Biden wins early ratings game against Trump
Pfizer to apply for emergency US use of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate in November
63,610 new coronavirus cases and 904 further deaths reported in US yesterday
Trump campaign raised $247.8m in September – $135.2m less than Biden did
Trump is en route to Fort Myers, Florida, to deliver a speech on “protecting America’s seniors,” a crucial voting group that has recently been moving toward Joe Biden in the polls.
Although the focus of Trump’s speech is on protecting older Americans, an NBC News reporter noted the event was being held indoors with few people wearing masks, in contradiction of public health experts’ guidelines on limiting the spread of coronavirus.
Mitt Romney has released another statement criticizing Trump, specifically the president’s refusal to denounce the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon during last night’s town hall.
But the Republican senator once again wrapped his criticism in some “bothsidesism,” condemning politicians’ refusal to denounce groups like “antifa, white supremacists, and conspiracy peddlers.”
The president has similarly tried to deflect criticism for his approach to white supremacist violence by accusing Joe Biden of refusing to condemn violence on the left from groups like antifa.
However, Biden has repeatedly condemned all violence from Americans of all political leanings, and FBI Director Christopher Wray has said antifa is not a group, as Trump has indicated, but a broad philosophy.
Biden wins early ratings game against Trump
This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Tom McCarthy.
The early numbers from last night’s dueling town halls are in, and the president will not be happy.
According to the early figures, Joe Biden’s ABC News town hall drew 2.3 million more viewers than Trump’s NBC News town hall.
Biden drew 12.7 million total viewers on the Disney-owned network, while Trump drew 10.4 million in the same 9-10 p.m. time slot on NBC. Across the entire runtime, the Biden town hall averaged 12.3 million viewers. In terms of the fast national 18-49 demographic, Biden is comfortably on top with a 2.6 rating to Trump’s 1.7.
The official ratings from last night will be available later today, but there were already some signs that Biden’s event was attracting more interest, as the ABC telecast saw higher viewership numbers on YouTube.
The numbers will likely frustrate the famously ratings-focused president, who reportedly told aides that he wanted to counter-program Biden to get better ratings and then use them to humiliate his Democratic rival.
The Trump campaign is removing ads from the airwaves in Minnesota’s biggest media market, according to local reports – indicating 1) they’re out of money, and/or 2) they no longer think Minnesota, which Trump barely lost in 2016, is in play in 2020:
In a daunting dynamic for Trump backers, the campaign has been pulling down tens of millions of dollars worth of ads in battleground states across the country in recent weeks to play defense in erstwhile Trump states such as Georgia.
The journalism nonprofit ProPublica has published a stunning investigative report on how the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – for decades the global gold standard for tracking and treating infectious diseases – succumbed to political pressure and infiltration from the Trump administration to issue advice its own scientists disagreed with.
Here’s a crucial passage:
How could an agency that eradicated smallpox globally and wiped out polio in the United States have fallen so far?
ProPublica obtained hundreds of emails and other internal government documents and interviewed more than 30 CDC employees, contractors and Trump administration officials who witnessed or were involved in key moments of the crisis. Although news organizations around the world have chronicled the CDC’s stumbles in real time, ProPublica’s reporting affords the most comprehensive inside look at the escalating tensions, paranoia and pained discussions that unfolded behind the walls of CDC’s Atlanta headquarters. And it sheds new light on the botched COVID-19 tests, the unprecedented political interference in public health policy, and the capitulations of some of the world’s top public health leaders.
Senior CDC staff describe waging battles that are as much about protecting science from the White House as protecting the public from COVID-19. It is a war that they have, more often than not, lost.
Employees spoke openly about their “hill to die on” — the political interference that would prompt them to leave. Yet again and again, they surrendered and did as they were told. It wasn’t just worries over paying mortgages or forfeiting the prestige of the job. Many feared that if they left and spoke out, the White House would stop consulting the CDC at all, and would push through even more dangerous policies.
To some veteran scientists, this acquiescence was the real sign that the CDC had lost its way. One scientist swore repeatedly in an interview and said, “The cowardice and the caving are disgusting to me.”
Collectively, the interviews and documents show an insular, rigorous agency colliding head-on with an administration desperate to preserve the impression that it had the pandemic under control.
Read the full piece here.
