100 Million Projected To Watch Crooked Hillary Debate Deplorable Donald

Tonight’s debate is going to be huge. Huge. I mean, possibly record-breaking concerning the number of people tuning in to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump engage in their much-anticipated verbal fisticuffs on the debate stage. What are the numbers? Well, we’re entering Super Bowl territory, with 100 million projected to watch the bloodsports. The most watched debate was Ronald Reagan’s bout with President Jimmy Carter in 1980 that captured 81 million viewers. CNN’s Brian Stelter had more:

Television executives and campaign aides privately think that the total viewer number released by Nielsen will land somewhere between 80 and 100 million viewers.

Back then, debates were only carried by the three major broadcasters — ABC, NBC, and CBS.

This year the debates will be on more than a dozen TV channels. The face-offs will also be live streamed all across the web in ways that weren't technically feasible just four years ago. Facebook and Twitter will carry the debates live right within their social networks.

Traditional television remains dominant, however. During this election season's primary debates, more than 95% of the overall viewership happened via TV, with the remainder via streaming.

Nielsen's figures count viewers who watch at home with TV sets. Offices, bars, hotels and other out-of-home locations are not fully measured.

That's why the Super Bowl is always under-counted. This year Nielsen said 112 million Americans watched the big game, but the total audience was undoubtedly larger.

Stelter attributed the campaign season’s rather nasty tone to the reason why viewership could spike to 100 million, though he remains skeptical that it will actually get that high. Nevertheless, he did say that this debate reaching 100 million people was not out of the question. Regardless, some serious numbers will probably be posted after tonight.

It's Official: This Race Is A Dead Heat, With Trump Surging With Working Class Whites

“Let the flop sweat begin.” Guy noted today how the polls are tightening to the point where Hillary has to be feeling the pressure heading into tonight’s debate. Yes, there were the NBC/WSJ and Associated Press/Gfk polls that had Clinton up six points over Donald Trump, but as Cortney wrote this morning—Bloomberg has Clinton’s lead being virtually erased by the Republican nominee. Moreover, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, one of the country’s leading data crunchers, said that this race is a dead heat. It’s official. In the latest Morning Consult poll of 1,712 likely voters, Trump leads Clinton by one point. As we head into the debate tonight, half of voters in the sample say that the debates will be somewhat important in how they vote in November:

In a nationwide poll of 1,712 likely voters taken Sept. 22 through Sept. 24, 39 percent of respondents chose Trump, while while Clinton was the choice for 38 percent. The difference between the two candidates is within the margin of error. The other candidates in the race continue to trail behind the leaders, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson at 9 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 4 percent; 10 percent of respondents say they don’t know or have no opinion.

In a head-to-head matchup without the third-party candidates, Clinton edges out Trump by 2 points among likely voters, 44 percent to 42 percent, within the margin of error.

Among the slightly broader sample of registered voters, Clinton has a 1-point lead over Trump, 37 percent to 36 percent, with Johnson at 9 percent and Stein at 4 percent. Again, the difference between Trump and Clinton is within the margin of error.

[…]

Still, half of voters say the debates will be at least somewhat important in how they vote in November, signaling how much is at stake with each candidate’s performance. About one-fourth of voters (23 percent) say the debates will be not important at all in their choice at the ballot box.

Independent voters have a less strong opinion about the debates, suggesting that the TV events be more important in terms of shoring up commitment from party affiliates than winning over undecided voters. Independents are less likely to watch Monday’s debate than either Republicans or Democrats; 54 percent of independents say they expect to watch, while 75 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of Democrats plan to tune in.

Pennsylvania is one of the must-win states for Trump to clinch the presidency, unless he works some miracles in Nevada, Colorado, and maybe New Mexico (though I think that’s the tallest order of the three). Yet, the latest CNN and Morning Call/Muhlenberg poll shows another dead heat there:

Clinton still leads Trump in a head-to-head matchup, but only by a 3-point margin, 44 percent to 41 percent. Those results showed Clinton's support dropping and Trump's gaining compared with a Morning Call/Muhlenberg poll a week earlier, which showed Clinton at 47 percent and Trump at 38 percent.

In a four-way matchup, Clinton leads by 2 points, at 40 percent to Trump's 38 percent. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson dropped to 8 percent — down from 14 percent a week ago — and Green Party nominee Jill Stein went from 5 to 3 percent.

[…]

A demographic analysis showed a double-digit jump in Trump's support among Republicans after Trump underperformed with that group previously. This week, 85 percent of likely GOP voters said they'd choose him over Clinton, compared with 71 percent in the prior survey.

[…]

The poll also asked voters whether their support for Clinton or Trump stemmed more from that candidate's qualities or from a dislike of the other option.

The results were similar for both candidates: A slightly larger group said they were voting for the candidates rather than against their opposition, but not by much.

Roughly four in 10 said they were voting for Clinton based on her qualities, while 30 percent said they were choosing her because they want to stop Trump. For Trump, 38 percent said his qualities were the motivating factor, and 32 percent said they want to stop Clinton.

