What Matters: We made it to the Friday before Election Day. Here’s what to know


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Interesting new tone from President Donald Trump on masks: CNN’s Maegan Vazquez reports that after making the case that “lockdowns” to prevent the spread of coronavirus don’t work, Trump told rallygoers in Tampa, Florida: “We know the disease. We social distance. We do all of the things that you have to do.”

“If you get close, wear a mask. ‘Oh, it’s controversial.’ It’s not controversial to me. You get close, you wear a mask. Social distance, social distance,” he told the audience.

Problem: Vazquez notes the audience Trump delivered this message to was largely maskless. They were packed so tightly that several people required medical attention due to the heat and a nearby fire truck had to cool supporters down. Staff was also seen without masks.

How Trump’s favorite doctor helped influence Florida — It’s not news that infectious disease experts have been replaced at Trump’s side by Scott Atlas, the Stanford neuroradiologist (not infectious disease doctor) who the President saw and liked on Fox News.

But this report from CNN’s John Avlon and Michael Warren shows how Atlas’s guidance, which runs counter to orthodoxy, has gone from Fox, to the White House, and then filtered out to states with Trump-supporting governors, like Florida.
“Excess death” data may reveal Covid’s true death toll — CNN has tracked more than 228,000 deaths attributed to Covid. But recent CDC data suggests a much higher rate of “excess deaths” in the US from January through October. In addition to direct Covid deaths, 100,000 more Americans died than would normally. A group of senators has asked CDC and HHS to explain how they’re addressing the spike.

Unintended consequences — We’re into the portion of this election where local events can influence national elections. Keep an eye on weather, Covid spikes, and racial unrest.

Will unrest in Philadelphia affect the election? It seems right now like the swingiest swing state of 2020. Trump needs at least one Rust Belt state that defected from Democrats in 2016 to stay with him in 2020 and he’s within striking distance in Pennsylvania.

Now, the killing of Walter Wallace, a Black man suffering from mental health issues who was advancing on police with a knife has the state’s largest urban center and Democratic stronghold on edge. Protests have devolved to looting.

Trump has maintained his criticism of cities led by Democrats while former Vice President Joe Biden has tried to balance outrage at the killing of a Black man by police with disapproval of looting. Read more.
Hurricane Zeta leaves millions without power in the Southeast — Some early voting was halted. We’ll track what effect this could have on voters. Louisiana may have to power up alternate voting sites.

Sleeping with the enemy — Red or blue, Trump or Biden and, often, men and women. Trump’s likely to do better with men and Biden’s going to do better with women.

So it’s simple math (and maybe some opposites attract) that households will be split by this election.

Take a look at this video on “Wives of the Deplorables” — a private Facebook group started by left-leaning women married to right-leaning men and how they’ve fought about yard signs, considered divorce, and learned to live with each other. This is, dare I say it at this supercharged and divisive moment, sweet.

Prediction models run possible scenarios. Biden wins in more of them. There are a number of prediction models out thee — from FiveThirtyEight and The Economist, among others — that suggest Biden is much more likely to win than Trump. CNN’s Oliver Darcy talked to the data journalists behind them to ask why they’re any better than they were in 2016, when they also said a Trump loss was more likely (although less likely than now).

Here’s Nate Silver to Darcy on this year’s modeling: “We’re not going out on any sort of limb here. We’re just stating the obvious. Biden’s pretty far ahead in polls and the candidate who’s ahead in polls by a margin like that usually wins.”

Click here for John King’s latest run through the magic wall.
And make your own electoral map here.

House and Senate seats move toward Democrats — It’s not just the presidential map that’s getting more difficult for Republicans.

CNN uses House and Senate ratings from Inside Elections, which is run by CNN contributor Nathan L. Gonzalez.

What’s changed: According to CNN’s report, Democrats are now predicted to pick up a net gain of 14 to 20 seats in the House, and a net gain of four to six seats in the Senate, which would be enough to flip the chamber.

Key details: Two US Senate races in Georgia are becoming more difficult for Republicans, but both could end up in a December runoff.

More suburban House seats are tilting away from Republicans and toward Democrats.

Cringeworthy moments:

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Republican running for election to the seat she was appointed to, claimed to reporters she was unaware of the infamous Trump Access Hollywood tape. So CNN’s Manu Raju explained it to her.
Sen. Susan Collins, a rare moderate Republican, struggled to answer a question about systemic bias in Maine, a mostly White state, but which has a large Somali community.
Sen. Martha McSally, the Republican who lot a race in Arizona in ’16 and is now running for election to the seat she was later appointed to, was rushed onstage by Trump during a rally and given a minute to speak because, he told her in front of everyone, “they don’t want to hear this.”

: Things are getting more interesting in battleground states

Adam Levy from CNN’s political unit has been closely tracking the early vote in key states — with information CNN gets from the firm Catalist, a data firm which has Democrats, issue organizations and academics as clients. Read the full story.

Key point: Republicans are beginning to narrow the Democratic advantage in pre-Election Day voting in four key battleground states, where more than 12 million votes have already been cast.

Florida — Trump won by 1+ point in 2016

  • A week ago Democrats had a 9 percentage point lead in ballots cast. Now it is 4 percentage points.

North Carolina – Trump won by more than 3+ points in ’16

  • Democrats had a 12-point advantage over Republican ballots cast last week. Now it’s 8 points.

Iowa – Trump won by 9+ points in ’16

  • Democrats have a 17-point lead over Republicans in pre-election vote, but that lead has narrowed by four points this week. Democrats also held a lead in pre-election vote in 2016.

Nevada – Clinton won by 2-points in ’16

  • Last week, Democrats led Republicans by 12 points. Now, the 42% of ballots cast by Democrats is now only seven points higher than Republicans’ 35%.

Key thing to remember: Republicans have indicated they are more likely to vote on Election Day, so there’s an asterisk for this data. We don’t know what will happen next week.

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to accurately reflect Atlas’ medical specialty.

Read more at CNN.com