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Week In Politics: What The Polls Are Saying, Days Before Election Day – NPR

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With just days to go, the 2020 campaign is proving to be a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency more than anything else.



SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

More than 1.5 million people have already voted in Wisconsin. Voters have cast nearly 8 million ballots in Florida, 9 million in Texas, more than the total number of votes for president there in 2016. We begin this hour with NPR senior Washington editor and correspondent Ron Elving. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Happy Halloween, Scott.

SIMON: Ron, four years ago, the pollsters said it was going one way. It went another way. How do you read the polls now?

ELVING: With extreme caution, Scott. The 2016 polls were actually pretty good on the national numbers, well within the margin of error. But some of the key states were wrong and by more than the margin of error. Pollsters in those states are acutely aware of this history, and they’ve been looking long and hard at what happened. Among other things, there was a late break among the undecided four years ago, and it favored Donald Trump. There was also some falloff among Democrats that may have been due to complacency. That’s a little less likely to happen this year. That said, this time around, it will probably take even more egregious error than we saw four years ago if President Trump is going to reverse the advantage that we now see for Democrat Joe Biden.

SIMON: And as we’ve gotten closer and closer to Election Day, the president has taken from diminishing the pandemic to really outright mocking it, even as coronavirus cases surge again to record heights.

ELVING: You know, it may be heartening to hear that message if you are someone who takes his cues straight from the president, directly from the president. We heard that from Donald Trump Jr. and Sr. this week. But let’s say you’re more inclined to trust other sources of information, such as perhaps the doctors who have been sidelined from the president’s task force in recent months. In that case, it would seem just bizarre to claim that we’re turning the corner or crushing the virus, two claims the president has made in recent days, when last week we set a new record for new cases at half a million a week. So even with a somewhat lower mortality rate, we’re still producing frightening numbers of fatalities. And we seem to be headed toward 400,000 dead early in the new year just in this country.

SIMON: And it’s only fair to wonder, Ron – isn’t it? – that the president’s dismissal of the pandemic – well, to ask, does it affect federal policy?

ELVING: You know, to be blunt, the COVID-19 task force – Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, some of the other people that we were hearing from back in the spring – seems to have been, let us say, dovetailed into the president’s reelection effort, perhaps co-opted to some degree by the president’s reelection effort. And maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at this point, but the idea that information is being blocked or distorted for this purpose at this point in this pandemic is chilling.

SIMON: Joe Biden question – back in the primaries, he was flailing at one point, earned a reputation as a compromise candidate, not at the head of new movements. The candidacy obviously looks pretty strong now. He’s run for office and won a lot of times. Is this at the same time mostly a referendum on President Trump?

ELVING: It is a referendum on Donald Trump, and that is just what you want if you’re challenging a president. If the controversy is about the incumbent in the midst of difficult times, that gives the out party an obvious advantage. If there’s more controversy about the challenger, the incumbent tends to win, which is why the president’s campaign has been so busy trying to generate controversies about the Bidens.

SIMON: And let’s finally remind our friends and listeners, we might not get the results Tuesday night, right? It might take several days, several weeks.

ELVING: Yes. Some of the Sunbelt states – Arizona, Florida, North Carolina – it’s possible we might get results before we go to bed. But that’s not a guarantee of anything. It’s just possible. Otherwise, we’re going to be waiting throughout the week, probably, for Pennsylvania and maybe also Michigan and Wisconsin to count their mountains of mailed-in ballots.

SIMON: NPR’s Ron Elving, thanks so much for being with us.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Should Politics Be On The Discussion Menu On Thanksgiving? Experts Weigh In – CBS New York

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Getting ready to gather virtually with family on Thanksgiving?

How will you navigate inevitable conversations about the still-contentious election?

Is politics simply to be avoided? Can it be?

Those were the days, remembered Sheri Baker of Old Westbury. Thanksgiving will look very different this year with a giant family Zoom chat, but there are some things that won’t be different.

“We have learned sort of the hard way that there are some topics when it comes to politics that are better left unsaid in order to keep the holidays happy,” Baker told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff on Wednesday.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Emotions are still running high following the the election, splitting not only the country, but families.

“I think our country is more divided than ever.

“It’s terrible,” another person said.

MOREJoe Biden Introduces New Members Of National Security, Foreign Policy Teams

And as we gather, even virtually, should politics be banned from Thanksgiving?

“What I do recommend is speaking to family in advance and having a plan,” said Dr. Amanda Fialk, chief of clinical services at the DORM, a treatment community in New York City for young adults.

Fialk said to set parameters ahead of time to either avoid politics or limit when it may be discussed.

“I think it’s useful to ask questions of them rather than to speak at them and make statements,” Fialk said.

And take a timeout when you’re simply not hearing one another.

“When it’s no longer productive, end it. And that doesn’t mean end it forever. That just means end it for right now,” Fialk said.

MOREGeneral Services Administration Tells Biden Team It Can Begin Formal Transition Process

Or take a cue from couples therapy techniques to help heal relationships with those on the other side of the political divide.

“We are an American family. We sit a the same table and if we expel people from the table because of their political views we will lose our ability to function as a country,” said family therapist Bill Doherty, co-founder of Braver Angels.

