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A Fire Hose of Lying

Donald Trump is used to giving interviews to Fox News' opinion hosts, who lob the softest of softballs at him. He can handle questions like "Why are you the greatest president ever?" But when he has to face questions from actual voters, he deals with it by simply denying well-established facts and constantly lying. On Tuesday, ABC News held a town hall in Philadelphia moderated by an actual journalist, George Stephanopoulos. CNN's reporter Daniel Dale watched and wrote an article yesterday that he subtitled: "A fire hose of lying." Dale pointed out 20 major lies Trump told on stage. Here is a brief summary of them (those without quotes have been reworded for brevity):

Trump: "I didn't downplay it [the coronavirus]"
Truth: Bob Woodward has Trump on tape saying: "I always wanted to downplay it"

Trump: "Nobody knew the seniors are susceptible"
Truth: Chinese officials emphasized this in public as early as January. The NYT published this on Jan. 23

Trump: Joe Biden said the pandemic was totally over-exaggerated
Truth: Biden said no such thing—ever

Trump: The cupboards were bare of ventilators when I took over
Truth: Trump inherited 19,000 ventilators from the Obama administration

Trump: "We have 20% of the cases because of the fact that we do much more testing"
Truth: Testing does not create cases, it merely reveals them; the 20th worldwide in tests per capita

Trump: I put a ban on travel from China and Europe to protect Americans
Truth: The bans had so many holes you could fly a fleet of 747s through them

Trump: I will make a plan that will protect people with pre-existing conditions; Democrats won't
Truth: He's promised a plan for 4 years; Democrats support the ACA, which covers pre-existing conditions

Trump: I ended Obamacare
Truth: Republicans set the tax for not having insurance to $0 but the ACA is otherwise still intact

Trump: Biden has agreed to adopt Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) plan for socialized medicine
Truth: If he'd watched the primary debates, he'd have seen Biden repeatedly oppose Sanders' M4A plan

Trump: "Black communities are 81% in favor of having more police"
Truth: Actually, the poll he referenced said 20% want more police and 60% want the same amount as now

Trump: They [the Seattle protesters] took over a big chunk of the city—20% of the city
Truth: It was six blocks, a tiny fraction of the city

Trump: I activated the Minnesota National Guard after George Floyd was murdered
Truth: Gov. Tim Walz (DFL-MN) is the one who activated the Guard, not Trump

Trump: "I saw one form of crime [in NYC] up 300%"
Truth: No category of crime in NYC is up 300%. It is up slightly from 2019, when it was extremely low

Trump: I fired Jim Mattis
Truth: Mattis resigned because he disagreed with Trump on many issues

And this is only a sampler. But it may also be a preview of the first debate, which is less than 2 weeks away. If Trump is willing to blatantly lie on ABC, there is every reason to believe he will blatantly lie at the debate. This puts Joe Biden in a bind. Does he want to use his speaking time to call out Trump on his lies or does he want to make his own points? Of course, a lot depends on the moderator. If the moderator calls out Trump on lies or asks follow-up questions that effectively do so, then Biden won't have to. But if the moderator, Fox News' Chris Wallace, doesn't call out Trump, Biden has to decide what to do and how fiercely to do it.

This could be an unprecedented situation, in which one of the candidates just tells lies as the answer to every question (presumably to the approval of his base, which doesn't care about the truth anymore). The mainstream media will call out Trump the next day, but Fox News will probably praise Trump and say he won the debate easily. We seem to have arrived at a situation in which 40% of the country either can't tell truth from lies, or can tell but doesn't care. (V)

Trump Surprises Republicans with a Call for a Stimulus Package

Most Senate Republicans were getting comfortable with the idea of no new COVID-19 relief bill. A handful of GOP senators who are up for reelection would have preferred one, but they are the minority of the caucus. Then, all of a sudden, Donald Trump sent out this tweet yesterday, blindsiding Senate Republicans:

