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New polls: IA NV
Dem pickups vs. 2020 Senate: PA
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Political Wire logo The Final Forecasts
Expected Indictment Looms Over Midterms
Judge Tells Election Watchers to Keep Their Distance
GOP Megadonor Sours on Trump
A Closing Argument for Democracy
Every Election Seems Like the Same Election

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Sunday Mailbag
      •  Today's Senate Polls

Sunday Mailbag

Better late than never! Sorry, but an very large number of messages this week, some computer issues, a bum knee and the need to prepare for Tuesday's liveblogging all conspired to throw a wrench into the schedule.

Also, we got a great number of responses on the question of whether the country has moved to the right, and also on Trumpism's effects on familial relationships. We're going to run a selection of "country to the right" responses during the regular week and, since it's pretty close anyhow, we're going to run the family relationships responses the week of Thanksgiving. Seems apropos to us.

Early Voting

J.B. Stamford, CT, writes: As a Connecticotian, I wanted to reach out about your item "Early Voting Is Well Underway." Connecticut's constitution does not allow for early voting, and only an amendment to the state constitution can change that. The way that happens is through a ballot measure, which is on the ballot this year. The amendment is very simple: "Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting?" I haven't seen any polling, but I imagine that it will pass, as there does not seem to be an organized "No" contingent. That still means the legislature needs to pass a law permitting it, but that should be a formality once it passes.

On another note, Governor Ned Lamont (D) said the plan is to get a measure to change the state constitution to allow for no-excuse absentee voting on the 2024 ballots. The excuses to request absentee were pretty limited, though the Governor did sign a law back in April 2022 that added new excuses. Most notably is sickness, which can be used when there is a concern for getting COVID. Here is what Secretary of the State of Connecticut Mark Kohler has on the SoSoC website: "Voters are eligible to vote by absentee ballot if they are unable to go to their polling place on Election Day because of absence from their town for a period of time on Election Day, because of a sickness, or because of a disability. This includes voters who are unable to go to their polling place because of a sickness or physical disability of another person, or because of the continued presence of a sickness, such as the COVID-19 virus."

M.B. in Austin, TX, writes: Women cast 2% more ballots than men in 2020; this year, across the country, women are outpacing men by large margins. For example, by up to 10% in Georgia, and 6% in Texas. I have to believe this turnout is reflective of the Dobbs decision.

A.R. in Los Angeles, CA, writes: I know we're not supposed to draw conclusions from early voting numbers, but one factor that has largely gone under the radar is that this election Republicans are actively telling their voters to wait to vote until Election Day. This is a supremely stupid strategy, but there's every indication that it's being followed. So, I think Democrats can be encouraged by the strong early numbers. While that may mean a Republican advantage on Election Day, it's also really risky. As a volunteer for many campaigns, the reason we encourage voters to vote early or by mail is that those are ballots we can bank and don't have to "chase" on Election Day. You can bet that veteran Republican campaign managers are tearing their hair out while they watch votes that would have already been cast delayed until Nov. 8. Most of those people will probably vote, but stuff happens and many of those votes will be lost. And they can't afford that in races this close.

T.C. in Dunedin, New Zealand, writes: I read your item "Pennsylvania Will Not Count Undated Ballots" with some concern. I have voted absentee in Pennsylvania for the past 11 years since moving overseas. I carefully review the directions every time to ensure that my vote is not nullified by a procedural error, and I send in my ballot early—typically in September—to be sure that it will arrive in time to be counted. I still have my documents from the Pennsylvania Department of State for the upcoming election and they definitely do not tell voters to write a date on the envelope. Now I'm worried that my efforts were for naught.

Poll Workers

D.G. in Sandwich, NH, writes: Regarding the item "Flood of new poll workers is raising concerns."

Here in New Hampshire, the state GOP has sent out detailed instructions for 1,200 "designated poll watchers" to station themselves at next week's voting sites in shifts, in order to assure the "integrity" of the vote. New Hampshire is a tiny state, yet the call is out for over a thousand citizens to "protect" the vote.

I (covertly) participated in a Zoom meeting, outlining the parameters of how far these elections monitors could go.

Someone submitted a question, asking if it was OK for these designated poll watchers to carry a weapon to a polling place. The moderator hesitated before replying that it was perhaps a bad idea.

It would be funny if it weren't so tragic.

C.M. in Frisco, TX, writes: (V) wrote about "angry, fed-up" Trumpers volunteering as poll workers for nefarious reasons in Michigan and the concerns about the potential for disenfranchisement of voters.

I voted early on Monday in suburban Dallas and as I always vote, I recognize the usual staff at my polling location. They are always friendly. This year, there is a considerable increase in people I've never seen before. I noticed two in particular who gave off Trumper vibes (I hate to come off as judgy but let's be realistic). There was also a poll watcher present when there has almost never been one before, and I would estimate that person to be a Democrat. The mood seemed a bit tense, but probably, given the circumstances, relatively healthy. Not sure how much disenfranchisement the Trumper poll workers could do with the mundane tasks they were assigned, although one did call out rather curtly to a voter who was talking to his wife at the next voting machine, "Hey, you can't talk to each other while you're voting."

An Anxious Night

C.R. in Flemington, NJ, writes: You wondered who you missed in the item "The Seven People With the Most at Stake on Tuesday."

You did not mention Kari Lake (R), who has possibly the most to gain, should she win. People such as Rick Wilson and Frank Luntz— who are in the know as to the working of the Republican rank and file, though they despise her—say she is a great candidate and, as Arizona governor, will be vaulted to the top of the 2024 presidential contenders. As we saw in the Florida gubernatorial debate, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is awkward. Can't you imagine her making mincemeat of him?

