Dem 48
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Ties 2
GOP 50
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Dem pickups vs. 2012: NV
GOP pickups vs. 2012: ND

PW logo Will ‘Deepfakes’ Disrupt the Midterm Elections?
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Perdue Says Florida Race Is ‘Cotton Pickin’ Important
Hubbell Leads for Iowa Governor
Donnelly Boosts Libertarian Candidate In Indiana

Early Voting Has Already Surpassed 2014 in Nearly a Dozen States

Early voting continues to surge, and in at least 11 states, it has already surpassed the early voting totals for all of 2014 even though there are still a few more days to go before Election Day. There are also two states (Kansas and West Virginia) where more people have voted early in 2018 than in 2016, a presidential year. Here are the numbers:

Early voting

Another interesting fact about the early voting this year is that a substantial number of people are voting for the first time. These could be young people not eligible to vote before, but they could also be older people who have never bothered to vote. Here are those numbers:

First time voters

CNN analyzed the early voting data and found some interesting items. In TX-07, which is a toss-up, nearly 9% of all early voters 22-29 are registered for the first time. Another 6% of early voters in their 30s are new. In contrast, only 1% of seniors 65 and up are new. This could suggest that a lot more young people are coming out of the woodwork to vote than old people. A similar finding holds for TX-23, FL-15, and FL-27. But take that with a jug of salt, since it's a small sample size. (V)

Trump Defends Willie Horton-Style Ad

Ever since Donald Trump posted the ad accusing the Democrats of enabling murderer and undocumented immigrant Luis Bracamontes to his Twitter feed earlier this week, he and the GOP have been getting lambasted from all sides for being racist. Appearing at a rally in West Virginia on Friday evening, Trump felt the need to address the matter, and declared, "They gave me a hard time because I put it up on Twitter and they gave a hard time. They said, 'you shouldn't be doing that! That's not nice!' And I say, all I'm doing is just telling the truth, what can I say?"

It's funny that he should say that. First of all, because the ad itself is based on a lie. As we have noted previously, Bracamontes was deported by the Clinton administration, and then snuck back into the country while George W. Bush was president. Further, he was once detained by "America's toughest sheriff," namely friend-of-Trump Joe Arpaio, and then released for unknown reasons. In other words, if one is looking for a specific example to use in order to tar Democrats for their ideas about immigration, Bracamontes is about the worst possible one to use.

Beyond that—and this should really come as no surprise—Trump has amped up the lying in recent weeks. In part, because lying is like a drug, and the more you get away with it, the more you do it. And in part because it's campaign season, and he's been making a lot of appearances before a lot of raucous crowds. The only shocking thing is exactly how much he's turned up the dial. For the first year of his presidency, he was averaging about five lies a day, and in the second year that slowly crept up to about 7.5 a day. In October, though, his average jumped to a staggering 35.6 lies a day, including one day (October 22, the day of the Ted Cruz rally) where he issued forth with an amazing 83 whoppers. To squeeze that many in, you pretty much have to lie about everything. It must be hard for him to order lunch on days like that, since the staff can't be certain about what he actually wants to eat.

Of course, the biggest problem is not the lies, per se, but the fact that lots of people take what he is saying as the truth and as a call to action. In the case of Robert Bowers, of Tree of Life Synagogue infamy, it is about 95% certain that he was egged on by the President's words and actions. In the case of pipe bomber Cesar Sayoc, it is about 99% certain. And on Friday, we got our first 100%. The Nigerian army, among the world's most cruel and corrupt military forces, opened fire on rock-throwing protesters and killed at least 40 of them. Then, they posted a clip to their official Twitter account of Trump's Thursday remarks about opening fire on rock throwers.

Normally, once the midterms end, the American people get a breather from politics and politicians for a while. That's not likely to happen this time; Trump is already getting his lying ducks in a row for after the ballots are counted (see below). And if the Democrats do take the House, and put the screws to him, he's undoubtedly going to pull a full Star Trek when it comes to his relationship to the truth, and boldly go where no man has gone before. (Z)

Trump Is Preparing to Claim Victory Even If the Republicans Lose the House

Speaking of mega-sized Trumpian lies, The Washington Post is reporting that Donald Trump will claim victory even if Democrats capture the House. There is a precedent for this:

George Orwell quote

Of course George Orwell used it in a novel. Fiction is different from reality, or at least it used to be. If the Republicans pick up a Senate seat and go from 51 to 52, that is all Trump will talk about. He won't mention the House or all the governorships that everyone expects the Republicans to lose. The Senate is likely to be the only bright spot for the GOP Tuesday evening and so he will focus like a laser on it.

An internal memo White House Political Director Bill Stepien wrote earlier this year said that the Republicans' goal was to minimize their losses. So if Democrats win 30 seats in the House and reporters pester him about how that is a win, he might grudgingly say: "We were expecting to lose 50, so losing only 30 is a win." Of course "winning" and "losing" are not measured against your expectations, but against the situation before the election.

