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Republicans are usually more fired up over SCOTUS. Now, polls say Democrats are.

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WASHINGTON — For decades, Republicans have galvanized voters around reshaping the Supreme Court and benefited from it at the ballot box. But in a stark reversal, polls indicate it is Democrats who have the edge in 2020.

National and battleground state surveys taken before the death Friday of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed that voters trust Joe Biden more than President Donald Trump to pick a Supreme Court nominee, and that Democrats rate the high court as more important to their vote than Republicans do.

A Fox News poll taken this month found that likely voters trust Biden over Trump, by a margin of 52 percent to 45 percent, on nominating the next Supreme Court justice.

A Marquette Law national poll finished three days before Ginsburg’s death found 59 percent of Biden voters rated the Supreme Court as “very important” to their vote; 51 percent of Trump voters said the same. Among Democrats, 56 percent said the next Supreme Court appointment was “very important,” higher than the 48 percent of Republicans who said the same.

In 2016, voters who rated the Supreme Court as “the most important factor” in their 2016 vote favored Trump over Clinton by a margin of 56 percent to 41 percent, according to NBC News exit polls.

The new findings point to a dilemma for Trump and Republicans as they plow ahead with plans to replace Ginsburg with a conservative jurist before the election, and after refusing to allow President Barack Obama to fill a vacancy in 2016. In a political environment where Democrats are energized over the Court, rejecting the dying wish of the leader of the court’s liberal wing risks a voter backlash.

“There’s so much at stake: The right to health care, clean air, clean water, environment, equal pay for equal work, the rights of voters, immigrants, women, workers,” Biden said in a Sunday speech in Philadelphia focused on the Supreme Court. “And right now, our country faces a choice — a choice abut whether we come back from the brink.”

And he faulted Trump for supporting a lawsuit before the Court to overturn Obamacare: “Millions of Americans are voting because they know their health care hangs in the balance.”

His remarks signal a new attitude for Democrats, who for decades have been shy about connecting elections and Supreme Court nominees chosen by the two parties to different policy outcomes.

“For reasons I have never understood, Republicans for years have taken judicial nominations much more seriously than Democrats,” said Jim Manley, a lobbyist and former spokesman for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. “We have utterly failed as a party to take the threat posed by the Republican take over the judiciary seriously.”

‘A clear choice on the future of the Supreme Court’

Republicans have been more aggressive at connecting those dots, equating GOP victories at the ballot box with stronger gun rights, the undoing of abortion rights and other issues that animate their base.

At a rally Saturday in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Trump promised to pick a woman to replace Ginsburg before the end of his first term, again claiming “there’ll be no God, there’ll be no guns” if Biden wins.

“The Supreme Court was a very central issue in both the 2016 presidential election and then the 2018 midterm elections,” Trump said. “I am holding up your Second Amendment.”

The dynamic can yet change. Republicans hope their voters will be ignited by a new Supreme Court pick who solidifies a 6-3 conservative majority, as they were by the ugly confirmation fight of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

Democrats have limited options to stop Republicans, who hold 53 Senate votes and don’t need bipartisan support to replace Ginsburg. One Democratic aide familiar with the process said he feared his party would be out-gunned by the right on infrastructure to shape public opinion during the battle.

A CNN poll last month found that 79 percent of Democratic registered voters rate the Supreme Court has “extremely” or “very” important to their 2020 vote, compared to 71 percent of Republicans who said the same.

And recent New York Times-Siena battleground state polls found that Biden is more trusted than Trump to choose a Supreme Court justice among likely voters in Arizona (53 percent to 43 percent), Maine (59 percent to 37 percent) and North Carolina (47 percent to 44 percent)

GOP senators facing tough re-election battles have varying strategies to navigate the issue.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine has publicly announced her opposition to voting on a Supreme Court nominee due to “the proximity of the presidential election,” saying instead that the winner of the contest should pick the next justice.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. came out for Trump’s nominee before one was named and sought to mobilize conservative voters around the Court.

“There is a clear choice on the future of the Supreme Court between the well-qualified and conservative jurist President Trump will nominate and I will support, and the liberal activist Joe Biden will nominate and Cal Cunningham will support, who will legislate radical, left-wing policies from the bench,” Tillis said Saturday.

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who trails Democrat Mark Kelly and is hoping to shake up her race, said less than two hours after Ginsburg’s death was announced: “This U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.”

And Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., declined to say Saturday if Republicans should replace Ginsburg this year, saying the country needs “time for personal reflection” before “the politics begin.

In his speech Sunday, Biden addressed those fence-sitting senators.

“To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power,” he said. “And I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it.”



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Two weeks till Election Day, Democrats have a big lead in early voting

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But the vote totals, which are up more than 350 percent from this time in 2016, have caught the attention of party officials in many states, with state Democratic Parties saying the results are a return on investment.

“The Texas Democratic Party has put a lot of investment into ensuring that Texas turns blue, and we’re seeing this investment play out in real-time,” said Abhi Rahman, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party. “This is a good start but we have to continue to do the work. We’re not taking anything for granted.”

Texas Republicans see it differently, according to the state’s GOP communication director, Luke Twombly, who said, “We expect to see our share of the turnout percentage climb with each passing day.”

Tony Zammitt, communications director for Michigan’s Republican Party, thinks the party has an advantage over state Democrats due to door-knocking in numbers.

