Dem 51
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GOP 49
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New polls: AZ GA VT
Dem pickups vs. 2020 Senate: OH PA
GOP pickups vs. 2020 Senate : NV
Political Wire logo Think You Already Know Crazy?
Turnout Looks Primed to Reach Historic Levels Again
Prosecutors Hold Off Final Hunter Biden Case Decision
AI Becomes a Political ‘Super Weapon’
RNC Seizes on Political Affiliations of Poll Workers
Time to Light Up

Appeals Court Gives the DoJ What It Wants

The Department of Justice is tired of Donald Trump's stalling on the case involving him keeping classified defense documents in unprotected boxes all over his house at Mar-a-Lago. After a district judge, Aileen Cannon, agreed with Trump's request for a special master to sort through the documents looking for any that might be privileged, the DoJ appealed to the Atlanta-based Eleventh Circuit. The Circuit Court said the DoJ can have the classified documents immediately and wouldn't have to wait for the special master to finish his work.

But the DoJ wants the rest of the documents as well, and wants the appeals court to hurry up and rule on the case, hopefully bypassing the special master and giving the DoJ everything immediately. Yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit Court ordered Trump's lawyers to state their final position by Nov. 10, with no extensions allowed. Final briefs must be filed by Nov. 17. The district judge had given Trump's lawyers until December to finish their work, so the new ruling shortens the process by about a month. So, the DoJ got most of what it wanted (it had proposed Nov. 4 as the due date). Trump's lawyers argued against speeding up the process, but the appeals judges didn't agree.

In other Trump-related legal news, Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis' case against Trump is moving into a new phase. The judge overseeing the case, Robert McBurney, has signed off on a number of search warrants Willis wants to execute. However, the warrants have been sealed to prevent the targets from destroying evidence. Besides Trump, it is known that Rudy Giuliani is a target, but there could well be other targets in addition. (V)

Musk Plans to Buy Twitter after All

Elon Musk made an offer to buy Twitter at $54.20 per share for a total of $44 billion, then withdrew the offer and said he'd fight in court to be allowed to cancel the purchase. But now, shortly before the trial was set to begin, he says he is planning to go through with the deal after all. For a while, he seemed to have cold feet as the market nosedived and his stock holdings dropped. Now he seems to be over his buyer's remorse—unless he changes his mind again.

Why the sudden change of mind—again? A real possibility is that Twitter has sued him for breach of contract and Musk's lawyers have told him that he would probably lose in court. Musk foolishly waived due diligence, which means he can't argue in court that he discovered things about the company after signing that made the deal unattractive. In essence, he declared in the contract that he already knew everything he needed to know and gave up his right to further investigation. That, coupled with fact that the judge in the case is Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick, could be the reason. She is known to be a stickler for insisting that when people sign contracts, they must abide by them or suffer serious consequences. In her view, the time for negotiations is before you sign a contract, not after.

Musk has repeatedly said that he is against censorship and will replatform Donald Trump if he gains control. This will put Trump in a real bind. On the one hand, getting back on Twitter would give the former president an enormous reach, something that would help a 2024 run greatly. On the other hand, that move would be the death knell for Truth Social and the potential billion-dollar grift that it could entail. However, the SEC is making bad noises about Trump's plans to merge it into an empty-shell company and make lots of money in the process. Trump might already see the writing on the wall and believe it says that the merger is doomed. Still, a Musk takeover of Twitter would force Trump to choose between power and money, not a choice he wants to make.

If Musk buys Twitter, that has massive implications. First, the entire management of Twitter would be canned instantly and replaced with Musk and/or Trump flunkies. Since Musk is an actual successful businessman, he would probably prefer managers who were actually capable of running the company.

Second, many of the technical people would quit outright rather than work for Musk. This could cripple the company, depending on who quit. There could also be people who hate Trump and Musk and stay on for the purpose of sabotaging the company from inside. Replacing large numbers of quitters may not be easy and with a shortage of programmers, bots could thrive on the platform.

