Biden 368
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Trump 170
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Dem 53
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Ties 1
GOP 46
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  • Strongly Dem (217)
  • Likely Dem (56)
  • Barely Dem (95)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (44)
  • Likely GOP (53)
  • Strongly GOP (73)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2016 2012 2008
Dem pickups vs. 2016: AZ FL GA MI NC OH PA WI
GOP pickups vs. 2016: (None)
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Back in 2004, Eric Paulson wrote the software for us that produces the map from a data file. Without that, the site couldn't have survived. He is now trying to raise money on Kickstarter to produce trading cards for each of the members of the Congress to be elected tomorrow. Here are two sample cards from this year's Congress. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) may or may not be in next year's set. Our best guess is that AOC will make it.

Congressional trading cards
If you are interested, check it out here.

Biden Maintains a Stable Lead in the National Polls

Here is the RealClearPolitics graph of the national polls from Oct. 1, 2020 until Oct. 31, 2020.

National polls for October

Talk about stable. Joe Biden was between 50% and 52% the entire month. Donald Trump was between 41.5% and 43.5% the entire month. Or, in other words, Biden was 51.0 ±1% for all of October and Trump was 42.5 ±1% for the month. Nothing moved the needle. Not the debate, not the bogus story about Hunter Biden bringing a laptop to a Trump supporter for repair and not bothering to pick it up, not the campaigns spending hundreds of millions of dollars on ads, not the rallies. Nothing. An October surprise is out of the question now, since Halloween has come and gone. Could there be a November surprise? It's theoretically possible, but would it have any impact? It would have to be awfully big and with almost 100 million votes already cast, it's hard to see how it could matter much.

Last Thursday we had the RCP average going back 3 months, which is slightly bumpier, but for October it's been very stable. The purple lines are 6-points apart so you can see that at no time during October has Trump been within 6 points of Biden. According to the simulations FiveThirtyEight has done, with a 6-point difference, the probability of the Electoral College going the same way as the popular vote is greater than 99%, so a freak accident as in 2016 (where 77,000 votes in three states, out of 14 million there, flipped the Electoral College) is very unlikely.

Also note—and this is very important—Biden has never dipped below 50%, which means even if all the 5-6% undecided voters all go for Trump, that won't be enough to give Trump the popular vote. The one footnote here is that Trump is working 24/7 to disqualify as many ballots as he can. His only real chance of winning is being able to disqualify a sufficient number of voters in all (or most of) the swing states.

Four new national polls released yesterday confirm the graph above. A WSJ/NBC News poll has Biden up by 10 points nationally, an IBD/TIPP poll has him leading by 6, a USC/Dornsife poll has Biden ahead by 12, and a CCES/YouGov poll has Biden up by 10. These average to a 9.5-point lead. Keep in mind that Hillary Clinton had a lead of 3 points in the national polls just before the 2016 election. Biden has triple that.

As to the all-important Electoral College, excluding the toss-up states (those with a white center in the map), Biden is leading 273 to 126 EVs. His lead in the non-tossup states has been stable since June, as shown here:

Electoral vote time series

This means that even if Trump wins all eight toss-up states, that won't be enough. He has to regain at least one of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Michigan is too far gone. If Trump wins all eight toss-up states and either Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, he passes 270, but that doesn't leave much room for error.

But we are very skeptical about Nevada being a toss-up. There was one new poll yesterday from Emerson Coll. that reduced Biden's lead there from 8 points to 4 points, so we are now scoring it as a toss-up. But suppose we assume Nevada is going blue. In that case Biden would have 279 "safe" electoral votes. However, if Trump were to win the seven remaining toss-ups and also Wisconsin, it would be 269-269. But wait!—that means that NE-02 (Omaha) could decide the election and Biden has been leading there by 4-5 points for months. This is not reflected in our map or totals. In 2004, we didn't envision Omaha being the ultimate swing city, so the software can't handle splits in Maine or Nebraska. Sorry. This scenario would give Omaha more attention than it has had since the last time William Jennings Bryan gave a speech there in 1908.

If Trump does win all the toss-ups, it could come down to Pennsylvania and how many people there cast an (invalid) naked ballot. Currently, 1.591 million Democrats, 553,000 Republicans, and 244,000 independents have already voted in the aptly named Keystone State. That's a million-plus lead for the Democrats. In 2016, 6.1 million Pennsylvanians voted in total. If the same number vote this year, it means that 3.7 million Pennsylvanians are yet to vote. To capture the state, Trump would need to get 63% of the remaining votes. If turnout is 7 million this year instead of 6.1 million, Trump would still need 61% of the remaining votes. That is by no means impossible since Republicans tend to vote on Election Day. But again, to make Pennsylvania the keystone, Trump would have to win Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and North Carolina, all of them states that he is currently trailing in, albeit by a tiny amount.