From their reactions, even leaders of the Republican caucus in the Senate knew nothing about this in advance. Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) responded to the tweet by saying: "I assume that means he wants to make a deal." That doesn't sound like someone who is in the loop, and Thune is the #2 Republican in the Senate.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan "problem solvers caucus" proposed a $1.5 trillion relief bill. This is more than the Republican bill, which proposed $1 trillion of narrowly focused aid, but less than half of the $3.4 trillion bill that House Democrats actually passed in May. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has recently said that she is willing to go as low as $2.2 trillion but no lower. It is possible that serious negotiations may begin again now that Trump seems to want a bill. When he ran for president in 2016, Trump promised he was going to do things differently. Clearly, keeping the leadership of your own party completely in the dark about what you are going to do has to be scored as a promise kept.

Now that Senate Republicans know what Trump wants, what happens next? Probably nothing. Once he got his bearings, Thune warned: "the bigger the price tag for any relief package, the more difficult it would be to get Senate Republicans on board." Of course, a bill that had 47 Democrats and 3 Republicans for it might make it with the help of Mike Pence. On the House side, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was also skeptical, but his opinion doesn't matter. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) can get anything she wants through the House without McCarthy's assistance.

This is a fairly unusual situation, with Senate Republicans basically telling Trump to go shove it. Generally, when he says "Jump!," the response is "How high?" Of course, by tomorrow, Trump may have forgotten what he tweeted yesterday and might let the whole matter drop. But if he really thinks a bill is needed for his reelection, he may tell Senate Republicans that they have to get with the program—and fast. Given how Trump operates, anything between dressing down Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for not moving faster, to denying he ever suggested making a deal is possible. (V)

Trump's Fate Could Be in DeSantis' Hands

Usually, governors are dependent on presidents, but this year Donald Trump's electoral fate could be in the hands of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Politico sent three reporters to interview him at length, after which they studied 60 interviews other reporters have done with him. What emerged is a somewhat unusual picture.

DeSantis loves to hug Trump in public, but in reality he doesn't care about Trump. He just sees that as politically useful for himself at the moment. He could switch on a dime if that were expedient. He is only 42 and regards himself as a rising star in the Republican Party. Since he is already governor and both Senate seats are occupied by Republicans who may be sitting in them for years to come, there is only one job higher than his current one. His every move is carefully calculated to support and advance his political goals. Nothing he does is an accident.

In some ways, DeSantis is like Trump, except that his IQ is much higher (although his EQ is just as low). Everything is about him. He doesn't really care how his decisions affect other Floridians, just how they affect him. Interestingly enough, DeSantis' Achilles heel may be the same as Trump's: his handling of COVID-19. Like Trump, he thinks he has done a bang-up job concerning it. But Florida's voters may see otherwise, and if they do and decide to vote Democratic, that could spell the end of Trump's presidency on Jan. 20.

Currently, Florida ranks third nationally in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases, second in terms of cases per 100,000 residents (behind only Louisiana), and almost 13,000 Floridians have died from the disease. The state's many seniors are worried that they could be next, and DeSantis's decisions have played a big role. He has refused to impose a statewide mask mandate, agitated for college football to be played, urged schools to open normally, cherry-picked statistics to announce, and generally downplayed the pandemic. Florida's only statewide elected Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (who will probably challenge DeSantis in 2022), said: "He has shown zero leadership handling this pandemic, has shown zero empathy to the millions of our citizens who are scared and have lost loved ones." To the extent that the voters agree with her and the Democrats can tie DeSantis to Trump, that could spell doom for Trump in the Sunshine State on Nov. 3.

Historically, Florida governors face crises all the time—usually hurricanes. Rick Scott and Jeb Bush knew that, were prepared for it, and were given good marks by the voters for their leadership. DeSantis might just break the GOP's string. He knows that he has two problems to manage between now and Election Day: the pandemic and his relationship with Trump, which are curiously intertwined. One Florida operative put the latter point this way: "Everybody in the White House besides the president can't stand Ron anymore." The reason is simple: DeSantis cares much more about his own reelection in 2022 and career beyond that than Trump's reelection this year, and every one of his actions takes that into consideration. Trump's staff understands this but Trump doesn't.