I will also pass along a longshot: Nikki Haley. I was at a family event in Virginia a week ago. The attendees were all very, very red apart from my immediate family. Military contractors, military retirees, and many active in Republican politics in Virginia, the Midwest and Plains were there. I was surprised at how tired they were of TFG. Yes, they admire and appreciate him but they also want him to go away. When I listened to the talk of the next great presidential candidate, they came to agree that Nikki Haley is it. They were willing to throw less red meat to their fellow MAGAs with hopes that Haley had broad appeal, could be elected and actually get things done with Congress. I asked if they like Lake. There was apprehension and concern that she would not carry the Electoral College. I will grant this cohort was very educated, all having at least baccalaureates and possibly the majority having advanced degrees.

E.W. in Skaneateles, NY, writes: What about Kamala Harris? Her fate seems linked to Joe Biden's even though most folks seem to think she's been a very ineffective VP. Talk about a no-win situation!

H.D. in Tokyo, Japan, writes: Mitch Landrieu. Must make a decision and start fundraising, especially if the Democrats get stomped. He was elected mayor of New Orleans with a majority of both white and Black votes. Wrote a good book about why it's necessary to remove Confederate statues from southern cities. Things weren't looking good for the Democrats when Bill Clinton, a son of the South who appealed to both Black voters and Bubbas, came out of nowhere. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA), Beto O'Rourke, and Stacey Abrams aren't going to get the job done. No one in American politics can help working-class Southern white men and BLM members to see eye-to-eye. Well, maybe, just maybe, Landrieu can.

D.A. in Brooklyn, NY, writes: You missed me. And you missed you. You missed all of us, and arguably the human race. If either chamber goes to the Trumpublicans, Democracy in America is greatly endangered and the chances for somewhat reducing the impending climate catastrophe significantly lessened. Who cares about the careers of politicos like Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom? It's our future that's on the line.

D.S. in Palo Alto, CA, writes: Me.

The Problem(s) with Polling

R.L.D. in Sundance, WY, writes: I got a card in the mail yesterday from the Associated Press, addressed to "Wyoming Registered Voter," and inviting me to participate in an online poll. "Have your voice heard and earn $5." There was a PIN under a scratch-off panel for identification (so that I didn't have provide any identifying information to get the $5 bonus) and three different ways to participate in the poll (web address, QR code, and phone number). I presume they are investigating how to poll Republicans in the age of Trump and rampant telemarketing/phone scams. The survey questions included pretty standard generic ballot, right/wrong direction, and approval rating questions, but it also asked about my voting habits in a number of different ways and my feelings towards the two parties and individual candidates in different ways. With the benefit of today's post about polling and how to fix it, I feel like this is an experiment on how to engage Trumpy Republicans. Yes, the there are certainly self-selection bias concerns, but since they're trying to counteract existing self-selection bias, that's probably okay.

B.K. in Dallas, TX, writes: The problem with the polls? Mostly you have been talking about reluctant Donald Trump supporters talking.

We need to talk about Independents like me. I must get dozen polls contacting every and I get tired of talking about it. Mostly I just delete the e-mails or cancel the calls. I decided 2 years ago what I support and don't support.

G.T.M. in Vancouver, BC, Canada, writes: Your comments regarding the possible "undercounting" of Donald Trump's supporters reminds me of what the political situation was in British Columbia from about 1957 to around 1975.

The polls always showed that the support for the ruling Social Credit Party (a mixed bag of fruitcakes, conservatives, and conservative "liberals") was much lower than the results of the voting on Election Day.

This gave rise to the term "30 Second Socred," which was applied to those who did nothing but complain about the way that the Social Credit party government was running the province except for the 30 seconds that it took them to put their "X" next to the name of the candidate with the "Big 'SC'" next to their name on the ballot.

The difference between the "30 Second Socreds" and the "30 Second Trumpers" appears to be that those "30 Second Socreds" would complain about what the Socreds were doing while the "30 Second Trumpers" express their complaints with crashing silences.

C.C. in Kent, WA, writes: I would venture a new hypothesis about why the polls might undercount some likely Democratic voters this cycle: fear of political retribution or violence.

Women, especially, will be cautious answering questions about political leanings to a stranger on the phone for fear that it is a caging call that may result in unsavory types showing up to do harm.

I live is Washington and even vote in the "off season" elections in the summer months and would never give information about my political leanings to some random person calling me.

B.B. in Buda, TX, writes: I was reading the articles on polling this week, and they brought to mind some observations and conversations I've had lately regarding phone use by older and younger people. I'm 62, and I basically don't answer any calls to my cell phone if I don't recognize the caller. If they leave a message, I might call them back, but in general almost no one leaves messages. The same applies to my older brother (66), my wife (59), and everyone else I know. It seems like no one I know answers a call from an unknown caller.

The same applies to my landline. Actually, while I have a landline (for the security system), I don't have an actual working phone plugged in to it. Most of my friends and relatives (especially the younger ones) don't have landlines at all.

What I'm getting at is that nearly no one under 70 is going to answer the phone, which really limits the pool of people pollsters can talk to. About the only people who will answer the phone at all are going to trend older, such as people who are retired, home all day, and eager to talk with anybody who calls for as long as they're willing. This would seem to skew the sample towards older people who are much more likely to be conservative and Republican than otherwise. While I know pollsters can adjust their results to compensate, how accurate will their results be when they're extrapolating how the 18-20 demographic (or any demographic under 70) will vote when they only have a tiny handful of respondents?

My thinking is that while there may be under-sampling of pro-Trump voters because they won't talk, there's possibly a greater under-sampling of younger (and likely pro-Democratic) voters because they simply don't answer the phone at all.

D.T. in San Jose, CA, writes: I will provide a personal anecdote, explaining why I no longer bother to answer political polls.

I used to regularly respond, when pollsters called, around each election. Then, several years ago, I got multiple "push polls" within the same cycle. These all start out with relatively standard questions, but then devolve into campaign taking points disguised as "questions." "If you learned that Candidate Smith actually wanted to raise your taxes, take away your guns, and force your children to become transgendered furries... Would that bother you?"

In one year, I got several of these, targeting multiple different races. (Incidentally, the "push" always appeared to be supporting Republican candidates.) So these guys managed to poison the well; I don't respond to any political polls anymore. I don't want to waste my time talking to some pollster for 10 minutes, just to reach the punchline: "Just kidding! This isn't actually a poll, it's an advertisement!"