Two things: One, being a stickler for criterion, this poll would hold a little more water if the sample was at least 600 people, which is the average to accurately gauge a statewide race. Second, on a more positive note, it seems as if the Republican base is coming home. They may not like Trump, but they cannot stand Hillary Clinton. If the rallying cry is mostly revolves around stopping her, we should be fine with that. As long as we can get the base united around something after a 15+-candidate slaughter fest that ended with a person that no one really wanted, but alas, here we are about to debate one of the most formidable political operations in the country. Moreover, and this is a question that I’ve been grappling with all of 2016, what would be better a Republican Congress working with a Trump White House or a Clinton presidency at the helm of what will be essentially a third Obama term, running that agenda through a Democratic Congress? A unified Democratic government gave us the stimulus and Obamacare; both have failed with regards to jump-starting the economy and making health care more affordable. You really want to see what would happen when the Second Amendment, energy (CPP, coal workers etc.), The Supreme Court, and other issues are placed in the crosshairs of Hillary Rodham Clinton. The choice is clear in this scenario: it’s Trump.

Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit added that the Keystone State is chock full of Undecideds who could be watching closely what happens tonight and the next two presidential debates. Also, he delved into the Wapo/ABC News poll released yesterday showing that Trump is netting the margins he needs with white voters without college degrees—and how that surge may not be ending. At the same time, any meaningful edge to gain from this is countered by Clinton’s domination with college-educated women:

… [M]ore Trump voters in PA say they’re voting for him than against Hillary, which is unusual. All summer, “against Hillary” has typically scored higher among Trump backers than “for Trump” has. Something has changed, at least temporarily, to make the people supporting him feel more confident about him. The fact that he’s still polling in the high 30s in a state he badly needs to win isn’t great news, but given that Clinton has been stuck at 40 for two weeks, that says less about Trump’s weakness vis-a-vis Hillary than it does about the reality that there are lots of undecideds in Pennsylvania. More than 20 percent of the electorate is still in play with three debates to come.

[…]

Trump leads among white men without a college education by 59 farking points. That’s exactly the sort of world-beating margin he needs among his base to pull this off. And his margin might not be done growing.

[…]

Romney won that group by 31 points in 2012. Trump’s path to victory has always required him to outperform Mitt among working-class white men and now he’s doing it, by historic margins. Which raises the question: How is he still behind? If he’s crushing it among white men without a college degree and winning white women without a college degree and college-educated white men by double digits, how can he be losing? The answer is Hillary’s advantage among college-educated women, which has grown over the last two weeks from a 10-point lead to a 25-point lead(!) now.

Are these exactly the voters who sat out in 2012? Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics has spoke about the 3-4 million white voters, who just didn’t vote in that last election since Obama was too liberal and Mitt Romney offered them nothing regarding his economic agenda. And, as Trende noted, these are voters who live in counties that stretch in a diagonal motion from upstate New York down into Arizona. These are the voters that Ross Perot resonated well with in 1992—and those voters would certainly be open to a candidate like Donald Trump. If that’s the case, it looks like they’re coming out of the woodwork for him. Still, the window to cobble together enough voters to squeak out a win is rapidly closing. Moreover, while there could be many Undecideds in Pennsylvania, that state has always been cruel to Republicans post-1988.

So, what to do? Should Trump camp out in Pennsylvania, as Guy has suggested in the past or do a two-pronged assault in Nevada and Colorado? Winning PA ensures a Trump victory; winning Colorado and Nevada ends with the same result. Let’s see if these debates can shake up the map.

Revealed: Hillary Withheld and Deleted Nearly 1,000 Emails With David Petraeus

In the wake of yet another intentional and (allegedly) politically-timed Friday document dump from the FBI about Hillary Clinton's email scandal, go back and read Matt's weekend post for a partial summary of the latest piece of new information the public has gleaned. This round was less revelatory than the early September tranche of investigatory notes, but it still contained some important developments. In a nutshell, (1) the feds offered top Clinton aide Cheryl Mills a controversial immunity deal, which has drawn criticism in light of Mills' sketchy record of "misplacing" important evidence and obstructing ongoing probes. (2) President Obama -- who has publicly claimed ignorance about his Secretary of State's improper emails scheme -- used a pseudonym under which he swapped messages with Clinton, including one exchange about which a shocked Clinton confidante Huma Abedin gasped, "how is that not classified?" when the FBI shared it with her. Obama's team was informed when Hillary "changed her primary email," suggesting that the White House was aware of her server. (3) And then there's this:

During Hillary's time at State, Petraeus led US Central Command, then was director of the CIA -- so obviously most of the emails between himself and America's top diplomat would entail formal government business.  The FBI discovered that Hillary's lawyers had unilaterally deleted roughly 1,000 of those messages, most of which were recovered through other means (this does not include any official emails Team Clinton managed to permanently destroy).  Mrs. Clinton insisted repeatedly that she had turned over every single email "that could possibly be work-related," going so far as to over-share emails that were later deemed to be personal in nature.  This was false.  In reality, she and her attorneys withheld thousands of work-related emails, including these correspondences with Petraeus.  Clinton didn't simply feed that line to the public.  She made the same assertion to Congress under oath, and signed a statement to a federal judge attesting, under penalty of perjury, that all official emails had been surrendered:

