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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Saturday Q&A
      •  Today's Presidential Polls
      •  Today's Senate Polls

Saturday Q&A

Lots and lots of questions about possible malfeasance by Donald Trump & Co., so we'll start with a bunch of those.

Q: What if, on the Monday before Election Day, a domestic terrorist blows up a Board of Elections office in a Democratic-heavy county where executed absentee ballots and voter registration information are stored, destroying uncounted ballots. Let's say it's in a GOP-controlled state. Is it plausible that only votes cast on the day of the election would count? D.B., Oak Beach, NY

A: It's not very plausible. First of all, the political optics of that would be very bad. Second, it would send the very dangerous message that if you don't like the way an election is unfolding, all you have to do is firebomb election offices in areas controlled by the other party.

These sorts of situations are handled on an ad hoc basis. What would surely happen is that the county elections board would hold an emergency session and develop some sort of plan to allow people to re-vote, even if they have to extend the voting window by several days. Then somebody would sue and the Supreme Court would decide what to do.

Q: I am having déjà vu with e-mails. With about the same number of days to go in 2016, we got the James Comey e-mail surprise. Now it's Hunter Biden's e-mails. I didn't hear a solid denial about it from Joe Biden in the debate, leading me to believe the e-mails are real, although they don't seem nefarious at all (thanking someone for introducing them to your father hardly constitutes a business meeting). But I saw Donald Trump's ad about them on the "Today" show this morning. Please convince me this time it won't be a factor while I curl up in a ball in the corner. E.S., Chesterfield, MO

A: This is how gaslighting works. A falsehood is repeated over and over, and eventually it begins to "seem" true. Joe Biden's choice not to engage with a wild conspiracy theory does not prove anything other than he doesn't want to give it any extra oxygen. The story is full of holes, which is why the only outlets taking it seriously are partisan, right-wing outfits like Fox and The New York Post. Rolling Stone has a pretty good breakdown if you are interested.

It is very unlikely this will affect the election. It reeks of desperation, first of all. Beyond that, the Trump campaign tried to get mileage out of Hunter Biden/Burisma back in April/May/June, and got nowhere. Why would that change now?

Q: If Joe Biden wins big enough that Donald Trump doesn't challenge it, is there anything stopping the Donald from flying to exile in Saudi Arabia on January 19, with his family, the unfortunate group of Secret Service Agents assigned to this soon to be former "president," and perhaps a couple of billion dollars looted from the U.S. Treasury? If this happens, can we get him back and put him in Rikers? D.O., Sudbury, MA

A: As of January 19, Trump will still be entitled to exercise the full powers of the presidency. And since he won't have been charged with a crime, presumably, he will have the freedom of movement to which all citizens are entitled. So, he would surely be able to fly off to Saudi Arabia on the 19th, should he choose to do so.

Saudi Arabia has no extradition treaty with the U.S., although all that means is that they do not automatically guarantee to return someone charged with crime to American authorities. If they were to harbor Trump, it would become a major, international diplomatic issue. And the Kingdom of Saud would have to decide if they are willing to risk possible retribution (like, say, a reduction in military aid) in order to protect Trump. Our guess is that they would throw him under the bus.

Q: In the event that Joe Biden is elected president, is the Secret Service required to protect Donald Trump if he chooses to relocate to a foreign country such as Saudi Arabia or North Korea? Similarly, if he is sent to prison, is the Secret Service required to continue to protect him, and how could they do it? S.B., Lebanon, NJ

A: As of this moment, yes, the Secret Service would be legally bound to protect him in these scenarios. However, those requirements are the result of statutes passed by Congress. Should something wonky take place, Congress would just pass an updated statute addressing the situation. Our guess is that if Trump fled to a foreign country, they would declare him to have forfeited the right to Secret Service protection and other post-presidency perks. If he goes to prison, by contrast, they might decide it's better for a former president to serve his time apart from the general prison population, and with special protection, probably at a minimum-security facility.

Q: Let's say that the Senate flips to the Democrats, and Donald Trump steals the election with the help of Amy Coney Barrett. (I know, unlikely, but go with it...) After he's sworn in, couldn't Trump be immediately impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, followed by the same for Mike Pence, whereupon Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) would become president? I.W., Palm Springs CA

A: No. It takes a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict in an impeachment. And there's no way that 15-20 Republican senators would play along with this scheme.