Or the polls could be all wet, and Trump could be far better off than anyone realizes (see below for more). (V)

Trump Could Still Pull It Off

FiveThirtyEight's simulations give Joe Biden a 90% chance of winning the Electoral College, well more than the 70% chance they gave Hillary Clinton in 2016. Still, strategists see a possible path to victory for Donald Trump. Politico reporters talked to over a dozen strategists from both parties, pollsters, and election experts, and came away with possible, albeit unlikely, scenarios for the President to get a second term. In one variant, Biden wins all of Clinton's states plus Michigan and Wisconsin and NE-02. It's 3 a.m. on Nov. 4 and every state has been called but Pennsylvania. The score is 259-259, with 20 EVs hanging in the balance. A political junkie's dream/nightmare. One Democratic strategist summed it up by saying: "If we don't win on Election Night, they will fight this and come away with a victory [in the courts]."

Republican strategists are more optimistic than they have been for months because the polls have tightened in some of the swing states and there were good economic numbers last Thursday. Also, Trump is sprinting around the country holding rally after rally to energize his fans (see below). He will continue doing that until voting ends tomorrow evening.

But the strongest case some Republican strategists could make is: The polls could be wrong. In particular, turnout among working-class men could be more than the pollsters are expecting and young people could do what young people always do: not vote. Turnout among Blacks in Florida is lagging. Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist, said Trump could win North Carolina and Florida. Steve Cortes, the Trump campaign's senior strategist, said: "While we take nothing for granted, we are increasingly confident." To us, that doesn't sound like: "It's in the bag!" Another Trump campaign official said: "Even though the national numbers are much worse than where we were against Hillary at this point, the battleground numbers are virtually the same." That's not true. Here is our map for Nov. 7, 2016, the Monday before Election Day 2016. Clinton was indeed leading in the state that is home to the Packers, and in the two nearby pierogi-loving states that can only dream of having a football team that good, but was trailing in Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia. Biden is leading in those states now. Also, Biden is stronger in Michigan and North Carolina than Clinton was, so Biden is in a much stronger position than Clinton was the day before Election Day.

Privately, other Trump campaign officials told Politico that their man is the underdog, but the good economic numbers could yet save him because that is his best issue. Historically, usually, if the Dow Jones index is higher on Election Day than it was on August 1st, the incumbent party wins. This year it closed on Friday, July 31, at 26,428. It is now 26,502. A gain of 0.3% is not a lot to hang your hat on. Of course, it will go up or down today, so the Dow could be on either side of the "is it better?" line when the sun rises on Election Day.

Michigan is lost and if last week's Washington Post/ABC News poll of Wisconsin (which had Biden up +17) is even close, so is the Badger State. So, even if Trump can pull out wins in Florida and in North Carolina, it all comes down to Pennsylvania (and maybe Arizona).

Christopher Borick, director of polling at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, said: "How does Trump win Pennsylvania? Not easily, I'll start it there." It comes down to improving his standing with seniors and driving rural turnout in the "Alabama" part of Pennsylvania. If not that, it could depend on court challenges and other legal maneuvers to disqualify ballots due to late arrival, mismatched signatures, nakedness, and so on. As to Arizona, Trump's main hope is that enough late-deciding Mormons and veterans put him over the top, as Biden's current lead there is only 1 point, based on the six most recent polls. (V)

Trump Holds Rallies in Five States, Biden in One

Donald Trump held rallies (also known as superspreader events) in five states yesterday: Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Joe Biden campaigned only in Pennsylvania. Mike Pence went to church in North Carolina. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was also in North Carolina and in Georgia, too.

The President was pure, angry Trump at all his rallies. He attacked doctors, claiming that they fabricate COVID-19 deaths for money, pantomimed a physical fight with Biden, mocked a Fox News host for wearing a mask, and celebrated his supporters for trying to run a Biden bus off the road. This is the kind of red meat his base loves. The goal is to motivate them to be sure to vote tomorrow. The only problem is that the media are reporting what he said and it doesn't play so well with women, who also get to vote. If Trump loses, especially if it is in a rout, the message that all Republican politicians will take away is that the base is simply not big enough to win elections anymore. And due to inexorable demographic change, a base-only strategy is getting less viable with each passing year. But given that yesterday was only 2 days before Election Day, there is probably no time left to woo the eight or nine undecided voters left, so it makes some sense to try to drive up turnout among his supporters.

