with Brent D. Griffiths

Good morning. It's Wednesday. The U.S. has officially passed the painful milestone of 200,000 deaths due to the coronavirus. And Congress is on the path to avoiding a government shutdown – for now. Thanks for waking up with us

The campaign

FLORIDA FOCUS: A new Washington Post-ABC News poll out this morning illustrates Joe Biden's challenge wooing Latino voters as top Democrats in that community voice fresh concerns about his sluggish outreach.

As Biden makes a concerted push to reach these voters in the final stretch, the poll shows Florida's Latino vote splits 52 percent for the Democratic nominee and 39 percent for President Trump among registered voters, an advantage that does not reach statistical significance because of a small sample size. Still, for perspective, he's underperforming compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016: The last Democratic nominee carried Florida’s Latino vote by 62 percent to 35 percent, according to network exit polls

In a state that's critical to President Trump's reelection strategy, strategists are watching whether Biden can boost his margins among the group that will play a significant role in determining the winner in the battleground state. 

  • Why every Latino vote matters to both sides: Trump won the state in 2016 by just 1 percent point. 

Trump's campaign is making the bet that the president's economic pitch will resonate in some corners of the Latino community, even as activists decry his anti-immigrant rhetoric. Biden's advantage is especially precarious since the margin of sampling error for vote preference among Hispanic registered voters in Florida is +/- 11.5 points. Some other recent polls suggest Trump is making inroads with this critical group: 

  • An NBC-Marist poll released two weeks ago found Trump with an advantage among Latinos in Florida: 50 percent to Biden's 46 percent, with Trump leading sizably among Latinos of Cuban descent, and with Biden just slightly ahead among all other Latinos in the state. 
  • And a Quinnipiac Poll released earlier in September after both parties' national conventions also showed Trump narrowly leading with Latino voters by 45 percent to Biden's 43 percent in the Sunshine State, though it falls within the margin of error.
  • Nothing is certain: A poll of voters in Miami-Dade County, home to a big Hispanic community, showed Trump trailing Biden by 17 points he lost there by 30 points in 2016, our colleague Sean Sullivan reported last week. 

ZOOM OUT: Overall, likely voters in Florida split 51 percent for Trump to 47 percent for Biden – versus registered voters who split 47 percent for Trump to Biden's 48 percent, according to our colleagues Scott Clement, Dan Balz, and Emily Guskin

In Arizona, the race is even tighter: Trump leads 49 percent to Biden’s 48 percent among likely voters. Among registered Arizona voters, Trump trails Biden by two points – 47 percent to 49 percent. (All of these findings are within the polls' margin of error.) 

  • “The findings in the two surveys are better for the president than other polls conducted in the two states recently by other organizations. The Post’s average of polls this month shows Biden with a two-point advantage in Florida and a six-point margin in Arizona,” per Scott, Dan and Emily.
  • A departure from last week's pair of polls, the voters Trump's receiving a boost from in both Florida and Arizona are White voters without college degrees: “He leads Biden by 30 points (64 percent to 34 percent) among these voters in Florida and by 28 points (62 percent to 34 percent) in Arizona. A narrowing of that advantage in Rust Belt states has helped Biden," Scott, Dan and Emily note. 

Biden's issues with Latinos are less apparent in Arizona: The former vice president leads Trump 61 percent to 34 percent among registered voters. It's similar spread to Clinton's spread in 2016, when she carried the Latino vote in the state by 61 percent to 31 percent, according to exit polls. (Again, caveat: “The number of Latino likely voters in the two polls is not big enough to break out a separate, statistically reliable finding on the competition between Trump and Biden,” according to The Post team.) 

Nationally, Biden still leads Trump by a substantial margin with the largest minority voting group in the U.S., which makes up about 13 percent of American voters overall. A Wall Street Journal/NBC/Telemundo poll released over the weekend shows the former vice president ahead of Trump among registered Latino voters overall by over 30 points – 62% of support, compared with Trump’s 26%. 

  • “No one on either side expects Biden to lose the Latino vote; the question is the size of his margin," Sean noted.

THE NEW SWING VOTES: 12 percent of Latino voters remain undecided according to the poll and “Trump's favorability among Latino voters has improved from four years ago. In September 2016, 78% had a negative view of him, compared with 56% today," per the Wall Street Journal's Tarini Parti and Madeleine Ngo.  

The Trump campaign's investment in Florida has always been robust. And in recent weeks, the campaign has intensified outreach to win over Latino voters in Arizona: Last week alone, the campaign scheduled four different visits in the battleground featuring the president, vice president and the second lady, and Ivanka Trump. 

  • "There's room for Joe Biden to grow his support among Latinos in Arizona in this last 50 days,” Stephanie Valencia, co-founder of Equis Research, told Politico's Laura Barron Lopez last week. “There's a lot of room for him to continue to make his case to these younger Hispanic men who may be intrigued by Trump but aren't totally sold on voting for him yet.” 
  • Notable: “Arizona hasn’t voted for a Democrat since Bill Clinton won the state as he secured a second term in 1996. But Republicans are taking seriously polling that shows Democrat Joe Biden with a slight lead,” the Associated Press's Bob Christie reports. 

TWO ROADS DIVERGED: As for White college educated voters, they hold “differing views in the two state polls, favoring Biden by a 15-point margin in Arizona (57 percent to Trump’s 42 percent), while in Florida, Trump holds a 10-point edge among White college graduates,” according to Scott, Dan and Emily. 

Trump holds an advantage over Biden in both Florida and Arizona among seniors, the other crucial constituency in these popular retirement states. “In Florida, Trump has a slight advantage over Biden (52 percent to 44 percent) among likely voters 65 and older but that is not as large as his 17-point margin against Clinton in 2016. Meanwhile, in Arizona, Trump edges Biden 54-44 percent among seniors, about the same as his margin in the state over Clinton,” our colleagues write. 

Still, the president's approval ratings are underwater in the pair of polls: 51% disapprove of his overall job performance both in Florida and Arizona. And in the states that were both hit hard by the novel coronavirus, 52% disapprove of his handling of the pandemic in Florida, while 54% disapprove of his handling of the virus in Arizona. 

  • Yet Trump still receives positive marks on the economy – the issue voters in both states rank as the single more important one, before the coronavirus: 57 percent approve to 42 percent disapprove in Arizona; 54 percent approve and 44 percent disapprove in Florida. "Trump’s positive numbers contrast to the assessment of the national economy by Florida and Arizona voters, where majorities say the economy is either ‘not so good’ or ‘poor,’” per our colleagues.

ABOUT THAT PANDEMIC…: Majorities of registered voters in Florida and Arizona are “very” or “somewhat worried” that they or someone in their family might contract the coronavirus. While they disapprove of Trump's handling of the pandemic thus far, though, they're more divided on whether Trump or Biden would handle the outbreak better going forward: 

  • Biden has “a slight 48 percent to 43 percent edge in Florida and a 49 percent to 45 percent edge in Arizona, although neither margin is statistically significant,” per our Post team. 

On the Hill

GOP UNITES BEHIND SCOTUS PUSH: “Trump appeared to have secured the votes needed to confirm his Supreme Court nominee days before he even names the candidate, while Senate Republicans began working on plans to hold a final vote on the pick before the Nov. 3 election,” Anne Gearan, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa report.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he would support holding a vote: “Two of Romney’s Republican colleagues — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have said the Senate should wait on the vacancy until after the Nov. 3 presidential election. But Romney’s support for moving ahead almost certainly ensures that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can hold a vote on Trump’s choice.” 

Romney rejected the view that Republicans were unfair to Obama's pick:

Trump is still leaning toward Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: On Monday, Barrett met with Trump, his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and other aides at the White House, then met alone with the president,” our colleagues write. “Very good interview,” one person said of Barrett’s discussion with Trump.

  • Lawmakers are lobbying the president over his pick: Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) favors Barbara Lagoa, a federal appeals court judge on the 11th Circuit. “Scott impressed upon Trump that she would be the first Supreme Court justice from Florida — a must-win state for the president in November — as well as the court’s first Cuban American,” our colleagues write. “Picking Lagoa would help Trump politically not just in Florida, but potentially in Arizona and Texas, Scott said.”

Democrats, who are mostly powerless in this case, are stepping up their efforts: Democratic senators took to the floor last night to lay out the costs of a conservative being confirmed to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer also invoked a procedural rule to limit committee meetings.

Outside the Beltway

200,000 PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM COVID: “As the nation is set to pass another dark milestone in the virus’s long, deadly march — with no end in sight — the political battles over how to curb its spread have stolen much of the nation’s attention, making it more difficult to notice just how searing each death’s impact can be,” Marc Fisher, Annie Gowen, Lori Rozsa and Maria Sacchetti wrote over the weekend before the grim milestone was officially reached.

The heartbreaking scope: “Two hundred thousand deaths is akin to losing the entire population of Salt Lake City or Montgomery, Ala. — a devastation. It is also the number of covid-19 fatalities that Trump said at a March 29 news conference would mean that ‘we all together have done a very good job.’" 

  • The reactions: On Tuesday, Trump called the toll “a shame.” Biden said in a three-minute video that America reached “a tragic milestone," urging the nation “not to become numb to the toll it's taken on us.”

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said it's just “very sobering”

MORE WARNING SIGNS AHEAD: “Twenty-seven states and Puerto Rico have shown an increase in the seven-day average of new confirmed cases since the final week of August, according to The Post’s analysis of public health data. Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Utah set record highs Monday for seven-day averages,” Joel Achenbach and Karin Brulliard report.

  • In a sign that the pandemic continues to rage, the CDC urged Americans to avoid many holiday activities: Those warnings apply to both the traditional Halloween door-to-door trick-or-treating and its more recent iteration of so-called trunk-or-treats featuring lots of vehicles in large parking lots. Also strongly discouraged are the Black Friday crowds that gather for doorbuster sales, though many retailers have already decided to move their deals online. (You can read the entire guidelines here.)

The policies

SHUTDOWN LOOKS TO BE AVERTED: “The House overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill late to keep the government funded through early December and avoid a shutdown just before the November election,” Erica Werner reports.

  • The government is now funded through Dec. 11: “The sticking point was demands from the Trump administration and Republicans — along with a handful of largely farm-state House Democrats — for an infusion of money into a farm bailout program that Trump has used to repay farmers hurt by his trade policies. In exchange for agreeing to the bailout money, Pelosi secured about $8 billion for a variety of nutrition programs, including for schoolchildren affected by the pandemic — a significantly larger sum than had been on the table Friday.”

The Senate needs to pass the bill too: The broadly bipartisan 359-to-57 House vote seems to make that a foregone conclusion. White House officials have said they want to avoid a shutdown, but Trump has wavered about similar deals in the past.

The people

CINDY MCCAIN ENDORSES BIDEN: “Praising Joe Biden as a longtime family friend and an ally to military families like hers, Cindy McCain, the woman Republicans wanted to make first lady in 2008, is endorsing the Democratic presidential nominee,” the Arizona Republic's Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Ronald J. Hansen report.

  • Key quote: “It is OK to look outside the box, it is OK to cross a party line and vote for someone else that's perhaps not of your party but is perhaps a better candidate,” she told the Republic, hoping her endorsement will encourage others, especially women, to cross party lines.

McCain said the galvanizing moment for her was a report saying Trump disparaged soldiers: “The most important thing that moved me a great deal was talking about troops’ being ‘losers,’ McCain told the New York Times's Jonathan Martin, referring to an article in the Atlantic. “You know we have children in the military, as did the Bidens.” 

  • Trump has repeatedly denied the Atlantic report, but our colleagues and other news organizations did confirm aspects of the story, including that the president frequently made disparaging comments about veterans and soldiers missing in action.

A major rollout will begin later this morning: She will be on NBC, ABC and CBS's morning shows. She'll also join “The Lead with Jake Tapper” later in the afternoon, per CNN's Brian Stelter.

  • But there's one race where you won't see McCain involved in: Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) is in an intense race to hold on to her seat. “But her refusal to defend the late-Sen. John McCain more vociferously in the face of Trump’s attacks, which he has kept up even in recent weeks, has angered the McCain family,” the Times reports.  Asked if she would weigh in, Cindy McCain said, “I have no interest in it."

In the media

WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Louisville is bracing for a decision in Breonna Taylor case: “Buildings have been boarded up and highway access restricted in Kentucky's largest city as residents brace for a possible announcement from the state attorney general on whether charges will be filed against officers involved in the death of Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman who has become an international symbol of the racial-justice movement,” Kevin Williams, Tim Craig and Mark Berman report from the city.

FBI warns against foreign disinformation about election results: “The bureau and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned the public Tuesday that foreign actors might spread disinformation about the results of the 2020 election and encouraged voters to be patient with delayed results,” CNN's Marshall Cohen and Caroline Kelly report.

Fauci, Black Lives Matter founders, Megan Thee Stallion, Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union lead Time 100 list: This year's honorees set a record for the number of doctors, nurses and scientists as well as women (54) featured, Time editor in chief Edward Felsenthal writes.

A few of the highlights: (You can read the entire list here.)

  • Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) writes of Biden, “It’s one thing to run to lead a country at its high point, but I believe it speaks volumes to Joe’s character that he will figh to lead us through these unprecedented challenges.” 
  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley penned Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala D. Harris's essay: “We speak of our elders and we say, ‘We are, because of them.’ Years from now, a generation of young people will look at Kamala and say, ‘We are, because of her.’”
  • Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin writes of the BLM founders, “There are only three of them, but they are everywhere,” Fulton says of Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi.
  • From one swing vote to another: “Over the past 15 years, the Roberts court has been shaped by his personal modesty and his professional, scholarly skills. He has strengthened the court and the rule of law it upholds,” retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writes of Chief Justice John Roberts.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) swipes at China in his praise of Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen: “Taiwan has proved that the virus can be controlled — without emulating China’s drastic policies.”
  • #MeToo founder Tarana Burke says of Union, “Many people in the spotlight wouldn’t take the risk to speak out about such injustice. Gab’s commitment to authenticity is without compromise,” Burke writes of Union and her firing from “America's Got Talent” after raising concerns about racially insensitive behavior.