Presumably others have had similar experiences.

D.B. in Mountain View, CA, writes: Nate Silver's messaging may not work for you, but he clearly stands behind the "deluxe model" (and not the other ones). The deluxe model is the only one you even see unless you change the default settings. Silver says, in so many words, "Deluxe is the better, more accurate product."

Election Predictions

D.E. in Lancaster, PA, writes: In days of yore, superstitious people viewed comets and solar and lunar eclipses as omens. These potents presaged the birth or deaths of kings and the end of empires. People looked at the events in the sky and saw reasons for fear and dread. As a believer in science, who holds great store in rational thought, I read the news that on election night there will be a lunar eclipse that will result in a bright red moon as merely a coincidence. It all comes down to orbital mechanics and the mathematical computations have nothing to do with human endeavors. Two separate events that have... absolutely no... effect on one...

Oh, Sweet Jiminy Cricket, we are so screwed! By the time the next Q&A rolls around, we will all be forced at gunpoint to wear red MAGA hats and greet each other with a stern, "Heil, Trump!" Or perhaps the Russian equivalent of "Privetstvuyu satanu!" Well, democracy sure was fun while it lasted. Who wants to go to Canada?

J.A. in Redwood City, CA, writes: As of now, Democrats appear to be on track to lose control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in Tuesday's elections. There could be multiple state-level losses, as well.

A twisted and highly toxic version of conservatism continues to grow within the Republican party. To borrow from Shakespeare, their ideology is now little more than "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Yet its appeal to increasing numbers of voters is undeniable.

Democracies are more likely to succumb at the ballot box than at the barrel of a gun. Aggrieved voters are conditioned to accept authoritarianism as a solution to societal problems. Rational consideration of the issues is too mentally taxing, and therefore rejected out of hand.

Since 2017, the masthead of the The Washington Post has emphatically warned that "Democracy Dies in Darkness". Looking forward from here, perhaps in the not too distant future we'll see those words appear as the headline of that day's top news story.

J.S. in York, PA, writes: My biggest prediction for this entire cycle is this: If Republicans gain even only one seat in the House, they will claim victory and act as if it is the biggest landslide since Reagan or Roosevelt. If Democrats lose only one seat, they will hand wring and wonder how it all went south.

In all honesty, if the GOP only picks up 10-20 seats in the house with 8% inflation and the fact that they have focused a lot of attention on a crime wave that seems like it may or not even be there, then that is actually pretty darn bad for them, though if you think of it another way, when 1/3 of your members actively supported a coup and you still have a good chance in the next cycle...

Speaking for Pennsylvania residents, anyone who does not say that they knew there is an election going on this coming week is lying. I feel like at this point there are messages being drilled into my brain that Dr. Oz is going to come into your house and get your dogs, or that Fetterman is going to give murderers directions to your house while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) watches. Seriously, I think that if PA residents had the chance to vote on an amendment that would ban all campaign ads, it would probably pass with 90 percent of the vote. It's everywhere: billboards, TV, YouTube. My son plays tablet games and he says that something like half of the ads he watches are about Fetterman. Yard signs everywhere. It's enough to turn people off, in a way.

I think I have seen a hot take on just about every eventuality over the last 2 weeks, about everything. I well and truly think that there is a chance for just about anything to happen.

K.C. in West Islip, NY, writes: You wrote: "Young voters tend to be fickle when it comes to midterms. There is at least some evidence that, this year, they will be less so due to abortion and student-loan forgiveness. If the young whippersnappers show up, that will help the blue team a lot."

I feel strongly, as a high school teacher, that I have my finger on the pulse of the younger generation and despite their outspokenness on topics from abortion to climate change they'll be far too busy on the more pressing issues of the day like reviewing the latest postings on Tik-Tok and what the Kardashians are up to. Once again, the 18-25 demo will let us all down. Prove me wrong, kids... prove me wrong.

R.E.M. in Brooklyn, NY, writes: Democrats net +2 Senate seats (so, 52-48 result), though whether it's pick up 2, lose none, or pick up 3, lose 1, etc., I can't guess.

Democrats hold the House by 5 or fewer seats.

Basically, I think abortion and marijuana legalization brings out the Democratic base more than inflation and crime suppress it.

D.A.Y. in Troy, MI, writes: I think Democrats will have a better night than the narrative suggests currently. I believe the polls coming out lately are attempting to claim this will be a normal midterm election. Yet, when it comes to people actually voting, we have seen that not be the case in places like Kansas and New York. The repeal of Roe is something that can have effects that are not going to be picked up by polls concentrating on likely voters or even the expected mix of voters. The Democrats could keep the house and perhaps pick up the senators needed to bypass the obstructionists. Though, they would be their ceiling.

Though I think people should fear Florida. Even if the Democrats keep their federal trifecta, Florida is going to be an experiment. We're seeing the rise of an actual fascist regime in Florida, and all indications it will be reelected. Watch what happens in Florida in the coming years, and I think it will be the GOP unleashed.

Of course, this all depends on Democrats and left-leaning independents getting out and voting. The blue team has the numbers to win the day. The question is if they will vote in those numbers.

The Attack on Paul Pelosi

S.G. in Newark, NJ , writes: Per The New York Times, "The Canadian man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer and trying to kidnap Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been living in the United States with an expired immigration status for years, officials at the Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday."

Presumably, the "gay prostitute" meme will now be buried by an avalanche of "open borders!" claptrap.

But maybe not. DePape's not the right color, and he didn't come from the right direction. Wrong wall! Maybe we should build it from Vancouver "up the Saint Lawrence all the way to Gaspe."

Oh wait. He entered the US legally. Hmmmm...

Maybe he was just being prepositioned to become part of the Fifth Column during the upcoming invasion.

J.M. in New Glasgow, NS, Canada, writes: I think this is part of what irks people on the right like myself with your site sometimes.