Trump's staff wants DeSantis to go above and beyond the call of duty and put everything aside to help Trump. For example, when Trump officially opened his campaign last year (in Orlando), DeSantis refused to promise that he would campaign with Trump. He still hasn't. Also, when Trump moved the convention to Jacksonville, he wanted DeSantis to raise lots of money for it. DeSantis wasn't interested. Again, DeSantis is always thinking what's best for him personally, not what's best for Trump, and everyone watching carefully sees that.

The bottom line here is that Trump is likely to sink or swim with how DeSantis does managing the virus and the state's economy. Shutting things down helps defeat the virus but hurts the economy, and vice-versa. That's tricky in every state, but especially in Florida due to the large number of seniors, few of whom have jobs but nearly all of whom are scared of getting the virus. If DeSantis botches it and the virus is running rampant in October and the voters are running scared, it could cost Trump Florida and the presidency. DeSantis knows this, but also knows that however important the 2020 election is, the 2022 election is even more important—because he will be on the ballot then.

Oh yeah, one last thing. Hurricane Sally is flooding Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties on the western edge of the panhandle. They have received 20 inches of rain and a big storm surge. Parking lots have become ponds. Over 200,000 people are without electricity. DeSantis is going to be judged on how well he deals with this, too. Herding people into shelters may protect them from the elements but it won't protect them from COVID-19. (V)

Adelson Will Spend Up to $50 Million to Help Trump

Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson apparently took note of Michael Bloomberg's promise to spend $100 million in Florida to help Joe Biden. Adelson has now said that he will spend $20 million to $50 million to help Donald Trump. He has been talking to Trump's team about where to best deploy the money. That is itself a crime, since federal law prohibits super PACs from coordinating with campaigns.

The donation comes at a critical time, when the campaign may be facing a cash crunch and Joe Biden is outraising Trump in small donations. Getting $50 million all at once substantially makes up for not getting so many small donations.

Adelson could end up spending more in 2020 than he did in 2016, when he and his wife put $82 million into pro-Republican ads. This made them only the #2 donor that year, though. Tom Steyer and his wife put $91 million into pro-Democratic ads. (V)

Biden Undercut Years of Trump's Courting of Indian-Americans with One Decision

Donald Trump invested years in making inroads with Americans whose heritage can be traced back to India. His campaign recruited people at Indian-American grocery stores. It held events conducted in five of India's 22 official languages. He has directed digital ads at them. Many Indian Americans work in tech, medicine, finance, and other high-end jobs, and could be amenable to a pitch of "You worked hard, so you deserve to keep what you earned." But in one fell swoop, Joe Biden undid all of the campaign's efforts: He picked the daughter of an Indian immigrant as his running mate.

Within days, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) spoke to Indian Americans on India's Independence Day about how her grandfather was active in India's independence movement. Then came a remix of a song from the popular Bollywood movie "Lagaan," which is basically the Indian version of "Rocky IV," except with Indian cricketers in the role of Rocky, and comically evil Brits in the role of Ivan Drago. She also was seen cooking masala dosas, a South Indian dish similar to French crepes, and occasionally throws in a Tamil word when speaking to an Indian-American audience even though she doesn't speak the language.

There was an instant reaction from the Indian American community, which has about 1.8 million eligible voters, many of them in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, and Georgia. Recent polling has shown that 68% support Biden/Harris and 28% support Trump/Pence. There is definitely a generational split here. Older Indian Americans tend to be more Republican, while younger ones lean Democratic. Both parties are reaching out to their supporters to get them registered. Karthick Ramakrishnan, a political science professor at the University of California, Riverside, said: "It was always going to be an uphill climb for the Trump campaign to make significant inroads with the Indian American population. That has become near-impossible now with Kamala Harris' appointment." Even better news for Biden is that outreach to Indian Americans can be done entirely under the radar without antagonizing other demographic groups. Was this one of the reasons Biden picked Harris? Probably not, but it could be an unexpected benefit that he wouldn't have gotten with other Black potential veeps, like Susan Rice, Stacey Abrams, or Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). (V)

