The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Daily 202: Trump has reached his ceiling, with little or no room to grow

Donald Trump speaks Saturday night in New Jersey. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

With Breanne Deppisch

THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump is stuck. The deeper you drill into the crosstabs of our new poll, the clearer it becomes that he will have a very hard time getting more than 46 percent of the popular vote. That would translate into a landslide loss in the electoral college.

-- On the surface, the Republican nominee is surprisingly close to Hillary Clinton in the Washington Post-ABC News survey. He trails by just four points, 50 percent to 46 percent, among likely voters nationwide. That happens to be the same size as the margin of error. It is also only a two-point shift in Clinton’s direction since our poll on the eve of the first debate, before his attacks on a former Miss Universe, the release of the 2005 video and the emergence of more than a dozen women who have accused him of unwanted sexual advances.

-- These numbers would seem to bolster the notion that Trump is Teflon. But in fact he is in a particularly poor position to expand his support because the voters who currently back a third-party candidate or have not decided whom to support are far more critical of him than of Clinton. And they’ve only become more so in recent weeks.

With the help of our in-house pollster Scott Clement, I studied the 14 percent of registered voters who support neither Clinton nor Trump in the four-way poll test. This includes the 6 percent for Gary Johnson and the 3 percent for Jill Stein but also the 3 percent who volunteered to our callers that they are supporting none of the four and the 2 percent who said they have not decided yet.

Among this sub-group, 71 percent are “strongly unfavorable” to Trump versus 46 percent who say the same of Clinton. He comes fairly close to her on honesty (83 percent say Trump is not honest and trustworthy, compared to 78 percent who say the same for Clinton) and on who is best for the economy (35 percent say Trump and 32 percent say Clinton). But there is a big chasm on two questions that tend to be better predictors of vote choice: 77 percent say Trump is not qualified to be president, compared to 44 percent who say Clinton is not. And 86 percent say Trump lacks the temperament to be president, compared to 42 percent who say the same of Clinton.

This 14 percent is crucial because nearly everyone else can no longer be persuaded: 88 percent of Trump supporters and 89 percent of Clinton backers said they will “definitely” support their current preference. More than 1.4 million ballots have already been cast, and a superior Democratic ground game is locking in her advantage.

-- Bigger picture: With the exception of an outlier or two, no poll worth the paper it is printed on has ever had Trump garnering more than 47 percent against Clinton in a head-to-head matchup. A George Washington University poll being released later this morning has Clinton up eight points among likely voters (47-39). Yesterday’s NBC-Wall Street Journal poll had Clinton ahead 10 points in a head-to-head matchup, with Trump at 40 percent. Last week Fox News put Trump down seven points, with 41 percent. For context, Mitt Romney got 47.2 percent of the popular vote — and 206 electoral votes. John McCain pulled 45.7 percent in 2008 — and 173 electoral votes.

-- A generic Republican might be handily defeating Clinton, but Trump is not a generic Republican. Clinton’s net negative is 14 points (42 percent of likely voters view her favorably and 56 percent see her in an unfavorable light), but Trump’s is 25 points (37 percent favorable vs. 62 percent unfavorable). It is truly remarkable that Trump is down only four points among likely voters when you consider that the same poll also finds:

  • 68 percent believe Trump has made unwanted sexual advances toward women. Just 14 percent say he has not.
  • 57 percent said Trump’s response to the 2005 “Access Hollywood” video was insincere.
  • Only 40 percent agree with Trump that the comments are “locker room talk.”
  • 57 percent say it's inappropriate for Trump to say that Clinton would be in jail if he were president for her use of a private email server as secretary of state.
  • While 55 percent say Trump’s treatment of women is a legitimate issue in the campaign, 67 percent say Bill Clinton’s treatment of women is not a legitimate issue.
  • 52 percent say Clinton does not have strong moral character, but 66 percent say Trump does not.

-- Trump’s lack of growth potential helps explain why he’s decided to go all-in on mobilizing his own base while trying to suppress, intimidate and otherwise deter Democratic voters from participating in the election. His path to victory at this point depends on large swaths of the Obama coalition choosing to stay home.

-- The numbers also demonstrate why Clinton continues to be so cautious. Like a quarterback who is ahead by a few touchdowns at the start of the fourth quarter, she has been running down the clock with a cautious, front-porch-style campaign that leaves little room for unforced errors. The Boston Globe tabulated both candidates’ travels over past two-and-a-half months, and the numbers are stark: Clinton held 52 events compared with Trump’s 88 between Aug. 1 and Oct. 10. President Obama held 74 events and Mitt Romney 76 during the same period in 2012. And over the same period in 2008, Obama held 108 events and John McCain 100. “Clinton, who, like Trump, is deeply unpopular with voters, also risks energizing her opponent’s supporters every time she lands in a battleground state for a rally,” Michael Levenson notes on today’s front page.

-- Our electoral college forecast looks even rosier for Clinton than the national popular vote.