Biden's closing message is about COVID-19, saying that Trump has "waved the white flag of surrender to the virus." He also took part in a "Souls to the Polls" event, a regular occurrence in which Black churches ferry congregants to the polls after services on the Sunday before Election Day. There are "Souls to the Polls" events in many states, especially Florida, where Democrats are having trouble turning out Black voters, especially in Miami-Dade County, where they need to roll up a massive margin to balance huge Republican turnouts on the Gulf Coast and in the Panhandle. In general, Biden's final message to the audience he spoke to was an attempt to convince young Black men in Philadelphia and statewide that while indeed, the choice is between two old white guys, one of them has their back and one of them wants to stick a knife in it. If Black turnout hits 2012 levels, Biden is certain of winning. If it is much lower, as it was in 2016, he could lose.

What can we learn from this? First, it tells us that Trump is running scared. He feels he is in real trouble in five key states. On the other hand, Biden is worried about only Pennsylvania. He has an insurmountable lead in Michigan, a likely insurmountable lead in Wisconsin, small but steady leads in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and doesn't care about Iowa's six electoral votes. He does care about Ohio, however, and will visit it today.

Which strategy is better, the shotgun or the rifle? It is likely that both make sense for the respective candidates. Trump needs to change the trajectory in a lot of places. If Biden wins Pennsylvania, Trump is history. (V)

Five Factors That Help Joe Biden

It ain't over 'til it's over, so an upset victory for Donald Trump is certainly possible. Still, there are five important factors that work in Joe Biden's favor:

  • Voters like Biden: Voters are hesitant to vote for a person they don't like. If you don't want to have a beer with the candidate, you're not going to vote for him or her. George W. Bush won in 2000 because people didn't want Al Gore to lecture them about saving the planet. Barack Obama won in 2012, in part, because he's a charming fellow and because his opponent Mitt Romney is a somewhat-out-of-touch plutocrat who doesn't even drink beer due to his religion. Trump won in 2016 because a lot of people didn't want to go out with Hillary Clinton for a nice glass of Château Lafite. This factor works for Biden because most people see him as a regular guy you could have a beer with. He'd ask about how your job was going and how your kids are managing at Zoom School. Very few people would want to hang out with Donald Trump. That works for Biden.

  • Billion-dollar Biden: Joe Biden is the first presidential candidate in history to raise a billion dollars for his campaign account. A billion dollars goes a long way. He is outspending Trump in all the battleground states by margins of 2-to-1 and more in some. In the final week, Biden spent $77 million to Trump's $40 million. Ads don't matter that much, but they do matter a little, and ads in October matter a lot more than ads in June.

  • The coronavirus is on everyone's mind: And in some people's lungs. And other organs. From Trump's point of view, approaching 100,000 infections/day just before Election Day is not great timing. First, it makes the question of who can tame the virus a major issue, and most people believe Biden will do a better job at that. Second, with the virus in the news so much, some people may decide that voting tomorrow is too dangerous and not do it. Democrats have already banked tens of millions of votes. Many Republicans were planning to vote tomorrow, but if the virus scares them and they don't vote, that scenario works for Biden.

  • Seniors are breaking for Biden: For decades, seniors voted Republican. George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Donald Trump all carried the 65+ vote. Polls this year show Biden with a double-digit lead among seniors. Young people, meanwhile, greatly prefer Biden. So Biden has put Trump in a demographic sandwich and is eating him alive. Trump has to win big among the 35-to-65 year old men. There might not be enough of them to counter his expected losses with young people, old people, and women of all ages.

  • Trump can't pick a message: Why is he running for a second term? What will he do if reelected? No one knows. Trump never talks about it. Instead he talks about a broken laptop computer allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden. All Trump knows how to do is attack, so he attacks Hunter Biden and his father, but not a lot of voters, especially undecided voters, are likely to base their vote on what Rudy Giuliani claims (with zero evidence) was found on Hunter's laptop. Biden has a clear closing message: This election is about character and leaving the dark angry politics of the past 4 years behind. To the extent that he talks about policy and what he wants to do if elected, his pitch is about making sure every American gets good health care and that we can work together to beat down COVID-19. Voters can understand that and how it affects their lives. They don't understand how Hunter Biden's alleged laptop affects their lives.

With so many factors working for him, Biden is the clear favorite. The only thing that can stop him, assuming the polls are even in the ballpark, is massive cheating (the USPS slowdown, disqualifying many ballots, getting the courts to order counting to be stopped, etc.). (V)

Early Votes Have Passed Two-Thirds of the 2016 Total

As of this morning, 94,006,161 votes have been cast. The total vote for 2016, both early and Election Day, was 136,669,237, so we are at 69% of the 2016 total vote and way, way beyond the roughly 50 million who voted early in 2016. Probably another 5 or 6 million people will vote today, so we are within spitting distance of 100 million early votes. Only, with COVID-19 raging (see below), please don't spit when voting.