Q: What do you think are the chances of armed individuals or groups showing up at polling places across the country under the pretext of "protecting the vote?" Is this legal, and what are the chances of law enforcement agencies simply allowing it to happen? J.E., Boone, NC

A: There may be one or two high-profile cases of this that will make the front pages. But it's not going to happen much, and it may not happen at all. There are too many polling places, open for too many hours, along with too many early votes being cast, for there to be much value in these kinds of stunts. Further, it would indeed be illegal, and there are not many places where every single person who might put a stop to it (chief of police, sheriff, mayor, governor, etc.) will look the other way.

Q: Much ink and many pixels have been expended on the unfitness of some of Donald Trump's cabinet picks. From the incompetent, to the unsuited, to the outright criminal. People like Betsy DeVos, Ryan Zinke, Wilbur Ross, Michael Flynn, and Scott Pruitt, just to name a few. But working on the theory that even a stopped clock is right twice a day, Trump must have gotten at least some picks right. So, which of Trump's cabinet picks were good, solid choices? Who is competently running their department and performing their duties with no controversy, no corruption and a minimum of fuss and bother? B.F.E., Sierra Vista, AZ

A: There is a slight flaw in your reasoning. Those folks who want to keep their jobs in Trump's cabinet have to do his bidding, even when it's unethical, corrupt, or illegal. And so, individuals who are honest and have integrity don't last. For example, Jim Mattis would be a pretty good answer to your question, but he was forced out because he wouldn't enable the President. The same is true of Rex Tillerson, David Shulkin, and John Kelly.

Among the cabinet officers who have actually managed to hang on, the best is probably Steven Mnuchin at Treasury. He had a few instances of slightly shady behavior early in his term, like using a government plane to watch the big eclipse in 2017. However, since then, he's been your fairly standard Republican Treasury Secretary. Ben Carson is in way, way over his head at HUD and buying a nice dining room table for his office for $31,000 was technically illegal, but we haven't seen any other reports of his doing things that actually violate any statutes. Being a poor secretary isn't a crime. Also, we disagree with you about Betsy DeVos. She may have different policy goals from yours, but she has been systematically implementing them and they seem to be Trump's goals as well. We wouldn't call a secretary who has been systematically implementing the president's goals incompetent.

Q: Trump insisted in this week's debate that Joe Biden is not from Scranton. Trump also brought this up in the first "dumpster fire" debate. Why is this so important a point for Trump? Biden lived the first ten years of his life in Scranton before his family had to move for economic reasons to Delaware, where he has spent the majority of his life. As a child, Biden had no say so in where his family had to live—I'm sure like any child that the 10-year-old Biden would have preferred to stay in familiar Scranton than move to some place unknown. So why is Trump making a big deal about where Biden is born? D.E., Lancaster, PA

A: There are two reasons. The first is that "I'm from Scranton" is a big part of the blue-collar, humble-roots image Biden tries to project. The second is that Trump badly needs to win Pennsylvania in general, and blue-collar towns there like Scranton in particular. Undermining Biden's claims about his roots thus serves both a symbolic and a pragmatic purpose for the President.

Q: Assuming Kamala Harris becomes the next vice president, who are the likely candidates to replace her? When would she officially resign from the Senate? When would her replacement be sworn in? B.S.M., Chicago, IL

A: We tend to assume that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), himself a white man, would not want to replace a woman of color with a white man. So, it would presumably have to be a woman, or a person of color, or both. Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) has some foreign policy experience (ambassador to Hungary), and is young enough (54) to have a nice, long Senate career. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) is even younger at age 47, and would curry favor with the state's Latino voters. State Treasurer Fiona Ma (D) is also 54, and ran a heck of a campaign when she was elected to her current office. If Newsom decides he wants someone with Washington experience, 44-year-old Rep. Ro Khanna (D) would please the progressives, as would 51-year-old Ted Lieu (D).

Customarily, a senator-turned-VP resigns just before the new session of Congress begins (a day or two), and is replaced immediately. That way, the seat is not vacant for long, and yet the new Senator gets a slight edge on seniority compared to any newly elected Senators. Al Gore, for example, resigned on Jan. 3, while Dan Quayle resigned on Jan. 2.