-- The high command in Brooklyn is divided about how much Clinton should invest in the non-core battleground states during the final three weeks. From John Wagner, Abby Phillip and Jose A. DelReal: “Clinton and the Democratic Party entered October with twice as much money in the bank as Trump and the Republicans, but some in Clinton’s camp have cautioned against any late moves that could jeopardize a victory in states she appears to have nailed down. The campaign is expected to decide in coming days whether to make a more aggressive play for states such as Georgia, which is being eyed as one of the more promising opportunities for Clinton, and Arizona, where a couple of high-profile surrogates are being deployed this week: Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Tuesday and Chelsea Clinton on Wednesday.”

“Several states that Trump initially sought to contest, including Colorado and Virginia, have now seemingly slipped out of reach. Clinton was up by 15 points in Virginia, according to a poll released Sunday by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. And Trump has pulled resources from Virginia. Trump’s failure to perform in such states, Clinton aides said, will allow the campaign to shift attention even more to North Carolina and Florida — two must-win states for him — to choke his path to 270…”

-- Follow the money. You can judge whether a campaign is serious about winning a state if it invests in TV commercials…

  • Clinton is currently on the air in seven states: Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio and Iowa.
  • Trump’s campaign now appears intent on remaining competitive in just four states: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

-- Republican operatives on the ground in Ohio tell me that the state, which had been leaning toward Trump, is back to being a true toss-up and may be leaning toward Clinton. Donald’s campaign, making matters worse, publicly attacked the state GOP Chairman Matt Borges over the weekend. Borges is a loyalist to John Kasich, but he has nonetheless done a great deal to help the nominee. Trump “is very disappointed in Matt’s duplicity,” Trump’s Ohio campaign director Robert Paduchik said in an email, accusing Borges of embarking on a “self-promotional media tour with state and national outlets to criticize our party’s nominee.” Borges’s offense? He did not defend Trump’s behavior toward women when reporters called about it.

-- Another data point that Ohio has tightened: Rob Portman's newest mailer tries to co-opt the Clinton campaign slogan "stronger together." The Republican senator officially broke with Trump the Friday before last.

-- On the early vote, Democrats are outpacing their 2012 early vote performance in Florida and North Carolina BUT are still trailing in Iowa and Ohio. From Politico’s Kyle Cheney: Republicans are clinging to narrow leads in the total number of mail-in ballots requested in the Sunshine State and the Tar Heel State. Yet in both states, Clinton is ahead of Obama’s pace four years earlier — and the GOP trails Romney’s clip. But political scientist Michael McDonald said there are undercurrents that should cause concern for Clinton. Democratic early-vote performance in Midwestern states like Iowa and Ohio appears to be well behind its 2012 pace.

-- Top GOP officials in Arizona are sounding the alarm and telling reporters that Trump is taking the Grand Canyon State for granted. From NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard: “The campaign has placed few resources in the state. There are five staffers aiding Trump's bid, paid for by a combination of the campaign, the RNC and the Arizona Republican Party. The campaign has not put up any broadcast TV or radio spots in Arizona, and it has committed just $15,000 for mailers for the remainder of this month and $7,000 for the final week of the campaign. Asked if more funds directly from the campaign and the RNC are wanted and if they have been requested, a state GOP party official (said): ‘Of course. We'll take anything.’”

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
With contributions from Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck).

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-- Iraqi forces have launched the long-awaited offensive to retake Mosul from ISIS, which has occupied the largest city in northern Iraq as a de facto capital. Our Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim are on the ground: “The Mosul offensive marks a showdown in the Islamic State’s last major stronghold in Iraq and the city that has come to symbolize the group’s rise here. The battle for Mosul draws together tens of thousands of Iraqi troops from an array of the country’s forces: Kurdish peshmerga soldiers, Sunni tribal fighters, army, police, Shiite militias and elite counterterrorism units. From the sky and on the ground comes close support from the U.S.-led coalition. More than 80,000 troops are involved, including engineers and logistical support. … [And] despite sometimes competing agendas, the various armed forces have united, at least for now, to take back the Islamic State’s most prized remaining territory in the country.” Opinions are split on just how long and grinding the battle ahead will be, though Iraqi leaders have pledged to have the city back under government control by the end of the year.

-- Sneak peek — Joe Biden’s final “cancer moonshot” report will outline the hurdles that hinder progress: The vice president will meet privately with President Obama today and then give a speech to cancer researchers. He’ll unveil a report that says formidable challenges remain, including a lack of coordination among researchers, an “antiquated” funding culture and unacceptably slow dissemination of important information about new treatments. Laurie McGinley got an advance copy: Biden says incentives that reward scientists for individual successes rather than team efforts that “can lead to new answers and new solutions.” He complains that problems recruiting and retaining patients for clinical trials can cause costly delays. And he says it takes too long for cutting-edge treatments developed at the nation’s premier cancer centers to reach the community oncologists who treat most patients. Initiatives to address some of the issues are underway, the VP writes, but more needs to be done.


