U.S. ELECTION WRAP: Clinton Up in First Wave of Key Post-Debate Polls

Hillary Clinton is seeing post-debate polling gains in Nevada and Florida. Will other battleground states follow?

Hillary Clinton Leads in New State Polls

With 38 more days to go until Election Day, Hillary Clinton is seeing post-debate bounces in the critical battlegrounds of Nevada and Florida, new polls show.

  • The Democratic nominee has a 6-point advantage over Republican Donald Trump in Nevada, or 44%-38%, according to Suffolk University poll of likely voters; Clinton led Trump by 2 points in August
  • Clinton is ahead of Trump by 4 points among registered voters in Florida, a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey found; that’s up from her 2-point lead last month in the Sunshine State, which offers the biggest reward among swing states—29 electoral votes
    • In Florida’s swing region of Tampa Bay, Clinton leads the GOP nominee 47%-40%; Trump has a narrower advantage of 46%-43% in more Republican leaning central Florida, according to the pollsters
    • “Despite small shifts that have given Clinton a post-debate bump, the race is still very competitive and the outcome will hinge on where and among whom voter turnout is higher”: Mason-Dixon statement
  • In Michigan, where Trump is set to campaign Friday afternoon, Clinton is ahead 42%-35%, according to Detroit News/WDIV-TV poll; Clinton led Trump by 7 points in Michigan last month in a Suffolk University Poll
  • In New Hampshire, where both Clinton and Trump campaigned this week, Clinton is ahead of Trump by 7 points among likely voters in a newly released post-debate WBUR poll
    • Clinton’s 42%-35% lead in N.H., along with other national and battleground state polls, suggest that “after watching her sizable post-convention lead over Trump all but disappear, Clinton has put the brakes on her fall and has gained some ground,” WBUR’s Anthony Brooks wrote
    • Steve Koczela, president of MassINC Polling Group, which conducted the WBUR survey, said New Hampshire voters view Clinton as the winner of the September 26 presidential debate by a 3-to-1 margin, Brooks reported
  • Trump adviser Sarah Huckabee, who is daughter of former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, pointed to the latest numbers from a national Los Angeles Times/USC Dornslife daily tracking poll that shows Trump ahead at 47.3% vs. 41.7% for Clinton
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THE POT FACTOR

  • One potentially significant finding in the Nevada poll: support for legalizing marijuana in the state is at 57% vs. 33% opposed; that’s up from 48%-43% in August
    • Measures to legalize marijuana use in some form will be on the ballot in at least nine states in November, potentially boosting youth turnout, which in turn could help Clinton in political battlegrounds such as Nevada, Florida and Colorado
  • Pot could fix Clinton’s problem of how to attract more critically needed but hard-to-get young voters, New York magazine’s Eric Levitz wrote
  • A recent CNN/ORC Colorado poll showed that Clinton lagged Trump in the state by 1 point in a 4-way race in which almost one-third of likely voters under age 45 backed third-party candidates, including 24% for Libertarian Gary Johnson, a former marijuana smoker who has long advocated legalizing the drug
    • “If Hillary Clinton can consolidate the support of young left-wing voters—and motivate them to turn out on Election Day—she will win the White House,” Levitz wrote. “And there’s no better cure for millennial apathy than legal marijuana”
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CAMPAIGN AND TWITTER TRAIL

  • Trump’s flurry of pre-dawn Twitter posts drew media scrutiny as the GOP nominee sought to gain an edge on the question of his treatment of a Latina former Miss Universe—an issue initially raised by Clinton in Monday’s debate
    • Trump slammed Alicia Machado as “my worst” Miss Universe and told his followers not to believe any anonymously sourced reports about his campaign, attempting to address two of the reasons why he’s been having a tough time rebounding from his performance in the September 26 debate, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs and Kevin Cirilli reported
    • He also urged voters to check out a “sex tape” and the personal history of Machado
    • Machado responded on Instagram to Trump, saying the Republican candidate and his campaign team “are again generating attacks, insults and trying to revive slanders and false accusations about my life”
    • Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin called the real-estate magnate’s latest social-media missives his “3 a.m. moment
    • Trump later wrote—on Twitter: “For those few people knocking me for tweeting at three o’clock in the morning, at least you know I will be there, awake, to answer the call!”
    • Clinton’s campaign, via Tweet, asked: “What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?”
  • Trump is set to speak late Friday afternoon in Michigan
  • Clinton, at an earlier campaign rally in Florida, vowed if elected to make a “major” push for more national service
    • The U.S. is “exceptional” in part because of the “generosity and ingenuity” of Americans
    • Clinton talked about making it easier for Americans of all ages to “give back” and encouraged entrepreneurs to add a “social component” to their businesses
    • She contended that Trump probably won’t talk about volunteerism on the campaign trail, calling it a “shame” because national service has always been a bipartisan goal
  • The former secretary of state also blasted what she called Trump’s “strongman approach” and for implying that he alone can fix the country’s problems
    • Trump talks about a “hopeless, broken nation” but “I don’t see that,” Clinton said
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ENDORSEMENTS & DENOUNCEMENTS

