Blackstone Predicts a Trump-Biden Tie on Nov. 3: Campaign Update

Blackstone Predicts a Trump-Biden Tie on Nov. 3: Campaign Update

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Blackstone Predicts a Trump-Biden Electoral College Tie

Blackstone Inc.’s global head of government affairs is predicting that Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will end up with an Electoral College tie of 269-269, according to a person briefed on his comments on a call this week.

Wayne Berman, who served as assistant Commerce secretary under President George H.W. Bush, also highlighted the key battleground states of Pennsylvania and Arizona, where Biden has a small lead, as states to watch.

In the event of a tie, the 2020 presidency would be decided by the House but given the conflicts over mail-in ballots, it’s also likely to end up in court.

A Biden win would be bad for Wall Street, said Berman, who worked on the Republican presidential campaigns of Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, John McCain and others. He cited the increased possibility that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Stop Wall Street Looting Act’ would get immediate attention in the Senate, but that could only happen if Democrats win a majority in that chamber, and Berman predicted a 60% chance that wouldn’t happen.

Berman also predicted that if elected, Biden would fire Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, which isn’t possible under the law. Powell’s term is up in 2022 and whoever is president then would be able to replace him then.

Blackstone’s billionaire chairman and chief executive officer Stephen Schwarzman has donated heavily to Trump’s campaign, while president and chief operating officer Jon Gray and executive vice chairman Tony James are supporters of Biden.

A Blackstone spokesman declined to comment. — Gillian Tan

Pennsylvania Governor Pleads With Trump Not to Come for Rally (5:16 p.m)

Another governor is pleading with Trump not to hold a potential Covid super-spreader event in his state.

With Trump scheduled to appear at a rally near Harrisburg on Saturday night, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement Friday asking the president to put public health ahead of politics.

“To hold this event is not just misguided, it is dangerous, it is manipulative and it is wrong,” Wolf said. “I would ask Pennsylvanians to think of the health and safety of their families and their communities before attending this event or any rally put on by the Trump campaign. And I would ask the president, for once, to put the health of his constituents ahead of his own political fortunes.”Wolf, a Democrat, said he sent the Trump campaign a letter on Sept. 10 asking it to abide by Pennsylvania’s Covid-19 mitigation measures with social distancing, masks and crowd limits, but Trump held a rally on Tuesday near Pittsburgh with thousands of people jammed together.

The Trump campaign has held mass rallies that violate public health rules set by other Democratic governors as well, including Nevada’s Steve Sisolak, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and Tony Evers of Wisconsin.Earlier this week, Vice President Mike Pence defended Trump’s mass rallies and said the campaign trusts the governors — even as it violates their Covid-19 guidelines. “We’ve trusted governors in our states, and most importantly we’ve trusted the American people,” Pence, the former governor of Indiana, told ABC News. — Mark Niquette

Another Intelligence Official Comes Out Against Trump (4:34 p.m.)

A former senior intelligence official is joining the chorus of ex-officials rebuking Trump, writing that four more years of his leadership “would be devastating.”

Robert Cardillo served as director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency from 2014 to 2019. He worked in the intelligence community under six administrations — four Republican and two Democrat, during which he also served as deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He wrote in the Denver Post that Trump is the only president who “has failed to serve U.S. national security interests.”

“Before this election, I have never spoken out for or against a candidate for any office,” Cardillo began. “But I can be silent no longer.”

Cardillo, who said he has briefed Trump, said the president is not interested in facts or data that aren’t aligned with his outlook. He also said the president relies on foreign leaders like Vladimir Putin over the intelligence community, which, he noted “is an unprecedented betrayal of his oath to the Constitution.”

“As damaging as his faulty leadership has been, four more years would be devastating,” he concludes. “We must elect a thoughtful, moral, responsible, respectful leader on Nov. 3. Our current president is not that leader.” — Emma Kinery

Poll-Worker Enlistment Drive Signs Up 500,000 Volunteers (3:59 p.m.)

A campaign to get Americans to work at polling places on Election Day has enlisted more than 500,000 volunteers, according to Power the Polls, a nonpartisan advocacy group that is organizing the effort.

U.S. general elections typically require about 1 million poll workers. But there’s likely to be a big shortfall this year because people over 60, who made up 60% of poll workers in the past, are at the highest risk for Covid-19. Fear of catching the virus will keep many older would-be volunteers at home.

The primaries this spring provided an early warning of the potential election problems caused by the pandemic. In several states, the number of polling places was cut back — Milwaukee went from 100 sites to eight — and states like Georgia and Kentucky experienced long lines of voters.

Companies have joined the effort to ensure voting stations are staffed. Target Corp., Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc. and others will give their workers paid time off or vacation days to volunteer at polling sites.

But even with the 500,000 people joining up, Power the Polls is still working to recruit more volunteers as not everyone who signs up will end up working and some areas of the country are in higher need than others. — Emma Kinery

Michigan to Count Mail-In Ballots Early, Easing Crunch (2:19 p.m.)

Michigan clerks will be allowed to start counting mail-in ballots before Election Day, decreasing the chances it will take days to get a result from the battleground state.

The Michigan legislature passed a bill on Thursday allowing clerks in cities and townships with a population of at least 25,000 to start processing mail-in ballots for 10 hours on Nov. 2 — rather than having to wait until Election Day. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had predicted the late start could mean the state’s count wouldn’t be done until late on Nov. 6.Benson called the change “a step in the right direction to help ease the burden our clerks face in securely processing the significant number of absentee ballots we’re expecting citizens to cast this fall.”Meanwhile, a bill to allow three days of pre-canvassing in Pennsylvania, which is expected to have a flood of mail-in ballots, is bogged down in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.