Third, Musk says he is for free speech and against censorship. Ain't gonna happen. No way. If Musk and Trump take over, millions of people who hate both of them are going to start tweeting all manner of hate, misinformation, porn, and other stuff that Musk will not like at all. The goal will to be destroy Twitter. To combat that, Musk will have to implement new and heavy censorship rules, only different ones from the current Twitter. Instead of censoring people who put out misinformation and lies, he will have to censor people who hate himself and Trump. The people who will try to take down Twitter will get cleverer and cleverer, requiring Musk to outdo them—and with a stripped-down technical staff. The anti-Musk anti-Trump folks' goal will be to turn Twitter into a stinking cesspool so advertisers don't want to be there, thus causing Musk to lose money. Musk could try to battle this with money, offering programmers very high salaries with huge bonuses if they stay for 1 or 2 years. It is impossible to predict who might win this, but if Musk tries to turn Twitter into a dream paradise for conservatives, he will have a huge fight on his hands and it is impossible to predict how it will turn out. Among other results might be the creation of a new platform for progressive voices, leaving Twitter to conservatives. This way the two sides would not have to listen to each other at all.

As if his plan to follow through and actually buy Twitter didn't give him enough attention, Musk sent out a tweet yesterday asking his 100 million followers to vote on his proposed plan for peace in Ukraine. The plan consists of giving Vladimir Putin what he wants and hoping he is satisfied merely with getting to keep eastern Ukraine and Crimea and having Ukraine neutered. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded with a poll of his own, asking his followers which Musk they like better, the pro-Russia Musk or the pro-Ukraine Musk. (V)

Can Poll Workers Be Trusted?

We have written before about the dangers of secretary of state candidates whose platform is basically to "find" as many votes as Donald Trump asks them to find. This won't be a problem in 2022, although it could be big in 2024. But there is also a potential problem even if all of the election deniers are deposited in the trash can on Nov. 8. This problem centers on the 2022 poll workers who, according to legend, are civic-minded little old ladies in their 80s and work the polling places out of a sense of duty and devotion to democracy. They are notoriously helpful and fair.

However, Republicans are going to huge efforts to recruit a new kind of poll worker, one who is hyperpartisan and determined to disenfranchise as many suspected Democrats as possible. At one extreme is a poll worker who is intentionally extremely slow and who takes 30 seconds to inspect every drivers' license just to gum up the works (in Democratic precincts) in order to produce long lines and cause voters to go home without voting. At the other extreme is a poll worker who says: "I'm sorry Mrs. Smith, you didn't dot the letter "i" in your name when you signed in, so I think it is a forgery and you can't vote. Next voter, please." There are many intermediate forms of sabotage as well, of course.

Some cases of poll worker malfeasance have already been detected in recent elections. A Michigan county Republican Party official encouraged poll workers to ignore the ironclad rule of no cell phone usage in polling places. Also in Michigan was a losing GOP candidate for governor who told poll workers to unplug election equipment if they thought something was wrong. A third example in Michigan is when a poll worker inserted a USB stick in the electronic poll book. That could have been to copy information from the list of voters, or more maliciously, to have some program on the stick be executed when the stick was detected (but autorun can be enabled or disabled depending on the poll book's configuration files). That stunt was detected and led to felony charges against the poll worker. Nevertheless, bad-faith poll workers are a new threat that wasn't present before.

States can try to defend against malignant poll workers if they want to. First is to vet them carefully and train them vigorously. Some states go further and assume poll workers will be partisan, so they let each party appoint half the poll workers and tell them to watch the other half like hawks. A bipartisan group has produced a document aimed at addressing the problem, including features like training, requiring workers to take legally binding oaths, partisan parity, punishments for malfeasance, etc. Of course, honest secretaries of state can create and enforce rules designed to keep poll workers honest, but a crooked secretary will likely tolerate crooked poll workers. As they say, a fish rots from the head down. (V)

Fox Is Covering the Senate Races More than CNN and MSNBC Combined

Fox is all-in on the Senate races. In the 4 weeks after Labor Day, Fox's primetime hosts mentioned the top seven Senate races twice as much as CNN and MSNBC combined. Fox really cares about the Senate and wants the Republicans to win control badly.