Thirty-five states and D.C. have already crossed the halfway mark (more than 50% of their registered voters casting a ballot), including 13 of the 16 most competitive states. What we don't know is how many of these voters are "new" voters, as opposed to just regular voters who would vote on Election Day in healthier times. In many states, lines were long, even for early voting, and they are certain to be much longer tomorrow when 40 or 50 million people try to vote on the same day.

In the states that report a partisan breakdown of early votes, Democrats had an initial lead, but in many states, Republicans are catching up. The Democratic-Republican-Independent breakdown so far in Arizona is 38-36-25, in Florida is 39-38-21, in Iowa is 46-33-20, in Nevada is 40-36-25, and in North Carolina is 37-32-30. It is a safe bet that nearly all registered Democrats voted for Joe Biden and most registered Republicans voted for Donald Trump. We don't know how the independents broke, and with so many of them, even a 60-40 breakdown would be very important. And, of course, turnout tomorrow is critical. (V)

Scoop: Trump Will Declare Victory Tomorrow Night

Axios has heard from three different Trump insiders that Donald Trump will declare victory tomorrow night if it appears he is ahead, even if major states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have millions of ballots yet uncounted. That is entirely possible due to the "red mirage" effect, in which Republican votes cast in-person tomorrow will be counted before Democratic mail-in votes, which will be counted in the days ahead. Trump is also expected to say that Democratic votes that start trickling in on Wednesday are evidence of fraud and of Democrats' stealing the election.

In other words, Trump sees his path to victory not by getting more votes, but by bullying the country into accepting the partial count as definitive. Of course, with 100 million or so early votes, most of which won't be counted until later this week, Tuesday's count is far from definitive. How well Trump's bullying works depends significantly on two things. First, Democratic governors and secretaries of state in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina could push back really hard if they want to, as in: "President Trump is lying, as usual. We don't know who won our state as we have millions of votes yet to count." Second, the media's constant attempts to be even-handed could work against Trump. If he declares victory, they will hasten to interview Joe Biden and the governors and secretaries of state, who will make it clear that the votes haven't been counted yet.

Another potential fly in Trump's ointment here is that Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona may have finished counting (nearly) all the absentee ballots by tomorrow evening, so their totals will include not only the Election Day in-person votes, but the early votes as well. If Trump is behind in these large swing states at midnight tomorrow, the networks may push back on a declaration of victory by simply showing the actual vote totals in these states.

And finally, if Trump does try to pull this, he's really swimming upstream. The vast majority of the public is now persuaded of two things: (1) Trump is a liar, and (2) the election results probably won't be ready on Tuesday night. So, most Americans are going to take his claims with more than a few grains of salt. And now that he's telegraphed his plans, such lies are even more likely to fall flat. (V)

COVID-19 Is Surging in the Midwest

Despite Donald Trump's repeatedly announcing that the coronavirus is dead and gone, it is still with us. On Saturday, 84,285 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, the highest for the entire year. And weekend reporting tends to be slow and fragmentary, so it could approach 100,000 today. It has been averaging over 80,000 new cases a day for a week now. But look at the map of where the new cases are located:

Map of new cases of COVID-19; the 
reddest and thus worst parts are in the Midwest and the South

The top five states are Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. Wisconsin and Michigan are key swing states and Texas is a potential swing state. In Wisconsin, 1.9 million people have already voted but 3.0 million voted in 2016, so there are surely a million to go. Wisconsin doesn't report the partisan breakdown of early voters, but in most states, Democrats are leading. Republicans can catch up tomorrow, of course, but with COVID-19 surging, some voters may decide that staying alive is even more important than voting, and turnout among Republicans could be down. In Michigan, 2.6 million people have voted early, compared to 4.8 million in 2016, so 2.2 million could be planning to vote today or tomorrow, and again, some could be deterred by the virus. (V)

The Election Could Make or Break State Trifectas

We have looked at the state legislatures before but now we have a different source: Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball. It is also looking at them, and even putting them in bins based on likelihood of flipping. As we said last time, the state legislatures are hugely important, not only because they make important laws (including laws about abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned), but also because many state legislatures draw the congressional and state maps. If a party has a trifecta in a state, it can often gerrymander the maps to its heart's content.