Paul Pelosi was brutally attacked and nearly killed by, near as everyone can tell, a right-wing lunatic. Brett Kavanaugh wasn't attacked, but a left-wing lunatic drove across the country much more heavily armed (including the zip ties you mentioned in your piece on November 1st) and admitted he planned to murder Kavanaugh and then commit suicide. Fortunately, in one case, the lunatic was stopped and unfortunately, in the other case, the lunatic wasn't.

So in a "fair" world you could justifiably devote more time to the Pelosi attack as opposed to the attempted assassination of Kavanaugh but the ratio, and coverage, is very skewed. At time of writing, you've devoted 1503 words, two headlines, and numerous mailbag comments to Pelosi and 10 words, no headlines, and zero mailbag comments to Kavanaugh. The only mention of Kavanaugh being an offhand comment about Fox News covering the story instead of the 1/6 commission and even then it was treated dismissively by saying he was "nominally" threatened. There was no link made between left-wing rhetoric about Kavanaugh and someone trying to kill him. There was no assailing of left-wing figures for "thoughts and prayers" type responses and failure to address the core problem, nothing.

In the interest of fairness, I'm not making light of what happened to Pelosi and acknowledge loudly that it was much worse than what did happen to Kavanaugh. I'm not even saying left-wing violent rhetoric is worse than right-wing violent rhetoric, because I don't think that it is. Just that the coverage has been beyond the bounds of reason, both in substance and length.

A.H. in Newberg, OR, writes: You wrote: "Forgive us for the editorializing, but Trump Jr. is just an awful human being."

Say three Hail [Insert deity of choice], genuflect to the great and wonderful Oz, (note that this is the Wizard at the end of the Yellow Brick Road and not the quack snake oil salesman running for political office) and thou shalt be absolved.

C.E. in Murrysville, PA, writes: Regarding your comment about the crass "humor" of Mini Orange Man (Tangerine?). He is not an awful human—only a certain part.


V.H. in DuBois, PA, writes: The other day—my birthday, to be precise—I saw a picture of a sign I thought I'd never see in this country, bashing Jewish people. The sign was located in Jacksonville, FL, where, during World War II, my grandfathers wound up working together building ships to go defeat the incarnated evil that was trying to wipe every Jew off the face of the Earth. I could feel my grandfathers spinning in their graves. It was heartbreaking to know that their hard work would apparently be for nothing, 80 years later. It's heartbreaking that there may be some of their descendants who probably agreed with the message (though I certainly didn't). The fact some folks seem to be turning a blind eye or not speaking up against this rise in hatred is appalling. The fact some who are famous are, for some reason, trying to amplify this hatred with whatever platform they can get to is sickening.

V & Z respond: It is remarkable how many people claim to honor "The Greatest Generation," and yet regularly dishonor what that generation fought (and sometimes died) for.

S.G. in Newark, NJ, writes: Just saw this in The New York Times' feed:

Doug Mastriano, who is running for governor in Pennsylvania, was asked on Saturday about his antisemitic associations. His wife, Rebbie, jumped in to answer. "We probably love Israel more than a lot of Jews do," she said. Mastriano, a far-right Republican who promotes Christian power, has alarmed many in the state's Jewish community.

The important thing about this is not that Mrs. Mastriano jumped in. Nor that she equated "we love Israel" with "we are not antisemites" (which very much do not mean the same thing). Nor that she managed to still denigrate Jews as a group while proclaiming her love for Israel.

No, what matters is that Mr. Mastriano—a.k.a would-be Governor Mastriano—had absolutely no response to this reasonable and foreseeable question. He was completely dumbstruck. To me, that says far more about his true feelings than his wife's botched rescue attempt.

Mayor Pete

B.A.R. in South Bend, IN, writes: Of Pete Buttigieg, you wrote: "We think he's actually better positioned to be the 'next generation' leader of the Democrats than [Gavin] Newsom is."

Thank you for your thoughts on this. I've been singing Pete's praises for years (he was my mayor for eight years, after all) and I've got friends all over the country who paid attention to him because I talked about him a lot. If I can advocate a little more, I agree with you. Pete is a fantastic communicator (I'll never forget his encouraging words to me after the disastrous outcome of the 2016 presidential election) and I really don't think that the U.S. is all that hung up on the fact that he's gay—not anymore. I can see him getting votes from independents and never-Trump Republicans. He makes logical and valid points, but he can also make pointed attacks that are devastating in their accuracy. (Think about his comments about Mike Pence in the CNN town hall that got everyone talking about him.)

The first time I met him was when he was first running for mayor. We chatted a bit and when he moved on to talk to others, I turned to my husband and said, "Wow. Watch this guy, because he's going to be president one day."

I stand by my initial assessment of him. I'm not sure when that will happen but I hope it's not too far in the future. Not only would he be great for our country, I want to go to his inauguration. And I'm not getting any younger.

All Politics Is Local

S.C-M. in Scottsdale, AZ, writes: I agree if John Fetterman loses then people will be talking about the debate decision. At the same token if Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) loses her gubernatorial election, people will be talking about that decision for years as well.

I really doubt the debate decisions made by each candidate really mattered that much, but sometimes people latch onto single reasons a candidate lost when in reality a winning campaign is mostly a matter of having enough resources to run a competent campaign, but with luck and external circumstances thrown in as well.

R.H. in Seattle, WA, writes: John Fetterman was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. Had he not gone through with the debate, a more damaging narrative of "what's he hiding" would've taken hold.

K.K. in St. Louis, MO, writes: The Pennsylvania race reminds me of the 2000 senate race here in Missouri. After a horrible tragic accident, the candidate I supported was obviously unable to serve. I voted for him anyway and have no regrets. Concern over Fetterman's health condition should not dissuade any supporter from voting for him. Voters should remember that they are voting for the party he represents as much as for the candidate himself.