Another argument Trump may make if the Republicans pick up a seat or two in the Senate, which is possible, is that in the past 80 years, the president's party has picked up a grand total of seven Senate seats in midterms, so this year's pickup is phenomenal. He might also say something like: "Who cares about the House? It's the Senate that approves judicial nominees." Of course, in the event that the Democrats win both the House and Senate, he'll have to change the script a bit, but that seems unlikely at the moment. (V)

Judge Rules that "Exact Match" Rules in Georgia Do Not Apply in the Midterms

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is running for governor of Georgia, is vigorously enforcing a new law that says if a voter's name on his or her registration form does not exactly match the name on other government documents, the person's registration is marked "pending" and the person will have to cast a provisional ballot. For example, if the voter registration says "Brian P. Kemp" but the driver's license says "Brian Kemp," that would block the person from voting, even if all the other data matched correctly.

Yesterday, Eleanor L. Ross, also known as Eleanor Ross and as Eleanor Louise Ross, who is a federal judge in Georgia appointed by Barack Obama, ruled that enforcing the law would cause people "irreparable harm if they lose the right to vote." In her injunction, she said that people flagged for not matching can cast a normal ballot if they can demonstrate their eligibility. Almost 47,000 people have been flagged so far, which could be enough to swing a close election. This decision is a victory for the Democrats because a disproportionate number of people affected by it are minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic. Unless there is an emergency appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, Ross' ruling will hold through Election Day. (V)

Supreme Court Refuses to Delay Trial about the Census

When the Trump administration announced that it was adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, a number of states and civil rights organizations sued the government, accusing it of an improper political motive, namely to scare immigrants, legal and otherwise, from answering the questions, thus undercounting them. The trial is scheduled to begin in New York next week. The administration asked the Supreme Court to delay the trial, but yesterday the Court refused to do so.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has given many contradictory reasons for including the question, none of which are even slightly plausible. In a court document, Ross said that the idea may have come from former White House adviser Steve Bannon. However, in testimony to Congress this year, when asked if he had discussed the idea with anyone in the White House, Ross said: "I am not aware of any such." Clearly he was lying in either the court document or to Congress.

Even if the trial goes forward, the case will eventually come back to the Supreme Court, which could easily rule that the Secretary of Commerce has the authority to determine the census questions. Actually, he does have the authority, so that's not so much of a problem for Ross. However, his intent in adding (or deleting, or rewording) questions cannot be discriminatory. Given that the new rule appears to be discriminatory on its face, and given all the different tales that Ross has spun, and given that the idea appears to have had its origin with noted xenophobes Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, it's going to be pretty hard for the Court to sustain the administration's position.

While we are on the subject of trials not being delayed, federal judge Peter Messitte in Maryland ruled yesterday that the attorneys general of Maryland and D.C. can proceed with discovery in their suit claiming that Donald Trump has violated the Constitution's emoluments clause. They are almost certainly going to subpoena records from the Trump International Hotel to find out how much profit he has made from foreign governments buying large blocks of rooms there. They may also try to get Trump's tax returns. Messitte ruled earlier that Maryland and D.C. had standing to sue because foreign governments using Trump's hotel rather than comparable (and possibly cheaper) ones in Maryland and D.C. would have caused the Maryland and D.C. hotels to unfairly lose business. (V)

Trump Set to Tap Nauert for UN Post

With Nikki Haley about to exit stage right (just before that exit is likely to get very, very crowded), the Trump administration needs a new emissary to the United Nations. And, it would appear that they have made their pick: State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

Nauert's qualifications for the post are as follows:

  1. She is a woman
  2. She used to work for Fox News

The first is important because the high-profile members of the administration are almost all white men, and most of the exceptions (Ben Carson, Elaine Chao, Kirstjen Nielsen) are not very good on camera. With Haley gone, Trump needs at least one high-profile person who is not a white man to make his team look "diverse." And the second is important because the job of the new ambassador will primarily be to go on television and tote the administration's water. It is instructive that, if she is not tapped for the U.N. post, she is in line to be the next White House Press Secretary when Sarah Huckabee Sanders quits.

