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Wednesday, October 28, 2020
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Wednesday, October 28, 2020 11:04 AM
By MARK SOUDER

FORT WAYNE – The final countdown until the voting ends is near. Here are some thoughts on the final days.

1.) The final debate was Trump’s best. It stopped his polling slide that had accelerated after his bullying performance in the first one and further confusion after he skipped the second. One can argue about who won, and who made the best targeting points for ads, but it can’t be argued that Trump’s polling stabilized and even became slightly more favorable in some key states.

2.) The Senate races are interesting, both because of the importance of Senate control but as indicators of the presidential race. Before the final debate, it seemed as though the Democrats would have seized Senate control had that been Election Day. Since the debate, the Republicans have gained two to four points in key seats, making the Republican maintenance of control riding heavily on two Georgia seats and the North Carolina race. Minnesota has become surprisingly close in some polls. Iowa and Arizona are again basically tied.

3.) Obviously, the largest percentage in history are voting early. But here is the interesting thing: They are, by definition, the decided voters. It is unclear who the people are who are causing the shifting in the polls, but it is highly likely that they are the ones who have not voted and may not until Election Day.

4.) Polling may be way off. When many polls are showing almost identical results, it becomes more reliable but all polling depends upon cell phones, desire to participate and people honestly stating what they plan to do. Or knowing what they plan to do. They notoriously are inaccurate on straight-ticket voting for numerous reasons, and this year may be high in straight-ticket, tribal voting.