E.W. in Skaneateles, NY, writes: Here's a bit of on-the-ground reporting about how the various New York races have been playing out in upstate New York. There are lots of [Lee] Zeldin [R] for Governor "Save our State!" signs, but I don't see very many for Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY). Of note, all of the Hochul signs have Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado (D), but none of the Zeldin ones have his running mate. I'm in a relatively rural area, so that might be biased. There are lots of TV ads for Hochul, mostly talking endlessly about abortion and how awful Zeldin is on it. There are also lots of ads for Zeldin featuring very scary images of crime. Although I'm not going to vote for Zeldin, I can see how these ads might be very effective for suburban voters, especially in the Syracuse area. Syracuse has some of the worst crime and poverty per capita in the nation. Particularly distressing is the increasing number of children and teens who get access to guns and commit murder. Crime is a very salient issue around here, and I worry that it will drown out other important issues locally.

In my open-seat NY-22 congressional race, the TV ads are even worse and there are tons of signs. Francis Conole (D) (not "Canole," BTW) keeps hammering away at ultra-MAGA Brandon Williams (R) about abortion and being out of touch with Central New York. My favorite ad supporting Conole hits Williams about his truffle farm, showing that Democrats can also play the elitism card as well. Williams ads attacking Conole call him "Albany's man" and try to link him to both Joe Biden and Hochul, which is another bad sign for the latter, in my view.

The TV ads are absolutely relentless; in just one commercial break, there was a Williams ad, followed by a Conole ad, followed by another Williams ad. I even see TV ads for state Senate and state Assembly candidates, and there are lots of yard signs for everyone on down to judges and sheriffs. However, the worst is the deluge of mailers. Every day my poor mailbox overfloweth with flyers attacking and defending both Republicans and Democrats (mostly Conole/Williams and Hochul/Zeldin, but some others). My heart aches for all of those poor trees as I toss the mailers in my recycle bin.

Strangely enough, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) even has some TV ads up for his reelection; one touts the prescription drug bill for seniors and another touts the big Micron deal that will potentially bring lots of high-tech jobs to the area. I haven't seen a sign for Schumer nor have I seen anything about his opponent, so I don't know what Schumer is trying to do. If I didn't read this blog I wouldn't even know who his opponent was or that he was even running!

G.D. in Riverside, CA, writes: In looking at the polling for Utah, I was struck by the large number of undecideds. As has been pointed out on this site, undecideds often break against the incumbent. Non-Trumpy Republicans can vote for independent Evan McMullin without voting for a Democrat and if the 17% undecideds break two to one for McMullin, he could pull out a victory.

R.G. in Seattle, WA, writes: Last chance to comment of the Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)/Tiffany Smiley (R) matchup. The people in Washington are not always real clear on how Congress works. Note the election Tom Foley lost in eastern Washington was apparently because voters wanted the speaker of the House (Foley) to be replaced by their Republican representative (George Nethercutt.) That's not how this works; thats not how any of this works. As you've commented on many times before, it is hard to imagine Smiley having any influence in Congress that approaches what a 30-year-vet like Murray has. But many Republican voters don't know or care about this. Indeed, I am not a huge Murray fan, but there is no way to get her replaced without giving up her power to bring home the bacon to my state. Stiil, she gave away a lotta of my bacon in a budget deal some years back that cost me personally. I would expect, however, Smiley to screw me over far far harder, as this is what Trumpers are devoted to doing.

B.S. in Washougal, WA, writes: WA-03 is "The Midterm Race That Has It All" according to The New York Times. WA-03 is also the only CD that borders the Pacific Ocean and is held by a Republican. That is Jamie Herrera-Beutler (R), who lost in the August primary by a thousand votes to extreme right-winger Joe Kent.

The Republican conservatives are battling the moderates. Herrera-Beutler has refused to endorse Kent and some of her high-level supporters have endorsed Marie Perez (D). Kent's November voter pamphlet statement was exactly the same as his August statement in which he attacked Herrera-Beutler for a multitude of reasons, the biggest of which is Herrera-Beutler's vote to impeach Trump. That is antagonizing Herrera-Beutler's supporters.

In the midterm of 2018, Herrera-Beutler won by 5.4%. Trump won WA-03 by 4% in 2020 and Herrera-Beutler won by 12.8%. This year, redistricting carved rural Klickitat County from WA-03 and placed it in WA-04, a net loss of 5,000 Republican votes, or about 2-3%.

The race is clearly a toss-up. ButFive ThirtyEight has Kent winning by 12.8% and the Crystal Ball has "Likely Republican"! As a resident of WA-03, these two national election predictors have not done their homework and are in for a bad election night.

L.O-R. in San Francisco, CA, writes: Regarding "Gavin Newsom Isn't Campaigning--and This is Bad News for Democrats," you focus on how that might lead to "Republican" (really Trump Party) victories in California's close congressional races. In addition, for the first time in 15 years, the Democrats might lose a statewide race. The State Controller race is very tight, with a weak Democratic candidate and a Trump Party candidate who says he's a moderate because he won't answer any questions about his opinions on the 2020 election or forcing women to give birth. There is a very real possibility that the Democrats will lose this election, which would reverberate nationally as a symbol of the party's challenges.

C.V. in Chadron, NE, writes: On my commute to work, I pass by this sign:

The sign says 'ENOUGH' in capital letters.

It is on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. This is the most Democratic county in South Dakota, and one of the most Democratic counties in America, with 88.4% of the county vote going to Joe Biden. One has to guess "ENOUGH" of what? Some might suggest the Republican looniness that has plagued our country during the Trump era. However, COVID has had a tremendous impact on the lives of this community and still does somewhat, with mask mandates, school closers and remote learning. So, ENOUGH of what?

P.F. in Fairbanks, AK, writes: Found this interesting: "Alaska Senate race fueled by Trump, McConnell feud."

The ads this year are absolutely over the top in quantity (and under the... bottom?... in quality). Lots of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)-Rep. Mary Peltola (D) mailers. Tons. And even more anti-Murkowski mailers with no return addresses or organizations. Chewbaka ads are nauseatingly cheesy. I literally got 8 calls yesterday from the Peltola campaign (in their defense, I ignored the first 7).