  • Chicago Tribune has endorsed Libertarian Johnson for president
    • “We reject the cliche that a citizen who chooses a principled third-party candidate is squandering his or her vote. Look at the number of fed-up Americans telling pollsters they clamor for alternatives to Trump and Clinton,” editorial board wrote
    • “We offer this endorsement to encourage voters who want to feel comfortable with their choice. Who want to vote for someone they can admire”
    • Trump isn’t “fit” to be president
    • Clinton is “undeniably capable” of leading the nation, but doesn’t earn newspaper’s support because of “her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust”
  • Chicago Sun-Times Friday said it was backing Clinton
    • The endorsement is early because the “best way to avert a train wreck is to wave a warning flag as soon as possible,” the editorial board wrote
    • Clinton has potential to be an “excellent” president, while Trump “has the makings of a miserable, even dangerous, president”: Sun-Times
  • USA Today, which hasn’t ever endorsed a presidential candidate, is strongly urging its readers not to support Trump
    • Newspaper’s editorial board unanimously views the former reality-TV star as “unfit for the presidency”
    • The editorial board “does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement”
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ETC

  • On Bloomberg’s Culture Caucus podcast, Rory O’Malley, the actor who plays King George in the smash musical Hamilton, gives a thespian’s view of how Clinton and Trump held up in front of the camera at the first presidential debate; click here for his critique
  • Commission on Presidential Debates said Trump’s microphone led to problems with the audio transmitted into the auditorium at Hofstra University on Monday evening
  • A transcript of Trump’s June testimony in a lawsuit, in which he discussed his earlier comments about immigrants, was released; see video on BuzzFeed site here
    • Lawsuit concerns chefs canceling plans to open restaurants at Trump’s Washington hotel
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CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS

SENATE RACES (Republicans hold 54-46 majority)

  • FUNDRAISING: After this year’s third quarter ends today, Senate candidates have until Oct. 15 to mail updated campaign finance reports to Senate public records office
    • Senate incumbents and candidates file their reports on paper and are exempt from electronic filing requirements
  • IN: While Democratic ex-Sen. Evan Bayh’s late entry “instantly elevated the party’s chances to take back the Senate,” Republicans favoring Rep. Todd Young “attacked as quickly and voraciously as a cougar whose dinner has been threatened,” the New York Times reported
  • MO: AFSCME released TV ad highlighting Republican Sen. Roy Blunt’s family lobbying ties and when he tried in 2003 to attach a provision favoring Philip Morris into measure that created the Department of Homeland Security
    • Blunt and Democratic Sec. of State Jason Kander planned to participate in Missouri Press Association candidate forum this afternoon in Branson
    • Cook Political Report shifted race to Toss-up from Lean Republican today, noting that the 35-year-old Kander “presents a sharp generational contrast” to the 66-year-old Blunt
  • NC: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte, which backs former state legislator Deborah Ross, released TV ad linking Republican Sen. Richard Burr to $1.1m in political donations from insurance industry and said he “wrote a plan to privatize Medicare”
    • Ad refers to Center for Responsive Politics analysis of Burr’s campaign contributions in 22-year congressional career from PACs/individuals affiliated with insurance industry
    • Ad invokes Medicare overhaul proposal Burr co-wrote in 2012 that would have turned program into premium support system, among other changes
  • NH: Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan at their first debate today emphasized bipartisan accomplishments while disagreeing on issues like Iran nuclear deal, gun policy, Affordable Care Act, Supreme Court vacancy
    • Debate in Conway was live-streamed on WMUR-TV’s website; next Ayotte-Hassan debate Oct. 3 on NECN
    • Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, which backs gun-control measures, released TV ad saying Ayotte “puts the Washington gun lobby first, so nothing gets done” to curb mass shootings
      • Ayotte at debate called for more prosecutions of gun crimes and a bipartisan fix to background-check system that includes more mental-health records and protects “constitutional rights of law abiding-citizens”
  • NV: Republican Joe Heck had 38% vs. Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto’s 35% in Suffolk University poll conducted Sept. 27-29 of 500 likely voters
    • Heck, a three-term House member from metropolitan Las Vegas, and Cortez Masto, a former state Atty. Gen., are seeking to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Harry Reid