The Mail Really Is Slow

When newly installed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the quiet part out loud—that he made changes in the USPS that slowed down delivery—there was an uproar that hasn't subsided yet. As it turns out, there are companies that monitor the speed of the mail for bulk mailers (e.g., banks), which care about when their mail arrives. One of them is appropriately named SnailWorks. Reporters from the New York Times talked to them and got some data. Here is a chart showing how late local mail was from April 2019 until Aug. 31, 2020:

The U.S. has gone from roughly 
25% of the mail being late, on average, to nearly 50%, with a clear spike about six weeks ago

As you can see, after DeJoy took over, mail delivery got appreciably worse. Now local mail is not always delivered on time. It is late about half the time. The delay measures from 1-5 days, but usually it is 1-2 days late. Since local delivery is supposed to take 2 days, this means first-class letters will take 3-7 days to be delivered.

However, ballots are not always sent first class. Bulk mail takes longer (intentionally, because it is cheaper). Snailworks didn't measure how long bulk mail takes. In many cases, voting by mail requires three transits of the postal system. First, the voter mails in a request for an absentee ballot. Second, the office processes it and sends the ballot. Third, the voter fills it in and mails it back. With 3-7 days per transit, the three trips could take 9-21 days. Now add in the time the elections office takes to process the request and prepare the ballot for mailing—say, 2 days. Then we have a range of 11-23 days, assuming the voter mails the ballot back the day it is received. Even if everything goes right and there is no additional monkey business, we are probably looking at 11 days, best case. In practice this means requesting a ballot later than Oct. 15 is probably too late. Anyone planning to vote by mail should request a ballot right now, fill it in as soon as it arrives, and if at all possible, bring it to a drop box or the elections office rather than mailing it. (V)

Cunningham and Tillis Joust over Vaccine

Welcome to the vaccine wars. Like everything else in America, potentially life-saving vaccines are now a partisan issue. That was made clear in the first senatorial debate between Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and challenger Cal Cunningham (D) held in Raleigh and moderated by WRAL's David Crabtree. Cunningham said he would be hesitant to get a vaccine if it were available this year, due to political and financial corruption in Washington. Tillis said: "We just heard a candidate for the U.S. Senate look into the camera and tell 10 million North Carolinians he would be hesitant to take a vaccine. I think that that's irresponsible." Then Cunningham said that he would have questions about the political influence behind the vaccine's approval. Tillis said that he is not worried about any influence from the administration in pushing a vaccine to market. And so it went.

Americans are more and more with Cunningham. In a recent NBC News poll, only 44% of Americans said they would get the vaccine if it were available now. That is roughly the same as the number of people who plan to vote for Donald Trump. Is there a correlation here? NBC didn't ask. In April, 72% said they would get a vaccine. It is clear now that people who don't want a vaccine are not just the anti-vaxxers, who are against all vaccines in principle. There are many people who believe that Donald Trump is going to announce a vaccine that has not been thoroughly tested in the hope of winning some votes.

Tillis and Cunningham fought over other issues as well, but the pandemic and its consequences for North Carolina were the main issues. There have been 185,000 confirmed cases in the state and 3,000 deaths there. Trump was hardly mentioned.

One factor that could play a role in the race is the presence of the Libertarian Party Senate candidate Shannon Bray and the Constitution Party candidate Kevin Hayes. Neither was on stage, but both are on the November ballot. The Constitution Party is far to the right of the Republican Party and whatever votes it gets will come out of Tillis' hide. The Libertarian Party is basically anti-government, very much anti-tax, and for unbridled capitalism. Probably most of its votes would otherwise come out of Tillis' total, although people whose only issue is legalization of marijuana or prostitution might vote Libertarian. (V)

Ohio Board Rejects Sending Postage-Paid Envelopes with Absentee Ballots

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) asked the Ohio Controlling Board for permission to use $3 million already allocated to his office to supply absentee voters with postage-paid envelopes. He said this would make voting easier and wouldn't cost the state a dime. The Board, which controls changes to the state budget, refused. Clearly the Board is not interested in having as many people as possible vote.