Although state House and state Senate races tend to fly under the radar, there is mostly good news for the Democrats this year, in no small part because the Republicans had a banner year in 2010 and quite a few state chambers seem ripe for the picking. Also, the Democrats have raised boatloads of money up and down the ballot and in many districts have a huge financial advantage over the Republicans. State races are cheap, so a little money tends to go a long way.

There are 5,240 state legislative districts around the country. Democrats are favored to pick up 40 state Senate seats and 70 state House (or Assembly) seats. Let's start by looking at those all important trifecta possibilities. These two maps give the story:

State trifecta maps;
the first one--showing possible pickups--has Montana and Alaska in Red, Minnesota and Pennsylvania in blue, and North Carolina 
in purple. The second one--showing possible trifectas being broken--has Arizona, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, and West Virginia in red
and nothing in blue or purple.

The map on the left above shows states where a party could get a trifecta that it does not now have. In Minnesota, for example, if the Democrats win the state Senate, they will control the entire state government. In Pennsylvania, they need to win both chambers, but both are within shooting distance. In North Carolina, both parties have a shot at a trifecta. If Gov Roy Cooper (D-NC) is reelected, as seems likely, then the Republican chances are zero, but then the Democrats have a shot at it. In Alaska, the Republicans have a large majority in the state Senate, but the Democratic caucus, which includes five Republicans and two independents, runs the state House. With a few pickups, the Republicans could take control of the state House and get a trifecta. But with only one House seat at stake, there are no possibilities for gerrymandering at the federal level, only the state level.

In Montana, the Republicans already have the state legislature so if Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) is elected governor, they will have the whole show.

Now onto the map on the right, which shows existing trifectas that are in danger of being broken. In five states, the Democrats have realistic chances to break Republican trifectas. Arizona is the one in the greatest danger, since the Democrats have an excellent shot at picking up both the House and the Senate. Unfortunately for the Republicans, there are no Democratic trifectas that they have any serious chance of breaking. Flipping the Texas House is the grand prize at the state level for the Democrats this week. If it goes blue, the legislature will be divided, and sooner or later a judge will hire a special master to draw the maps. This will result in fair maps for both the U.S. House and the state legislature, which will replace the current gerrymandered maps. This could cost the GOP upwards of six seats in the U.S. House. All the Democrats have to do is win all the state House districts where Beto O'Rourke outpolled Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in 2018. That would be enough to flip nine Republican seats and control of the lower chamber of the Texas legislature.

Now we come to the interesting part: the ratings. Here they are:

ratings on state legislative chambers;
they think that the MN House will go Democratic, the MN Senate/AZ Senate lean to a Democratic flip, the AZ House/IA House/MI House tilt to
a Democratic flip, the GOP-controlled Texas House is a toss-up, and the AK House tilts to a Republican flip. They also think the Democratic-controlled
NH Senate and the GOP-controlled NC House, NC Senate, PA House, WV Senate, FL House, and PA Senate are likely to stay as they are.

The blocks in red are chambers currently held by the Republicans. The blue ones are held by the Democrats. The only "Democratic" chamber in danger is the Alaska House, which, as mentioned above, is run by the Democrats plus five Republicans and two independents who are in cahoots with the Democrats.

In contrast, five Republican chambers are in danger of flipping and the Texas House is a toss-up. Also, both chambers of the North Carolina legislature tilt slightly toward the Republicans, but in a big wave, both could flip. Finally, the Democrats have a chance at taking over the Pennsylvania House, although it isn't huge. (V)

The Lawyers Are Gearing Up

This election will have two parts. The first part will be when the people speak. The second part will be when the lawyers speak. Nearly one hundred million people have already spoken and another 40 or 50 million may speak tomorrow. Then it is the lawyers' turn. Both parties are gearing up for that part now.

All kinds of scenarios are possible, but with a norm-busting president in a norm-busting year, everything is possible and both parties want to be prepared for everything. Both parties have thousands of lawyers on the ground and at headquarters and most of them have been given a refresher course on election law.

One area where the lawyers may get involved is vote counting, especially absentee ballots. In a close state, a lawyer could challenge a vote for the other party due to some technicality. For example, if state law requires a circle to be filled in with a blue pen and the voter has carefully filled in the circle with a different color pen (or a pencil), one of the lawyers could demand that the ballot be discarded. In addition, if a lawyer spots any defect on a ballot for the other side, he or she will challenge it. These lawyers are working on the retail end of it, trying to get rid of unfriendly ballots one by one.