To that end, the hosts are constantly attacking the Democrats in the key Senate races. That is their right, of course, and probably what their audience wants to hear. What is surprising though is how little attention CNN and MSNBC are giving to the Senate. Also, Republican Senate candidates in the top seven contests have been on Fox 19 times since Labor Day, obviously hugely valuable publicity. The Democratic nominees in those races have been on MSNBC only four times. No Democratic nominee or Republican nominee has been on CNN. It is true that CNN styles itself as neutral, but it could obviously have the Democrat on the 8 p.m. show and the Republican on the 9 p.m. show one day and reverse that with some other state the next day. Ignoring the Senate races altogether is hardly informing its audience about these crucial races.

Fox Has been particularly obsessed with the Pennsylvania race between Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA) and Dr. Mehmet Oz (R), with the two nominees getting 190 mentions in the 4 weeks after Labor Day. Fetterman has been mentioned more often, but that is not necessarily helpful if the mention is about how awful he is and how he will destroy the country if elected.

While the Pennsylvania race is tops with all three networks, the other races also are getting some attention. The next most mentioned races are in Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona, Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina, in that order, as shown below:

Senate mentions on cable. Fox has,
for example, mentioned Fetterman 134 times and Oz 56, while for MSNBC it's 29 and 32, and for CNN it's 18 and 25. The other races
are similarly disproportional, and in particular, CNN has mentioned the Arizona race three times, the North Carolina race twice,
the Ohio race once, and the Nevada race not at all.

Fox's 19 Republican interviews break down as follows: Mehmet Oz (6), Adam Laxalt (3), Blake Masters (3), Herschel Walker (3), J.D. Vance (2) and Ron Johnson (2). (V)

Is Herschel Walker a Preview of 2024?

Herschel Walker is alleged to have gotten a woman pregnant in 2009 and then paid for her to get an abortion. He denies it, but the woman claims to have a copy of his canceled check and the receipt from the abortion clinic. More important is that Walker's own son, Christian Walker, says the story is true.

Now, who is Christian Walker? Is he some kind of Democrat bent on taking down his father, sort of like Ron Reagan Jr.? Actually, not at all. Christian Walker is a conservative personality on social media who runs a podcast for conservatives. He likes conservatives. He just doesn't like complete hypocrites like Dad who travel around condemning absentee fathers and abortions when he himself is an absentee father to at least four of his children (including Christian) with four women and who paid for an abortion for one of his many girlfriends. So when Walker's own (conservative) son called him a liar, it was a big news story, especially since Christian hasn't criticized his father in public before.

As we noted yesterday, after the story broke, a few Republicans began supporting Herschel. Now it is clear that the entire Republican Party apparatus is backing him. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), chairman of the NRSC, said: "When the Democrats are losing, as they are right now, they lie and cheat and smear their opponents. Herschel has denied these allegations and the NRSC and Republicans stand with him, and Georgians will stand with him too." Scott didn't bother to mention that Walker's conservative son said he believes that his father paid for the abortion. Steven Law, president of the pro-Republican Senate Leadership Fund, said: "Full speed ahead" and is planning to put $34 million into television ads in Georgia between now and Election Day.

Charlie Sykes, a long-time conservative radio host who is now at The Bulwark, said that this incident is a preview of 2024. When any Republican is caught with his pants on fire, lying through his teeth about an issue Republicans care deeply about (abortion in this case), the reaction is always going to be: "No big deal. It doesn't matter." The only principle the Republican Party has now is pursuing and holding power. Nothing else matters. Nothing. Sykes said that while a few Republicans might believe Walker is telling the truth (even though his own son says he is lying), for the most part the reaction is: "We just don't give a sh**, there's a Senate seat to win here and that's all that matters."

Henry Olsen, one of the Washington Post's conservative columnists, yesterday wrote: "Politics, it seems, is too important for questions of character to matter."

There is considerable dispute over who first said it, but for many Republican politicians and voters winning isn't the best thing; it's the only thing. The Walker incident shows that no behavior is so egregious that it disqualifies a candidate who has a chance to win an important election. If Walker survives this incident unscathed, and especially if he actually wins, every Republican politician in the country will take note and lie through his teeth if caught with his hand in the cookie jar (or worse) and will probably also escape unscathed. Morality is as dead as the dodo. Only power matters now. Somewhere, probably somewhere very warm, Machiavelli is smiling. (V)

2024 Looks Grim for Senate Democrats

If things go right for the Democrats in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Ohio they might end up with 54 seats in the Senate. They will be ecstatic. For 2 years. Then 2024 will hit and they will be unhappy. This year's Senate map is the Democrats' dream map. 2024 is the Republicans' dream map. Take a look:

2024 Senate map, the red seats up are all in
the Midwest, the South and the mountain states, while the Democrats have seats up in the upper South, pretty much all of New England,
the Southwest, the upper Midwest, and Montana

First, far more Democratic than Republican seats will be at stake in 2024. That means the Democrats will be playing defense and not offense. Second, not a single red state up for reelection is a plausible Democratic pickup. The easiest one is Florida, where Rick Scott is up. He has run statewide three times and won three times. If Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), a long-time police officer and former Orlando police chief can't knock off the lazy Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), then the ambitious and megawealthy (magawealthy?) Scott will be hard to bring down. The Democrats' only hope is that Scott decides not to run for reelection in 2024 so he can concentrate on running for some other office (and we don't mean Demings' seat).

Third, and worst, there are several Democrats who are very vulnerable. Think about Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Joe Manchin (D-WV). All are from very red states. Then there are Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Bob Casey (D-PA), all in swing states. In a red wave, Democrats could lose eight seats. So even if they are at 54 in Jan. 2023, they could be deep in the minority in Jan. 2025. A map in which no Republican is vulnerable and as many as eight Democrats are vulnerable is the Republicans' dream map.

But wait, it gets even better for the Republicans. Politico is reporting that as many as eight Democratic senators are thinking of retiring in 2024. A couple of them, like Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Tom Carper (D-DE), are in deep blue states and would just be replaced by a younger Democrat if they retired.

But some of the endangered Democratic senators might decide to call it quits rather than engage in a bruising fight and then lose. If Tester or Manchin retired, there is zero chance any Democrat could hold those seats. If Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) wins his Senate race or comes within a point or two, maybe the right Democrat could hold that seat in Brown's absence (Note to Nina Turner: You are not the right Democrat; don't even think about it). A number of the vulnerable Democrats are waiting to see how the midterms go before making a decision. If the Democrats do really well this year, they may conclude either: (1) it is worth running since we will probably have the majority in Jan. 2025 or (2) the Democrats have a big enough majority to withstand the loss of my seat. Of course, if the Democrats do badly in November, everybody is going to run for the exits, making it even worse in Jan. 2025.

Everyone is assuming that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who will hit 90 in June, won't run again in 2024, but California has a stable full of Democratic representatives, statewide officeholders, and mayors who will compete for her job if she bows out (and probably also if she doesn't), so that seat will not flip no matter what.

In all cases, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has to work on all his vulnerable members to cajole or bribe them into staying on. A seat with a battle-tested incumbent who has won the seat before is about a zillion times better than an empty seat, a brutal primary, and then a massive defeat in a red state.

Arizona is a special case because Sinema is so unpopular in her own party. She didn't have to be a pain in the rear. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) voted with his caucus on almost everything and is doing just fine and dandy in the polls. So it is not that Democratic senators from Arizona have to act like Republicans to get reelected. Kelly is a normal Democrat and he is on the road to reelection. Sinema could have done that, too, but chose not to. This virtually guarantees a primary from Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and maybe other Democratic representatives as well. If Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs (D) loses her gubernatorial run by a tiny margin, she might also jump in. A nasty primary battle could endanger the seat even more than a normal reelection in a swing state. (V)

DeSantis Gets a New Top Individual Donor

Move over, Ken Griffin and make way for Robert Bigelow. Griffin has given Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) $5 million this year, making him the biggest individual donor to the Governor's reelection campaign—until now. But Republican megadonor Ribert Bigelow knocked Griffin out of first place among the individual donors with a startling $10 million donation. That's half of all of Bigelow's politican donations this year, and puts him in the top echelon of Republican donors. Here is a list of the top 10 donors to both DeSantis campaign and that of Charlie Crist (D).

Republican donor Amount   Democratic donor Amount
ROBERT T. BIGELOW $10,000,000         FRANCOISE M. HAASCH $307,000
CLUB FOR GROWTH PAC $2,000,000         WILKES & ASSOCIATES, P.A. $200,000
WALTER W. BUCKLEY, JR. $1,250,000         GLORIA PAGE $174,000
JAMES A. BOWEN, JR. $750,000         WAYNE HOGAN $125,000
Total $50,621,830           $2,444,000

As you can see, based on the top 10, DeSantis has 20x as much money as Crist. And this list excludes all the dark money, which always greatly favors the Republicans. Neither candidate has reported on third quarter fundraising yet, so there a chance that Crist could catch up somewhat based on small donations, but it looks like DeSantis is rolling in money and Crist is not.

