Trump Team Sees ‘Bad Things’ in Philadelphia: Campaign Update

President Donald Trump’s campaign attacked third-party voting in Philadelphia. The U.S. Postal Service vowed to deliver ballots for the Nov. 3 election on time. And Trump is ahead of Democratic nominee Joe Biden by only 7 points in Kansas.

There are 12 days until the election and 53 days until the Electoral College meets.

Other Developments:

Trump Team Sees More ‘Bad Things’ in Philadelphia Vote

In keeping with Trump’s recent claim that “bad things happen in Philadelphia,” the president’s campaign clashed again with the largely Democratic city, this time over videotaping voters placing ballots in a drop box.

Philadelphia attorney Linda Kerns, representing the Trump campaign, sent a letter to the city on Oct. 16 citing “videos taken by a campaign representative” of voters at the city hall drop box depositing more than one ballot. Kerns said third-party delivery of ballots isn’t allowed, and she demanded that the city stop using unmanned drop boxes and turn away voters trying to deposit more than one ballot “to preserve the integrity of the election.”

The city replied in an Oct. 19 letter that third-party delivery of ballots is allowed under certain circumstances and violations can’t be assumed. Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro suggested in a statement that Trump isn’t providing proof for claims about voter fraud and that filming a voter casting a ballot “could be voter intimidation — which is illegal.”

The dust-up was first reported by the New York Times. Earlier this month, the Trump campaign unsuccessfully sued the city to have poll watchers allowed into satellite election offices where voters are requesting and casting mail-in ballots, after Trump said “bad things happen in Philadelphia.” -- Mark Niquette

Postal Service Says Ballots Will Be Delivered on Time (3:59 p.m.)

The U.S. Postal Service pledged that neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night would prevent it from delivering ballots on time for the Nov. 3 election, even as mail service falls short of on-time delivery in cities including Detroit and Philadelphia.

“Election mail will not be delayed,” Kristin Seaver, the USPS chief retail and delivery officer, said during an online briefing Thursday. “The Postal Service is committing all resources to ensure the timely movement of all election mail.”

States this week told a federal court the USPS still hasn’t returned to the level of delivery performance from before operational changes were made over the summer after Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor, became Postmaster General. Around 80% of First Class mail was delivered on time in Philadelphia in early October, according to USPS data. In Detroit, the figure was about 71%.

The volume of mailed ballots already has exceeded the amount recorded in the last presidential election in 2016, officials said during the briefing with almost two weeks left until the election. Voters are using the mail in part to avoid the coronavirus pandemic. -- Todd Shields

Trump Holds Narrower Lead in Kansas, Poll Shows

Trump appears to be less popular in Kansas than he was four years ago. He won the state by 20 percentage points in 2016, but a new New York Times/Siena College poll has him up only 7 points ahead of Biden in a state no Democrat has carried since 1964.

In the poll released Thursday, 48% of likely voters in Kansas backed Trump, while 41% supported Biden.

The poll shows an even closer race for Senate, where Republican Roger Marshall is ahead of Democrat Barbara Bollier by only 4 points, 46% to 42%. Bollier is a state senator who switched parties in 2018.

The survey of 755 likely voters in Kansas was conducted Oct. 18-20. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Another Democratic Senator Faces Close Race (12:42 p.m.)

Another Democratic senator is facing a closer-than-usual re-election race, possibly imperiling the party’s chances of retaking the upper chamber.

In a KSTP/Survey USA poll released Thursday, Minnesota Senator Tina Smith is essentially tied with Republican challenger Jason Lewis 43% to 42%, with an unusually high 12% undecided.

Smith had leads of 4, 8 and 10 points in three polls in Minnesota taken since mid-September. She was appointed to the seat after Al Franken resigned and won a special election in 2018 to fill out the rest of his term.

Democrats had high hopes for retaking the Senate as Republicans were defending vulnerable seats. Only Democratic Senator Doug Jones of Alabama was considered a likely loser. But Michigan Senator Gary Peters and Smith are in closer-than-expected races.

The poll of 625 likely voters in Minnesota was conducted Oct. 16-20. It has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.

More Bad News for Vote Counting in Pennsylvania (11:16 a.m.)

Pennsylvania just took another step closer to being the state to end hopes the winner of this year’s election will known on election night.

Election officials in the presidential battleground are now preparing for the worst-case scenario -- being forced to wait until Election Day to begin processing mail-in ballots.

The Republican-led Pennsylvania legislature adjourned on Wednesday until after the election without reaching a deal with Democratic Governor Tom Wolf to allow counties to start processing an expected 3 million mail-in ballots before 7 a.m. on Election Day -- virtually guaranteeing that results will be delayed with hundreds of thousands of ballots left to count after the election.

