The Campaign Report – 10/20/2020

A new New York Times/Siena College poll finds Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in the presidential race nationally, 50% to 41%.

“With just two weeks left in the campaign, Mr. Trump does not hold an edge on any of the most pressing issues at stake in the election, leaving him with little room for a political recovery absent a calamitous misstep by Mr. Biden, the Democratic nominee, in the coming days. The president has even lost his longstanding advantage on economic matters: Voters are now evenly split on whether they have more trust in him or Mr. Biden to manage the economy.”

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds Joe Biden surging into his largest national lead yet over Donald Trump, 51% to 40%.

“The president has struggled to rebound over the past three weeks from a widely panned first debate performance and a COVID-19 outbreak that sent him to the hospital and sickened others in and around White House. Yet the main reason Trump appears to have fallen even further behind Biden in recent days is because coronavirus cases are peaking just as the campaign is coming to a close.”

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved the Iowa U.S. Senate race from Toss-up to Leans Democratic.

President Trump is expected to do three or four rallies a day starting this weekend, the Washington Post reports.

“In the final throes of an increasingly daunting reelection campaign, President Trump is revving up his rally schedule and whipping his supporters into a frenzy with the type of nonstop outrage that helped make him the most polarizing political figure of his time,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“He suggested the governor of Michigan, already the target of an alleged kidnapping plot, should be jailed. He expressed indifference to the shooting of a former Arizona congresswoman. He blasted the nation’s top infectious disease expert as ‘a disaster.’ He baselessly called former Vice President Joe Biden a ‘criminal,’ and urged his attorney general to investigate him.”

“To Trump, turning the volume up to 11 is an instinct, and a near guarantee he will be the center of attention. But to the rest of the country, particularly voters he needs to close a 10-percentage-point polling gap, there is growing evidence of exhaustion that may cost him crucial votes.”

Retired Navy Adm. William McRaven explains in the Wall Street Journalwhy he voted for Joe Biden.

“This week I went to the polls in Texas. Truth be told, I am a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, small-government, strong-defense and a national-anthem-standing conservative. But, I also believe that black lives matter, that the Dreamers deserve a path to citizenship, that diversity and inclusion are essential to our national success, that education is the great equalizer, that climate change is real and that the First Amendment is the cornerstone of our democracy. Most important, I believe that America must lead in the world with courage, conviction and a sense of honor and humility.”

“If we remain indifferent to our role in the world, if we retreat from our obligation to our citizens and our allies and if we fail to choose the right leader, then we will pay the highest price for our neglect and shortsightedness.”

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele endorsed Joe Biden for president.

“Rather than binding up the nation’s wounds, Trump exacerbates division. Rather than standing up to the world’s dictators, Trump cravenly seeks the favor of thugs. Rather than fostering free enterprise, Trump embraces economic principles not only outdated in Lincoln’s time, but made even worse today by a leader who lost close to a billion dollars in a single year running a casino. Rather than seeking to build on the legacy of the Republican Party’s founders, of which Trump is surely ignorant, Trump has posited a single purpose for the GOP — the celebration of him.”

USA Today, one of the largest newspapers by circulation in America, gave Joe Biden its first-ever presidential endorsement on Tuesday.

Brutal line: “If this were a choice between two capable major party nominees who happened to have opposing ideas, we wouldn’t choose sides.”

“The Supreme Court will allow Pennsylvania to count ballots received up to three days after the election, rejecting a Republican plea,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“The justices divided 4-4 Monday, an outcome that upholds a state Supreme Court ruling that allowed election officials to receive and count ballots until Nov. 6, even if they don’t have a clear postmark.”

“Joe Biden’s campaign has quietly built a multimillion-dollar operation over the past two months that’s largely designed to combat misinformation online, aiming to rebut President Trump while bracing for any information warfare that could take place in the aftermath of the election,” the Washington Post reports.