We learned earlier in the month that at least one outsider did penetrate the Clintons' email system. The former Secretary of Defense and the former acting CIA director both agree with FBI Director James Comey that it's very likely hostile foreign intelligence agencies gained access to Mrs. Clinton's emails, including thousands of classified messages -- some of which remain extremely secret to this day. Here's a former NSA official stating that the verdict within the US intelligence community is unanimous:

Clinton defenders are still reciting the now-inoperative talking point that there's no definitive evidence that her email was compromised. The professionals virtually all seem to understand otherwise.  I'll leave you with the reason this drip, drip, drip will continue all the way into election week, even if Clinton aides keep refusing to testify, and even if this extremely suspicious scenario is never properly vetted and resolved:

What do those dates have in common?  They're all Fridays. 

Donald Trump Sponsored a Snapchat Filter For The Debate

Ahead of Monday's debate, the Donald Trump campaign is reaching out to millennial voters in an unorthodox manner: Snapchat geofilters. Today, Snapchat users discovered that one of the filter options was a Trump-sponsored image touting "Debate Day" as "Donald J. Trump vs Crooked Hillary."


Some people weren't too thrilled, but others thought it was a "power move" by the candidate.

This is not the first time a candidate has used Snapchat filters to campaign. Back at the RNC, Clinton's campaign paid for an anti-Trump Snapchat filter for the duration of the convention.

Clinton, Trump Created Psychological Profiles On One Another For Debate Preparation

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes says he was joking about a Trump advisor telling him “We're almost 100% sure he's gonna just drop trow and moon Hillary. We're terrified." Still, it’s probably what people are thinking about as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton gear up for their first debate later this evening. Yet, all kidding aside, both camps seem to have prepared heavily for this showdown. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s new campaign manager, has been a godsend to the campaign, which struggled post-Cleveland. It seems that Conway has professionalized the campaign, kept it focused, and as a result—lead to Trump surging in the polls.

Trump has reportedly been speaking with his closest advisers, while Clinton has been doing the same, though she’s said that she will make the case tonight that Mr. Trump is “temperamentally unfit” to serve as president of the United States (via The Hill):

He’s spent the preparations with his close advisers, including campaign CEO and former Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway. Key confidantes and surrogates such as Rudy Giuliani, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, as well as advisers Stephen Miller, Jason Miller and son-in-law Jared Kushner, have also taken part.

Former Fox News chief Roger Ailes is also advising Trump on the debates and sending him memos but has skipped the last two debate sessions, according to the Times.

On the other side of the aisle, Clinton is reportedly throwing herself into debate prep, scripting out answers with her team and holding at least one mock debate.

She’s also mindful of Trump’s unpredictability — as The Hill reported this week, she’s preparing for whatever persona Trump may throw her way, including aggressive or below-the-belt attacks.

Clinton reportedly won’t be satisfied calling out Trump for stretching the truth. She wants to prosecute the case that he’s temperamentally unfit for office and unhinged, two key campaign messages.

Also, both camps have delved into the psychological profiles of each other. On Team Trump, they’ve allegedly built an extensive profile on the former first lady, noting Clinton’s gestures, body language, and key phrases she uses when she doesn’t know the answer, indicators Trump can use to rapidly pivot or attack her. Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, simply responded to these developments flippantly, saying “good luck” (via Politico):

The “psychological profile,” as the analysis is being called, is based on a statistical analysis of videos from 16 years' worth of Clinton’s debates, dating back to her 2000 campaign for Senate in New York, according to the operatives. They said it was assembled with assistance from a political data firm called Cambridge Analytica that specializes in “psychographic” modeling of voters and donors, and that Trump’s top advisers have been pleased with the results.

The advisers believe that the profile proves that Clinton has significant weaknesses and that they have identified her ‘tells’ — words, phrases or gestures she uses when she’s unsure of an answer, or is trying to deflect her way out of an uncomfortable question, according to the operatives familiar with the preparations.

For example, according to one of the sources, an operative who works with the campaign, Trump’s debate prep team believes that the profile proves that when "she doesn't know the answer, she says this, etc.” The goal, said the operative, is to get Trump to recognize the tendencies, “so when he hears her say 'X' he knows what is going on, and can respond accordingly.”

[…]

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri suggested her campaign wasn’t much worried about the Trump team’s psychological analysis of Clinton. “Good luck,” she said Friday when she was asked about this story during a pre-debate media conference call. “We all have seen [Clinton] endure a lot of tough questioning over the years. We saw her endure 11 hours of tough questioning at the Benghazi hearing. And Donald Trump may think he’s the person who’s going to be able to really get under her skin, but I doubt it.”

Clinton has done the same, speaking with a series of advisers for hours to create a profile of the Republican nominee (via WaPo):

As Hillary Clinton prepared to face the most unconventional candidate of her political career on the debate stage Monday night, her campaign aides engaged in a deep study of Donald Trump's personality to glean insights into how he might act, according to several people familiar with the process.