What Nauert does not have is any real diplomatic experience, but for this administration, it's not so important that one of America's most prominent diplomats be...well, a diplomat. It remains to be seen if she can make it through the Senate; even with a GOP majority, that body has been reluctant to advance certain unqualified candidates, like Adm. Ronny Jackson. (Z)

Cory Booker Can Run for President and Senator in 2020

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) would love to be president, but he had a problem: He is also up for reelection in 2020 and the state constitution prohibits running for two offices at the same time. Of course, he could just forget about the Senate and run for president, but he doesn't want to do that, given the low odds of his getting the presidential nomination. Fortunately, the Democratic-controlled New Jersey state legislature came to his rescue and passed a bill saying running for Congress or the White House doesn't count for purposes of the law (which would ostensibly mean that it only applies to state-level offices like governor and assembly member). Yesterday, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) signed the bill. Whether a law can override the state constitution is questionable, but the issue will come to a head only if Booker wins the presidential nomination and still wants to run for the Senate. (V)

Military Hackers Have Permission to Attack Russia if it Interferes with the Election

U.S. military hackers are preparing to attack Russia's computers if the Russians interfere with the midterms. The directive authorizing such an attack makes it clear that posting fake news to social media does not constitute interference, but if they penetrated voting systems and changed voter registrations or changed vote totals, that would meet the threshold.

The U.S. hackers have likely already started penetrating Russian systems so they can start inflicting damage quickly if so ordered by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats or Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. If the hackers got the go ahead signal, we would have an out-and-out cyberwar. Not surprisingly, U.S. officials are happy to talk about their plans to attack Russia if need be (tip to Vlad: Be very, very careful) but not at all happy to talk about what the retaliation would consist of. Since Russian elections are a sham, the retaliation might consist of turning off vital Russian infrastructure, such as electricity in Moscow, or attacking Russian military systems. (V)

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Kyrsten Sinema 52% Martha McSally 48% Oct 27 Oct 30 Vox Populi
California Dianne Feinstein* 36% Kevin de Leon (D) 29% Oct 10 Oct 24 YouGov
Florida Bill Nelson* 50% Rick Scott 50% Oct 27 Oct 30 Vox Populi
New Jersey Bob Menendez* 51% Bob Hugin 39% Oct 25 Oct 31 Stockton U.
Pennsylvania Bob Casey* 54% Lou Barletta 40% Oct 28 Nov 01 Muhlenberg Coll.
Tennessee Phil Bredesen 44% Marsha Blackburn 44% Oct 22 Oct 29 East Tennessee State U.
Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin* 53% Leah Vukmir 44% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov02 Fear and Loathing in Washington, D.C.
Nov02 Battleground Poll: Democrats Favored to Flip the House
Nov02 Some Encouraging Early Signs for the Democrats
Nov02 The Ten Known Unknowns Affecting the Midterms
Nov02 Why Is the Midwest Trending Blue?
Nov02 Judge Refuses to Block "Address Law" in North Dakota
Nov02 Republican Super PAC Goes Dark in West Virginia
Nov02 Today's Senate Polls
Nov01 Trump Smacks Ryan, Conway Smacks Trump
Nov01 A Rough Day for Trump
Nov01 Mueller Targeted by Sexual Misconduct Scam
Nov01 The Geography of Not Voting
Nov01 Why Young People Don't Vote
Nov01 DCCC Raised $250 Million This Cycle
Nov01 Wall Street Backs Democrats
Nov01 Thursday Q & A
Nov01 Today's Senate Polls
Oct31 Trump Plans to End Birthright Citizenship
Oct31 Pence Can Be Tone Deaf, Too
Oct31 Veterans Unhappy about Trump "Stunt"
Oct31 Five Takeaways from Indiana Senate Debate
Oct31 Democrats Bank on Women to Flip the House
Oct31 It's Not a Wave, It's a Realignment
Oct31 Axelrod Warns that Democrats Are Playing Trump's Game
Oct31 Republicans Pull the Plug on Steve King
Oct31 Today's Senate Polls
Oct30 Trumps to Visit Pittsburgh
Oct30 Trump Says He Will Answer "Some" of Mueller's Questions
Oct30 Most of Trump's Day is "Executive Time"
Oct30 Trump to Rally Like It's Going out of Style
Oct30 Larry Sabato Changes Gubernatorial Ratings
Oct30 State Legislatures Are Also Up for Grabs
Oct30 SCOTUS Won't Overturn Pennsylvania Map
Oct30 Carter Calls for Kemp To Resign
Oct30 Today's Senate Polls
Oct29 Fallout from Synagogue Shooting Continues
Oct29 Half a Dozen Cabinet Officers Could Leave after the Elections
Oct29 Whatever Happens in the Midterms, GOP Is Going to Get More Extreme
Oct29 Voter Enthusiasm Is Sky High
Oct29 Democrats Raise More in October, but Republicans Have More Cash on Hand
Oct29 Factors that Could Determine Who Wins the Missouri Senate Race
Oct29 Monday Q & A
Oct29 Today's Senate Polls
Oct28 Terrorist Attack on Pittsburgh Synagogue
Oct28 CNN, Cook Political Report Update House Ratings, Mostly in Democrats' Direction
Oct28 Keith Ellison Is Flailing
Oct28 Gas Tax Hail Mary Is Falling Flat for California GOP
Oct28 This Week's Senate News
Oct28 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Terry McAuliffe
Oct27 Bombing Suspect Arrested