Higher up the food chain are lawyers who will fight about late arriving ballots (including military and overseas ballots, which have a different deadline from regular ballots). Republican lawyers will try to disqualify as many ballots as possible. Democratic lawyers will try to accept as many as possible. Also in this category are Republican lawyers who will try to get the courts to stop counting absentee ballots as early as possible—at least assuming that Trump leads the in-person voting on Election Day. If the counting drags on for weeks (as it did in the New York State primary), lawyers will point to the laws that say the results must be certified by Dec. 8, so it is known which electors are expected to show up on Dec. 14 to cast their electoral votes. Of course, most judges can read a calendar, and so know there are more than 30 days between Nov. 3 and Dec. 8, which leaves a fair bit of time for counts and recounts. On the other hand, we still don't know for sure who won the Iowa Democratic caucus, and that was 274 days ago, so you never know.

If the state legislatures decide to appoint their own slates of electors and the respective governors refuse to sign their certificates of ascertainment—which names the electors chosen—obviously there will be court battles that will keep hordes of lawyers busy. If a state submits two slates of electors to Congress, more lawyers will be needed to argue their respective cases in front of Congress and in front of any commission Congress creates to figure out what to do. If one party controls both chambers, it will probably ram through its party's candidate. But if the chambers are split, the lawyers will have their work cut out for them. There are laws that deal with this, but the lawyers will try to spin them to work out best for their side

If the election is undecided, the House gets to pick the president, with each state getting one vote. This could focus attention on House races, with an eye to unseating one or more representatives that could change how a delegation would vote. The lawyers will obviously get involved in that. In fact, the Alaska and Montana House races may come under unusual scrutiny because each of those seats could go either way and each representative gets as big a say as California or Texas. It is easy to imagine lawyers going to court to challenge either of those elections, for example, by looking for some election irregularity and trying to get a judge to throw out the election. If the House deadlocks 25-25, it is supposed to keep voting. How often does it have to vote before the Senate's choice of the veep becomes the acting president? If the House is 25-25 and the Democrats capture the Senate, can Republican lawyers convince the Supreme Court that Kamala Harris should not become acting president because the House is still working on it? In short, it is lawyers as far as the eye can see. (V)

GOP Loses a Round in the Voter Suppression Wars, but Fights on

Harris County (Houston), the third most populous county in America with 4.7 million residents, thought of a very Texas way to allow people to vote during a pandemic: Drive-through voting. The thought of all those urban dwellers voting sent shivers down the spine of Texas Republicans, so they sued to have the 127,000 votes cast by Texas drivers thrown out. Wouldn't that be sweet! Unfortunately for the GOP, the Texas Supreme Court, all of whose justices are Republicans, said: "Nope."

So naturally, Texas Republicans are moving on to the federal courts. The case will be heard today by Judge Andrew Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee. Whoever loses will certainly appeal to the Fifth Circuit. Twelve of the active judges on the Fifth Circuit were appointed by Republican presidents and five were appointed by Democrats. Whoever loses there will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, six of whose justices were appointed by Republican presidents and three of whom were appointed by Democrats. Basically, every election case is going to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, unless the Court declines to take some cases. That is at least conceivable since the Court could legitimately find that state election laws should be interpreted by the state Supreme Courts. (V)

Tillis Is Everywhere, Cunningham is Nowhere

No we don't mean in the polls, where Cal Cunningham is leading Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) by 2 points according to our average of 12 recent polls. We mean on the ground. The North Carolina Senate race is already the most expensive Senate race in history, with $250 million down the drain so far. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) was forced into isolation because he contracted COVID-19. Cal Cunningham was forced into isolation because he might have contracted [insert name of disease here], due to his, uh...aggressive disregard of social distancing, let's say.

But now Tillis, like Donald Trump, is throwing caution to the wind and campaigning like there is no tomorrow. Actually, though, there definitely is a tomorrow, and it doesn't look good for him. He has brought along Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Nikki Haley, and every other GOP luminary he can find. Mostly Tillis is talking about "Where's Waldo?" Er, we mean "Where's Cal?"

Cal, as it turns out, is talking to very small groups instead of holding big rallies like Tillis is. And that is by design. His main talking point now is about COVID-19 and how Tillis is busy spreading the virus all over the state by holding big rallies, while he (Cunningham) is putting the health of the people of North Carolina first by not doing that. He may have a point. A Stanford University study suggests that 18 of Donald Trump's rallies have led to 30,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 700 deaths.