“The effort, internally called the ‘Malarkey Factory,’ consists of dozens of people around the country monitoring what information is gaining traction digitally, whether it’s resonating with swing voters and, if so, how to fight back. The three most salient attacks the Malarkey Factory has confronted so far are claims that Biden is a socialist, that he is ‘creepy’ and that he is ‘sleepy’ or senile.”

The Commission on Presidential Debates adopted new rules to mute microphones to allow Donald Trump and Joe Biden two minutes of uninterrupted time per segment, the AP reports.

“President Trump’s withdrawal from the second presidential debate led to the event’s cancellation. Now, three days ahead of the final debate, Mr. Trump’s campaign is demanding changes to the format and accusing the organizers of bias toward Joe Biden,” the New York Times reports.

Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien asked the Commission on Presidential Debates to refocus Thursday’s debate on the subject of foreign policy, rather than the six subjects announced last week by the moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC. They are “fighting Covid-19,” “American families,” “race in America,” climate change, national security and leadership.

Stepien said it had “promised” that the debate would be about foreign policy and accused the commission of “pro-Biden antics” that “have turned the entire debate season into a fiasco.”

President Trump is already attacking NBC’s upcoming debate moderator, Kristen Welker, as “terrible and unfair” in what appears to be preemptive damage control, the HuffPost reports.

Said Trump: “She’s aways been terrible and unfair, just like most of the Fake News. But I’ll still play the game.”

“President Trump’s sprawling political operation has raised well over $1 billion since he took the White House in 2017 — and set a lot of it on fire,” the AP reports.

“Trump bought a $10 million Super Bowl ad when he didn’t yet have a challenger. He tapped his political organization to cover exorbitant legal fees related to his impeachment. Aides made flashy displays of their newfound wealth — including a fleet of luxury vehicles purchased by Brad Parscale, his former campaign manager.”

“Meanwhile, a web of limited liability companies hid more than $310 million in spending from disclosure, records show.”

“President Trump’s campaign found it harder to raise money from small-dollar donors in the final months before the election, spending 77 cents of each dollar it received in the third quarter on future fundraising efforts, according to federal disclosures that highlighted the funding gap with Joe Biden,” Bloomberg reports.

“Spending by the campaign’s grassroots fundraising arm, Trump Make America Great Again, to pursue small donors was far higher than throughout his re-election campaign, when it spent 47 cents per dollar raised.”

Politico: “The calls come at all hours. Donald Trump — confronting grim poll numbers and the increasingly real possibility of becoming a one-term president — has been burning up the phone lines to the people who got him to the White House. Working off a list of cell phone numbers, the president has been reaching out to 2016 campaign loyalists. How, he wants to know, can he pull this off?”

Aaron Blake: “At numerous junctures in recent weeks and especially over the past 10 days, Trump has referred to what it would mean if he lost, pre-blamed certain things for his potential loss, and expressed apoplexy that he could be losing to this particular opponent, Joe Biden.”

“Melania Trump is canceling her first campaign appearance in months because she is not feeling well as she continues to recover from Covid-19,” CNN reports.

David Wasserman notes that more people have now early voted in Texas than the number of people who voted for Donald Trump in Texas in 2016.

“Florida shattered its opening day record for in-person early voting Monday, with at least 350,000 people casting ballots and election officials continuing to count statewide late into the night,” Politico reports.

“The trend continues a record-setting pace in the battleground state that is viewed as a must-win for President Trump. Voting by mail, which started earlier this month, racked up more than 2.5 million ballots headed into Monday, more than double the 1.2 million during the same timeframe in 2016.”

Daily Beast: “Even by post-Citizens United standards, it is an absurd, Scrooge McDuck-level haul. The Biden campaign could suspend fundraising entirely and drop more than $20 million a day, every day, until the election without bouncing a single check. But according to top-level donors and an ambitious schedule of upcoming fundraisers, there’s no plan to slow down—just in case the trove of ‘fuck you’ money needs to become ‘see you in court’ money.”