Q: Our family is all voting a pretty straight Democratic ticket here in Colorado. But the younger members are truly holding their noses because both Joe Biden and John Hickenlooper do not line up well with their progressive stance. Only Joe Neguse is a truly satisfactory option for them. As I scan the list of leaders I recognize that Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are all at least 70 years old. I realize it takes a while to get to the top of the pecking order, but it would seem that new leadership for the party is imminent. Can you offer a rundown of who those leaders might be? Kamala Harris is obvious, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is certainly newsworthy, but how deep is the bench of talented Democrats under 40 years of age that can become stalwarts of leadership on a national stage? D.H., Boulder, CO

A: We'll start by noting that stars often rise and fall very quickly in politics, so take any answer with a grain of salt. We also think that your cutoff age of 40 is a tad low, particularly in a year where both presidential candidates are in their 70s.

Anyhow, Pete Buttigieg is clearly a rising star in the Party, as is Adam Schiff (even if he's 60). Among state governors, Andy Beshear's youth and his success in winning an election in deep-red Kentucky make him someone to watch, while Michelle Lujan Grisham has politics in her blood and could attract Latino votes. Among folks whose fortunes are currently waning, but could wax at some point in the future, don't sleep on Jason Kander in Missouri, Beto O'Rourke in Texas, Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Rep. Joe Kennedy III in Massachusetts, or Sen. Cory Booker in New Jersey. Dick Nixon rose like a phoenix from the ashes, and any of these folks could, as well. Further, if Joe Biden is elected, at least one or two of his cabinet secretaries will emerge as national figures.

In short, the Blue Team has a very deep bench. Not all of them are progressives, of course, and so not all may be your younger family members' cups of tea. But that's politics.

Q: As a Texan who is hoping we can flip Texas blue, I was looking at some pretty eye-popping numbers. Almost 6.4 million votes have already been cast, which is the most of any state in the country. And the vast majority of those are actually in-person votes because our attorney general and our governor don't think being afraid of catching a fatal disease is a good enough reason to open up mail-in voting. In fact, over one-third of the in-person votes nationwide have been cast in Texas.

That comes out to 71.2% of the total ballots cast in 2016. And over 70% of those ballots were cast in counties Beto O'Rourke won in 2016. I know we're not supposed to put too much stock into early voting, but is it possible we're not putting enough? Can Texas flip?
K.S., Elgin, TX

A: It's very possible. The number of votes being cast, and the manner in which they are being cast, have no real analogues, at least not in recent memory. And so anyone who says they know what it all means is speaking from some orifice that is not their mouth. Unfortunately for those folks who are waiting on pins and needles, Texas does not provide information on the partisan breakdown of the early votes, so all anyone can do is guess.

Q: You frequently note that due to the significant uptake of early/absentee voting that even if there is some bombshell story that lands a few days before the election, it will only have a limited impact in most of the swing states because a huge proportion of votes have already been cast. Which states have comparatively less provision of early voting opportunities (or none), and are therefore at the greatest risk of any late announcement producing a surprise result in their Presidential/Senate election? T.J., Edinburgh, Scotland

A: There is no hands-down, clear-cut answer to your question, because the states with limited early voting or no early voting (Hawaii, New York, etc.) are not swing states. Most of the swing states, meanwhile, have already had huge early vote turnout (1 million ballots or more, in most cases). The best answer, such as it is, is probably Pennsylvania. The Keystone state has had about 1.5 million votes cast out of about 7 million ballots that are expected. So, that is probably where an October Surprise would be most impactful.

Q: Pennsylvania has been described as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in the middle. Can this be said about every state, or are there rural areas of the U.S. that are reliably blue? B.H., Pittsburgh, PA

A: There aren't many rural areas in the U.S. that are blue, but in the ones that are, you tend to find a lot of sandal-wearing, granola-eating, Prius-driving latter-day hippies. So, in New Hampshire and Vermont, parts of Oregon (like, say, outside Eugene), parts of Colorado (like, say, outside Denver), and parts of California (like, say, Humboldt), among others, there are some blue rural areas.

Q: You have mentioned that Florida is a fast-counting State. If so, and if it is called for Biden relatively early, is it safe to assume that Biden will win the election? A.K.P., Huntsville, AL

A: Yes, because that is a huge pickup for him (and a huge loss for Trump), and also because it is exceedingly unlikely that he could win Florida and yet lose, say, North Carolina.

FiveThirtyEight actually has a fun new toy, where you can award a swing state to Biden (or to Donald Trump), and the rest of the map updates automatically based on how closely states mirror one another. At the moment, for example, the site gives Joe Biden an 87% chance of winning right now. However, if you award him Florida, his chance jumps to greater than 99%.