Cunningham is not campaigning with Democratic pooh-bahs. He is counting on the Senate race being essentially a referendum on Trump. That could well work, because Trump appears to be trailing by a small amount in North Carolina and Tillis is hugging Trump tightly. The Senator even defended Trump's handling of COVID-19. While Democrats are furious with Cunningham for his behaving stupidly so close to the election, they are not abandoning him, and they are just hoping that none of his remaining "small group" campaign events is a one-on-one affair, if you know what we mean. Even Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who personally drove Al Franken out of the Senate for patting half a dozen women on the rear, hasn't said "boo" about Cunningham. The seat is too precious to give up, even if the person who wants to sit in it is less than perfect. (V)

Forget Nikki Haley; Maybe Liz Cheney Is the Future of the Republican Party

When Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) turned down the opportunity to take a safe Senate seat handed to her on a silver platter by the retirement of Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), everyone knew something was afoot. The general speculation was that she wanted to become the first female Republican House speaker, as soon as the Republicans took back the House. But that day is not going to be tomorrow and maybe not for quite a while.

So Cheney may have changed her plans. Here she is with most of the House Republican leadership in Oct. 2019.

Liz Cheney speaking

Notice anything interesting about this photo? If you guessed that Cheney is the only blonde in the leadership, that's true, but there is more. If you guessed that she prefers bright colors and doesn't like dark jackets so much, that is also true, but there is still more. Ok, you got it on the third try: She is the only woman in the picture. Actually, there is one other woman in the Republican leadership, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the vice chair of the Republican conference, but she isn't in the photo for some reason.

Cheney has no doubt discussed the matter with her dad, Dick, and is toying with going for the top slot in the Republican caucus as early as January, which would mean sending House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) packing. But it depends on the outcome of the election. If Trump takes a drubbing and Republicans lose half a dozen seats in the Senate and more in the House on account of all those nasty suburban housewives who refuse to vote for Republicans, Cheney could make her move.

Even without an official autopsy report, like the one after the 2012 election, Cheney can make the pitch to her caucus that unless the GOP can solve its "woman" problem, it is not going to win any more elections except in the deepest red states and districts. And she can propose that step one in solving it is to put a highly competent and telegenic woman in charge of the party. She might have to share the limelight with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), but if Republicans lose control of the Senate, they are much more likely to ask him to go hide somewhere and let Cheney be the face of the party.

This could be especially important because Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is going to be in the news all the time talking about this bill and that bill and probably driving the legislative train. It would be good for a woman—and a much younger woman at that—to be the one explaining why Pelosi's bills are all bad for America. When McCarthy lights into Pelosi, it looks a bit sexist. It wouldn't if Cheney were Minority Leader.

As an extra added attraction, in the face of a Republican loss across the board, the GOP is going to have to figure out whether it wants to be the party of Trump/Pence or the party of Bush/Cheney. If Trumpism has lost its allure, Cheney can make the case that the experiment failed and it is time to revert to the Bush/Cheney model and what better way to do it than with an actual Cheney. In any event, keep an eye on her. She could well be the future of the Republican Party. (V)

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Today's Presidential Polls

Lots of white and blue and no red today. That's not a great sign for Team Trump. Still, the sea of white means we have a lot of close elections coming up, especially in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and maybe Wisconsin. Joe Biden has small leads in most of these states, but if there is a red wave, Trump could win them all. Michigan is a lost cause for him, so he would pretty much need all of them. (V)

State Biden Trump Start End Pollster
Arizona 48% 46% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Arizona 48% 50% Oct 30 Oct 31 AtlasIntel
Arizona 49% 43% Oct 26 Oct 30 Siena Coll.
Colorado 53% 41% Oct 29 Nov 01 Keating/Onsight/Melanson
Florida 47% 44% Oct 27 Oct 31 Siena Coll.
Florida 48% 47% Oct 29 Oct 31 Pulse Opinion Research
Florida 49% 48% Oct 29 Oct 30 St. Pete polls
Florida 51% 47% Oct 28 Oct 30 RMG Research
Florida 52% 46% Oct 29 Oct 30 Emerson Coll.
Georgia 46% 48% Oct 30 Oct 31 AtlasIntel
Georgia 49% 49% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Iowa 47% 49% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Iowa 49% 48% Oct 29 Nov 01 Civiqs
Maine 54% 43% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Michigan 48% 41% Oct 25 Oct 28 EPIC-MRA
Michigan 48% 46% Oct 30 Oct 31 AtlasIntel
Michigan 52% 46% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Michigan 53% 45% Oct 27 Nov 01 Ipsos
Minnesota 54% 39% Oct 10 Oct 29 St. Cloud State U.
North Carolina 47% 47% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
North Carolina 48% 50% Oct 30 Oct 31 AtlasIntel
New Mexico 54% 42% Oct 23 Oct 29 Research and Polling
Nevada 49% 47% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Ohio 48% 49% Oct 29 Nov 01 Civiqs
Ohio 50% 49% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Pennsylvania 49% 43% Oct 26 Oct 31 Siena Coll.
Pennsylvania 52% 46% Oct 27 Nov 01 Ipsos
Pennsylvania 52% 47% Oct 29 Oct 30 Emerson Coll.
Texas 47% 50% Oct 30 Oct 31 AtlasIntel
Texas 49% 50% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Wisconsin 51% 47% Oct 29 Nov 01 Civiqs
Wisconsin 51% 49% Oct 30 Oct 31 AtlasIntel
Wisconsin 52% 41% Oct 26 Oct 30 Siena Coll.
Wisconsin 53% 45% Oct 27 Nov 01 Ipsos

Click on a state name for a graph of its polling history.