HOUSE RACES (Republicans hold 246-186 majority)

  • FUNDRAISING: After third quarter ends today, House candidates have Oct. 15 deadline to electronically file updated campaign finance reports to Federal Election Commission
  • AZ-02: Republican Rep. Martha McSally said in TV ad that as “the politicians bicker” she’s been “getting things done” like protecting A-10 aircraft and advocating for infrastructure projects
    • McSally opposed for 2nd term by Democrat Matt Heinz, a former state legislator, in competitive border district that also includes most of Tucson
  • CA-25: A Republican-leaning nonprofit group’s $326k of spending on political canvassing shows GOP groups favoring Rep. Steve Knight’s re-election are “putting a serious effort into keeping the seat in party hands,” Los Angeles Times reported
    • Knight is challenged by Democratic lawyer Bryan Caforio in competitive district that includes parts of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties
  • FL-13: People for Pinellas, a Republican super-PAC, reported spending $119k against Democrat Charlie Crist, according to FEC filing
    • Crist, Fla.’s party-switching former governor, seeks to unseat Republican Rep. David Jolly in competitive district that includes part of Pinellas County in and around St. Petersburg
  • ME-02: National Republican Congressional Cmte released TV ad accusing Democrat Emily Cain of wanting to “force Maine’s public schools to weigh students” in what one woman in ad says was “violation of our kids’ privacy”
    • Ad refers to a childhood obesity assessment bill Cain sponsored in state House in 2007 that would have required “confidential assessments of either height and weight or body mass of all students, by gender” in selected grades from kindergarten through 9th; bill exempted student screening if parent or guardian objected
    • NRCC also raised issue in 2014, when Cain lost to Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin 47%-42%; Cook Political Report rates this year’s rematch as a Toss-Up
  • NY-21, NY-24: Stronger NY PAC is a new super-PAC that will independently aid first-term Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik and John Katko, according to FEC filing and website
    • Super-PAC will support N.Y. members who will “fight” for small businesses and a “strong national defense” and show “unwavering support” for Israel, according to website
    • Stefanik opposed by Democrat Mike Derrick in NY-21, a northeastern district bordering Vermont and Canada; Katko challenged by Democrat Colleen Deacon, a former Senate aide, in Syracuse-area NY-24
    • Website also endorsed NY-11 GOP Rep. Dan Donovan, strongly favored to win again in district that includes Staten Island and part of Brooklyn
  • TX-23: Democratic ex-Rep. Pete Gallego said in TV ad that “Washington doesn’t work” and that he’d “work across the aisle” to lift minimum wage and enact paid family leave and pay-equity measures
    • Gallego seeking to reclaim competitive San Antonio-to-El Paso district from Republican Rep. Will Hurd, who won their 2014 race by 50%-48%
  • UT-04: Republican Rep. Mia Love’s campaign in TV ad said Democratic opponent Doug Owens “says he’s one of us” but made donations to “Washington, D.C. liberals” like Obama and Clinton under formal name of Henry Owens
    • Obama won 30% to Mitt Romney’s 68% in UT-04 in 2012; Love beat Owens 50%-47% in 2014
  • WI-08: Republican Mike Gallagher’s TV ad saying Democrat Tom Nelson “backed higher taxes on Social Security” is false, according to Politifact analysis
    • Gallagher, a Marine Corps veteran, and Nelson, a county executive and former state legislator, seeking northeastern district of retiring Republican Rep. Reid Ribble
    • Cook Political Report this week changed rating of race to Lean Republican from Toss-Up
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