L.B. in Savannah, GA, writes: I'm surprised Georgia's 1st district isn't coming up at least as a toss-up if not a loss risk for Earl "Buddy" Carter (R-GA). Carter's opponent is Savannah attorney Wade Herring, who is well known throughout the district and has been running a well-funded campaign, and enjoys the support of many local leaders. The results will depend on whether the Democratic voters in Savannah outnumber the Republican voters in the outlying rural counties and the ones between here and the Florida border. Herring (who coincidentally attends the same church as Carter) supports abortion rights, voting rights, and the environment, and was motivated to run for this seat over his disgust at Carter's failure to condemn the events of Jan. 6. (Disclaimer: I know Herring personally and have been making regular contributions to his campaign).

The returns for this district should be in early, and may be a bellwether for Democratic success or failure elsewhere.

British Politics

A.L. in Philadelphia, PA (though born and raised in Dublin, Ireland), writes: In "Jolly Olde English Politics, Part II," A.B. in Lichfield wrote: "Simply copy the Irish First Dáil in 1919 by unilaterally calling an independent Parliament on the basis of a victory for pro-independence parties in a forthcoming Scottish election (that this then led to a civil war and partition in Ireland tends to be glossed over)."

But it was Unionists who proposed removing "Ulster" from Home Rule, both legally, with proposed Amendments to the 1914 Government of Ireland Act, and illegally, with the smuggling 25,000 rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition into Larne in April 1914, and the Curragh mutiny. The civil war that A.B. refers to was not between the Unionists and the Republicans, but between those Republicans who were prepared to accept a treaty with Britain that would impose partition, and their fellow Republicans who were not prepared to accept that treaty.

Meanwhile, in "Jolly Olde English Politics, Part III," S.T in Worcestershire made a number of references to "the Irish Republic." The correct term is "The Republic of Ireland." The name of the state is just "Ireland" (see the official lists of countries that are members of the U.N. or the E.U., for example). Ireland is a Republic, and may be legally described as "The Republic of Ireland" (both Irish and U.K. legislation address this), and, when differentiating between the two states on the island, that's often a useful distinction. But given that the adjective "Irish" is often used pejoratively in Britain, the use of the adjectival term "the Irish Republic" rather than the legally correct noun phrase "The Republic of Ireland" makes this reader twitchy!

O.R. in Milan, Italy, writes: In their replies to the question posed by E.G.G-C. in Syracuse, NY, USA, whether there was a possibility for the U.K. to rejoin the European Union, our fellow readers from the U.K. had their say. I think it is fair to also give a voice to someone from within the E.U.

Among those responses, S.T. in Worcestershire wondered: "Among other things, why would the E.U. countries want us given our weakened economic state and the problems we caused them whilst we were members, endlessly wanting to receive exceptional treatment?"


I am as old as the Treaties of Rome. I was born in a founding member state of the E.U. and have been living in another founding member state for decades. I do not see the E.U. as a mere trade arrangement—which was the main point for the U.K. to join. The U.K. has never seen the E.U. as a project of peace and cooperation, it was all about markets and trade and money and power play (The British sitcom Yes, Minister hit the nail on the head). I, on the other hand, have lived most of my life along the former Iron Curtain nations, and to me the E.U. is one of the greatest achievements of recent history (admittedly not perfect; still, a good start).

The E.U. had gone out of their way over the years to accommodate the U.K.'s whims and wishes, granting exceptions and privileges that no other member state was given. I am still angry about some of the obnoxious speeches delivered by certain Thatcherite U.K. Conservatives in the E.U. Parliament then, not to mention by Nigel Farage and his ilk toward the end. Nevertheless they still weren't happy and ultimately kicked us in the teeth and showed us the middle finger. I recall staring unbelievingly at the TV in the morning hearing that "Leave" had actually won. I was so stunned that I surprised myself shouting out loud, "Good riddance, then!"

While I would welcome the U.K. back, I don't see this happening anytime soon; certainly not as long as the Brexiters won't open their eyes and admit that Brexit was a disastrous idea to begin with and that it is the main cause for their current predicament. The E.U. has enough on its hands with the Polish and Hungarian weirdos, no need to re-introduce the various Rees-Moggs and Bravermans.

A.B. in Lichfield believes that the E.U. would not only probably "take us back if we asked," but also assumes that the E.U. "may even be willing to give generous terms." That second half of A.B.'s assumption I am not convinced will come to pass. Heck, no. The U.K. had its chance and blew it. We can have you back sometime, of course (it makes sense), but forget about any more exceptions and special treatments—a lot of good that did us. Nah, the U.K. will have to simmer for quite a while yet, before they may think of engaging in their version of the walk to Canossa.

As for whether a new UK Referendum about EU membership would yield a different result today, The Guardian's live reporting from Wednesday's PMQ (Prime Minister's Question time) yesterday reported that at a briefing for journalists, polling expert Prof John Curtice, president of the British Polling Council, said that support for rejoining the E.U. has been growing steadily over the past year with the latest polling suggesting 57% would favor rejoining with 43% against.

T.W. in Norfolk, England, UK, writes: In answer to the question about 10 Downing Street's front door, the mail slot is—gasp!—entirely fake.

Here is a screen grab from a video of a tour of the building given by none other than David Cameron—he of the 2016 Brexit referendum, from which stemmed... well, you know the rest. The door is in the background and clearly has no slot on the inside:

You can see the interior of the front
door in the background, and there's clearly no mail slot.

The door itself was replaced many years ago with a solid steel facsimile due to worries about terrorism and the risks to the occupants of the building. There is more than one, and it's often swapped over for maintenance.

Incidentally, many people don't know that the bricks to the building aren't actually black. They're regular yellow bricks familiar to any Londoner, but in the olden days when soot was everywhere they simply darkened from the pollution and people got so used to the color that they assumed they were meant to be like that. In the 1960s the building was thoroughly renovated and the facade was cleaned, only for pretty much everyone to be surprised by their true color. The decision was made to paint them black, as nobody could then cope with the idea that the building was meant to be yellow!