  1. A 25-year-old member of the U.S. Navy who killed four people and injured nine more when his pickup truck plummeted 60 feet from a San Diego overpass has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
  2. Federal authorities charged three members of a Kansas militia group with plotting a domestic terrorist attack on a Somali Muslim community in Garden City. The men, known as the “Crusaders,” allegedly hoped to strike after the Nov. 8 election and use bombs similar to the one Timothy McVeigh used in 1995 to kill 168 people in Oklahoma City. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
  3. China launched its longest manned space mission in history this morning, sending two astronauts aboard an orbiting space lab for 30 days. The move is a critical step in China’s plan to operate its own space station, which the country hopes to achieve by the year 2022. (Simon Denyer)
  4. The teenage daughter of Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay was fatally shot outside a Kentucky restaurant. Police believe 15-year-old Trinity Gay, also a rising track star, was struck by a stray bullet as two groups of men fired at each other in the parking lot. (CNN)
  5. New England authorities are bracing themselves for the arrival of the opioid epidemic’s newest — and most dangerous — killer. Known as carfentanil, the drug is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and is often used as an elephant tranquilizer. Police have been warned that even inhaling the drug or absorbing it though a cut can be fatal. (Boston Globe)
  6. Target is yanking its clown masks from shelves until further notice, hoping to curb some of the national hysteria surrounding “creepy clown” sightings. (New York Magazine)
  7. Boko Haram released 21 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls to their families. They had been held in captivity for more than two years. (New York Times)
  8. Thailand announced a month-long suspension of “joyful events,” temporarily shuttering night clubs, bars and other key sources of revenue as a country notorious for its party scene attempts to mourn the death of its late king. Travelers are advised to continue their plans as usual, but the mandated period of respect will surely dampen the country’s tourism scene. (Annie Gowen)
  9. A youth pastor in rural Pennsylvania was arrested after he admitted to impregnating a 15-year-old girl at his church. (Amy B Wang)
  10. New Jersey residents are despondent over the rumored death of “Pedals,” a black bear known for walking like a human. The fear is that a hunter got to him. Wildlife officials have yet to confirm his death, but the beloved bear has a cult-like following in the Garden State. (Amy B Wang)


-- North Carolina police are investigating the firebombing and vandalizing of the Republican Party headquarters in Orange County this weekend. Officials say a bottle of flammable liquid was thrown through the front window of the office. The words “Nazi Republicans get out of town or else” and swastika symbols were spray-painted alongside an adjacent building. (Charlotte Observer)

  • Clinton condemned the violence as “horrific and unacceptable.” “Very grateful that everyone is safe,” she said in a tweet.
  • Trump, without evidence, cast blame on Clinton’s camp: “Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina just firebombed our office in Orange County because we are winning @NCGOP,” he tweeted.

-- More than 20 cars were vandalized with spray paint outside a Trump rally in Maine this weekend. Officials have not named any suspects. One victim immediately blamed Trump's detractors. “There ain’t no thinking about it, I know so,” he told the Bangor Daily News.

-- Employees at the Arizona Republic have been receiving death threats since its editorial board endorsed Clinton. A top executive at the Phoenix paper outlines some of the most disturbing threats — including a caller that referenced late Republic reporter Don Bolles, who was assassinated by a car bomb in 1976. “To those of you who have said Jesus will judge me, that you hope I burn in hell, that non-Christians should be kept out of our country, I give you my pastor grandfather,” Mi-Ai Parrish writes. “He was imprisoned and tortured for being a Christian.… Much as my grandfather taught, I also know there are a lot of things worth standing up for.”

-- Reporters who cover Trump on the campaign trail say his supporters have become more surly and abusive in the past week, “egged on by a candidate who has made demonizing journalists part of his stump speech.” From Paul Farhi: “Some 15,000 Trump supporters showered the small group with prolonged boos and heckling during one Cincinnati rally. Several people approached the press barrier to yell directly at the group and to make obscene gestures.… Reporters are now concealing or removing their press credentials when leaving the pen to avoid confrontations with Trump’s supporters.”

  • Politico’s Ben Schreckinger: In the past, when Trump incited the crowd against the press, you could see people smiling and laughing as they were booing. It was like the mood of a crowd at a ballpark.… Now the smiles have disappeared.””
  • BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins: "He’s trying to convince his followers that reporters are not just unfair or incompetent, but part of some kind of sinister global conspiracy.”
  • Chris Cillizza: “Trump is not really running a campaign for president anymore. Instead, he is involved in an extended revenge plot or is simply following the politics of grievance to a natural, unseemly end."

-- About 200 people booed and walked out of Amy Schumer’s comedy show in Tampa last night after she mocked Trump as an "orange, sexual-assaulting, fake-college-starting monster." Some members of the audience said they were turned off when the conversation veered into more political terrain, as Schumer ripped the Republican nominee for allegedly groping women and asked anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to stand. Dozens did. (Tampa Bay Times' Adam Smith)

-- “A toxic election is damaging the seed corn of democracy — young voters,” by the Boston Globe's Victoria McGrane: “Interviews with more than three dozen millennials in Raleigh, a voter-rich battleground within a battleground state, revealed a profound sense of anger and alienation about the 2016 election. This bitter campaign … has left younger Americans feeling punched in the gut. ‘Basically, Trump is everything wrong with America’s culture, and Hillary is everything wrong with our government,’ said [first time voter] Janae Petitjean, 19.  In 2008, enthusiastic younger people celebrating a moment of social and political change helped usher [Obama] into the White House and turn North Carolina blue, a feat not seen since Jimmy Carter in 1976. [But] as Obama’s historic presidency draws to a close, the latest crop of young voters here and across the country is in danger of becoming disillusioned just as it comes of political age. Such searing experiences, especially for new voters, can have lasting effects."