“According to fundraisers who spoke to The Daily Beast, the campaign is still leaning hard on its donor network, explicitly pointing ahead to its potential need to fund legal battles in multiple states following the election.”

“A little-known Democratic super PAC backed by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest donors is quietly unleashing a torrent of television spending in the final weeks of the presidential campaign in a last-minute attempt to oust President Trump,” Recode reports.

“The barrage of late money — which includes at least $22 million from Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz — figures among one of the most expensive and aggressive plays yet by tech billionaires, who have spent years studying how to maximize the return they get from each additional dollar they spend on politics. Moskovitz is placing his single biggest public bet yet on the evidence that TV ads that come just before Election Day are the best way to do that.”

New York Times: “While Mr. Biden’s campaign has trumpeted the small donations flooding in at record rates, the elite world of billionaires and multimillionaires has remained a critical cog in the Biden money machine. And as the size of checks has grown, the campaign has become less transparent, declining so far to disclose the names of its most influential check collectors, known as bundlers.”

“From Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Wall Street, Mr. Biden’s campaign has aggressively courted the megadonor class. It has raised almost $200 million from donors who gave at least $100,000 to his joint operations with the Democratic Party in the last six months — about twice as much as President Trump raised from six-figure donors in that time, according to an analysis of new federal records.”

Washington Post: “Elections officials in Pennsylvania are being inundated with complaints from first-time and absentee voters having difficulty registering to vote or requesting a mail ballot, fueling anxiety in the critical swing state just as the 5 p.m. Monday deadline approaches to join the voting rolls in time for the November election.”

“College students in at least three counties in Pennsylvania who attempted to register to vote online had their applications rejected, and were notified that they must provide documentation in person or by mail to meet the Monday deadline, raising concerns among voting-rights advocates that an unknown number of students may not be able to register in time. Meanwhile, other voters are receiving rejection notices for their absentee ballot requests without a clear explanation.”

Philadelphia Inquirer: “Across the state, huge numbers of Pennsylvanians — many of them younger and first-time poll workers — have enlisted to check in voters on Election Day, set up voting machines, and troubleshoot problems. So many thousands of applicants have signed up in Philadelphia and its suburban counties that elections officials are in the unusual position of having a surplus.”

The original cast of Hamilton led by Lin-Manuel Miranda perform “The Room Where it Happens” to encourage voter turn-out for Joe Biden.

Rick Hasen: “Given current polling of the presidential race, it is possible to imagine three scenarios, either on November 4 or on days soon thereafter: a narrow Trump victory in the Electoral College, with a huge loss in the popular vote; a Biden landslide in which Trump claims he lost because of a ‘rigged’ election; or a very close and potentially flawed election going into overtime that could lead to a prolonged struggle over the presidency and the country. Each of these presents its own set of challenges for American democracy.”

Associated Press: “For many of those women, the past four years have meant frustration, anger and activism — a political awakening that powered women’s marches, the #MeToo movement and the victories of record numbers of female candidates in 2018. That energy has helped create the widest gender gap — the political divide between men and women — in recent history. And it has started to show up in early voting as women are casting their ballots earlier than men. In Michigan, women have cast nearly 56% of the early vote so far, and 68% of those were Democrats.”

“That could mean trouble for Trump, not just in Oakland County but also in suburban battlegrounds outside Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Phoenix.”

New York Times: “Short on money, overworked and under enormous pressure, many battleground states are still in the process of standing up their electoral systems, a building-a-plane-midflight reality for a democratic process that is being challenged daily by court cases, new laws and surges in the coronavirus.”

A new Financial Times poll finds more Americans believe President Trump’s policies are hurting rather than helping the recovery.

The survey of likely voters found 46% of Americans believe Trump’s policies had hurt the economy, compared to 44% who said the policies had helped. It was the first time this year that a larger share of respondents said the president’s economic policies had hurt rather than helped, and was a significant drop-off since the start of the pandemic.

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