At a working group session in August, Clinton advisers met with a small group hand-picked by the campaign to help shed light on the Republican nominee. The focus on Trump's personality suggests that Clinton's approach on Monday may be quite different from her strategy in past debates -- and that her campaign expects this event to be unlike any other.

The aides involved in debate prep including her longtime aide Philippe Reines, who has played Trump in mock debate sessions. They conferred for hours with campaign outsiders who were asked to offer advice about Trump’s personality and temperament, according to people familiar with the meeting. The meeting lasted several hours.

This is it, folks. It’s apparent that ads aren’t going to allow Clinton gain the edge over Trump; she’s heavily outspent him concerning media buys in key swing states, to no avail. The Democratic blue wall is in a fragile state, with Clinton mulling pulling out of Ohio. Guy noted it’s a rather explicit 180-degree turn from the Clinton campaign, which not so long ago was boasting about her commanding lead in the Electoral College. The debates are that last forum, where both heavily unpopular candidates could gain traction over the other. In some ways, it’s both Clinton and Trump’s debate to lose, Trump could torpedo his surge with voters, while Clinton needs to be successful in portraying the real estate magnate as unfit—and trying to bring those disaffected Democrats who have left for third party candidates back into the Clinton camp. Clinton might also try to hit Trump on his past statement that have turned out to be inaccurate, which might be a double-edged sword since Clinton has lied about her emails, which has proven to be one of the Achilles’ heel for her campaign that could be re-litigated in front of 100 million people.

Trump Picks Up Another Endorsement From Immigration Enforcement Group

Republican nominee Donald Trump clinched the endorsement of the union that represents the agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the eve of his showdown with Hillary Clinton. The president of the union slammed President Obama for his unconstitutional executive orders on deferred action for children and parents of illegal immigrants, and called Clinton’s agenda “the most radical” proposal in U.S. history (via The Hill):

Chris Crane, the president of the National ICE Council, described the men and women of Immigration and Customs Enforcement as the "last line of defense for American communities."

"Our 5,000 officers, underfunded and undermanned, are responsible for enforcing immigration laws in a nation of 320 million people," Crane said in a statement.

"Our officers come into daily contact with many of the most dangerous people in the world - cartel members, gang members, weapons traffickers, murder suspects, drug dealers, suspects of violent assault - yet ICE Officers are unable to arrest or are forced to release many of the most dangerous back into U.S. communities due to unscrupulous political agendas and corrupt leaders."

[…]

Crane called the immigration plan put forth by Clinton the "most radical immigration agenda proposal in U.S. history."

He said her plan would result in thousands of American deaths and an "uncontrollable flood of illegal immigrations across U.S. borders" and framed her proposal as "total amnesty plus open borders."

Crane added that Trump is the only candidate running that has policies that would secure the border, saying that Americans have been told fantastic lies about our immigration system.

“Donald Trump is the only candidate who is willing to put politics aside so that we can achieve that goal," he said.

This isn’t the only endorsement Trump has received from a law enforcement arm tasked with border security. The National Border Patrol Council endorsed him in March, which represents 16,500 Border Patrol agents. It was the organization's first endorsement in a presidential election ever.

FBI Document Dump: Hired Tech Employee Called Clinton Private Server Deletion The 'Hillary Coverup Operation'

In case you missed it, the FBI released an additional 189 pages of documents Friday afternoon about the criminal investigation of Democrat presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for using an unsecured, private email server to transmit classified information. 

There are a number of revelations in the documents, including the fact President Obama communicated with Clinton on the server using a pseudonym and that a Platte Rivers Network employee called the deletion of content on the server with BleachBit the "Hillary coverup operation." 

During a Congressional hearing two weeks ago, we learned Platte River Networks employees were concerned about being asked to wipe the server, wanted requests from team Clinton in writing for the record and believed they were being asked to "coverup a lot of shady sh*t."

Giuliani: Liar Hillary Better Not Accuse Trump of Lying Tonight

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox & Friends Monday morning why Hillary Clinton better not try to paint her opponent as a liar at tonight's debate.

At the risk of appearing like the ultimate hypocrite with her track record of bending the truth and consistent poll numbers that show voters think she's dishonest, Clinton would be apt to remain silent on the issue of trust.

Tonight's Presidential Debate Start Time and How to Watch It

Tonight Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will face-off in the first of three presidential debates. The political showdown is one of the most anticipated events of the year, with more than 100 million people expected to tune in. If you plan on tuning in, here’s what you need to know.

When do I watch?

9 p.m. ET. The debate will last 90 minutes with no commercial breaks. Townhall.com will have preview and recap analysis today and tomorrow.

Where do I watch?