Incidentally, their model regards Michigan as the true bellwether state for Trump. If he wins that one, he has an 84% of being reelected. If he does not, he has a 13% chance.

Q: It looks like some swing states may be called very late on Election Day and others may not be called on the same day at all. What do you recommend to European readers such as myself as to their strategy of watching the election results come in? Should I stay up for as long as I can (equivalent to 10 p.m. or so on the East Coast) or would it be better to sleep in and wake up early (around midnight on the East Coast)? Or should I take a day off from work and not care about sleep at all since there will be entertainment throughout? As the Votemaster lives in Europe too, maybe he can share his own plans with us? L.J., The Hague, Netherlands

A: As you may know, George W. Bush's energy policy consisted of extending Daylight Saving Time by a couple of weeks. Europe ends it tomorrow at 2 a.m. but the U.S. gets an extra week. Still, on Election Day, the difference is back to 6 hours on both sides of the Atlantic.

CNN Europe will probably switch to the U.S. CNN feed by midnight European time on election night. That will be 6 p.m. in New York City and D.C. The pregame show will have started by then. Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer and the crew will then explain why Ohio is important and Indiana isn't. They will also introduce Sara Gideon and Theresa Greenfield to their viewers, most of whom have never heard of them. They will no doubt have lots of background information on them, like Gideon's father is from India and her mother is an Armenian American. Also, Gideon is quite a dealmaker. When she got married, she made a deal with her husband: He would adopt her surname and she would convert to Judaism. Greenfield also has an interesting story. But if you are a regular reader of this site, you already know precisely who Gideon and Greenfield and Mark Kelly are and exactly what it is that Cal Cunningham seems to have trouble keeping in his pants.

Before 9 p.m. EST, the only election returns will be from the 12 people who live in Dixville Notch, NH. The CNN anchors will jabber on about the weather in Raleigh and the crowd size in Milwaukee, but there won't be any real news. We think North Carolina and Florida will be the bellwethers this year because both states will have counted most of the absentee ballots by 8 p.m. EST, but until a decent fraction of the state has reported on the Nov. 3 in-person voting, probably neither state will be called. The polls in Michigan close at 3 a.m. CET, so nothing will be known there until maybe 5 a.m.

So, if you can manage it, we suggest you go to bed very early (possibly with some melatonin, temazepam, or a shot of whiskey), set the alarm for 5 a.m. and then turn on the TV or computer. You won't have missed a lot. (V) and (Z) will both stay up all night and live blog the whole show. At about 7 p.m. EST, we will switch the date to Nov. 4 and the map will go entirely white (except for New Hampshire, where we will know how Dixville Notch went). By 5 a.m. CET, many states on the East Coast will have colors, but with 8% or 14% of the precincts reporting, it won't mean much. Of course, if you don't want to miss a scrap of information of any kind, you have to stay up all night.

Q: How do you figure that Amy Coney Barrett will be "confirmed by senators that represent less than 50% of the American people"? By my calculation, 56% of the American people live in the 30 states represented by the senators who have indicated they'll vote to confirm (all the Republicans except Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska). P.M., Albany, CA

A: Generally, when making an assertion like that, you award the population of states with two Republican senators to the Republicans, states with two Democratic (or Democratic-caucusing) senators to the Democrats, and you split the population of states with a split delegation. Doing it that way (without correcting for Murkowski and Collins), you end up with 53 GOP senators representing 154 million people and 47 Democratic/Democratic-caucusing senators representing 168 million people. If you correct for Murkowski and Collins, it moves about 1 million more people from the Republican to the Democratic column.

You did not show your work, of course, which means your third-grade math teacher is now very cross with you. However, we suspect you must have been awarding the full population of split-delegation states (like Ohio) to the Republicans.