At an Oct. 15 campaign rally, Donald Trump said the election was being rigged by "corrupt media" pushing "false allegations" and "lies." (Video: The Washington Post)


-- “He is detaching himself from and delegitimizing the institutions of American political life,” Philip Rucker and Robert Costa write in today's paper. “And he is proclaiming conspiracies everywhere … in the presidential campaign’s home stretch, [Trump] is fully inhabiting his own echo chamber. The Republican nominee has turned inward, increasingly isolated from the country’s mainstream and leaders of his own party, and determined to rouse his most fervent supporters with dire warnings that their populist movement could fall prey to dark and collusive forces. Many Republicans see the Trump campaign’s latest incarnation as a mirror into the psyche of their party’s restive base: pulsating with grievance and vitriol, unmoored from conservative orthodoxy, and deeply suspicious of the fast-changing culture and the consequences of globalization. ... Trump’s echo chamber is not altogether new. It is a more nationalistic and racially charged strain of the one most Republicans have inhabited for two decades. But in recent years this echo chamber has evolved from being an arm of the party into an unpredictable and sprawling orbit of the American right."

-- Several Republican secretaries of state and election lawyers fret about Trump’s insistence that the election will be rigged. From Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns in the New York Times: “Chris Ashby, a Republican election lawyer, said Mr. Trump’s attacks on the electoral process … risked creating a fiasco … ‘by encouraging his supporters to deputize themselves as amateur poll monitors.’ Civil rights groups have begun to express alarm at remarks from Mr. Trump that they see as goading his supporters to intimidate minorities at the polls. ‘It is a major concern that we have this candidate promoting vigilante poll watching,’” said Arturo Vargas.”

-- The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza argues that Trump and Breitbart CEO Stephen Bannon seem less interested in winning and more interested in "creating a platform for a new ethno-nationalist politics that may bedevil the Republican Party — and the country — for a long time to come."

-- “Trump has virtually stopped trying to win this election by any conventional metric and is instead stacking logs of grievance on the funeral pyre with the great anticipation of setting it ablaze if current polls turn out to be predictive,” New York Times’ columnist Charles M. Blow writes. “There is something calamitous in the air … a hostile fatalism that bespeaks a man convinced that the end is near and aiming his anger at all within reach. And [Trump] seems constitutionally incapable of processing the idea that wealth is not completely immunizing, that some rules are universally applicable, that common decency is required of more than just ‘common’ folks. He is the logical extension of rampant racism. He is the logical extension of wealth worship. He is the logical extension of pervasive anti-intellectualism. Trump is the logical extension of the worst of America. And the Republican Party was just the right place for him to park himself. Trump is fundamentally altering American politics — coarsening them, corrupting them, cratering them. And America … has only itself to blame. Republicans sowed intolerance and in its shadow, Trump sprang up like toxic fungi.”

Donald Trump’s surrogates accuse the media of ignoring the release by WikiLeaks of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)


-- Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani doubled down on Trump’s warning of “rigged elections,” insisting that Democrats are more likely to engage in voter fraud because they “control the inner cities.” “I've found very few situations where Republicans cheat,” Giuliani told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “They don't control the inner cities the way Democrats do. Maybe if Republicans controlled the inner cities, they'd do as much cheating as Democrats.” He continued, without evidence: "You want me to [say] that I think the election in Philadelphia and Chicago is going to be fair? I would have to be a moron to say that."  

-- Newt Gingrich claimed the media has rigged the election at a “national level." “Without the unending, one-sided assault by the news media, Trump would be ahead by 15 points," the former speaker told Martha Raddatz on "This Week."

-- Pence, again distancing himself from Trump, said that he would “absolutely accept the results of the election” as “the will of the American people.” The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of American history,” he said on CBS. (Amy B Wang)

-- Joe Biden said Trump’s lewd comments in the 2005 video are the “textbook definition of sexual assault." He said on “Meet the Press” that the remarks are believable because they point to his “instinctive abuse of power.” "The vast majority of men don't share the view of [Trump].… I don't ever remember that kind of locker room talk, never," Biden said, adding that Trump "is not a guy that should be representing the United States in any way.”


-- Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren hit the campaign trail for Clinton on Sunday, appearing together for the first time in Denver as they sought to drive home the message that it is “absolutely imperative” for Trump to be defeated. (John Wagner)

-- Hell freezes over, cont...: Glenn Beck praised Michelle Obama’s scathing takedown of Trump during her speech in New Hampshire last Thursday. He called her impassioned remarks "the most effective political speech I have heard since Ronald Reagan." (USA Today)

-- Tim Kaine became the first member of a national ticket to deliver a full speech in Spanish. In his remarks, delivered at a Miami church, the Virginia senator urged parishioners to vote and emphasized the importance of political participation in a religious context. (CNN)

-- The Omaha World-Herald endorsed Clinton, joining a chorus of traditionally-conservative publications in throwing their support behind the Democratic nominee. "The risk of a Donald Trump presidency is simply too great,” the editorial board writes.