“We have a comprehensive strategy on getting out votes, focusing on absentee ballots but more on Election Day,” he said.

Zammitt also expects Republican voters to show up come Nov. 3.

“We feel pretty confident that when votes are counted that the Republican Party will be victorious,” he said.



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With two weeks to go, there are only two scheduled events left on the 2020 calendar

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WASHINGTON — We are officially two weeks out from Election Day, and we have only two scheduled events left on the calendar.

Thursday’s final debate and the Nov. 3 election.

That’s it.

Everything else seems stuck in place — like you’re on an amusement-park ride, and the only choices you have are getting on and getting off. And all of the rest is outside of your control.

That helps explain why the Trump campaign yesterday was so fixated on the topics and structure of Thursday’s debate — because they realize they have so few opportunities left to change the trajectory of the race.

Especially with millions of Americans having already voted.

Tweet of the day

The early vote and how to watch the election night returns

Approximately 30 million Americans have already voted in the 2020 election — representing about one-fifth of the estimated turnout — and we can safely conclude that a majority of them are Democrats.

Our most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 59 percent of registered voters saying they plan to vote early (either by mail or in person), and that includes 76 percent of all Democratic voters, but just 42 percent of Republicans.

Conversely, 37 percent said they’d vote on Election Day, which includes 55 percent of Republicans, but just 20 percent of Democrats.

That disparity is likely going to influence how election night plays out as the votes get counted, because some states — including the key battlegrounds of Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — can’t begin counting absentee/mail-in votes until Election Day.

In other words: You can expect the day-of votes (which heavily lean Republican) to get counted before the early votes (which heavily lean Democratic).

Now Florida and North Carolina are big exceptions here — they can begin counting absentee/mail-in ballots early, and they have a history of counting quickly.

Still, be prepared for uneven ways the ballots are going to come in on election night/election week.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

8,259,935: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 67,496 more than yesterday morning.)

221,318: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 561 more than yesterday morning.)

126.03 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

26,257,381: The number of Americans who have voted early, either by mail or in person, according to NBC and TargetSmart

2 minutes: The time during each presidential candidate’s initial answers to each of six debate topic questions for which the opposite candidate will have their mic muted on Thursday, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

3 days: The number of days after Election Day when mail-in ballots that are received must be counted in Pennsylvania, per a new ruling by the Supreme Court.

52 percent: The share of Americans who say they don’t trust what Trump has said about his health after being diagnosed with Covid, according to a new NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll.

9 points: Biden’s lead over Trump in a new national NYT/Siena poll.

1 point: Biden’s lead in North Carolina, per a Washington Post/ABC poll, showing a dead heat in the Tar Heel State.

2020 Vision: All about that base

Here was Trump yesterday talking to the press when asked about voters who aren’t “at the rallies” and aren’t “folks watching Fox News”:

“I think that we’re winning over voters by having such a success. Look, our stock market is almost at the all-time high in our history. And that’s with a pandemic. And I know you don’t like saying this, but — and I believe we’re rounding the turn on the pandemic very substantially.”

And here’s what Trump told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie last Thursday when asked about voters in the middle wanting to know why they should give the president “a second chance”:

“Because I’ve done a great job. We have the strongest economy in the world. We closed it up. We are coming around the corner. The vaccines are coming out soon, and our economy is strong.”

On the campaign trail today

President Trump holds a rally in Erie, Pa. at 7:00 p.m. ET. Kamala Harris participates in a virtual GOTV event for voters in Milwaukee.

Ad Watch from Ben Kamisar

In today’s Ad Watch, Democrats are bringing in the cavalry: Former President Barack Obama.

The former president, who has enjoyed relatively high retrospective polling marks since he left office, is on the airwaves in some key battleground Senate races as Democrats push to flip control of the body.

In Maine, he’s touting Democrat Sara Gideon as “exactly the type of leader we need in Washington” in a seat that could decide control of the Senate; in Georgia, he praises Raphael Warnock as a “man of great moral integrity, a leader in the truest sense of the word” ahead of his Georgia special Senate election showdown; he called South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison the choice who will “fight for criminal justice reform, lower college costs and make health care affordable” in his bid against Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham; and in Michigan, he praised Democratic Sen. Gary Peters as “someone I trust” to protect the legacy of the Obama administration.

Obama has endorsed other candidates up and down the ballot, so it’s possible that he wades into other races in the final few weeks (ads are continuing to roll in this morning). But Democrats are hoping that one of their top surrogates can help maximize turnout among their party’s base, as well as shore up states that Obama carried during his time on the ballot.

The Lid: All the rage

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we learned how a single viral moment turned into a big fundraising boost in a key Senate race.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Trump wants to ramp up his “BOFFO” rallies. They may come with more risk than reward.

Does Jaime Harrison really have a chance?

Admiral William McRaven says he’s voting for Biden.

The New York Times checks in with how QAnon is going mainstream in the GOP.

The U.S. is set to execute the first woman in 67 years.

The Justice Department says that Trump shouldn’t be sued personally for denying a rape allegation because he made the statement while acting in his official capacity as president.



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Boris Johnson rattles Brussels as he 'sends clear signal to EU' with no deal Brexit plans

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BREXITEER Syed Kamall argued the UK preparations for no deal have taken the EU by surprise.

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