Q: My sister-in-law, a suburban Republican, is disgusted with Donald Trump and the Republican Party as a whole for ramming through the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court. She believes that Coney Barrett, along with any honorable person, should have refused the nomination just out of principle. Is it known whether anyone has ever turned down a nomination to the Supreme Court, and if so, why did they do it? E.W., Skaneateles, NY

A: There have been dozens of instances of people being offered SCOTUS seats and declining for various reasons. Usually, it doesn't get further than "I'm planning to nominate you to the Supreme Court," and the potential nominee saying "thanks, but no thanks." There were also a number of cases before 1900 where a candidate was nominated and confirmed, and then declined to accept the commission. Robert Harrison and William Cushing both turned down seats they were confirmed for during the Washington administration, as did John Jay during the Adams administration, Levi Lincoln and John Quincy Adams during the Madison administration, William Smith during the Jackson administration, and Roscoe Conkling during the Arthur administration. In most of these cases, it is because SCOTUS justices back then had to ride circuit, which was difficult and tiring, and the nominee preferred to pursue less strenuous jobs closer to home (Jay was particularly aware of this, as he had previously served on the Court prior to his nomination by Adams). In the case of J.Q. Adams, he had political aspirations that would likely have been snuffed out had he accepted a seat on the Court. And Roscoe Conkling turned the job down because he knew full well that he had more power as a leading U.S. Senator, and that the "honor" of serving on the Court was being bestowed upon him in order to get him out of the hair of both Arthur and of Conkling's rivals in the Senate.

Nobody has declined a confirmed seat since Conkling.

Q: I am wondering if, in your opinion, there would be a scenario where Joe Biden would re-nominate Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, either because of enlarging the Court or in the event a seat came open. P.D., Memphis, TN

A: Under current circumstances, there is no chance. At 67, Garland is now too old, since presidents aspire to pick justices who can serve 25-40 years. If there is some radical overhaul of the Court's setup (say, justices are rotated in and out every 10 years) then maybe. But probably not even then.

Q: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the unquestioned leader of the Supreme Court's liberal wing. Now that she's gone, who do you think takes her place: Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, or someone a President Biden would appoint to the Court? R.H.D., Webster, NY

A: Because a fair bit of the Court's operation is done on the basis of seniority, this role de facto falls upon the most senior member of the liberal wing, which is Breyer. The only way that would change is if John Roberts was replaced as Chief Justice by a liberal.

Q: One of the strategies I constantly hear if the Democrats take back the Senate, the House and the presidency is to add both D.C. and Puerto Rico as states. But I seem to recall that adding states to the union is not as simple as a straight vote by Congress, and the states have some say in the matter.

So, how do we add a state to the union and do the states actually have to vote on admitting a new member?
M.S., Vista, CA

A: The states do not get a vote, excepting that their elected representatives in Congress have to pass a bill granting statehood. But before that can happen, the would-be state has to draw up a state constitution, get it approved by voters, and submit it to Congress. Washington, D.C. would do so in the blink of an eye if statehood was on the table. Puerto Rico probably would, too, but it's less clear with them.

Q: If successful in this election, is there anything the Democrats can do legislatively to level the Electoral College playing field? J.W., Slingerlands, NY

A: Beyond adding additional states, the obvious thing would be to expand the number of seats in the House. They have not done this in over 100 years. As a thought exercise, imagine that there were 10,000 seats in the House, which is allocated by population. Wyoming, with 0.2% of the population would get 20 seats. California would get 1,200 seats. In the Electoral College, Wyoming would get 22 and California would get 1,202, a ratio of 54.6. That's a lot fairer than the current ratio of 18.3, and not so far from the population ratio of 66.6. The Democrats would never go to 10,000 seats, but every expansion of the House levels the playing field a bit.

If you want to read a bit more about the Electoral College, and some of its issues, here is an item we wrote a few years back.

Q: Robert Cahaly of the Trafalgar Group, who predicted Donald Trump would win in 2016, now predicts he will win re-election in 2020 with electoral votes in the "mid 270s." What are your thoughts on this? J.S., Winston-Salem, NC

Q: Why does your site ignore polling from the Trafalgar Group? They have polling showing Trump leading in Michigan, Florida, and Ohio. They also show John James leading in Michigan. They correctly called Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in 2016, so while they may be right-leaning, they can accurately poll Trump. Why would they not have the credibility to be shown on your site? S.P., Harrisburg, PA

A: Cahaly tweaks his polls to be extra-Republican friendly. As we have written before, he makes much noise about the states that he got right in 2016, but he never mentions the states where he was way wrong, like Arizona. It's not surprising that he's predicting a narrow Trump win in 2020 because "I push back against the liberal narrative" is his brand, and is also what his Republican clients want to hear.

We do not include Trafalgar in our database for two reasons. The first is that we are generally leery of any pollster that serves primarily Republican (or primarily Democratic) clients. The second is that we only use polls from pollsters who get a C or better from FiveThirtyEight. Trafalgar has a C- because their methodology is not terribly sound, and because they are more often way wrong than they are right.

