In a message that was heard loud and clear by opponents as well as supporters, President Trump urged voters Monday to act as if he was on the ballot for the midterm elections. "It’s all fragile. We have to go out and we have to vote," the president said on a conference call, per Politico. "Even though I’m not on a ballot, in a certain way I'm on the ballot." He was speaking before a frantic final day of campaigning that included rallies in Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri, where he was introduced by radio personality Rush Limbaugh. More:
- Hannity controversy. Media watchdog groups were not happy when Fox News personality Sean Hannity spoke from the stage at Trump's Missouri rally, the AP reports. Hannity—who earlier said he was covering the rally for his show would "not be on stage campaigning with the president"—hugged the president after being invited onstage. "All those people in the back are fake news," Hannity told the crowd. "Either Fox News lied all day about their direct collaboration with the Trump campaign, or the network simply doesn't have any control over Sean Hannity," said Angelo Carusone of Media Matters for America.
- Caravans and crime. At the Missouri rally, Trump accused Democrats of plotting a "socialist takeover" of healthcare and said the party was responsible for divisive politics, the Guardian reports. He also returned yet again to the theme of immigration, saying, "If you want more caravans and more crime, vote Democrat."
- Warning of fraud. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued warnings about voter fraud Monday, with Trump saying "a lot of people" vote illegally. He warned that there will be "prosecutions at the highest level." Critics called his comments a clear attempt to intimidate voters, the Washington Post reports.
- Early voting is off the charts. At least 36 million people have already voted, signalling that total turnout will be far above normal for a midterm election. Early voting has already surpassed total turnout for the 2014 midterms in states including Texas. "This is not a normal election," University of Florida professor Michael McDonald tells Politico. "The best guess is that we’re looking at some sort of hybrid midterm/presidential election" when it comes to turnout, he says. Analysts say the level of early voting could mean that polls which didn't account for it will be way off the mark.
- A good sign for Democrats. John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, says the Democrats are turning out voters in large numbers, the Hill reports. He says turnout is up among young, minority and irregular voters, with turnout among voters 18-29 "up in 39 of 41 states for which data are available."
- A big test for the election system. The AP looks at the state of the nation's infrastructure, which will be under severe strain amid high turnout. Officials worry that problems with voting machines or changes to voter ID requirements could destroy confidence in the election results. "We expect poll workers will be overwhelmed, just as voters are overwhelmed, and there will be lots of provisional ballots," says Sara Henderson, head of Common Cause in Georgia.
- Nate Silver weighs in. At FiveThirtyEight, Silver crunches the numbers and gives Republicans just a 1 in 7 chance of retaining control of the House. "Democrats need a couple of things to go wrong to lose ... because not very much is going right for Republicans," he writes. If the GOP does prevail, he writes, it will be thanks to the strong economy—and the "huge intrinsic advantage" they enjoy after dominating redistricting in 2010. Silver gives the GOP an 80% chance of retaining control of the Senate.
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