Getting back to Bigelow, he clearly has ulterior motives here. He has openly said that he wants DeSantis to run for president and is competing to beat Sheldon Adelson as the biggest Republican donor. He has said as much explicitly. And he has the advantage that he is alive and Adelson has been dead for almost 2 years and his wife, Miriam Adelson, is not nearly as interested in funding Republicans as Sheldon was.

Among other things, Bigelow likes DeSantis' views on Florida's "Don't say gay" law and DeSantis' fight with the Disney Corporation over wokeness.

Bigelow made his fortune in real estate, including Budget Suites of America. He used that wealth to fund Bigelow Aerospace, which appears to have ceased operations, leaving Bigelow with time to meddle in politics. A source close to Bigelow said that the man does not spend money without a good reason. It is not obvious what that reason might be since Bigelow Aerospace had no NASA contracts and Budget Suites of America has no properties in Florida. (V)

Ohio Creates an Election Integrity Unit, Like Florida's

Ron DeSantis created a special election police force to root out fraud in elections, even though virtually no election fraud exists. But Donald Trump says that it does and has convinced his followers that it does, so DeSantis jumped on the election-fraud bandwagon and created this group. Democrats fear that it will be used to disenfranchise voters in Democratic areas of the state.

Now Ohio is doing the same thing, albeit at a lower level. In the Buckeye State, it is Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) who is creating the election integrity unit. This is (perhaps) somewhat surprising since LaRose is currently in charge of running Ohio's elections and has repeatedly stated that they are run very well and there is almost no fraud at all. So why is he setting up this new fraud unit when he himself says there is almost no fraud? Could it be politics, maybe? LaRose is running for reelection in November and has Trump's endorsement. Maybe doing something about "fraud" was the price LaRose had to pay for the endorsement. So he is suddenly saying there was fraud when in the past he said there wasn't any to speak of. So far this year, LaRose's office has identified just a single case of possible illegal voting.

The new unit won't get rolling until after the 2022 elections. LaRose didn't go into detail about what it will do. It is also possible that LaRose is just relabeling the group within his office that already looks for fraud and giving the head of it a new title, without actually changing anything, in order to make Trump happy.

Democrats are saying that LaRose is just wasting taxpayer money to bolster his political ambitions. If he is reelected as secretary of state, it is rumored that he might try for the Senate in 2024 and run on a platform of: "At the end of my term, there was no election fraud in Ohio" sounds good. He is not likely to mention that there wasn't any at the beginning of his term, either. (V)

Today's Senate Polls

We will have to wait a bit to see the fall out from the latest Herschel Walker scandal.

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Mark Kelly* 51% Blake Masters 48% Sep 30 Oct 04 YouGov
Georgia Raphael Warnock* 47% Herschel Walker 44% Oct 04 Oct 04 InsiderAdvantage
Georgia Raphael Warnock* 50% Herschel Walker 38% Sep 30 Oct 04 SurveyUSA
Vermont Peter Welch 62% Gerald Malloy 28% Sep 29 Oct 03 U. of New Hampshire

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct05 OPEC Prepares to Throw a Wrench in the Gears
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Oct05 Today's Silly Lawsuits
Oct05 Tim Scott Is Ramping Up
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Oct05 Today's Surprise Polls
Oct05 Today's Senate Polls
Oct04 Biden Visits Puerto Rico
Oct04 As the TrumpWorld Turns
Oct04 Some More Baggage for Walker...
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Oct04 Hoosier Governor?
Oct04 Petraeus Foresees a NATO Attack on Russia if Putin Goes Nuclear
Oct04 Today's Senate Polls
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Oct03 The Supreme Court Is Back in the Saddle
Oct03 O'Rourke and Abbott Debate in Texas
Oct03 The Documents Case Is in the News Again
Oct03 Ted Deutsch Has Left the House
Oct03 Today's Senate Polls
Oct02 Sunday Mailbag
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Oct01 Saturday Q&A
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