Q: Why do you not consider the party lean and historical accuracy of the various polling organizations? My observation is that your data at any given moment may be driven by a "nonsense" poll. K.M., Philadelphia, PA

A: Well, FiveThirtyEight considers those things, and because we rely on their grades, that means we consider those things as well. Further, we generally take a careful look at a pollster the first time we consider using one of their polls, and make sure no red flags present themselves.

Q: I was wondering what use including the Civiqs polls from March-June is? Are there no more recent polls from Civiqs that could be used for the polling average in those states instead? Given that we're now in the final days of the campaign, why include polls from a pre-debates, pre-conventions, pre-Trump has Covid days? S.R., Orange, CA

A: The wording of our remarks suggested, to some readers, that we were incorporating those numbers into our thinking or into our map. That is not the case; we only incorporate the last week's worth of numbers into the map, and we only rely on recent polls when it comes to our thinking. The main reason we added those numbers is so that they would appear in the graph for Pennsylvania that shows how the race has unfolded over time. Also, it is possible that some Ph.D. student in political science somewhere might want to use our data for research on elections. We are one of the few places (maybe the only place) you can download all the polling data as a .csv file and feed it directly into Excel and other spreadsheets to examine.

Q: An op-ed by Marc A. Thiessen in Friday's Washington Post headlined "Trump cleaned Biden's clock on race" says that Joe Biden's support among Black voters ages 18-29 is down 17 points compared to Hillary Clinton's support in 2016. How does your polling data compare to the figure Thiessen cites? T.M., Downers Grove, IL

A: Forgive us for our strong words, but several of the right-wing columnists that the Post uses to give "balance" to its op-ed pages are just propagandists who do nothing but repeat Republican talking points. Hugh Hewitt is the worst, but Marc Thiessen is not far behind.

Here is the exact quote from the op-ed:

Biden's support among Black voters, a key part of [the Obama] coalition, is smaller than Clinton's was in 2016. And The Post reported in late May that only 68 percent of young African Americans aged 18 to 29 said they intend to vote for Biden—17 points fewer than supported Clinton four years ago.

So that is one poll, speaking for one segment of the Black electorate, that was taken five months ago, at a time when voter preferences are always much softer than they are on Election Day. Can you say "cherry picking"? In truth, Biden is currently projected to get between 88% and 92% of the Black vote, which means he will not be trailing Hillary Clinton by much, if he trails her at all. Certainly not by 17 points, unless she somehow got 107% of the Black vote.

Our advice is to skip the garbage that Thiessen and Hewitt put out. If you want to read a conservative op-ed in the Post that might actually say something interesting or useful, take a look at the pieces written by George Will, or Max Boot, or even Michael Gerson. Jennifer Rubin, too, although she might not consider herself a conservative anymore.

Q: Do you know if pollsters adjust their results because of already banked votes? These days we have elections that often span several months and not just a single day. S.C., Phoenix, AZ

A: They certainly do. However, as that is part of their "secret sauce," we have no idea what the specifics are.

Q: You've written in recent days that the polls seem to be tightening, and that Joe Biden's margins are decreasing, if only slightly. Is this typical of elections? If so, why? And are there any famous exceptions where the race blew wide open in the last week or so? J.B., Philadelphia, PA

A: Elections usually move around by a point or two in the last weeks, likely due to movement within the margins of error. Big swings are rare. In fact, since 1972, there have only been three swings of 2 points or greater in national polls in the two weeks before the election, and they all took place in elections where a Clinton was on the ticket. In 1992, Bill Clinton lost 7 points in the final stretch, in 1996 he lost 2.1 points, and in 2016 Hillary Clinton lost 3.1 points.

There isn't an example in the polling era of an election going from "close win" to "blowout win" in the last week of an election. In 1968, Hubert Humphrey made up a bunch of ground late, but that just took him from "blowout loss" to "close loss."

Q: Assuming Joe Biden wins, are there any other presidents who have run three times (or more) and then won? I can think of many who either won on the second try or who gave up after the second try (and I'm sure there are many perennial candidates of third parties who have never won). P.F., Weston, WI

A: Given that Biden's 2008 run ended very early (he withdrew on January 3), that means we're applying a pretty loose standard of what it means to "run for president." And by that standard, we would say there are at least two examples where the third time was the charm. The first is Richard Nixon, who was the Republican nominee in 1960, was a moderately serious candidate in 1964, and was the Republican nominee and winner in 1968. The second is Ronald Reagan, who made a semi-serious bid in 1968, made a completely serious bid in 1976 in case the GOP decided to kick Gerald Ford off the ticket, and then was nominated and won in 1980.

