed on Friday, repeating a familiar slogan during a rally in Georgia: “You should lock them up. Lock up the Bidens.” Trump was referring to a New York Post story on unverified emails allegedly showing Biden’s son, Hunter, introducing a Ukrainian businessman to his father. According to NBC News, federal investigators are probing whether the emails “are linked to a foreign intelligence operation.” (They were provided to the Post by Rudy Giuliani, who has previously been the target of influence operations by Russian intelligence; even some Post reporters apparently had concerns about the story.)

This is the second consecutive election in which Trump, reportedly boosted by a foreign power, has leaned on an email-related scandal to call for his opponent to be arrested. As he attempts another come-from-behind victory, Trump has brought back many of his 2016 lines of attack in recent weeks. But he faces a considerable challenge: his 2020 rival, Joe Biden, is significantly more popular than his last one, Hillary Clinton. But polls also showed Trump trailing Clinton, and some Democrats are equally focused on the possibility that 2020 could end up looking like a 2016 redux.

4. Cracks are appearing in Trump’s wall of Republican support. Also just like 2016, some congressional Republicans are seeking to distance themselves from Trump in the campaign’s final weeks, hoping to avoid the “bloodbath” they sense on the horizon. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse launched the chorus of GOP criticism when he told constituents in a conference call last week that Trump “kisses dictators’ butts,” “sells out our allies,” and has “flirted with white supremacists.”

Texas Sen. John Cornyn soon joined, publicly airing his disagreements with the president for the first time in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Prominent Trump allies from former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have also begun lightly criticizing the president in recent weeks, a sign that GOP leaders are beginning to contemplate the party’s post-Trump future.


The world is experiencing a full surge of the coronavirus. “The United States surpassed eight million known cases this past week, and reported more than 70,000 new infections on Friday, the most in a single day since July. Eighteen states added more new coronavirus infections during the seven-day stretch ending on Friday than in any other week of the pandemic,” the New York Times reports.

“In Europe, cases are rising and hospitalizations are up. Britain is imposing new restrictions, and France has placed cities on ‘maximum alert, ordering many to close all bars, gyms and sports centers. Germany and Italy set records for the most new daily cases. And leaders in the Czech Republic described their health care system as “in danger of collapsing,” as hospitals are overwhelmed and more deaths are occurring than at any time in the pandemic.”

Time is running out for the White House and Congress to strike a stimulus deal before the election. “The fate of additional stimulus for the U.S. economy before next month’s election will be decided this week, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi setting a Tuesday deadline to reach an agreement with the White House — though it remains doubtful that the Republican-controlled Senate will accept any deal they strike,” Bloomberg News reports.

“President Donald Trump said he’s ready to match the $2.2 trillion spending levels demanded by Democrats — or go higher — despite repeated warnings by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that most GOP senators will oppose any coronavirus relief package that big.”


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will campaign in Arizona, holding rallies in Phoenix at 2 p.m. and in Tucson at 5 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence will hold campaign rallies in Hermon, Maine, at 11:30 a.m. and New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, at 4 p.m.  

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has no public events scheduled.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will campaign in Florida, holding an “early vote drive-in rally” in Orlando at 11:15 a.m. and an “early vote mobilization event” in Jacksonville at 4:40 p.m. She will also attend a virtual fundraiser.

Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgenson will hold a campaign event in Knoxville, Tennesse, at 6 p.m.

The Senate will convene at 4:30 p.m. and resume consideration of the nomination of Michael Jay Newman to be a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio.

The House is not in session.

The Supreme Court will release orders from its Friday conference at 9:30 a.m.

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