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Election Day 2020: What are we seeing from make or break states?



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Today is Election Day and this presidential election has set itself up to be one like no other. One thing, however, that this election has in common with elections past is that the swing states still play a crucial role—for different reasons though. Let’s go over what will make this election challenging to operate and quickly get the results of as well as which swing states, as of the final polls, will likely have the closest margins.

Major challenges facing this election

Due to risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of voters have cast their ballots through the mail (both the “absentee” and “mail-in” types of ballots). Not to mention, stations for early voting in person have been set up all across the country. Altogether, this unprecedented amount of ballots arriving prior to Election Day has placed a never-before-seen amount of stress on each of the 50 states’ (plus the District of Columbia’s) election systems.

For an explanation about the difference between mail-in and absentee ballots, check out this piece here by Ben Wilson: The Difference Between Absentee and Mail-In Ballots.

These factors mean that we may not know the likely victor on Election Night. I say “likely victor” because, even if we receive preliminary results tonight, the results will be likely incomplete with many states forbidding election workers from counting the ballots before Election Day to some degree or another. As a result, in many states there will likely be a backlog of ballots that will need to be counted on top of those cast Tuesday in person.

In addition to that, Democratic voters are overwhelmingly more likely than Republican voters to cast their votes through the mail while the latter tend to vote in person more. Because of this, the preliminary results will likely not be reflective of the whole electorate within a given state, since the votes cast in person today, November 3, will most likely be disproportionately Republican.

Then there’s the integrity of this election. Incumbent President Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to say that he will accept the results of the election no matter what they may turn out to be. He has also cast doubt onto the efficacy and security of vote-by-mail. While most studies support that vote-by-mail is reliable and safe, there have been multiple incidents in many states that have raised eyebrows about how ready the states and the United States Postal Service (USPS) are to handle the largest deluge of mail ballots they’ve ever witnessed. Plus, the wait times at lines for polling stations are through the roof.

In New York City, for example, nearly 100,000 people were sent absentee ballots with the wrong names and addresses back in late September. Additionally, the City’s wait times at polling station lines have been a source of frustration and outrage at city and state government officials.

There will most likely be a legal challenge to the results—already, both the Trump and Biden campaigns are preparing for a harsh legal battle. Whether one side’s arguments have more salience than the other will depend on how widespread there are issues or allegations of mishaps and fraud Tuesday as well as during the counting process that will likely happen for days after Election Day.

The pivotal swing states

Now, onto the swing states. Assuming that the polls and their margins of error are to be trusted, this election between President Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, will potentially be determined by slim margins of error in a handful of swing states.

As of today, the states with the closest margins of error according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling average are: Ohio (Trump +0.8), Texas (Trump +1.1), Georgia (Biden +1.2), North Carolina (Biden +1.8), Florida (Biden +2.5), Arizona (Biden +2.6), and then Pennsylvania (Biden +4.7) to a lesser extent.

Since this presidential election in these states will likely come down to a slim vote difference, nearly all of the ballots will have to be counted before it is possible to certify who wins a certain state. Thus, it is paramount that these states are allowed to count all of their ballots and that all of us wait patiently for the full independently verified results. All this goes hand in hand with taking the polls with a grain of salt since they were mostly wrong in 2016 when it came to the chance of Trump winning that election.

Remember: Nobody has the right answers about the election. All we can do is formulate educated guesses, account for different possible scenarios, and urge that people listen to their better angles and don’t commit acts of politically motivated violence.

The best we can do is wait.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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BREAKING: Clinton herself ‘agreed’ to leak Trump-Russia allegations to press



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Remember this 2016 post from Hillary herself just days away from the election? During Friday’s trial of her former attorney Michael Sussmann, some juicy details behind this vey post have emerged.

“Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager, said that Clinton ‘agreed’ to leak allegations that the Trump Organization had a secret communications channel with Russia’s Alfa Bank to the media during his Friday testimony” reports National Review.

The media “report” Hillary tweeted about above, was spoon-fed to them with her blessing. Mook also revealed the “purpose” for the campaign to leak it to the press was to have a reporter “run it down” further and “vet it out.”

As for Mrs. Clinton’s involvement, Mook added that he “discussed it with Hillary as well” after which, “she agreed to” their decision to turn the loose gossip over to the press.

She was then able to use Slate’s “reporting” to discuss the fake collusion publicly. Clinton then tweeted the campaign’s press release on the “statement from Jake Sullivan on New Report Exposing Trump’s Secret Line of Communication to Russia.”

FBI agent James Baker, the then-agent who Sussmann took the Alfa Bank information to, testified in the trial Wednesday. He said he was “100 percent confident” that Sussmann said he wasn’t representing a client when they met.

A text message from Sussmann to Baker from the day prior reads: “Jim — it’s Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss. Do you have availability for a short meeting tomorrow? I’m coming on my own — not on behalf of a client or company — want to help the Bureau. Thanks.”

National Review reports of the case:

The former FBI general counsel said that he would have treated the meeting and subsequent investigation differently had he known Sussmann was coming forward on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

 The evidence that Sussmann delivered to Baker came in the form of Domain Name System (DNS) data that allegedly showed frequent communications between servers associated with the Trump Organization and Russia’s Alfa Bank. The data was provided to Sussmann by Joffe, an executive at the cybersecurity firm Neustar, which was also being represented by Sussmann as part of his role as a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm.

FBI agent Scott Hellman testified Tuesday that he was immediately skeptical of the data and accompanying analysis that suggested illicit communications between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank. In fact, the quality of the analysis was so poor, that Hellman questioned whether its source had a “mental disability” in a private chat with FBI colleagues, obtained by prosecutors.

Opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which Perkins Coie hired to work on behalf of the Clinton campaign, translated the DNS data into laymen’s terms and pitched it to various reporters, including Franklin Foer, a writer for Slate.

 “We certainly hoped that he would publish an article,” former Fusion GPS employee Lauren Seago testified.

Foer obliged them, touting the claims in an article published on October 31, 2016, a little over a week before Election Day.


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