It’s theoretically possible that lawmakers could be called back to approve a last-minute deal, but that would take “some type of miracle,” said Jeff Snyder, a Clinton County commissioner and president of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

Republicans insist on what they’re calling “security measures,” such as allowing poll watchers from outside of a county where they live, as part of any deal, which Democrats say they can’t accept.

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar expects the “overwhelming majority” of ballots to be counted by the Friday after the election. But Donald Trump won Pennsylvania by only 44,292 votes in 2016 -- and observers are worried the Nov. 3 race could come down to Pennsylvania with a legal brawl over the counting of outstanding ballots. -- Mark Niquette

Second Pro-Biden Ad Features Sam Elliott (10:28 a.m.)

Like a suddenly hot actor having a breakout year, Sam Elliott is everywhere in pro-Biden ads this week.

The gravelly voiced “A Star Is Born” actor drew attention on social media for the voiceover on a Biden campaign ad that aired during the World Series Tuesday.

“There is only one America,” he says. “No Democratic rivers, no Republican mountains. Just this great land and all that’s possible on it with a fresh start -- cures we can find, futures we can shape, work to reward, dignity to protect.”

On Thursday, a second ad featuring Elliott went up on social media from The Lincoln Project, a group of conservatives who oppose Trump’s re-election.

That ad focuses more on President Donald Trump, featuring the president saying he doesn’t take responsibility for the coronavirus response and showing images of fathers and sons as the song “Hero” by the indie band Family of the Year plays.

“Our dads weren’t perfect,” Elliott says. “But they did their best to raise us to be good, to be honorable, to be men of family, men of faith, but above all, they taught us to own up to it when we did something wrong.”

Twitter Promotes Early Voting to Every U.S. User (7:06 a.m.)

Every U.S. Twitter user will get a prompt when they log in Thursday encouraging them to vote early and providing information on how to do it.

With more than 48 million monthly active users, that makes it one of the most significant single-day pushes for early voting.

In addition, tweets with the hashtags #VoteEarly, #IVoted, #IVotedEarly or #YoVote will turn into a digital “I Voted Early” sticker and the Like button on that tweet will change to look like a ballot box.

In a post announcing the campaign, Twitter noted that a recent poll found nine out of 10 daily users are registered voters and plan to vote this year, but that one-third were still seeking good information on when and where to vote.

Voters will be directed to look up their voting options on the nonpartisan voting advocacy group BallotReady.

More than 43 million Americans have already voted by mail or at in-person early voting locations, according to the U.S. Elections Project.

More Voters Plan to Vote Straight Ticket in November

A new poll has some bad news for Senators Susan Collins, Cory Gardner and Doug Jones: Their fates are tied to the presidential race.

In a survey by the Pew Research Center, just 4% of registered voters in a state with a Senate race this year say they will vote for a split ticket.

That could leave the Senate divided even further along party lines, with fewer senators representing states where the voters often support the other party, such as Republicans Collins of Maine and Gardner of Colorado, and Democrat Jones of Alabama.

It could also affect Senate races in states, such as Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan and North Carolina, where the presidential contest is competitive.

Split-ticket voting has become rare in recent years. Another Pew study found that in 139 regular and special elections for Senate since 2012, 88% were won by candidates from the party that won the most recent presidential election, a major shift from elections in the 1980s and 1990s.

The survey of 11,929 U.S. adults was conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 5. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.5 percentage points.

Trump Fundraiser Pitches Chance to Win a Night at His ‘Favorite Hotel’

The Trump campaign’s latest pitch to grassroots supporters: Contribute a few dollars and you could be entered to win a stay at his “favorite hotel” in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve arranged with my team to fly one of my BEST SUPPORTERS to Washington, DC to join Team Trump at the Election Night Party in my favorite hotel,” the pitch reads. “We’ll cover your flight, hotel, VIP PASSES to the event, AND you’ll get to bring a guest of your choice.”

Although supporters might assume that Trump’s favorite hotel in D.C. is the Trump International Hotel near the White House, the rules of the contest do not specify that.

Instead, they say the winner will get two round-trip coach class plane tickets, one night of accommodations “at a hotel to be designated” by the campaign, ground transportation and a photo opportunity with Trump.

One problem for the campaign is that the District of Columbia is restricting large gatherings to 50, which would make it hard to hold an Election Night event at the Trump hotel. Nearby Virginia is allowing groups of as many as 250.

Coming Up:

Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will meet for the second and final debate starting at 9 p.m. on Thursday at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

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