You can follow along with real-time updates on Townhall.com, while watching a livestream of the debate that will be on our homepage later this afternoon. The debate will also air on every major network and cable news channel including: 

  • ABC 
  • CBS 
  • NBC 
  • Fox 
  • CNN 
  • C-SPAN 
  • MSNBC 
  • Fox News 
  • PBS
  • Univision 

If you prefer to plug into social media tonight, Twitter and YouTube will also be streaming the debate, and Snapchat will have a “Live Story” going. 

Who’s moderating? 

NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt. Holt has selected three debate topics—“America’s direction,” “achieving prosperity,” and “securing America.” The debate is divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes, with each topic given two slots. 

Where is it? 

Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. This will be Hofstra University’s third time hosting a presidential debate. In 2008, it held the debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, and in 2012 it held the debate between Obama and Mitt Romney. 

When are the other debates? 

Sunday, October 9 and Wednesday, October 19. And, if you can’t wait until then, the vice presidential debate will be on Tuesday, October 4. For more details, check out Townhall.com’s complete schedule here

What should I expect? 

Honest, informative answers that will help you decide who to vote for? Maybe. An hour and a half of solid entertainment as two of most unfavorable presidential candidates battle it out? Definitely.

Trump Didn't Do Mock Debate Prep

We're just hours away from the first debate of the 2016 presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump at Hofstra University Monday night. For weeks voters and reporters have been curious about how each of the candidates have prepared for the big moment. 

Not surprisingly, Trump didn't take the conventional road of preparing for the debate and skipped mock debate practice altogether.

"Donald Trump does what works best for him and I think that is discussing the issues, studying the issues and frankly being himself. He's not a poll tested, scripted robot like Hillary Clinton. That's a great contrast to have and one I think we are certainly excited to see tonight," Senior Trump campaign advisor Sarah Huckabee-Sanders explained Monday morning. "If you're doing something and it works, don't change it."

Meanwhile, Clinton has reportedly been studying policy handbooks and closely watching video of Trump's primary debate performances.

Eric Trump's Advice to His Father: "Just Be Yourself"

Many people have been asking how Republican nominee Donald Trump will conduct business Monday night at the first presidential debate of 2016, but Trump's son, Eric Trump, has some personal advice for his father.

When asked by a Fox News Sunday morning show what it would take to win the debate, Trump said his father just needs to "be himself."

An estimated 100 million people will be tuning in to Monday’s event at Hofstra University in New York State.

“He’s talking to working-class Americans who have been left behind by career politicians—and that’s exactly who Hillary Clinton is,” Trump said.  “We’re disrespected all over the world. In China, President Obama literally had to come out of the service entrance of his plane.”

Trump said that he and his brother and sister will be sitting front row cheering on their father on as he takes on Clinton.

"You can't just script these things, you kind of have to go out there and feel the moment.  I think that's the problem with most politicians," Trump said of his unique tactics.  "We have to start winning again."  

Several People Injured in Houston Shooting Near Strip Mall

UPDATE: It appears the suspect has been killed.

The Houston Police Department said an active shooter shot and injured several people Monday morning. The situation has been contained after they shot the suspect.

A bomb squad is currently checking the suspect's vehicle, according to police.

Blue Wall Crumbling: CO, PA Now Dead Heats, Clinton Camp Abandoning Ohio?

They'll strenuously deny it, I'm sure -- and it does seem a bit far-fetched that a deeply-funded campaign would abandon 18 precious electoral votes in a state in which their candidate is within the margin of error.  Then again, Trump has led in five of the last six statewide polls in Buckeyeland -- and actions speak louder than words. National Democrats are pulling up stakes in Ohio's Senate race, and now CNN notes that the state has been conspicuously absent on Hillary's travel schedule lately.  "So long Ohio?" Hmmm:

“It’s been 20 days since Hillary Clinton stepped foot into this classic battleground state, and she’s not expected to visit it again in the month of September...That is a nod to the political reality they’re facing, her campaign. She is struggling mightily among white voters.”

At the very least, the Clinton camp has decided that her time ought to be concentrated elsewhere -- a seemingly significant concession from an operation that not terribly long ago was whispering to reporters about the many paths to a "commanding" victory they enjoyed.  As for the "political reality" they're now grappling with among white voters, the final Washington Post/ABC News survey prior to the opening presidential debate shows a dead heat race.  The 'tightening vs. expanding race' see-saw hinges back in the anti-Hillary direction with this result, which represents a three-point shift against Mrs. Clinton since the last installment of this series, and a six-point swing since early August.  Keep in mind that these numbers closely reflect new national polling from Bloomberg and Quinnipiac.  This race is officially a jump ball:

Two things strike me about these top lines.  First, they suggest a possible collapse in support among the third party options, as voters may be gravitating toward the two major party nominees as the campaign enters its final stage.  Keep an eye on other national polling to see if this is a verifiable trend.  Second, Clinton clinging to a two-point lead (and tied among registered voters) cannot feel like a secure spot for her, particularly because the partisan sample is a whopping D+10.  That exceeds even the deep blue tilt of the 2008 cycle by several points.  Taking a look at the internals, on voters' top two issues (the economy and national security) Trump is tied with Hillary head-to-head.  And while she still far outpaces him on temperament and qualification questions, his marks aren't quite as low as they have been elsewhere -- and he beats her on honesty, despite the media's efforts to expose him as the bigger liar of the two.  Demographically, Trump leads by 16 among white voters, but trails by 50 among non-whites.  The gender gap is extraordinary: Trump is ahead by 19 points with men, as Clinton leads by...19 points with women.  As I've been saying, Trump just needs to mitigate these weaknesses, not erase them, on the debate stage.  And as Team Clinton reportedly fears, public expectations are set in such a way that likely benefits Trump:

And remember how much I've been writing about the importance of Pennsylvania? Well, here is one, admittedly very bouncy-looking, data point to chew over.  Don't hang your hat on this just yet (six points in one week in the same poll?), but if we see more Keystone State numbers like these start to emerge, the Hillary flop sweat will start to bead up around her temples (see update):

Finally, a quick thought on the continued reality-show-style trollization of this presidential race. After the Clinton crew apparently invited billionaire Mark Cuban -- and frequent Trump tormentor -- to sit in the front row this evening, Trump mused that perhaps he'd invite one of Bill Clinton's ex-mistresses as his guest. And she seems to have accepted.  It's not actually happening, it turns out, but it got a ton of press, as Trump undoubtedly intended. Nevertheless, this tit-for-tat was juvenile and petty, and those who believe Trump's counter-measure was more unseemly than Hillary's initial provocation have a pretty solid case. But to play devil's advocate, Mrs. Clinton has decided to thrust the treatment of women into the forefront of the contest, as a centerpiece of her attack against Trump. One could argue that the Gennifer Flowers feint was simply a crass 'glass houses' shot right back at the Clintons. What a year.


UPDATE
: Let the flop sweat begin.  Oh my: 

CBS poll also shows Trump back from the dead in Colorado, with the long-awaited Pennsylvania tightening finally arriving. One polling bright spot for her is in Virginia.  Trump can win this race. The pressure is on Hillary Clinton tonight.

UPDATE II - Via Right Sightings, here's my pre-debate preview with Bret Baier last evening:

Bloomberg: Trump Has 'Erased' Hillary's Advantage By Debate Day

We've reached debate day in the 2016 presidential election and a new Bloomberg national survey shows that Donald Trump has caught up to his opponent.

The Republican and Democratic nominees each get 46 percent of likely voters in a head-to-head contest in the latest Bloomberg Politics national poll, while Trump gets 43 percent to Clinton’s 41 percent when third-party candidates are included.

These new numbers "erase" the 6-point advantage Clinton had last month, Bloomberg notes.

Clinton's email scandal and health may have something to do with her struggling poll numbers. The image of her stumbling off the curb at the 9/11 memorial are still fresh in voters' minds and pundits have questioned whether she can "power through" all 90 minutes of Monday's debate, commercial break-free.

Still, with these question marks, the Bloomberg survey also showed that 49 percent of voters think she'll perform better than the GOP nominee.

The Clinton campaign is not happy with the fact that Trump is likely to be "graded on a curve" and given passing marks just for managing to not say something outlandish.

The presidential debate will air on CNN at 9 p.m. ET live from New York's Hofstra University and will be moderated by Lester Holt.

Senator Slams Obama Admin's New Report That Compares Religious Freedom to Slavery

Last week, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report entitled "Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties." It analyzed the balance struck by federal courts in considering claims for religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws, the report reads. Yet, many freedom-loving Americans were none too pleased to find that the document claims the term "religious liberty" is sometimes code for discrimination. (It really hammers this point home because the word discrimination is used over 700 times).

The commission argues that religious freedom is being used as a "weapon" just like in the days of slavery and Jim Crow. Religious liberty, the report reads, is being used to "undermine" the rights of American minorities. 

The report singles out RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act), which is currently in 22 states. The commission insists states change the law accordingly so it does not "unduly burden" nondiscrimination laws.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was not a fan of the report's interpretation of civil liberty. He shared his concerns in a letter to Martin R. Castro, chairman of the commission. 

"In embracing this position, however, the report adopts a stunted and distorted version of religious liberty, suggesting that claims of religious conscience are little more than a cloak for bigotry and hatred," Hatch wrote. "I reject the false picture of religious liberty presented in the report."

Hatch, a history scholar of sorts, also argued for the "primacy" of religious liberty in America, noting it dates back to our Founding Fathers.

"The Commission’s report, however, fails to acknowledge any of this," he continued. "To the contrary, the report appears to make every effort to confine, narrow, and limit religious liberty. It would have religious liberty apply to belief but not behavior, to be exercised individually in private rather than collectively in public."

Hatch concluded that the commission get a better understanding of the meaning of religious liberty before filing any more reports.