“I think everybody’s aim is to try to do their part, to keep healthy, keep safe, protect our friends and family and strangers, so we can get through this,” Baker added.

Baker said she plans to focus on being thankful, to count our blessings, not our differences.

MORE FROM CBS NEW YORK

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Politics Briefing: Ontario Auditor-General slams province’s pandemic response – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Ontario Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk has slammed the provincial government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a special report, Ms. Lysyk said, among other flaws, the “command table” of experts handling the crisis ballooned from 21 to 500 people and did not meet for a video conference until July.

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The Auditor-General said the province had failed to learn its lessons from the 2003 SARS crisis.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

John McCallum, the former Liberal minister and ambassador to China who was dismissed in 2019, says Canada does not need a registry of foreign agents, similar to ones created in the United States and Australia.

Relatives of the Canadian victims of a Boeing 737 Max crash are urging the government to be extremely careful before clearing the plane for flying again.

The Liberal government has given notice it will table a bill to legalize single-game sports betting. A private member’s bill to legalize the practice sailed through the House in 2013, but stalled in the Senate before it could become law.

As Alberta sees rates of COVID-19 soar, the provincial government is enacting new lockdowns that still allow many businesses to operate.

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And Politico has a fascinating deep dive into the Trump campaign’s failed efforts to overturn the election results in Michigan, a state he lost by 154,000 votes — and the state Republicans who nevertheless supported the fraudulent claims of fraud.

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on conspiracy theories about “The Great Reset”: “It would be of the greatest assistance in dispelling populist fears of shadowy globalist plots for world domination if the objects of their paranoia did not so often carry on like cackling Bond villains.”

André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on why Alberta’s new lockdown measures are inadequate: “What we saw Tuesday was inaction posing as action, a quasi-libertarian Premier bending over backward to do nothing while pretending otherwise.”

Jillian Kohler and Jonathan Cushing (The Globe and Mail) on what the pandemic means for pharmaceutical companies: “In the wake of the encouraging news about COVID-19 vaccine trials from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, global attention is on pharmaceutical companies like never before. But in the understandable excitement, the companies in the spotlight risk overlooking a major opportunity: the chance to prioritize transparency and global health over profits, and build their credibility.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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Identity politics vs. melting pot vision – OCRegister

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The jousting over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s appointment of a U.S. senator to succeed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is fast becoming the epitome — or nadir — of identity politics.

It’s a mindset in which the personalities, talents, character and accomplishments of individual human beings are secondary to being defined by their race, ethnicity, gender, age and/or sexual identification — and are expected to automatically reflect the values and mores of their designated categories.

Inevitably, then, politics become a competition among identity groups for power and distribution of public goods — a modern version of tribalism that succeeds the earlier vision of America as a melting pot that blends immigrant cultures into a unique society.

Oddly, ordinary Americans increasingly resist such categorization. We intermarry, we happily live in integrated neighborhoods, we have and adopt children of mixed ethnicity, we send our children to integrated schools and we embrace food and music from disparate cultures. That’s especially true in California, the most ethnically and culturally complex of the 50 states.

Harris herself is both a product of the melting pot vision — her mother migrated from India, her father from Jamaica and they met as students at the University of California — and of the politics of identity. Depending on the audience and the moment, she identified herself as Black or Indo-American, but she also married a white man who is Jewish.

Not surprisingly, therefore, Newsom is feeling pressure from identity groups to choose a new senator from within their ranks, each saying Newsom “must” pay homage with an appointment.

Willie Brown, the former Assembly speaker and San Francisco mayor who was also Newsom’s political mentor, is leading a public drive for a Black woman to succeed Harris, who is also a former Brown protégé.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, still another Brown protégé, is on his list, along with Congresswomen Karen Bass of Los Angeles and Barbara Lee of Oakland.

The LGBTQ Victory Fund is another group publicly pushing Newsom to make history by appointing the nation’s first openly non-heterosexual senator.

Several women’s organizations are demanding that Newsom replace Harris with another woman.

Finally, Latino groups are pressing Newsom to honor the state’s largest ethnic group by appointing California’s first Latino senator.

Asked about his intentions during a briefing on COVID-19 this week, Newsom said he doesn’t have a self-imposed deadline, “But progress has been made in terms of getting closer to that determination.”

The odds-on favorite among political handicappers is that Newsom will appoint a Latino, possibly Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who has a lengthy and close relationship with the governor.

As the cynics — or realists — see the situation, Newsom has already given a nod to Black and LGBTQ groups by naming Martin Jenkins to a seat on the state Supreme Court. He could placate one of the other groups by naming a successor to Padilla in the secretary of state’s office. The same dynamics would apply if he chose another Latino, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, for the Senate.

While the competition for Newsom’s senatorial appointment typifies identity politics, it also demonstrates their unfortunate aspect of ignoring what should be the most important factor. We should have someone in the Senate of good character and demonstrated competence and who approaches the position with an independent mind, as the state’s other senator, Dianne Feinstein, has done.

It should not matter which identity group wins the competition. It should matter that whomever Newsom chooses will be seen as representing every Californian, not just one faction of the state’s 40 million residents.

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary

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