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Wake Up To Politics - October 21, 2020

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Campaign 2020

Four encouraging data points for each party

Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump comfortably in national and state polls — as has been the case for several months now.

Yet, Democrats and Republicans are reportedly fearing the worse as Election Day creeps closer. So today, let’s look beyond the topline poll numbers and consider four reasons each party might have to feel good about their 2020 odds:


1. They have a substantial edge in early voting. According to the U.S. Elections Project, a stunning 37.9 million people have already voted in the 2020 general election — that’s 27% of the total votes that were cast in 2016. Of the 19 states that provide party data, 52.8% of votes cast have been by registered Democrats, compared to just 25.2% by registered Republicans.

  • But: Not every vote cast by a registered Democrat is necessarily a vote Democratic candidates, and Republicans are hopeful that they can make up the gap by outpacing Democrats in Election Day voting.

2. They have a considerable cash advantage. Both presidential campaigns filed their latest fundraising reports on Tuesday, and the news was not promising for the Trump team. The president’s re-election campaign reported having only $63.1 million in cash on hand at the end of September, while Biden’s campaign had $177.3 million in the bank — almost three times as much their rivals. Biden’s newfound financial prowess is a stark turnaround from earlier in the race.  

3. The Senate map seems to be turning in their direction. The election forecaster Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved the Iowa Senate race into the Democratic column on Tuesday. The outfit now predicts that Democrats will win at least 50 Senate seats (which would constitute a majority if joined by a Democratic vice president). The Cook Political Report, another leading forecaster, also declared earlier this month that “Democrats are now the clear favorite to flip control of the Senate.” The map of potential Democratic pick-up opportunities has significantly expanded in recent weeks, as polls show races from South Carolina to Georgia to Kansas could be in play.

  • But: One key Senate race, North Carolina, appears to be tightening as Democrat Cal Cunningham battles a sexting scandal. The race was once thought to be the linchpin for Democratic hopes of flipping the chamber, although movement in other races may mean they can now afford to lose it.

4. Trump’s lead on the economy is evaporating. President Trump has placed his ability to restore the economy to its pre-pandemic highs at the forefront of his campaign — and for most of the campaign, even as he has trailed Joe Biden in national polls, he has retained an advantage when it came to who voters trusted to steward the economy. That advantage seems to be slipping away. A New York Times/Siena poll released Tuesday found that Trump and Biden are now statistically tied (48% to 47%) when voters were asked who they trusted more on economic issues. (Biden led Trump in every other issue tested). A Politico/Morning Consult poll released today found a similar result: 45% of voters said they trusted Biden on the economy, 44% said Trump.


1. They are registering more new voters. According to the Associated Press, Republicans have cut into Democrats’ voter registration advantage in three key states: Florida (146,644 more GOP registrations than Democratic registrations since March), Pennsylvania (103,171 more GOP registrations since November), and Arizona (30,000 more GOP registrations since mid-August). Like early voting numbers, new registrations is far from a telltale sign of victory, but Republican official say it shows an on-the-ground enthusiasm that Democrats lack.

  • But: Democrats still maintain a lead in total registrations in Florida and Pennsylvania, even if Republicans have outpaced them in new registrations.2. They have a record number of campaign volunteers. Republicans have been able to register so many new voters partly because of a surge in campaign volunteers. According to a spokesperson, the Trump campaign now boasts 2.5 million volunteers nationwide, breaking the record of 2.2 million set by Barack Obama. The Trump campaign has also been knocking on doors — more than 1 million a week, as of August — while Biden’s team has moved to reaching voters only by phone or text amid the pandemic. President Trump also points to his rollicking rallies as another sign of the GOP enthusiasm edge; Biden has not been seen in public all week, holding no events while he prepares for Thursday’s debate.