Voters who get an absentee ballot now will have to put a stamp on the return envelope. Many younger voters never use the mail and may not even know that letters require stamps. Even if they do, they may not know where to buy one. You can buy a booklet of 20 stamps online, or from some ATMs, or at many grocery stores, for $11, but to buy a single stamp you have to go to a post office and stand in line, something many people don't want to do in the middle of a pandemic. On the other hand, with a booklet of 20 forever stamps, you are set for all presidential elections through 2096. This decision by the Board is almost certainly going to depress turnout among younger voters in Ohio, and thus help Donald Trump.

As it turns out, the Board is actually aware that a pandemic is in progress and that voters might not want to go to a post office with 55 cents to buy a stamp. It held the meeting that rejected postpaid envelopes on Zoom.

While LaRose looks like the "good guy" in the above battle, he really is not. He made a decision early on saying that there would be only one ballot drop box per county, located at the elections office. This means that some Ohioans may have to drive half an hour or more to deposit their ballot in a drop box, or else play Russian roulette with it by mailing it. LaRose's explanation was that he wasn't sure if Ohio law allowed him to place more than one per county.

The Democrats sued and a state judge ruled that not only was it legal for him to place as many drop boxes per county as he wanted to, but placing only one per county was "arbitrary and unreasonable." So how did LaRose react to the judge's ruling? He just ignored it and still plans one box in each of Ohio's 88 counties. His spokeswoman, Maggie Sheehan, explained: "Today's ruling didn't change anything, and the secretary's directive remains in place." Unspoken, of course, is that making it easier to vote may hurt the Republicans, so the secretary has no real interest in that. It is even possible that LaRose's attempt to use postage-paid envelopes was a false flag because he might have known in advance that the Board would reject it. With the drop boxes, there is no one who can overrule him, so he can't approve them in the hope that someone higher up the food chain will kill the idea. (V)

Alaska Changes the Ballot to Hurt Independents

Alaskans are proud of their independence and like to vote for independents for public office. For that reason, Al Gross entered and won the Democratic senatorial primary as an independent (like Bernie Sanders did for president, except for the winning part). Alyse Galvin is also an independent running for the House seat. The Alaska Division of Elections was worried about two independents running against Republicans in the general election, but it couldn't relabel the two independents as Democrats since they are not formally Democrats. What to do?

Fortunately, Gail Fenumiai, the director of the Division, who is technically nonpartisan but was appointed by Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) in 2018, had an idea. At the last minute, she redesigned the ballot to remove the candidates' party affiliations (or lack thereof) so that it just has the name of the party that nominated the candidates next to the candidates' names. In this way, there is no way for a voter to see that Gross and Galvin are actually independents who got the Democratic nomination. They are displayed the same way Joe Biden is, as "Democratic nominee." What Fenumiai did is not illegal, but is an abrupt change from how it has always been done, for no obvious reason. Problem solved! To no one's surprise, Republican officials will use every possible trick to gain partisan advantage, but would howl to the moon if a Democrat tried something like that, especially at the last minute when the ballots are about to go out. When asked about the change, Fenumiai said she was too busy doing other things to answer. (V)

How to Fix a Broken Democracy

America's democracy is broken. See the two items above, which just scratch the surface of the numerous issues that have presented themselves, particularly in the last three or four years. As Shakespeare might have said: "I judge their number/Upon or near the rate of thirty thousand." But that's a bit imprecise, and Shakespeare was more into divine right of kings than into democracy anyhow, so as Plan B, we will let Ian Millhiser do the counting. He gets to 11 serious issues. He also comes up with some solutions that the Democrats could enact if they win all the marbles:

  • End the filibuster: The original idea behind the filibuster was just politeness—that is, not to interrupt a senator while he was speaking. Then it devolved into Southern senators reading the Bible or the Alabama phone book to block civil rights legislation. Now pretty much the only bills that can pass the Senate are those naming Post Offices and those that can be done using the budget reconciliation procedure. At John Lewis' funeral, Barack Obama called it "a relic of the Jim Crow era." If the Democrats win control of the Senate, they can probably put the filibuster in the drop box of history.