Reports: Venezuelan Hospitals Keeping Newborns in Cardboard Boxes Due To Supply Shortages

The Venezuelan heath care system is a total disaster. The lack of supplies, like soap and gloves, has caused the state of its hospital system to resemble something out of the 19th century, according to reports on the ground. The rolling blackouts have caused newborn deaths to spike in the maternity wards. Women are lining up to be sterilized rather risk becoming pregnant and raising children in such abject conditions. Now, the supply shortage has become so egregious that newborns are reportedly being placed in cardboard boxes. Keep in mind, these photos have not been verified yet, but if true—it shows how bad conditions have worsened since news organizations started reporting intermittently about the collapse of Venezuela (via CNN):

The images show newborn babies in cardboard boxes, lined up on a counter.

A hospital employee took the photos, according to the opposition group that released them.

Venezuela's opposition says the photos of the babies show a health care system in crisis.

The images purportedly were taken at the government-run Domingo Guzmán Lander Hospital in the coastal city of Barcelona, about 315 kilometers (195 miles) east of Caracas

[…]

Authorities are investigating, according to the government official who runs the institute that oversees the Barcelona hospital and others across the country.

[…]

According to statistics released by the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation in June, the country is facing a shortage of more than 80% of the medicines doctors need. And more than 13,000 doctors -- about 20% of the country's medical workforce, have left the country in recent years due to the collapse of the health sector.

Besides the medical sector, looting has become rampant among Venezuelans struggling to survive. Food has become in short supply as well, with people eating out of trashcans and supermarkets being cleared out. In some cases, Venezuelans have broken into zoos and killed animals for meat. It’s a horrific situation in a country that prided itself in being an example of so-called 21st Century Socialism.

U.S. Military: We Need More Troops In Iraq

ISIS launched a chemical attack on U.S. and Iraqi troops near Mosul this week. Blessedly, no U.S. troops were killed—and the shell containing mustard gas was described as “poorly weaponized” and “ineffective.” U.S. forces are helping Iraqi government troops retake the city. Yet, it appears that we need more men on the ground to accomplish that goal. American personnel requested an additional 500 men to be deployed (via WSJ):

The new deployment, if approved by the White House, would assist Iraqi and coalition forces in preparing for the battle to capture the northern city, the extremist group’s last major stronghold in Iraq. That fight is expected to begin as early as mid-October, U.S. officials have said.

The U.S. move would come in the wake of an operation that began Tuesday by Iraqi forces in Shirqat, a town north of Baghdad, to further degrade Islamic State supply lines into Mosul. That operation, which was announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in New York, where he is participating in U.N. General Assembly meetings, is a further indication that the Iraqi forces are preparing for the larger fight in Mosul, a city of about one million people.

The new U.S. forces would increase the number of American personnel officially deployed to Iraq from 4,400 to about 4,900. The Pentagon also maintains up to 1,500 additional U.S. forces that it doesn’t acknowledge as part of its Iraq force, most at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or on temporary assignments. The new deployment would bring the overall U.S. presence to as high as 6,400. The 500 would be in addition to roughly 400 new personnel the U.S. sent to Iraq in early September to prepare for the Mosul offensive.

The Journal added that President Obama hasn’t reviewed the deployment request.

This Poll Should Make Hillary Clinton Very Nervous

As the saying goes, "As Maine goes, so goes the nation." That being said, this new poll of Maine's 2nd congressional district is raising eyebrows: while the election was supposed to be a tight race and was considered to be a very vulnerable seat for the GOP, incumbent Bruce Poliquin (R) is leading challenger Emily Cain by a full 10 points. These numbers are a good sign not only for the Republican Party's hopes to maintain control of the House of Representatives, but also for Donald Trump's campaign and his increasing success in traditionally Democrat-leaning areas.

Until Poliquin's relatively surprising win in 2014, the last time a Republican had represented Maine's 2nd district was 1995.

From the Portland Press Herald:

Poliquin is now leading Cain by 10 percentage points among likely voters in the 2nd District, although the number of undecided voters has also increased slightly since June, according to the poll, which was conducted in September by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. The poll surveyed 231 likely voters in the 2nd District and has a margin of error of about 6 percent for the congressional race.

A poll in June by the Telegram showed the race to be virtually tied, with just a 1 percent gap between the candidates, while a poll by the Boston Globe and Colby College earlier this month showed a 5 percent gap.

I've written before about the odd role Maine is playing in the upcoming election. Maine splits its electoral votes by congressional district (technically--this has never actually happened), and the extra vote Trump is likely going to gain from the 2nd district (and possible additional two votes if he winds up winning the state) could swing the election in his favor. Trump has a very comfortable lead in the 2nd district, which went to Obama in 2012 by a full eight points.

Back in March, Mainers came out in droves to caucus for Bernie Sanders, and the Vermont senator won the votes of nearly two out of three Maine Democrats. Now, Clinton is virtually tied with Trump, and Jill Stein is polling at five percent in the Pine Tree state. The latest polls show Clinton with around 37-40 percent of the vote, which is nearly identical to what she received in the caucus--it doesn't look like she's gaining voters. Obama won the state by double digits in 2008 and 2012, and the population of Maine hasn't dramatically changed in the past four years. Clinton is simply not a popular candidate here.

Additionally, conservative Mainers who may not be fully on the Trump train just yet could be motivated to go vote to defeat a Bloomberg-backed gun control measure on the ballot--which could end up backfiring (pun not intended) horribly for the Democrats in the state.