Incumbent Republican senator Joni Ernst of Iowa had an awkward moment at a debate with challenger Theresa Greenfield last night when she failed to demonstrate basic knowledge about one of the state’s top commodities, soybeans.
It’s a hugely important race – a Greenfield win, and a flip of the seat from red to blue, could seal control of the US senate next year for Democrats.
Whether Ernst’s stumble here will hurt her with voters is an open question. The Trump administration is breaking all records for subsidizing farmers ($46bn in 2020 federal payouts alone) after Trump’s trade war with China sent commodities prices plummeting. So maybe Republicans have some goodwill to burn with farmers.
Anyway Ernst is asked what is “the break-even price for soybeans in Iowa?” Meaning what’s the rough average price per bushel farmers need to sell at to cover costs – not counting the gigantic subsidies. She answers $5.50, about half of the best answer, $10.05.
Is this the biggest political pricing stumble since presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani (that happened) couldn’t say how much milk and bread cost back in 2007?
For a dive into the senate races that matter this cycle, visit our interactive:
Joe Biden said at a town hall event Thursday night that he would announce before election day whether he favors expanding the supreme court.
Biden has repeatedly declined to lay out a stance on the issue amid an ongoing Republican sprint to install a third justice nominated by Donald Trump before the election, in what critics have called a naked power grab.
The Senate judiciary committee appeared poised to approve and hand off the nomination of judge Amy Coney Barrett to the full Senate next week.
Barrett’s installation on the court would make for the most dramatic ideological realignment on the court in decades. In part that’s because she would replace a liberal justice, the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
But the conservative court coup would also be the result of a successful plot by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to hold open a supreme court seat for almost a year in 2016 so that Trump could fill it instead of Barack Obama.
That fact, combined with similar maneuvering by McConnell at the district and appeals court levels, have led Biden backers to express outrage that the candidate’s unwillingness to stake out a position on so-called “court-packing” would create controversy.
The court has already been packed, Biden supporters say, by Trump, McConnell and their Republican surrogates and outside accomplices.
Read the further:
In a new interactive elections timeline, Alvin Chang has explained how various 2020 US election scenarios, including the case of Trump losing but refusing to concede, could play out.
Americans are used to a certain routine with presidential elections – but this year might be different, Alvin writes. If you’re not current on such concepts as the safe harbor deadline and wonder how states select electors, read about it here:
Republican senator Susan Collins, who is up against Sara Gideon in a competitive Senate race in November, will no doubt be thrilled at the ‘endorsement’ she has just received from the president. Donald Trump has tweeted that she is “Not worth the work!” that he claims to have done for Maine.
Collins has previously been clear that she would not vote for a rushed nomination to the supreme court.
Collins has represented Maine since 1996. A poll yesterday put Gideon seven points ahead of her. Joe Biden is similarly ahead in the polls for both of Maine’s congressional districts and the statewide vote. Maine is one of only two states to split its electoral college votes rather than adopting a winner-takes-all approach. In 2016 Hillary Clinton received three votes, and Trump one.
Nina Lakhani in New York writes for us this morning on how Native Americans’ right to vote has been systematically violated for generations. She has interviewed Jean Reith Schroedel, professor emerita of political science at Claremont Graduate University, whose new book, Voting in Indian County: The View from the Trenches weaves together historical and contemporary voting rights conflicts. Schroedel says:
One thing few Americans understand is that American Indians and Native Alaskans were the last group in the United States to get citizenship and to get the vote. Even after the civil war and the Reconstruction (13th, 14th and 15th) amendments there was a supreme court decision that said indigenous people could never become US citizens, and some laws used to disenfranchise them were still in place in 1975. It’s impossible to understand contemporary voter suppression in Indian Country without understanding this historical context.
Take Jackson county in South Dakota. The county council has just decided to close the legally mandated early voting centre on the Pine Ridge Reservation, citing concerns about Covid, but not in the voting site in Kadoka, where the white people go. Regardless of the intent, this will absolutely have a detrimental effect on Native people’s ability to vote.
ID requirements can make it very difficult for people who live on reservations where many roads don’t have names or numbers – so-called non-standard addresses, which are very problematic in states requiring IDs with residential addresses. A number of states like South Dakota have chosen to make it a felony offense with prison terms and fines if someone votes using an address different to the one given to register, even though unstable housing is a big issue on reservations, and people crash in different places all the time.