My partner has actually been inside Number 10. I've only ever managed the Houses of Parliament. I shall forever be envious.

V & Z respond: But do they ever swap out the door to clean off the ketchup thrown at it by the prime minister?

J.M. in Silver Spring, MD, writes: A.B. in Lichfield expressed contempt for the identity of "Scotch-Irish": "Personally, I blame a combination of Mel Gibson and that tricky U.S.-specific ethnic identity of 'Scotch-Irish.'"

But A.B.'s countryman, S.T. in Worcestershire, claimed that very identity with: "[M]y mother's family has Scots-Irish roots..."

I find this amusing and suggest a cage fight to settle the issue.

J.C. in Washington, DC, writes: As we all fret over the midterms on Tuesday, perhaps a little levity. My partner and I took a cruise last week to Bermuda and I couldn't help but take this photo. If only the ship designers could have known:

A restaurant called Q's Texas Smokehouse

As an aside, the British Overseas Territory is delightful, Hamilton is beautiful and the people (for the moment) appear to remain loyal to The Crown. Thanks to G.S., A.B. and S.T. for their insight into Jolly Olde English Politics of late!

C.V. in Tampa, FL, writes: Loved the British series—here's hoping that the correspondents occasionally contribute on a semi-regular basis.

And I absolutely believe A.B. about the wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey bit. Nearly spit out my tea.

Out the Door, Just in Time, Headed down the 405

K.L. in Concord, CA, writes: In the answer to M.M. in Gypsum regarding whether Pennsylvania is "on the Atlantic coast," you wrote: "To give a rough parallel, only a native Californian would know that it's 'The 405' and not '405.'"

Make that "only a native Southern Californian", thank you very much! As a native Northern Californian, up here we don't use the definitive article when talking about freeways. So, "5", "99", and "101" for the major north-south routes, not "The 5," "The 99," and "The 101." I've always thought it a quirky little difference in word usage.

This can be heard in local news radio KCBS's traffic updates, generally every 10 minutes.

W.D.E. in Mariposa, CA, writes: I grew up in Southern California, and know it's "the 405." But it's more regional than that. My wife grew up in Modesto, and thinks (erroneously) that "the 405" is ridiculous.

K.P. in San Jose, CA, writes: As a native Californian and UCLA grad (twice, actually) who lived the first half of my life in LA, and relocated to the Bay Area around the end of Showtime at the Faaaaabulous Forum, I must modify your assertion that "only a native Californian would know that it's "The 405" and not "405." That applies only to SoCal.

Coming from The Valley (ohmigod) north, one takes "the 101" but coming south from San Jose, we always take "101." Somewhere around San Luis Obispo, the transformation occurs. But true SoCal-ians (at least, when l was living there) always called their Freeways by name, e.g, the 405 is "The San Diego Freeway," even though that particular hunk of concrete goes nowhere near SD, being swallowed up by "The 5" once safely behind the Orange Curtain.

The Sporting Life

O.Z.H., Dubai, UAE, writes: I was so very pleased by your response to my Lakers question. I've also been a fan from the very beginning of the Showtime era, with Norm Nixon and Jamaal Wilkes. The Clippers just annoy me. I was hoping you would throw the question out to your readers and ask whether any of them are true Clippers fans, and if they have any ideas as to why Steve Ballmer doesn't do the obvious and move the team to Seattle.

V & Z respond: If any reader is a Clippers fan, we will certainly run your response next week. But don't hold your breath, O.Z.H.

R.M.H. in San Diego, CA, writes: Perhaps (Z) and O.Z.H. in Dubai were unaware that the reason for the Clippers' lack of success was that I placed a curse on them when they left San Diego in 1984. I felt bad for the players' collateral damage, but I was also really pissed. The curse was to be in force until Donald Sterling sold the team, but I guess I got carried away. Also, the new owner, Steve Ballmer, is not one of my favorite people, either.

This can be confirmed by a search of the usenet archives where it was generally agreed I did a good thing.

J.M. in Norman, OK, writes: Regarding your comment about Colorado being in the Pac-12 despite being far from the Pacific, about once a year I have cause to remember that Colorado borders Oklahoma and every time I have a moment of bewilderment. Somewhere in my mind, Colorado is much closer to the Pacific than to the Great Plains (even when Colorado was a member of the Big 12 conference, so it's not just a sports issue) and I really don't know why.

M.C. in Friendship, ME, writes: The Ark, a folk music club in Ann Arbor, MI, gets more customers on nights when U. of Michigan loses a home game.

S.C. in Hoffman Estates, IL, writes: The picture of Easton Oetting in his Zamboni costume was the best news I've seen all week! Although I'm a Blackhawks fan, Easton, the Edmonton Oilers, and the NHL get two points for showing what a winning attitude really looks like.

A.C. in Miami, FL, writes: Loved your words about Easton and his Zamboni wheelchair costume. It reminds me of a great charity, Magic Wheelchair, that makes similarly creative costumes for kids in chairs. As a 38-year-old man and lifetime wheelchair user I really want the costume that makes my chair look like it is being pulled by a dinosaur.

A.B. in Wendell, NC, writes: I was inspired to write this because of your mention that transgender sports is a "loser" for the Democratic Party. Well, a lot of things were losers until they were winners.

All I will say about the myriad of proposed or passed limitations/exclusions/laws that are anti-trans—and blatantly so—is this: Those who stand against trans like me, and who continue to insist that trans people like me are "perverts," ARE THE ONES WHO ARE HUNG UP ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE'S GENITALIA!

I am so tired of this bull**it...


R.C. in Des Moines, IA, writes: I agree that Steely Dan qualifies as rock and roll and, more precisely, as Yacht Rock.

R.S. in Tonawanda, NY, writes: I would suggest that Steely Dan, at least for many of their songs, can be said to qualify as jazz artists. I listen to a jazz station out of Toronto, and they get a fair amount of airplay there. You can't pigeonhole them, which is one of the reasons they were so great. (R.I.P. Walter Becker, carry on Donald Fagen).