Today's Senate Polls

As above, lots of blue and white but no red. Arizona and Colorado are getting new Democratic senators. Maine probably will. But Georgia, Iowa, and North Carolina could still go either way. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Mark Kelly 50% Martha McSally* 43% Oct 26 Oct 30 Siena Coll.
Arizona Mark Kelly 50% Martha McSally* 48% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Colorado John Hickenlooper 53% Cory Gardner* 42% Oct 29 Nov 01 Keating/Onsight/Melanson
Georgia Jon Ossoff 49% David Perdue* 48% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Iowa Theresa Greenfield 50% Joni Ernst* 47% Oct 29 Nov 01 Civiqs
Iowa Theresa Greenfield 51% Joni Ernst* 48% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Maine Sara Gideon 48% Susan Collins* 46% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Michigan Gary Peters* 47% John James 42% Oct 25 Oct 28 EPIC-MRA
Michigan Gary Peters* 51% John James 44% Oct 27 Nov 01 Ipsos
Michigan Gary Peters* 52% John James 46% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
Minnesota Tina Smith* 53% Jason Lewis 36% Oct 10 Oct 29 St. Cloud State U.
North Carolina Cal Cunningham 50% Thom Tillis* 47% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.
New Mexico Ben Ray Lujan 52% Mark Ronchetti 44% Oct 23 Oct 29 Research and Polling
Texas Mary Hegar 47% John Cornyn* 51% Oct 29 Oct 31 Emerson Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov01 Sunday Mailbag
Nov01 Today's Presidential Polls
Nov01 Today's Senate Polls
Oct31 Saturday Q&A
Oct31 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct31 Today's Senate Polls
Oct30 Courts Get Involved Again, This Time in Minnesota
Oct30 Things for the Democrats to Worry About
Oct30 More on "Shy Trump" Voters
Oct30 Right-wing Media Try to Salvage Hunter Biden Story
Oct30 On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!
Oct30 The Delicate Art of Question Dodging
Oct30 Donald Trump, Flight Risk?
Oct30 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct30 Today's Senate Polls
Oct29 Biden Continues to Lead in the National Polls
Oct29 Early Voting Has Hit 51% of the 2016 Total Vote
Oct29 Anonymous Isn't Anymore
Oct29 Where Are the Candidates?
Oct29 Democrats Are Now with Trump
Oct29 A New Front in the Voting Wars: The Order of Counting Ballots
Oct29 Overseas Military Ballots Could Be Crucial in Florida
Oct29 Whose Fault Is It?
Oct29 Senate Rundown
Oct29 Schumer's Relationship with McConnell Is in Tatters
Oct29 Whither the Supreme Court?
Oct29 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct29 Today's Senate Polls
Oct28 Melania Trump Hits the Campaign Trail
Oct28 Jared Kushner Is Not Helping His Father-in-Law
Oct28 Biden Decides to Do a Little Swinging
Oct28 The Ballots Are Pouring In
Oct28 Abbott Wins the Ballot Box Battle, But Appears to be Losing the War
Oct28 Trump Campaign Backs Off in Florida
Oct28 One Last Funny Feeling
Oct28 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct28 Today's Senate Polls
Oct27 Barrett Is Confirmed...
Oct27 ..And May Soon Be Mucking Around in the Election
Oct27 Trump Thinks Media Should Not Cover COVID-19...
Oct27 ...Probably Because He's an Autocrat...
Oct27 ...Which Is Absolutely Killing the Republican Party
Oct27 Lou Dobbs Knows Who Is to Blame for the Trump Administration's Failures
Oct27 Six Reasons Not to Panic About the Election
Oct27 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct27 Today's Senate Polls
Oct26 Murkowski is Not Concerned and Will Vote to Confirm Amy Coney Barrett
Oct26 Nearly 60 Million Voters Have Already Cast Their Ballot
Oct26 Could COVID-19 Affect the Election?
Oct26 Could Trump Win the Midwest Again?