Q: Does your site have the most traffic out of all the sites with a hyphen in their domain name? If not, which site does? D.C., Brentwood, CA

A: Afraid not. We will tell you which one does at the very end of the answer to the final question below, in case anyone wants to think about it and make a guess. Here's a hint: You could say that the #1 hyphenated site is very high-definition.

Q: I assume you have statistics on readership, etc., despite not accepting advertising. Out of curiosity, about what percentage of your readership has submitted at least one question or comment?

As someone who has written letters to the editor and opinion pieces since high school and had at least some published in many of the leading national periodicals and most local (to me) Chicago publications, and who started a student newspaper in a high school that had never had one, I've always liked the interaction between reader and publisher. I also recognize that it would be impossible to give voice to all or even most readers but am fascinated by publications that make an attempt to give a voice to as many people as possible.
E.M., Chicago, IL

A: We agree with you, philosophically. As to the actual numbers, we haven't calculated them precisely, but we can nonetheless say that we've gotten questions or comments from less than 1% of our reader base. That's pretty similar to the feedback rate of newspapers, talk radio stations, etc.

Q: (Z) wrote that "We don't often cover polling for the House because it's sporadic, and also because there are 435 house districts, which is a lot." I get that, and you limit yourself to the presidential race and to Senate races. All those races are in effect statewide races and/or races with a national/federal impact.

But why don't you guys cover gubernatorial races? I've looked and don't seem to be finding an explanation for this omission on the website.
F.D., Ninove, Belgium

A: We do have occasional items on gubernatorial elections. However, we don't give heavy attention to the subject for two reasons. The first is that we can only do so much. The second is that this year only one race is really competitive: Montana, where Mike Cooney (D) is running against Greg Gianforte (R) for the open seat Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) will leave in January. Do you really want to read about the gubernatorial race in Indiana or Delaware? The only race where the "wrong" party will win (other than possibly Montana) is Vermont, where Gov. Phil Scott (RINO-VT) is going for another term and will get it.

Q: Today on Morning Joe, Al Franken and two other gentlemen were promoting As a reader of this site since 2004, I have long believed that the Votemaster initially started this site as, primarily, a means to encourage and assist Americans to vote from outside the country if they were residing abroad during elections. Am I mistaken? J.M., Norco, CA

A: You are close. This site was started in 2004 to promote, but (V) wasn't the founder of it, just someone who promoted it.

Q: Are you able to accept donations from Canadians or does this run afoul of election laws? A.P., Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

A: We have no connection to any political party or organization and so are not bound by U.S. election law. That means we can certainly accept donations from Canada. Just make sure it's in American dollars, eh. We ain't got no truck with no loonies or toonies on this side of the border.

And the answer to D.C.'s question from above is We told you it was high-definition.

Today's Presidential Polls

Utah could be the only state Trump improves in, relative to 2016, since there is no serious third-party candidate on the ballot this time. We do wonder who the Flying Elvises (Utah chapter) are voting for, though.

Otherwise, things are pretty rosy for Joe Biden. Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Iowa remain competitive, and he's up a bunch in Michigan and Pennsylvania. (Z)

State Biden Trump Start End Pollster
Florida 46% 50% Oct 20 Oct 21 Pulse Opinion Research
Florida 49% 47% Oct 21 Oct 22 St. Pete polls
Georgia 46% 46% Aug 30 Sep 02 Opinion Insight
Georgia 49% 45% Oct 12 Oct 15 Opinion Insight
Iowa 43% 50% Aug 30 Sep 02 Opinion Insight
Iowa 47% 45% Oct 05 Oct 08 Opinion Insight
Michigan 48% 39% Oct 15 Oct 19 EPIC-MRA
Michigan 50% 44% Aug 30 Sep 02 Opinion Insight
Michigan 51% 42% Oct 03 Oct 06 Opinion Insight
Montana 43% 49% Oct 18 Oct 20 Siena Coll.
North Carolina 48% 44% Oct 16 Oct 19 Meredith Coll.
Oklahoma 35% 60% Aug 13 Aug 31 Sooner Poll
Pennsylvania 51% 44% Oct 13 Oct 20 Muhlenberg Coll.
Utah 38% 50% Oct 12 Oct 17 RMG Research
West Virginia 38% 58% Oct 19 Oct 20 Triton Polling and Res.