-- The third and final debate is Wednesday night. “Clinton has two important challenges,” Dan Balz writes. “Neither involves trying to discredit Trump. The first will be to respond to and explain what has been learned from the hacking of campaign Chairman John Podesta’s email account and other recent revelations. The second and perhaps even more important task will be to make a strong, affirmative and compelling case for a possible Clinton presidency. … From Podesta’s emails have come other questions — regarding her true feelings about trade and open borders, about regulations for Wall Street and big banks, about her campaign advisers’ views on Catholics and evangelicals.”

Balz flags a telling email in the WikiLeaks dump: “It came days before the New Hampshire primary that she was destined to lose to Bernie Sanders and days after she won the Iowa caucuses by a whisker. Her campaign was on its heels, principally because of widespread complaints that she had no message. The email was written by Joel Benenson, the campaign’s chief strategist, to other senior staffers. He wrote: ‘Other than what she has been doing over the last few days, do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?’ He went on to say, ‘The power of a strong message frame generally lies in a combination of simplicity and focus. . . . Sanders has simplicity and focus.’ … George H.W. Bush called it, sarcastically, ‘the vision thing.’ But the best politicians know it and find a way to project it. Clinton has struggled throughout the campaign to do so.”

-- “A newly disclosed internal email about a potential $1 million gift from the country of Qatar to the Clinton Foundation is shedding light on how the charity dealt with donations from foreign governments during [Clinton’s] time as secretary of state,” Rosalind S. Helderman reports. “An ethics agreement with the Obama administration placed certain limits on such contributions … designed to avoid the impression that foreign governments could curry favor with the top U.S. diplomat by supporting the foundation that her husband started.  But that agreement did not stop donations from foreign governments entirely. Contributions from governments that had given before Clinton took office were allowed, provided those donations did not represent substantial increases over past giving. It is not clear whether Bill Clinton ever met with the ambassador or whether the official presented the check. [But] the newly disclosed email … gives a sense of the scale of that giving from one U.S. ally with, at times, complicated relations with the American government.”

-- The mood at Clinton headquarters in Brooklyn is JOYLESS. “Clinton's final sprint has become a ... nail-gnawing slog through Trump Tower’s moat of mudslinging — and the day-to-day worries of WikiLeaks’ dump of internal emails,” Politico’s Annie Karni and Glenn Thrush write. “We're winning, so you’re happy,” one close ally said, “but it’s a toxic environment and it’s sad to see.”

-- The sexism Clinton faces is very real. The New Yorker’s Margaret Talbot argues that, although plenty of attacks leveled against Clinton over the years have been policy oriented, much of what she has had to battle is gendered: "The conspiracy theories about the Clintons often partook of old fears and suspicions regarding women: that Hillary was a lesbian; that she was a Lady Macbeth, responsible for the murder of [Vince Foster] ... And some would not accept her as a genuine icon of female empowerment, because she had obtained her national standing as an adjunct to her husband … During Clinton’s lifetime, institutionalized discrimination against women has retreated markedly. [But now], there’s something both grotesque and bracing about the confrontation between Clinton, with her disciplined professionalism, and Trump, with his increasingly frenzied assertions of male prerogative. Like the female protagonist of a quest narrative—or, perhaps, of a dystopian fantasy—Clinton has made it through all her challenges to face the bull-headed Minotaur of sexism at the end of the maze.”

-- “In Missouri, two Democrats try to survive ‘on the other side of the blue wall,’” by David Weigel: “Not many Democrats are endorsed by the NRA — not in 2016. The Democrats’ presidential ticket, which trails in every Missouri poll, is being buffeted by NRA ads that warn of a Clinton presidency that would yank guns from defenseless people. But down the ticket, there’s [Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris] Koster. And in the race for Senate, there’s Secretary of State Jason Kander, an Army veteran who blunted NRA attack ads by assembling an AR-15, blindfolded, for his own 30-second spot. Democrats no longer need Missouri to win the presidency, but they need states like Missouri to have any hope of winning Congress and state houses. And the surprisingly buoyant campaigns of Koster and Kander suggest how Democrats can compete in red America — and how a few lucky breaks may have given them a reprieve.


-- Financial Times, “Trump son-in-law makes approach on post-election TV start-up,” by Matthew Garrahan and James Fontanella-Khan: “Jared Kushner has informally approached one of the media industry’s top dealmakers about the prospect of setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election in November. Mr Kushner … contacted Aryeh Bourkoff, the founder and chief executive of LionTree, a boutique investment bank, within the past couple of months … Their conversation was brief and has not progressed since … However, the approach suggests Mr Kushner and the Republican candidate himself are thinking about how to capitalise on the populist movement that has sprung up around their campaign in the event of an election defeat to [Clinton] next month. Mr Bourkoff … has advised on transactions worth more than $300bn, including Liberty Global’s $23.3bn acquisition of Virgin Media and Verizon’s $4.4bn takeover of AOL.” He’s also a friend of Kushner, and the two have worked together in the past. (Trump has previously dismissed the idea of starting his own channel, telling The Post last month that he has “no interest” in launching such a venture.)