    3. Trump is gaining ground among Black and Hispanic voters. According to FiveThirtyEight, Trump has improved his support among Hispanic voters by 14% from 2016 and by 9% among Black voters, particularly gaining among men of both races. Those may seem like small gains, but it pierces the traditional Democratic wall of support among both groups and could confirm signs of a rightward trend among those demographics — as well as another cycle of disappointing minority turnout for Democrats.
  • But: Democrats still have large leads among both Black and Hispanic voters, and — even more worrying for Republicans — they are cutting into the GOP lead among white voters, especially those in suburban areas with college degrees. 4. They are winning public opinion on the Supreme Court. Both the New York Times/Siena and Politico/Morning Consult polls showed a plurality of voters siding with Republicans on whether Judge Amy Coney Barrett should be confirmed to the Supreme Court: in the former survey, 44% backed her confirmation while 42% were opposed; in the latter, 51% were supportive while 28% were opposed. According to Morning Consult, it is a higher level of public support than either of Trump’s previous Supreme Court nominees received; pluralities of Democrats and Independents backed Barrett’s confirmation in the poll. Further suggesting that Republicans are winning the judicial messaging war: the Times poll also found that a majority of voters (58%) said Democrats should not attempt to expand the size of the Supreme Court if they win in November. Just 31% said they were in favor of court-packing.


    Less than two weeks before Election Day, there are glimmers of hope for both parties amid the swarm of polls, early vote tallies, and voter registration numbers. And as a result, neither party is counting on victory on November 3.

    “This race is far closer than some of the punditry we’re seeing on Twitter and on TV would suggest,” Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, wrote in a memo to supporters last week. “In the key battleground states where this election will be decided, we remain neck and neck with Donald Trump.”

    Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, concurred in a conference call with reporters on Monday. “I don’t agree with the Biden campaign about very much, but I do agree with their assertion that this is a close race,” he said.

The Rundown

McConnell warns White House against stimulus deal: “Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, privately told Republican senators on Tuesday that he had warned the White House not to strike a pre-election deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a new round of stimulus, moving to head off an agreement that President Trump has demanded but most in his party oppose.”

“Mr. McConnell’s remarks, confirmed by four Republicans familiar with them, threw cold water on Mr. Trump’s increasingly urgent push to enact a new round of pandemic aid before Election Day. They came just as Ms. Pelosi offered an upbeat assessment of her negotiations with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, telling Democrats that their latest conversation had yielded ‘common ground as we move closer to an agreement.’ ” (New York Times)

Trump urges Barr to investigate Bidens: “President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on Attorney General William Barr to immediately launch an investigation into unverified claims about Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter, effectively demanding that the Justice Department muddy his political opponent and abandon its historic resistance to getting involved in elections.”

“With just two weeks to go before Election Day, Trump for the first time explicitly called on Barr to investigate the Bidens and even pointed to the nearing Nov. 3 election as reason that Barr should not delay taking action. Trump has been leveling accusations of corruption against Biden without verified evidence for months, but is stepping up the pressure in the final days of the campaign.” (Associated Press)

Lawyers can’t find parents of 545 migrant children separated by Trump administration: “Lawyers appointed by a federal judge to identify migrant families who were separated by the Trump administration say that they have yet to track down the parents of 545 children and that about two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central America without their children, according to a filing Tuesday from the American Civil Liberties Union.”

“The Trump administration instituted a ‘zero tolerance’ policy in 2018 that separated migrant children and parents at the southern U.S. border. The administration later confirmed that it had actually begun separating families in 2017 along some parts of the border under a pilot program. The ACLU and other pro-bono law firms were tasked with finding the members of families separated during the pilot program.” (NBC News)


All times Eastern.

President Donald Trump will hold a campaign rally in Gastonia, North Carolina, at 7 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence will hold campaign events in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at 1:30 p.m. and Cincinnati, Ohio, at 6 p.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has no public events scheduled.

  • Former President Barack Obama will headline his first in-person campaign event for Biden, holding a drive-in rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will hold “early vote mobilization events” in Asheville, North Carolina, at 11:55 a.m. and Charlotte, North Carolina, at 6:45 p.m. She will also attend a pair of virtual fundraisers.

The Senate will vote on the $500 billion coronavirus relief package authored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The House is not in session.

The Supreme Court is not in session.

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