“I’m trying to remain hopeful,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar said in an interview on Friday about allowing pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots. “It certainly feels like a lot less chance than it had before.” — Mark Niquette

Obama Endorsements Show Changing Electoral Map (10:50 a.m.)

Obama didn’t win Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina or Texas in either of his two presidential campaigns, but he’s endorsing Senate candidates in all four states.

In a sign of the changing electoral map, the former president has given his blessing to candidates running in states that weren’t previously competitive for Democrats: Mark Kelly in Arizona, Jon Ossoff in Georgia and M.J. Hegar in Texas.

Obama also backed Senate candidate Jaime Harrison in South Carolina, a state that is not trending toward Democrats but where incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham is polling weaker than expected.

Since 2016, Obama has endorsed hundreds of Democratic candidates, typically focusing on those in competitive races where his imprimatur would help, and avoiding states where it might do more harm than good.

Obama has not made endorsements in the competitive race between Republican Senator Steve Daines and Democrat Steve Bullock in Republican-leaning Montana, or in the Alabama Senate race featuring endangered Democratic Senator Doug Jones.

Trump Upset by Fox News Polls Showing Him Behind (8:39 a.m.)

Trump is not a fan of most pollsters, but in recent days he has singled out Fox News polls that showed him behind in Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In an interview with Fox News Radio Thursday, host Brian Kilmeade told Trump that he would like the pollsters if he met them and that while he doesn’t agree with their results, they “have a science and approach to it.”

“I might like them, but they’re incompetent. Brian, they were one of the — the most far-off of all polls. They don’t like me, I can tell you that,” he said. “The worst poll is usually Fox.”

He returned to the theme Friday morning, tweeting that they were “so ridiculously wrong” in 2016.

In a post-election analysis of polling, Costas Panagopoulos, a professor then at Fordham University, found that Fox was right in the middle of 14 top pollsters, showing in its final pre-election national survey Hillary Clinton with 48% and Trump with 44% support. The actual result was Clinton 48.2% and Trump 46.1%.

In polling on House races, Fox was one of only two pollsters to accurately forecast the Republican advantage in the House vote.

In the analysis, Panagopoulos said that one reason presidential polls might have been off in 2016 was late-deciding voters and that any potential biases in polling “were generally not statistically significant.”

Biden Uses Mom-and-Pop Shops to Hit Trump on Coronavirus (7:34 a.m.)

Joe Biden’s campaign is airing a string of ads featuring small-business owners who say they were left behind by the coronavirus stimulus.

The ads feature testimonials from the heads of small businesses in battleground states: salon owners in Pittsburgh and Phoenix and the owners of a handmade soap shop and a brewery in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

In the ads, they criticize the Trump administration’s Paycheck Protection Program for giving money to large corporations. Several public companies, such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House, returned the money after a backlash.

“Watching the news and seeing these huge corporations receiving funding when, you know, we’re getting nothing, kind of makes you feel like you don’t matter,” Kimberly Clayton, owner of The Bath Place in Rocky Mount, says in one ad.

Another ad features Celeste Beatty, founder of Harlem Brewing Co. in Rocky Mount and the first Black woman in the country to own a beer company.

Rick Scott Pitches Bill to Stop Counting Votes

Senator Rick Scott wrote the playbook that Trump is using to discredit mail-in ballots. Now he wants to make part of it law.

In 2018, the Florida senator was ahead on election night but saw his lead diminish as mail-in ballots were counted. He charged that “unethical liberals” were trying to “steal this election” and sued to try to stop the count.

In recent weeks, Trump has made similar arguments, saying the only way he can lose is if the election is rigged, arguing the candidate ahead on election night should be crowned the winner and suggesting that he may go all the way to the Supreme Court to stop mail-in ballots from being counted, even as he plans to vote by mail himself.

On Thursday, Scott backed Trump up by proposing a bill that would require all mail-in ballots be counted during a narrow window from the morning of Election Day to 24 hours after the close of polls, a logistical impossibility in many parts of the country.

“We can’t wait weeks or months to find out the results of this election or any election in our future,” he said in a statement.

Scott’s proposed VOTER Act has zero chance of being signed into law, given Democratic control of the U.S. House.

Trump Campaign Ads Call Bad Polls ‘Fake News’

Faced with a slew of bad polls, the Trump campaign is running multiple ads arguing the surveys are inaccurate.

With Biden ahead in the Real Clear Politics average of polls nationally and in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, the Trump campaign is running Facebook ads calling them “fake news.”

“President Trump knows that the Fake News Media will NEVER report accurately on his standings in the polls against Sleepy Joe,” says the ad copy on several similar ads.

The ads then urge supporters to fight back by taking an “Official Trump vs. Biden Poll,” which consists of a single question — “Will you support President Trump in November?” — and fields for ZIP Codes, email addresses and mobile phone numbers, a typical campaign tactic for harvesting supporter information.

For its part, the Biden campaign has played up positive polls for Trump in its Facebook ads and used flashbacks to predictions that Hillary Clinton would win in 2016 to keep his supporters motivated.

The first presidential debate will be held Sept. 29 in Cleveland. The moderator will be Chris Wallace of Fox News.

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