-- Inefficient fundraising: Trump and the Republican National Committee are spending bigly to expand their small-dollar donor apparatus, Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy report: “The committee that collects low-dollar contributions for Trump's presidential campaign and the RNC raced through more than one-third of the $150 million it raised in the last quarter, spending $55 million to send direct mail, rent donor lists and manage its data, according to FEC reports. “The committee spent a whopping $26 million on direct mail printing and postage. Another $11.2 million went to rent donor lists. And nearly $1.5 million was spent on telemarketing. And though Trump’s joint fundraising committee … spent nearly $60 million on operating expenses last quarter – roughly the same as Clinton’s joint fundraising account – Clinton’s camp pulled in 40 percent more than Trump’s. Altogether, Trump Victory raised $61.3 million between June and September from donors who gave as much as $449,000 a piece.”

-- Linda McMahon donated $6 million to the pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now, footing nearly one-third of the group’s $18 million haul last quarter. The latest donations make the WWE co-founder and former Republican Senate candidate one of the GOP presidential nominee's biggest outside benefactors, Matea Gold writes -- a surprising development since she has been publicly critical of his rhetoric in the past. During the GOP primaries this spring, she told Katie Couric that she was offended by Trump's disparaging comments of women, calling them “deplorable.”

-- Five big Republican donors poured at least $24 million into groups backing Trump in recent months. From the Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus: “Billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, donated $10 million to Future45, a super PAC backing Mr. Trump that said it planned to attack Mrs. Clinton in battleground states. Joe Ricketts … contributed another $1 million to the super PAC … [and] Bernie Marcus, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, gave $5 million to a second pro-Trump group, called Rebuilding America Now,” while poultry magnate Ronald Cameron also donated another $2 million to the group.

-- Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, is donating another $1.25 million to support Trump. The Silicon Valley entrepreneur also funded the lawsuit that destroyed Gawker. (New York Times)

-- Meanwhile, while money goes to the presidential, Republicans are set to be massively outspent on TV ads in seven of the eight states that are likely to decide control of the Senate, Politico tabulates.

-- A progressive advocacy group is launching an advertising campaign against Mike Pence, accusing the Indiana governor of allowing voter suppression after state police raided the offices of a voter registration program aimed at signing up African Americans. The group, Patriot Majority USA, estimates that up to 45,000 people – most of them African Americans -- might not be able to vote next month if investigators put a hold on applications collected by the group during its investigation. A spokesman for Pence dismissed the allegations as “completely false and beyond absurd.” (Vanessa Williams)

-- Trump held a Hindu-American rally in New Jersey this weekend, pitching himself as a “big fan of Hindus” and India and promising that, should he win the presidency, the two nations would be “best friends.” “There won’t be any relationship more important to us,” the Republican nominee pledged to the crowd. (Max Bearak)

-- “Trump Faces Payback In The Desert,” by the Huffington Post’s S.V. Date: “Living among the red-rock gullies and the desert scrub in this corner of the country are a people who could soon exact their revenge on [Trump]. Because while the Republican presidential nominee appears to have forgotten about Native Americans of late, with his focus on Muslims and Mexicans, Arizona’s hundreds of thousands of Native Americans have not forgotten about him. ‘I heard it for a long time, how he talks about Indians,’ said Dennis Tsinnijinnie, 69 and among the first to cast his ballot [last week]. Tsinnijinnie was talking about Trump’s behavior from decades ago, when he accused some Native Americans of faking their ethnicities to win casino licenses. When he disparaged tribes for receiving federal money for roads. When he mocked their sovereignty. Although Republicans have comfortably won Arizona in every presidential election since 2000, polling this autumn suggests a much tighter race ― one in which a big turnout by Native Americans could flip the state’s 11 electoral votes into [Clinton’s] column.

-- Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo continues to be all over the place on Trump. Just one week after forcefully calling for him to drop out, Crapo suggested he might vote for him during a televised debate. He said he has not decided who to vote for yet. Earlier he endorsed him. Crapo is the latest in a string of waffling Republican lawmakers who have given fodder to those who say that politicians lack core convictions and principles. (The Spokesman-Review)

-- In case you missed it: Trump suggested on Saturday that he and Clinton should be required to take DRUG TESTS before the third debate, suggesting that “something is going on with her.” “Athletes, they make them take a drug test,” he said at a New Hampshire rally. “We should take a drug test prior, because I don't know what's going on with her. But at the beginning of her last debate she was all pumped up at the beginning and at the end she was like, 'Oh, take me down.'” “And she could barely even reach her car,” he added, appearing to reference Clinton’s health scare last month, during a widely-reported bout with pneumonia. (Jose DelReal)


-- “How far right will Nicolas Sarkozy go to become France’s president again?” by James McAuley: “He is straight out of Shakespeare, driven by the desire to recapture the throne and, at the very least, his dignity. After a humiliating defeat in 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy — a very French blend of tabloid celebrity and professional tough guy — wants to be president again. [Now] … the nominally center-right politician has launched a campaign that is a textbook example of an increasingly global phenomenon: mainstream politicians pushed to the right to court voters from powerful populist fringes. As conservative contenders for France’s top job went live in their first primary debate Thursday night, the country finds itself in the throes of a contest that already resembles the American election. While Republicans are pressed to defend [Trump’s] endless controversial comments, Sarkozy, 61, has started parroting Marine Le Pen, saying things that, before 2016, only the leaders of her extremist National Front ever dared to utter. Some say Sarkozy’s embrace of more extreme positions illustrates the rising power of a political faction that is no longer fringe …”