5.) Senate polling may give the best indication of what is happening. When pooled, far more people are polled overall than in a national poll. Thus, especially in the swing states, the fact that Democrats are making a race of it in states where they were not expected to compete is of particular concern to Republicans. African-American turnout at Obama-type levels as well as more Hispanic voters and some suburban female defections is likely what is impacting surprisingly tight Senate races in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and even potentially Mississippi. Georgia, with two Senate seats heading into runoffs and one in which an incumbent Republican senator is consistently polling a point or two from even making the runoff, could hold the bizarre key to Senate control.
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  • By CRAIG DUNN
    KOKOMO – As I write this, we are 17 days from, arguably, the most important election in my lifetime. In my opinion, we have never seen an election with such well-defined lines between economic philosophies as this one. On the basis of economic philosophy, how to vote should be a relatively easy decision. On the surface, the decision appears to boil down to whether you trust and support a capitalistic economic system which rewards effort, education, skills, hard work, ingenuity and risk or whether you support a philosophy of government managed economics, income redistribution and government created do overs for actors with bad behaviors. As a life-long Republican, I believe that our philosophy has always been that we are for equal opportunity for all, not equal outcomes. Right or wrong, I stand by that belief. Although the decision of who to vote for should be an easy one, it has been made much more difficult because of President Donald J. Trump. He is not a conventional president nor candidate, so he does not lend himself to a traditionally economics-based decision. The fact is that many traditionally economics-based voters will not vote their core beliefs because of their abject hate of the Orange Man. Their attitude is, “Orange Man bad, don’t confuse me with facts.”  
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    SHELBURN, Ind. - At this writing, Indiana reported a record high 2,880 new COVID-19 cases. This comes as Hoosiers are in the midst of deciding whether to rehire Gov. Eric Holcomb, or change course with Democrat and former health commissioner Woody Myers, or Libertarian Donald Rainwater. Myers entered this race with what appeared to be the perfect resume, having served when AIDS first surfaced. Yet on his final 2019 finance report, he posted just $14,000 while the Democratic caucuses in the General Assembly are tiny, having endured super minority status for the past four years. There are no Libertarians in the legislature, Rainwater has few if any relationships there, and it's hard to see how he would stock a new administration. In a sign of how strange an election year this is, Rainwater has raised enough money to run statewide TV and radio ads over the final two weeks; Myers was sitting on a mere $80,000 at the end of the third quarter and is radio silent. Political fundraising shouldn't be the prism under which to make a choice, but it is a factor when it comes to choosing a governor who would have the political support and governing components. Last Saturday, I traveled with Gov. Holcomb on a rare pandemic campaign swing. We both wore face masks the entire time.
  • By PETE SEAT
    INDIANAPOLIS –  They never see it coming. “Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson,” I ask, certain the prospective intern or staffer won’t get it right. When they choose correctly, the job is theirs. When they don’t, well, hopefully they can better explain their greatest weakness. When it comes to Gov. Eric Holcomb, though, it’s not an either/or. His governing style is part Jordan and part Johnson. He can both hit the clutch shot when it counts the most and pass the ball and let his teammates – in this case members of his administration and local government officials – score the basket and get the credit. We saw this at the opening tip-off of the first Indiana gubernatorial debate as a deferential Holcomb immediately dished out credit to his fellow Hoosiers for Indiana’s “positive forward momentum.” Later in the debate he sent assists to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Workforce Development, and he gave a singular “shoutout” to members of his administration’s cabinet.
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    INDIANAPOLIS – About two hours before Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly pandemic press conference Wednesday, Indiana University Prof. Aaron Carroll took part in a “Keeping IU Healthy” webinar. He was asked about the 1,700 COVID-19 cases the state reported earlier in the day: “Will the state hover around that or get worse?” Dr. Carroll, of the Indiana University School of Medicine, responded, “I think it will get worse over the next few weeks and then after the election I hope we start ratcheting things back. We can, as we have in the past, limit the spread of disease and make it safer. That will require governments to act and they often act slowly. “Even in the bad second wave, Arizona, Florida, Texas they got hold of it. They had to take action. They had to do some unpopular things, but they were able to ratchet it back to achieve a better level of success,” Dr. Carroll continued. “It will take Indiana taking action. I believe they will, it just may be a couple weeks off because the election, frankly, makes it harder to do a lot of stuff. Without laying blame or casting aspersions, ask me again in two weeks.” Gov. Holcomb was asked by the press about a possible reinstitution of lower stages. The governor became animated, saying, “Stage 5 has zero, nothing to do with any campaign. This has got to do with safely getting back to school, getting this economy reopened safely.”
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND — Four years ago, at this point before the presidential election, a columnist wrote of a widely popular sentiment, an oft-heard response to a campaign that drove down approval ratings of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The widespread sentiment was this: “I’ll be so happy when this election is over.”  But the columnist warned, “Don’t bet on that.” That columnist was me. So, despite what’s suggested in kind, thoughtful emails from militia types and conspiracy advocates, I sometimes can get something right. When the 2016 election was over, joy wasn’t ubiquitous among all who said they would then be “so happy.” A majority of voters was not happy at all. The majority, by a margin of nearly 3 million votes, selected Clinton, but the unhappy reality for them was that Trump carried key states and won in the Electoral College, where it counts. Some who didn’t vote for either Clinton or Trump also were not “so happy.” Some had voted for the Green Party nominee, who had no chance except as a spoiler, and then realized they could have been decisive in some of those key states if they had instead voted for Clinton, an environmentalist who wouldn’t have dropped out of the Paris climate accord and repealed environmental regulations.
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  • Atomic! Justice Barrett; Money spills into legislative races; INGov debate tonight; Long Indy lines
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Justice Barrett: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: On Monday night, she became Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a party line 52-48 vote, the jurist from South Bend who forged her Supreme Court bound credentials at the Notre Dame Law School, becomes the second Hoosier to serve on the nation’s high court, joining the late Justice Sherman Minton. She is the lone non-Ivy League justice. Justice Barrett was sworn in late Monday night by Justice Clarence Thomas, as President Trump and her husband looked on at the White House before a crowd of 200.  “I will do my job without any fear or favor,” Justice Barrett said. When she took the oath, it became the capstone of the pro-life movement four decades in the making, forging a 6-3 Supreme Court conservative majority.
  • Atomic! COVID Mike; 'Justice Barrett' tonight; IN vote hack; Weinzapfel calls for marijuana reform
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis 

    1. Pence & COVID: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: President Trump has spent months trying to change the homestretch narrative to antifa, race, crime ... and the pandemic keeps interfering. The latest is the COVID outbreak on Vice President Mike Pence's staff, said to number five aides, includingChief of Staff Marc Short and key operative Marty Obst. It didn't help the MAGA cause when Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN, "We’re not going to control the pandemic" because  “it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”  Mike and Karen Pence continue to travel the nation campaigning as "essential employees" and potential petri dishes of COVID. Gov. Eric Holcombtested for COVID "as a precaution" after appearing maskless with Pence at a Fort Wayne rally last Thursday. He tested negative. Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease expert at George Mason University, called Pence’s decision to travel “grossly negligent," adding, “It’s just an insult to everybody who has been working in public health and public health response. I also find it really harmful and disrespectful to the people going to the rally.” Under CDC guidelines, Pence should be in quarantine for 14 days after his close contact with Short. Pence heads the White House coronavirus task force. When the history of the pandemic is written in the next two to five years, Pence's decisions and behaviors in this out of control pandemic (there were 88,000 cases reported nationally on Sunday and another 2,175 in Indiana on Sunday and 2,765 cases on Saturday) are going to be conspicuous ... just as he mounts his own presidential bid in 2024.
  • Atomic! Million Hoosier votes; COVID spikes; Pence returns; Mayor Henry says 'not a hoax'; Donnelly assails veep