  • Pass a new voting rights bill: The Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that required certain states to get advance approval from the Justice Dept. before changing their voting laws. The result was a flurry of new state laws that make it harder for poor people to vote (again, see above). The House has written a bill called HR 4, which effectively reinstates the provision and more in such a way as to conform to what the Supreme Court said was needed. It would expand voting rights for all Americans and make it much harder for states to restrict them again.

  • Have same-day registration nationally: The reason advance voter registration was invented in the first place is to prevent people from going from precinct to precinct and voting a dozen times on Election Day. Registration nails down your precinct so you can vote only there. But with computers and statewide computer databases these days, it should be possible for anyone to show up at any precinct with the appropriate paperwork, register, and vote right then. Once the voter was entered into the database for a specific precinct, he or she couldn't go to a different one and try it again because the poll workers there would see the previous registration.

  • Make voting easier: Another House bill, HR 1, requires all states to have early voting for 15 days prior to Election Day for at least 10 hours every day. It also requires all states to allow absentee voting just by asking for an absentee ballot—no excuse required. It also states that any state requiring a photo ID must accept in lieu of a photo ID a sworn statement from the voter that he or she is eligible to vote. This would greatly increase minority turnout in a number of states with photo-ID laws.

  • Stop running elections on the cheap: Running an election costs money, but financing the process is always a low priority. Finding poll workers is tough and equipment is often outdated. What is needed is to stop running elections on a shoestring. Paying the poll workers a decent wage would make it easier to find people to do it. Having modern equipment that left an audit trail would make recounts possible everywhere. More money could allow states and counties to hire election security experts to prevent foreign interference.

  • Pay people to vote: Australia has very high turnout because failing to vote is a crime that comes with a fine of about $60. The Supreme Court probably wouldn't accept that in the U.S., but giving people a refundable tax credit for voting would work because Congress has very broad powers to pass tax laws. By making the credit refundable, even people who owe no tax could file and get a refund. If the credit were, say, $100, then even if all 200 million eligible voters claimed it, the cost would be only $20 billion. With trillion-dollar bills being passed these days, that wouldn't break the bank, but it would surely motivate poor people to vote.

  • De-gerrymander the Senate: The Senate is basically a gerrymander of the entire country. Fixing that (by making the number of senators depend on a state's population) would require a constitutional amendment that would never pass. But Congress could do a bit to fix the situation by admitting D.C. as a state, which would add two Black Democratic senators to the body. Congress could also encourage California to split itself into two states. If the two states were equally populous, they would be the third and fourth most populous states, after only Texas and Florida. Adding four Democratic senators (two from California, two from D.C.) would somewhat offset the influence of the low-population, rural, almost-entirely-white states. No constitutional amendment is needed to add or split states, just a new law.

  • Pass the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact: Fifteen states and D.C. have joined a compact to have their electoral votes go to the national winner, not the state (or D.C.) winner, as soon as the number of electoral votes in the compact hits a majority. Currently the compact needs states with another 74 EVs to take effect (and slightly more if D.C. becomes a state or CA becomes two states). De facto this would not eliminate the Electoral College, but would bypass it. If states with 270 EVs were to vote for the popular winner, it wouldn't matter what the other states did. Congress probably has to sign off on such a deal, but if so, it might very well agree to do so.