-- “‘Band-Aid on a bullet wound’: What America’s new war looks like in Afghanistan’s most violent province,” by Thomas Gibbons-Neff: “It is a scene that has played out continuously since the Obama administration surged 30,000 troops into Afghanistan in 2009: U.S. forces torn between doing the Afghans’ job for them, or watching from the sidelines as they attempt to build a capable military from scratch. The balance between assistance and dependence, though, has proved elusive, as advisers … say that aiding the Afghans with airstrikes — once available only for the self-defense of U.S. troops and Special Operations missions — has injected a new type of reliance on the U.S.-led coalition. The future of the U.S. role in Afghanistan after a decade and a half of war has received little attention in the presidential campaign and debates. But the next administration will be bequeathed a strategy that is doing ‘just enough to lose slowly,’ said Douglas Ollivant, a senior national-security-studies fellow at the New America Foundation. ‘We’re like a Band-Aid on a bullet wound,’ said one U.S. adviser."

-- “An ex-felon in Virginia helps other ex-felons vote,” by Justin Wm. Moyer: “Tammie Hagen, an ex-felon who registers other ex-felons to vote, was fighting an uphill battle during a rough week. Days before Virginia’s Oct. 17 registration deadline, she was working the crowd outside the Third Street Bethel A.M.E. Church south of downtown … ‘Does anyone need to check to see if their rights have been restored?’ Hagen shouts. Those gathering to eat at Third Street Bethel are poor. Some are addicted to drugs. They might have physical or mental disabilities. They might live on the streets, with no permanent address to receive mail. Such obstacles don’t make paperwork easy. People with felony convictions in Virginia need to petition the state to get their voting rights back. Then, they need to register to vote. To vote, they need photo ID. And they need to know where to cast their ballots. Hagen … is not deterred. Former felons in Virginia face so many battles, Hagen said, that letting them vote shouldn’t be another one. ‘Nothing can stand in the way of this mission,’ she said. ‘This is about democracy.’”


— ZIGNAL VISUAL: The chart below shows the spike in mentions of a "rigged" election in Tweets and stories that also mention Trump. Our analytics partners at Zignal Labs saw more mentions of a "rigged election" this weekend than in the rest of October combined.

This was driven by Trump repeating it over and over:

Trump also slammed Paul Ryan:

And SNL:

Apparently this kind of allegation isn't new for Trump:

A handful of Republicans repudiated the notion the election is being rigged:

Here's the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation:

And a tweetstorm from a major law firm (worth visiting the account to see the whole thing):

This tweet from former Jeb Bush aide Tim Miller got a lot of play:

Michael Moore riffed on The Post's new poll: 

Another look at the fire-bombed North Carolina GOP office:

Keith Ellison pointed out support for Trump in a racist newspaper:

This tweet from the Milwaukee County Sheriff went viral:

A newspaper ad encouraged people to buy guns before Clinton wins:

Marlee Matlin responded to Trump's comments about her:

Meanwhile, these images started circulating:

Nick Offerman said Ron Swanson (the character he played on "Parks and Rec") would vote for Clinton over Trump (or maybe write in Merle Haggard):

Karen Bass celebrated the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize:

Cory Booker and John Lewis shot some hoops:


-- The New Yorker, “Tim Kaine’s Radical Optimism,” by Evan Osnos: “If Americans are unified by anything in the Presidential campaign of 2016, it is a feeling of disunity. [And] in Virginia, the divide is especially stark. In Richmond and points south, conservatives sometimes see northern counties, home to affluent and better-educated newcomers, as having stolen the state from ‘the real Virginia.' In that sense, it’s a concentrated portrait of America. [Sen.] Tim Kaine is not as progressive a running mate as some in his party would have wished … but he succeeded in mastering the political tide that has pulled Virginia away from Southern conservatism. ‘I don’t think Trump has created new emotions,’ he said. ‘I think Trump has made it O.K. for people to vent dark emotions that they have. … You grow used to thinking of the world a particular way, and then it starts to change and there’s an anxiety about it. I think Virginia is a tribute to the fact that that anxiety is a transitional anxiety.’”

-- San Jose Mercury News, “Kamala Harris taking quiet path to Senate,” by Matthew Artz: “For someone whose foray into public life was captured on the gossip pages as then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown’s new girlfriend, [Kamala] Harris has managed over the past two decades to cultivate a celebrity mystique while fiercely guarding her privacy. Harris’ head-down, buttoned-up approach to politics helped her stand out in San Francisco, a city with an abundance of ego-driven Democratic political stars. And it has been her defining trait in her U.S. Senate run against fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez … So far it seems to be working. Harris, who nearly always appears publicly in a gray suit, has led decisively in every poll … Supporters laud her as a pioneering criminal justice reformer and a workaholic who builds bridges with adversaries and demands excellence from her staffers. But several observers see a too-cautious and often calculating politician … ‘She has been very careful about how she guides her political future,’ said public defender Jeff Adachi. ‘If you want to become a senator, then that is what you have to do.’”