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

Today's Senate Polls

As we note above, we add the older polls so our graphs will be as complete as possible. However, by comparing the older polls to the newer ones (such as in Iowa and in Michigan), it's clear that the Republicans have slipped a bit relative to where they were six or seven weeks ago. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Georgia Jon Ossoff 44% David Perdue* 44% Aug 30 Sep 02 Opinion Insight
Georgia Jon Ossoff 44% David Perdue* 44% Oct 12 Oct 15 Opinion Insight
Iowa Theresa Greenfield 43% Joni Ernst* 49% Aug 30 Sep 02 Opinion Insight
Iowa Theresa Greenfield 44% Joni Ernst* 45% Oct 05 Oct 08 Opinion Insight
Iowa Theresa Greenfield 46% Joni Ernst* 43% Oct 15 Oct 21 RMG Research
Michigan Gary Peters* 45% John James 39% Oct 15 Oct 19 EPIC-MRA
Michigan Gary Peters* 46% John James 42% Aug 30 Sep 02 Opinion Insight
Michigan Gary Peters* 49% John James 41% Oct 03 Oct 06 Opinion Insight
Montana Steve Bullock 46% Steve Daines* 49% Oct 18 Oct 20 Siena Coll.
North Carolina Cal Cunningham 43% Thom Tillis* 38% Oct 16 Oct 19 Meredith Coll.
North Carolina Cal Cunningham 45% Thom Tillis* 45% Oct 20 Oct 21 Pulse Opinion Research
Tennessee Marquita Bradshaw 36% Bill Hagerty 56% Oct 20 Oct 22 Cygnal

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct23 Veni, Vidi, Bitchy
Oct23 New Study: 130,000 Americans Dead Unnecessarily
Oct23 Trump Releases "60 Minutes" Interview
Oct23 And So It Begins?
Oct23 (Don't) Speak to the Hand
Oct23 My Blue...Iowa?
Oct23 COVID Diaries: It's the Stupid Economy
Oct23 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct23 Today's Senate Polls
Oct22 Obama Will Campaign for Biden
Oct22 Trump's Campaign Is Short of Cash
Oct22 USPS Ordered Its Internal Police to Stand Down
Oct22 It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over
Oct22 Biden Will Consider Putting Republicans in His Cabinet
Oct22 Poll: Americans Want a $2 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill
Oct22 Frank Luntz Blasts Trump
Oct22 The South Will Rise Again
Oct22 Maybe The Divide in Politics Isn't Democrats vs. Republicans
Oct22 McGrath's Supporters Are Helping a Libertarian
Oct22 House Districts Most Likely to Flip
Oct22 State Legislatures Most Likely to Flip
Oct22 Salamanders and Politics
Oct22 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct22 Today's Senate Polls
Oct21 Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Oct21 Trump Stomps Out of "60 Minutes" Interview
Oct21 About That Pennsylvania Decision...
Oct21 DeJoy Appears to Be Winning
Oct21 If You're Voting in Person, Dress Appropriately
Oct21 Still More Funny Feelings
Oct21 Bloomberg Delivers in Florida
Oct21 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct21 Today's Senate Polls
Oct20 Trumpworld Fails to Deliver A Game Changer
Oct20 This Week's Debate Will Have a Partial Kill Switch on the Microphones
Oct20 Fox News Could End Up Hurting Trump
Oct20 SCOTUS Allows Late-Arriving Pennsylvania Ballots to Count
Oct20 Trump's Got Trouble in Florida...
Oct20 ...and in NE-02, Too
Oct20 Cornyn Distances Himself from Trump
Oct20 Today's Presidential Polls
Oct20 Today's Senate Polls
Oct19 The State of the Race with 2 Weeks to Go
Oct19 The Coronavirus Is Surging in Battleground States
Oct19 Biden Is Swamping Trump on the Airwaves
Oct19 Court Blocks Late-Arriving Ballots in Michigan
Oct19 Trump-Oriented Printing Company Delays Shipping Ballots to Ohio and Pennsylvania
Oct19 Will Rejected Absentee Ballots Be the New Hanging Chads?
Oct19 Pelosi: Administration Has 48 Hours to Get a COVID-19 Relief Bill
Oct19 Debate Topics Have Been Announced