  • End gerrymandering within states: HR 1 also requires every state to pass a law handing redistricting over to a 15-member commission consisting of five Democrats, five Republicans, and five independents. Any map they produced would have to be approved by at least one Democrat, one Republican, and one independent. If the commission was unable to come up with a map, a panel of three federal judges would draw it. This procedure would lead to more competitive elections and fewer "safe" seats.

  • Have public financing for candidates: Wealthy donors can effectively buy senators, representatives, governors, state senators, and state representatives. That has to end by providing public financing of campaigns. The (current) Supreme Court would probably not allow any law that banned people from spending their own money on elections, but at the very least all political spending could be made public in real time. Campaigns could be financed with public funds. In addition, for every dollar a donor gave to a super PAC above some threshold, say, $2,800, the government would give a dollar to his or her opponent. So if, say, Sheldon Adelson cut a check for $50 million to the RNC, the government would cut a check for $50 million to the DNC. That would also apply to Michael Bloomberg giving money to the Democrats, of course. Neutralizing big donors could go a long way toward changing legislators' priorities once they were in office, since pleasing big donors would no longer be of much value to them.

  • Prevent judges from sabotaging reforms: The raft of conservative judges approved in the past 4 years could try to strike down any reforms, but Congress has weapons, too. The Constitution creates the Supreme Court but leaves the creation, structure, and scope of lower courts entirely to Congress. For example, Congress could strip all the appeals courts of the power to hear cases about voting and voting laws and create a new appeals court in D.C. specifically for taking those appeals. Congress could also strip the appeals courts and the Supreme Court of the power to stay lower-court decisions on voting cases. So once a district judge made a ruling, that would go into effect immediately and remain in effect until the Supreme Court made a final decision, which could be years later. This would prevent the appeals courts and Supreme Court from blocking new voting rights laws for years while the cases were yoyoing through the court system.

It is clear that no Senate Republican will vote for any of these provisions since they all know that if every eligible voter could cast a vote, no Republican would ever be elected president again. If the filibuster were eliminated and the Democrats had a majority, they could just ram all of these things through. However, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) opposes ending it. If his vote ends up being crucial, the Democrats could probably convince him by creating a large Fort Manchin in West Virginia, which would employ 10,000 people. Or maybe by making West Virginia the first state to get high-speed Internet to every county.

Alternatively, the Democrats could draw up two tax bills. HR 5 would raise the top income tax rate to 91% (the same as it was during the Eisenhower administration) and the top estate tax to the same level. HR 6 would set the top rates to 65%. The Democrats could tell the Republicans that if 10 Senate Republicans went along with the eleven provisions described above, they would pass HR 6, otherwise they would pass HR 5 using the budget reconciliation process. And they would announce this in public and encourage donors to advise senators how to vote on HR 1 and HR 4 (and any other bills needed to enact all of the above). Let this sausage be made in public.

None of this will happen before Election Day, of course. Dan Coats, who was elected to the Senate three times as a Republican from Indiana, served as ambassador to Germany, and was appointed by Donald Trump as Director of National Intelligence in 2017, a job he held until Trump fired him in 2019, has written an op-ed in The New York Times proposing a national bipartisan commission to oversee the November election. Coats says that if people don't trust the results, that would be the end of America's experiment in democracy. He suggested that the commission be populated with highly respected current and former elder statespersons, former Supreme Court justices, and respected leaders from outside government. Its job would not be to make new election laws, but to monitor the election and report on whether existing laws were followed. Congress would have to create the commission by law and give it the necessary powers to do its job. Its existence might even be an incentive for states to follow their own laws. It could also investigate foreign interference in real time. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

With Joe Biden leading Maine by 21 points, it is very unlikely that Donald Trump can win either of Maine's two congressional districts. North Carolina looks like it will be close, but we knew that already. (V)

State Biden Trump Start End Pollster
California 60% 31% Sep 04 Sep 13 Public Policy Inst. of Calif.
Kentucky 38% 58% Sep 10 Sep 14 Quinnipiac U.
Maine 59% 38% Sep 10 Sep 14 Quinnipiac U.
North Carolina 47% 47% Sep 09 Sep 13 SurveyUSA
South Carolina 45% 51% Sep 10 Sep 14 Quinnipiac U.
Utah 35% 53% Sep 07 Sep 12 RMG Research