-- Politico, “Obama, Holder to lead post-Trump redistricting campaign,” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “As Democrats aim to capitalize on this year’s Republican turmoil and start building back their own decimated bench, former Attorney General Eric Holder will chair a new umbrella group focused on redistricting reform—with the aim of taking on the gerrymandering that’s left the party behind in statehouses and made winning a House majority far more difficult. The new group, called the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, was developed in close consultation with the White House. President Barack Obama himself has now identified the group—which will coordinate campaign strategy, direct fundraising, organize ballot initiatives and put together legal challenges to state redistricting maps—as the main focus of his political activity once he leaves office. [The group] has been pitching donors and aiming to put together its first phase action plan for December, moving first in the Virginia and New Jersey state elections next year and with an eye toward coordination across gubernatorial, state legislative and House races going into the 2018 midterms.”


“Video Shows Black Man Being Arrested For Apparently Walking In Street,” from HuffPost: “Cell phone video of a black man’s arrest is drawing outrage with footage showing the man being handcuffed after allegedly walking in the street where a sidewalk was under construction. In the [video] … the man is first seen arguing with a white Edina, Minnesota officer who tightly holds the back of his jacket in an apparent attempt to prevent him from running away. ‘You’re walking down the middle of the street,’ the officer says in the video, as he appears to forcefully pull the man toward the center lane … The woman filming the incident is repeatedly heard suggesting to the police officer that, instead of arresting the man, he show him where to walk. ‘He’s scared, sir. It’s scary,’ [she called out] during the heated scene. Minnesota’s NAACP … called the officer’s behavior ‘dehumanizing and degrading.’”



“Chicago Gets Serious About Sky-High Murder Rate By Banning WESTERN COWGIRL PLAYSET, Other Toys,” from the Daily Caller: “ will not deliver a toy cowgirl playset to Chicago residents, apparently because of a municipal law in the city forbidding replica toy firearms. The hot pink ensemble … comes with a child-size cowgirl hat, a holster festooned with a silhouetted horse and rider and a six-pointed badge with a shirt clip and space for a name. There’s also a silver and pink cap gun among the accessories. The law upon which Amazon relies to refuse sales of the cowgirl playset … bans the possession and transfer of ‘any device, object or facsimile made of plastic, wood, metal or any other material, that a person could reasonably perceive as an actual firearm but that is incapable of being fired or discharged.’ Violators of the law can be fined up to $750 and imprisoned for as long as six months for each offense.”


On the campaign trail: Trump speaks in Green Bay, Wis.; Pence stops in Mason and Columbus, Ohio and Shelby Charter Township, Mich. Bill Clinton campaigns for Hillary in Hanover and Keene, N.H.; Bernie Sanders speaks in Fort Collins, Colo.; Tim Kaine is in Bethesda.

At the White House: Obama speaks about education at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C. Later, Obama and Biden release the Cancer Moonshot Report. Biden hosts a reception for the cancer research and care community in the evening.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out.


Rudy Giuliani tried to push back on accusations from a woman who said Trump assaulted her on an airplane in the early 1980s. “Fifteen minutes of groping in a first-class cabin of an airplane? It doesn't make sense,” he told Jake Tapper. “I've been in first class a lot, fortunately. Since I stopped being mayor, I can afford first class. You know, you see everything that goes on in first class.”


-- The Redskins beat the Eagles 27-20.

-- Don’t get too excited about the past few days of fall temps – the next few days will end up feeling more like August than October. Today’s Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Early risers may appreciate a light jacket as many spots begin the day in the 50s. But by afternoon, it’s shorts and short sleeves weather as highs sprint up to near 80 degrees. Skies are mostly sunny and breezes light; so you may find more comfort in the shade. There’s even a hint of humidity.”

-- Fairfax County school administrators have begun pleading their case for a $134 million funding boost for the 2017-2018 school year, hoping to boost teacher pay and incentivize educators to stay in the district. (Moriah Balingit)


Hillary just released a 1-minute ad called “America’s Bully" that compares Trump’s repeated attempts to mock other people with some of the most well-known bullies from modern American cinema:

Saturday Night Live spoofed the latest debate:

And imagined Melania Trump in Beyonce's "Lemonade" video:

Late-night hosts poked fun at Trump surrogates:

After a 2005 tape revealed Donald Trump making lewd comments, several women have come forward accusing him of sexual assault throughout the years. Trump's surrogates have been on cable news shows in full force defending their nominee, and late-night comedians are mocking their "ridiculous excuses." (Video: The Washington Post)

Trump disassembled a teleprompter on stage:

Donald Trump returned to what he said was his preferred mode of public speaking during a campaign rally in Charlotte – without a teleprompter. (Video: Reuters)

Clinton released a video that highlights Trump's ties to outspoken 9/11 truther Alex Jones:

Seth Meyers visited the Pentagon:

And he interviewed Al Franken:

Finally, College Humor imagined family political discussions as a presidential debate: