Standing outside a Walmart in Sterling Heights, Mich., the choice seemed simple to Heather Abro. She voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, “because I wanted to give someone who was not a politician a chance.” Besides, she “couldn’t connect” with Hillary Clinton: “I didn’t like her.”
This year Abro, a 42-year-old high-school math teacher who identifies as Catholic and has voted for both parties in the past, will cast her ballot for Joe Biden. “I think about what we look like to the world and sometimes it’s embarrassing,” she says, citing Trump’s handling of the pandemic, embrace of conspiracy theories and appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. “We teach our children to think before they talk, and he’s not modeling that.” She’ll vote for Biden this time because she thinks he’s a decent man. But mostly because “he’s not Trump.”
If Biden wins on Nov. 3, it will be largely because of college-educated suburban women like Abro. Fleeing Trump in droves, they’re the biggest and perhaps most important cohort in the Biden political coalition, an unlikely alliance of angry young voters, voters of color, terrified seniors, and exhausted suburbanites who make up the broadest base of support for a Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton.
The former Vice President to Barack Obama linked himself to his boss throughout the Democratic primary, but polls suggest he could wind up with a more durable coalition. Biden has shored up Obama’s base of young voters and voters of color: Americans under 30 are on track to vote at record levels in 2020, overwhelmingly for Democrats. Biden has maintained the gains Democrats made in the suburbs in 2018, winning suburban voters — particularly suburban women– by more than 20 points. Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic …read more
Jenny Lux didn’t want to risk her life to vote. Her acute respiratory distress syndrome puts her at a high risk for dangerous complications related to COVID-19, compelling her to take quarantine seriously.
So when the 39-year-old read Alabama’s requirements for voting by mail this election cycle, she was stunned. While Alabamians no longer needed to give a reason for requesting a mail-in absentee ballot, they still need to either have their mail ballot notarized or witnessed by two adults simultaneously, as well as include a copy of their photo ID when applying for the ballot. Lux lives alone with her 17-year-old son, and suddenly faced an impossible choice: either risk COVID-19 exposure at a notary service or and allow two adults into her home to witness her ballot.
“My reaction [was], ‘Wow, really? You’re going to do this to me?’” she says. “I just can’t risk it. It’s life and death that we’re talking about here… Why should I jump through all these hoops?”
Lux considered other options, including curbside voting, which many states have adopted this year amid COVID-19. But while Alabama law does not prohibit the service, the state has gone to great lengths to prevent counties from offering it this year. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said explicitly that curbside voting would not be allowed under the state’s law. On Oct. 21, the Supreme Court ruled that Alabama’s de facto ban on curbside voting could stand, reversing a lower court’s ruling that the restriction violated the Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was the latest instance of a conservative court upholding Republican-backed voting restrictions in the final weeks before Election Day.
That court decision, combined with Alabama’s requirements that mail ballots be notarized or witnessed, and include a copy of an ID with …read more
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Joe Biden did nothing to conceal how little respect he holds for his rival, Donald Trump, during the final presidential debate on Thursday. Gesturing on stage in Nashville, the former Vice President told his limited in-person audience — and the millions more watching at home — that the incumbent President is little more than a walking embodiment of racism and extremism. “Come on,” Biden said, the contempt audible in his voice. “This guy is a dog whistle about as big as a foghorn.”
But here’s the thing about dog whistles: they only reach certain sets of ears. For everyone else, the vibrations whiz past without registering. And, perhaps by accident, Biden publicly diagnosed one of the biggest strengths and weaknesses of Trump’s performance during their last scheduled face-to-face meeting: if you were an average voter tuning in for the first time, you had no idea what Trump was talking about during some of their more heated exchanges.
The format of modern debates offer very few opportunities to have an expanded answer on any topic. Last night, the longest any candidate was ever supposed to take was two minutes to respond to each of six main questions. Trump often used his two minutes to float unproven allegations, personal attacks, political shorthand and dubious innuendo. When debate moderator Kristen Welker asked Trump if he understands why some Black families fear for their children’s safety, Trump wound himself into knots to talk instead about Biden’s 1994 crime bill and a “laptop from hell,” referring to a computer allegedly containing incriminating emails from Joe Biden’s son Hunter, which national security experts have widely said bears all the …read more
In Kathryn Jankowski’s home of Bucks County, PA, front lawns are littered with competing political signs.
Kathryn Jankowski, 29, is still waiting to hear back this week if she is able to volunteer at her home county, Bucks County, in Pennsylvania, after applying through a family friend in September. Hillary Clinton took her home jurisdiction by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2016, and the energy has only ramped up this year, leading to high interest in poll work. “Our area is so cluttered with TV messaging and lawn signs. Every other house is a different standpoint,” she says. The primaries this summer were a “bit clunky,” she says, referring to voter confusion about the relatively new ballot system that had been put in place; some of the older poll workers, she says, didn’t have a great grasp on the voting technology. “Nobody’s taking this for granted; 2016 took us by surprise,” Jankowski says. “It’s almost a cliche: I don’t want to wake up on November 4th and think I could have done something.”
These new voting technologies—and digital-only trainings—are another reason organizations are calling for younger poll workers. Dalton Lucas, a college junior, was just appointed the chief of his polling station, the Fairfield United Methodist Church in High Point, North Carolina. It will also be the first time he’s been a poll worker—and the first time he’s voted in a general election altogether. He’s still awaiting his online training session, and has been told there will be further preparations in his precinct the day before the election. He doesn’t sound worried that he’ll mostly be prepped virtually. On the contrary, Lucas and young people like him—including many teens around the country; some jurisdictions set the poll worker age as low as 16—have made headlines for their engagement this year.
“I knew I wanted to do something to make sure every North Carolinian who wanted to vote would be able to,” Lucas says; he’s also part of the Campus Vote Project, a national organization that coordinates college student voting plans. “We’re really excited about it, and as young people we really want to contribute.”
Those who have gotten signed up and trained have heard talk in the media of potential violence at the polls. President Trump has called for his supporters to keep an eye on their polling locations, and groups like the white supremacist organization the Proud Boys have been the alleged sources of recent voter intimidation. But none of the poll workers who spoke to TIME expressed serious concerns about interference, nor had they witnessed it at early voting locations. “It sort of makes me nervous in a larger sense,” says Mitchell, “but when I think of the poll station where I work, the polling places that I know of… I feel like everybody knows each other.”
EAC Chairman Hovland backs up Mitchell’s observation. “From our partners in law enforcement, I’m not hearing anything,” he says. “The biggest thing is, there are rules and laws and parameters that govern who can be in the polling place.” Further, 48 states
By June, Ella Mitchell, a 30-year-old in Minneapolis, was getting tired of the partisanship of election season. “There’s a lot of really touchy conversations with family members and people in my life with different views,” she says now. Still, she wanted to “help the whole democratic process,” and she was unemployed, having just finished a graduate degree in urban studies and about to kick off her job hunt. So she did something she saw as politically neutral: she signed up to work at a polling station for the primary election this summer.
The three-hour training at Minneapolis City Hall was socially distanced but overwhelming. “It was sort of an onslaught of information, frankly. Lots of technical details about how the ballot box works, what we can and can’t tell voters when they ask us questions, what we can answer them,” Mitchell says. “And then the mechanics of how you can set up the big machines where you insert your ballot in the slot and it counts it. I was like, ‘Oh no, will I be able to remember all this?’” But she and the seven other poll workers at the Hennepin County church ended up having a doing just fine helping about 150 local voters cast their ballots. “It was much less intimidating once I actually got there,” she says. “They’re such community places.”
This year’s organized push for poll workers is new to the U.S. election landscape. More than 500,000 people have signed up to become first-time poll workers through recruitment organization Power the Polls alone, over half of them under the age of 40; others have connected directly with their local elections officials. With efforts like a Sept. 1 National Poll Worker Registration Day and the support of non-profits, corporate initiatives and celebrity endorsements from the likes of Trevor Noah …read more
Going into the home stretch of the 2020 presidential election, President Trump has seized on an unusual political tactic: take credit for the return of Big Ten football to appeal to sports-crazy voters in key Midwestern swing states.
When conference officials announced Aug. 11 that they would postpone the football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump slammed the decision, lobbying publicly for a return to the gridiron. On Sept. 16, Big Ten officials reversed course. The season opener, between Illinois and Wisconsin, kicks off Friday night, and tomorrow will see a full slate of games. For the President, it’s a chance to spike the football before fans in crucial Electoral College states. “We got Big Ten open,” Trump told sports journalist Jason Whitlock in an interview released on Thursday.
The survey of undecided voters who identify as college football fans and live in closely contested Midwest swing states with Big Ten schools or other key states found that just 2% of this cohort would be “much more likely” to vote for Trump because he’s claimed credit for Big Ten football’s return. Another 7% said they’d be “somewhat more likely” to vote for him.
But whatever gains Trump appears to have made among this small subset of the electorate were mostly offset by those turned off by his boasting: 7% of those surveyed said Trump taking credit for the Big Ten restart made them “much less likely” or “somewhat less likely” to vote for Trump. In the end, 84% of respondents said the Big Ten strategy had no effect on whom they will support.
The poll, by OH Predictive Insights, a non-partisan public-opinion research …read more
President Donald Trump defended his Administration’s decision to separate migrant children from their parents—and would not detail how he planned to reunite hundreds of kids who reportedly remain separated years later.
At the final presidential debate Thursday night, Trump was asked about the families of 545 kids who have not been located after being separated because of his administration’s immigration policy. The Trump Administration previously pursued a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy as a deterrent for immigrants by prosecuting adults who crossed into the country illegally, resulting in systematic family separation. While many of the families separated by this practice have been reunited, it was later learned that the number of separated children was bigger than initially reported. Earlier this week, members on the steering committee charged with reuniting the families, including the ACLU, said 545 children’s parents still cannot be found, and estimated that about two-thirds had been deported without their kids.
“Yes, we’re working on it, we’re trying very hard,” Trump said when pressed on how his Administration was working to reunite the families. He did not go into details, pivoting instead to tout border security.
Meanwhile groups like Justice in Motion are working to make family reunification happen, including by conducting on the ground searches, to track down the families. They have reportedly struggled in part because of the time that has lapsed since the separations took place at the border.
Instead of engaging with the policy around the specifics, Trump tried to place blame on the Obama Administration, and suggested that “bad people” had brought the children to attempt getting into the U.S. In fact, they were brought by their families, many fleeing violent and dangerous situations, to attempt building a better life.
The zero-tolerance policy sparked national fury in 2018 when thousands of families …read more
In Nashville on Thursday night Donald Trump and Joe Biden fought to a draw on the debate stage — which means that Biden won, and won big. That’s because he holds a national polling lead of nearly ten points, he’s been leading solidly on every day of the campaign from the beginning, the election is less than two weeks away, and the president did nothing in their final confrontation that’s likely to change the shape of the race.
Not that he didn’t try. Trump came out swinging and was his usual rude, mendacious, and petulant self. But he wasn’t quite the rampaging, appallingly boorish jerk he chose to be at the first debate three weeks ago in Cleveland. He frequently talked over moderator Kristen Welker and insisted on speaking longer than his allotted time, but he dialed back the aggressiveness just enough to keep from coming off as a thug and a bully. For that reason, I doubt his numbers will sink in the way they did right after the candidates sparred in late September.
Biden was better this time, too. Without Trump constantly talking over him and spewing a nonstop torrent of lies, he was able to formulate cogent responses to questions and the barrage of attacks from his opponent. He also managed to go on the offense with the president over the pandemic, health care, foreign policy, climate change, and other subjects. Biden’s best moment came midway through when Trump attempted, as he did in the first debate, to portray the former vice president as more left-wing than he is. This prompted Biden to respond sharply, referring to his 20-odd opponents during the Democratic primaries, many of whom were to his left, “[Trump is] a very confused guy… he thinks he’s running against someone else. He’s running …read more
After the nearly unintelligible shout-fest of 2020’s first presidential debate, the last match-up between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden felt like a throwback to something approaching normal.
In a more sedate, more substantive and more respectful sequel, the candidates still had plenty to squabble over. With just 12 days until polls open on Nov. 3, Trump and Biden sparred over the President’s handling of the pandemic, how to lower health care costs, taxes, immigration, racial justice and climate change.
Both appeared to accomplish what they came to do. Trump took a page from his 2016 playbook, painting his opponent as a corrupt career politician and himself as an outsider, despite his perch as an incumbent President. He launched unfounded attacks, inflated his accomplishments and curbed some of the haranguing that turned voters off in the first debate.
Biden, leading in national polls by about eight points, needed a steady performance and delivered one. He hammered Trump for fumbling the U.S. response to the pandemic, framed the campaign as a test of character and said that if he was elected, he would be a president who would represent all Americans, “whether you voted for me or not.”
Whether any of it can shake up a remarkably static race is another matter. It’s unclear how many people in the country can be swayed at this point. Polling shows only a sliver of undecided voters remain. More than 47 million Americans have already cast their votes.
But for Trump, it was progress, after a performance in the first debate that was widely panned. “It’s very clear the first debate moved numbers sharply against Trump and toward Biden,” says Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster and political consultant. Trump seemed to have learned his lesson. He gave Biden time …read more