Today's Senate Polls

OH Predictive Insights is located in Phoenix and this is its sixth poll of the Senate race, all of which have Kelly ahead outside the margin of error. If the NRSC's internal polls show the same thing, McSally is on her own from now on and the NRSC's money is going to Iowa, Montana, and maybe even South Carolina, where Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is in the fight of his life. If Jaime Harrison were to pull this off, then South Carolina would have two Black senators. While racial justice is an ongoing battle, South Carolina having two Black senators would certainly be a milestone. Also of note is that Sara Gideon is pulling away in Maine. No doubt Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is "concerned," as she often is. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Mark Kelly 52% Martha McSally* 42% Sep 08 Sep 10 OH Predictive Insights
Kentucky Amy McGrath 41% Mitch McConnell* 53% Sep 10 Sep 14 Quinnipiac U.
Maine Sara Gideon 54% Susan Collins* 42% Sep 10 Sep 14 Quinnipiac U.
South Carolina Jaime Harrison 48% Lindsey Graham* 48% Sep 10 Sep 14 Quinnipiac U.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep16 White House Holds "Abraham Accords" Signing Ceremony
Sep16 Primary Season Draws to an End
Sep16 Lots of Maneuvering in Congress
Sep16 Poll: Maybe America Is Less Divided Than it Seems
Sep16 About that "Blue" Puerto Rico
Sep16 About that "Blue" Minnesota
Sep16 Scientific American Announces Its Presidential Endorsement
Sep16 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep16 Today's Senate Polls
Sep15 Rage Unleashed Today
Sep15 Trump Is Rallying Again
Sep15 Dockets Are Filling Up Quickly
Sep15 Keep a Wary Eye on Mike Pompeo
Sep15 Sasse Wants To Get Rid of the 17th Amendment
Sep15 Collins Is Not Threading the Needle Well
Sep15 McConnell Again Warns Democrats Not to Kill the Filibuster
Sep15 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep15 Today's Senate Polls
Sep14 Bloomberg Will Spend $100 Million in Florida to help Biden
Sep14 Almost Two-Thirds of Americans Disapprove of Trump's Handling of the Pandemic
Sep14 Both Campaigns Are Targeting White Women
Sep14 Could LDS Church Members Be Up for Grabs in 2020?
Sep14 Far More Democrats Than Republicans Have Requested Absentee Ballots
Sep14 Many Felons Will Be Able to Vote This Year
Sep14 When Is an Election Rigged?
Sep14 Chances of a New Stimulus Before the Election Are Close to Zero
Sep14 Sabato's Crystal Ball Makes Electoral-College Predictions
Sep14 Could a COVID-Measures Resister Cost the Republicans a House Seat?
Sep14 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep14 Today's Senate Polls
Sep13 Sunday Mailbag
Sep13 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep13 Today's Senate Polls
Sep12 Appeals Court Rules Ex-Felons Must Pay to Vote
Sep12 Saturday Q&A
Sep12 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep12 Today's Senate Polls
Sep11 Trump Reaps the Woodward Wind
Sep11 Senate COVID-19 Bill Dies a Quick Death
Sep11 The August Fundraising Numbers Are In
Sep11 Whistleblower: I Was Told to Ignore Russia
Sep11 Trump Renews His Nobel Peace Prize Push
Sep11 Trump Bans Drilling off the Coast of Southern States
Sep11 COVID-19 Diaries: Do or Die
Sep11 Today's Presidential Polls
Sep11 Today's Senate Polls
Sep10 Ipsos National Poll: Biden 52% and Trump 40%
Sep10 Trump Is Gaining among Latinos in South Florida
Sep10 HHS Tried to Muzzle Fauci
Sep10 Trump Releases a List of Possible New Supreme Court Justices