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Bloomington


    1. More than 1 million Hoosiers have voted: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week:  More than 1 million Hoosiers have requested an absentee ballot or voted early in the 2020 General Election, according to Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson. With less than two weeks before the Nov. 3  election, 553,270 absentee by-mail ballots have been requested across the state, and 477,217 voters have voted at an early voting location, with a total of 1,042,319 ballots requested or submitted.  And early voting begins at several locations Saturday in Indianapolis. In the 2020 Primary Election, a total of 640,225 Hoosiers voted absentee in-person or by-mail.  In 2016, during the entire period of absentee voting for both in-person and by-mail, 977,239 ballots were submitted. “Hoosiers are eager to vote and are voting early in record numbers to make sure their voice is heard,” said Secretary Lawson. “Election officials across Indiana have worked tirelessly to make sure each voter is safe and secure, and I’m pleased to see this level of turnout heading into Election Day.” Lawson cautions that the increased volume of absentee ballots means that final election results may not be immediately available on Election Night. She told Howey Politics Indiana  in September she expected the results from Indianapolis to lag behind the other 91 counties, which are expected to finish counting on Election Night. Counties can begin tabulating absentee ballots at noon on Election Day.

  • HPI Interview: Gov. Holcomb in his last political campaign amidst pandemic
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    SHELBURN, Ind. – Nine months ago, Gov. Eric Holcomb was sitting on an $8 million campaign war chest, a 3.2% jobless rate and a $60 billion road funding plan. His main Democratic challenger had just posted $14,000 on his year-end campaign finance report. And then came the pandemic which forced the governor to impose an unprecedented economic shutdown. The pandemic has since killed 3,700 Hoosiers, forced schools to close, put half a million small businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, and the jobless rate estimated to hit 17% by May. Last Saturday on what became a rare 2020 campaign swing through southwestern Indiana, this writer passed a COVID-19 test, donned a face mask and joined Holcomb, Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer and GOP communications director Jake Oakman, a day that yielded more than two hours of interview time. Holcomb told Howey Politics Indiana that the state’s top priority during this third COVID-19 wave rattling the state is “to maintain our posture in our ability and capacity to care for those who are in need.”

  • Horse Race: INGov debate not likely to alter dynamic; legislative money updates
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – If anything, Tuesday’s unremarkable gubernatorial debate provided a vivid contrast to that jarring presidential debate in Cleveland. It was civil. But after an hour, the dynamics of this race which is headed for a GOP landslide didn’t change. Gov. Eric Holcomb took in-coming from both Democrat Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater over his pandemic response. “This is an extraordinary time and we’ve had to take extraordinary measures,” Holcomb said. “So we do have a state-mandated mask requirement throughout the state; it’s a strong statement that says this works.” Myers responded that Holcomb’s mandate was just a “mask suggestion.” Rainwater insisted, “Nowhere in constitution does it say that individual rights can be suspended.” And, the Libertarian added, science hasn’t proved people are at risk. Rainwater added later that “It’s not government’s job to create jobs, but to protect individual rights.”
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  • Walorski congratulates Justice Barrett
    “I want to congratulate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the newest member of our nation’s highest court. Justice Barrett is a woman of strong faith, a dedicated mother of seven, an exceptional jurist, and a fellow Hoosier. I have no doubt she will faithfully uphold the rule of law, defend the Constitution, and protect the life and liberty of every American.” - U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, congratulating her 2nd CD constituent, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, after she was sworn in Monday night at the White House.
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  • Beau Bayh makes campaign debut
    “The first home I went home to in Indianapolis was the Governor’s Mansion, which is proof that Democrats can win in Indiana.” - Beau Bayh, campaigning on behalf of Democrat gubernatorial nominee Woody Myers. He is the son of former governor and senator Evan Bayh. In October 1984, a young Evan Bayh barnstormed the state with underdog gubernatorial hopeful Wayne Townsend ("Go get 'em, Wayne"). When the pair appeared at the Elkhart Truth, reporter (and future Bayh) staffer Phil Schermerhorn asked Bayh, "Evan, what are you running for?"). In 1986, Evan Bayh won the secretary of state's office, then ended the GOP's 20-year gubernatorial dynasty two years later. With Hoosier Democrats barely above the Libertarians in the party pecking order (Donald Rainwater is running TV and radio ads; Myers isn't), the young Bayh's appearance will stoke up speculation that it may take a third-generation Bayh to restore Indiana Democrats to major party status.
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