M.B. in St. Paul, MN, writes: The link to the Wikipedia entry for "Who Watches the Watchers" led me down a rabbit hole to this list of the five best "just outside of sensor range" TNG episodes with a focus on Captain Picard.

I think it would do all of us a lot of good to watch at least one if not all of these episodes before the madness of Election Day arrives. It will do the heart and mind good, and our hearts and minds are about to get a workout.

R.P. in Leuven, Belgium, writes: Fun history fact: Your post title 'Who Aggregates the Agggregators?' referencing the TNG episode 'Who Watches The Watchers?' is a reference to the Latin phrase 'Quis custodiet ipos custodes?' (Juvenal). I'm not sure if you knew that already and were making a history joke, but just in case, I thought you'd like to know.

V & Z respond: We knew. The Trek writing staff actually has quite the taste for Latin-inspired episode titles.

S.K. in Culver City, CA, writes: What timing—the age-old ideological battle between California and Texas played out in the Star Trek universe last week, in the Lower Decks season 3 finale (spoiler alert). The show follows the "lower decks" crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos, a California-class starship. In the finale, the entire California class is threatened with decommissioning to make way for the new Texas class, all of which are unmanned drone ships (or brainless automatons, you might say). Every ship is named for a city in its class' namesake state (except the Sherman Oaks and the Pacific Palisades; the only ships named for neighborhoods, as far as I can tell). This being Trek, the Texas ships are taken over by an evil sentient artificial intelligence which attacks the Cerritos. Ultimately the California class defeats the Texas class, both in battle and by proving its humanoid crew is better equipped to uphold Federation ideals. You can see the final battle here.

M.W. in Northbrook, IL, writes: I was intrigued by your question about Joe Biden: "And can an 87 year old do the second toughest job in the world (after being Vladimir Putin's bodyguard)?"

And was wondering if a contest might be in order for other suggestions. Here are a few thoughts about... not necessarily the toughest jobs, but certainly ones that I wouldn't want:

  • Trump's lawyer (argue nonsense and don't get paid... no thanks)
  • Ted Cruz's travel agent (last minute booking to Cancun, last minute booking from Cancun...)
  • Rand Paul's landscaper (significant risk of bodily harm)
  • Mitch McConnell's conscience (can you imagine the way Jiminy Cricket's head would spin dealing with the hypocrisy?)
  • Herschel Walker's condom purchaser (nothing to do...)

V & Z respond: If readers have additional suggestions for tough jobs like these, we'll certainly run some of them.

Today's Senate Polls

Ann Selzer is the best in the business and if she says Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is going to get his ninth term at 89, then he's going to get his ninth term at 89. Also worth noting, if Joe Biden runs in 2024 and Republicans say he is too old, Democrats who like the "whatabout game" could say "whatabout Grassley"?

As to Nevada, InsiderAdvantage has a noticeable Republican lean. Masto has actually led in five of the nine nonpartisan polls in October and was tied in one of the others. Don't take this one too seriously (V).

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Iowa Michael Franken 41% Chuck Grassley* 53% Oct 31 Nov 03 Selzer
Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto* 44% Adam Laxalt 50% Nov 04 Nov 04 InsiderAdvantage

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov05 Saturday Q&A
Nov05 Today's Senate Polls
Nov04 Who Aggregates the Aggregators?
Nov04 Pollsters Are Worried about 2022
Nov04 Fixing Polling
Nov04 But Wait, There's More!
Nov04 Oprah Picks Her Horse in Pennsylvania
Nov04 Today's Trump Legal News
Nov04 This Week in Schadenfreude: ¡Abucheo Zapata!
Nov04 This Week in Freudenfreude: Here's What a Healthy Father-Son Relationship Looks Like
Nov04 Jolly Olde English Politics, Part IV
Nov04 Today's Senate Polls
Nov03 Control of the Senate Will Depend on This Strange Tradeoff
Nov03 Conspiracy Theories about Paul Pelosi Are Running Wild
Nov03 Hand-Counting of Ballots Is on the Ballot
Nov03 Pennsylvania Will Not Count Undated Ballots
Nov03 Where Are the Heavyweights Campaigning?
Nov03 Flood of New Poll Workers Is Raising Concerns
Nov03 Who Are the Most Vulnerable House Members?
Nov03 Trump Lawyers Hoped Clarence Thomas Would Help Them Overturn Georgia
Nov03 Jolly Olde English Politics, Part III
Nov03 Today's Senate Polls
Nov02 Graham Must Testify
Nov02 Sasse Is In, So He's Out
Nov02 The Seven People With the Most at Stake on Tuesday
Nov02 Today's Trump Legal News
Nov02 Today's Endorsement News
Nov02 Today's Dysfunctional Democracies News
Nov02 Jolly Olde English Politics, Part II
Nov02 Today's Senate Polls
Nov01 Let the Gaslighting Begin
Nov01 When Will Trump Be Indicted?
Nov01 Maybe That Odor Is Something other than Musky
Nov01 Hofmeister Picks Up a Key Endorsement
Nov01 Yet Again, Oz Reminds Everyone He's a Carpetbagger
Nov01 Heeeeee's Baaaaaaaack!
Nov01 Jolly Olde English Politics, Part I
Nov01 Today's Senate Polls
Oct31 Where Are We a Week Before the Election?
Oct31 Races for Governor Are Not Following the Playbook
Oct31 Rules for Absentee Voting Are All over the Map
Oct31 Early Voting Is Well Underway
Oct31 Poll: Economy and Inflation Are the Top Issues
Oct31 Ossoff Will Help Warnock
Oct31 Twitter Is Now Emitting a Musky Odor
Oct31 What If the Certifiers Won't Certify?
Oct31 Gavin Newsom Isn't Campaigning--and This is Bad News for Democrats
Oct31 When Will Biden Announce?
Oct31 Republican Concern for Workers Is Play Acting
Oct31 It's Lula