"As Maine goes, so goes the nation"--possibly again in 2016?

Trump Meets With Netanyahu to Discuss Israel's Successful Border Fence

GOP nominee Donald Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday in New York's Trump Tower to discuss a wide range of topics relating to national security. Netanyahu has been in New York for the past week for the United Nations General Assembly, meeting with President Obama for the final time as heads of state. 

One of Netanyahu's most intriguing exchanges with Trump, according to the Republican's Facebook page, was their discussion about Israel's security fence along the West Bank.

"Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed at length Israel's successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders," the Facebook message reads.

Trump's campaign was quick to note their discussion about the Israel barrier, considering how it seems to parallel his own plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigration. In fact, the Israeli company that constructed the wall along the Gaza Strip is apparently eager to build Trump's wall. 

When I visited Israel in March with the Israel Collective, we received a tour of the 9-meter high security wall with the architect who built it, Danny Tirza, a former colonel in the Israel Defense Force's Central Command. He explained why the structure has been so effective in minimizing acts of terror in the region.

Will Trump be touting his meeting with Netanyahu and use Israel as an example to prove his border plan is not as farfetched as some may think?

Trump offered more details last month as to what the U.S.-Mexico wall would entail. 

Oh, Good: Investigation in Colorado Finds Dead People Are Casting Ballots

To quote the great show Scrubs, "Dead people should be dead." They also shouldn't be voting--and an investigation out in Colorado shows that quite a few dead people are doing just that. A CBS4 investigation in several Colorado counties dug up some disturbing anecdotes of people "voting" several years after they died, and questions are being raised as to how dead voters are receiving ballots.

From CBS Denver:

The CBS4 investigation has triggered criminal investigations in El Paso and Jefferson counties along with a broad investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

“It’s not a perfect system. There are some gaps,” acknowledged Williams.

One of the most glaring cases was that of Sara Sosa in Colorado Springs. She died on Oct. 14, 2009. However, CBS4 uncovered voting records that showed ballots cast for Sosa in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Her husband, Miguel, died on Sept. 26, 2008. But CBS4 unearthed records showing that a vote was cast in his name the next year, 2009.

These ballots were not cast by in-person voting, but were instead cast via mailed ballots. The names of the deceased were not removed from the voter rolls, despite the fact that the voters were not actually alive to vote. At least an additional 78 dead people were still listed as "eligible" voters in Colorado.

For what it's worth, Colorado already has a voter ID law, but evidently this isn't enough to prevent all forms of fraud. Colorado's Secretary of State Wayne Williams is taking this new investigation seriously and will be taking proactive steps in order to prevent additional voter fraud in the upcoming election. Williams confirmed to CBS4 that, “It is impossible to vote from the grave legally."

Clinton Campaign: The GOP Is ‘Selectively Leaking’ Hillary Email Docs

Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook continues to appear on the media circuit and not answer questions. In an “interview” with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, Mook spent more time fiddling with his earpiece than providing substantive answers.

Tapper first asked Mook for some information into Clinton’s debate prep and wondered whether her campaign is prepared for the possibility of Gennifer Flowers to sit in the audience. Mook used that question to try and prove Trump is unfit to be president.

The fact that Trump is “spending hours” before the debate bringing up President Bill Clinton’s old scandals “shows what kind of leader he’d be,” Mook said.

“It’s a warning sign before the debate has even started."

Mook added he’s concerned Trump will be “graded on a curve” during the debate, noting that he may get a positive review just because he doesn’t fly off handle.

Tapper then questioned Mook about the recent Clinton email dump. One email in particular showed an IT aide referencing the “Hillary coverup operation.”

“What’s the Hillary coverup operation?” Tapper wondered.

“The Republicans are selectively leaking documents to make Hillary look bad,” Mook responded.

The FBI conducted a comprehensive, deep investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server and concluded it did not justify grounds for indictment, he reminded Tapper. He said the public would be better served to trust the career professionals who could not find a criminal case against Clinton.

Tapper also tried to get Mook to tell voters whether or not Clinton supports sanctuary cities, to no avail.

“That’s too narrow a view,” Mook said. “We need comprehensive immigration reform.”

Suspect Arrested in Washington Mall Shooting, His Background Is Different Than Initially Reported

After an hours-long manhunt, police have arrested Arcan Cetin, 20, of Oak Harbor, Washington, suspected to be the shooter in Friday night's rampage in Cascade Mall that left five people dead. It appears Cetin is not Hispanic as authorities initially reported.

Police said the suspect appeared to be a Hispanic male in his late teens to mid-20s with a close-shaved haircut. He used a long gun similar to a hunting rifle, Francis said.

However, according to the Cetin’s father’s Facebook page, Cetin was born in Turkey. His father met and married Cetin’s mother in Turkey and the family settled in Oak Harbor, according to the Facebook page.

The police said they intend to find out his motivations.

One of the people the murderer killed was a 16-year-old cancer survivor.

Melissa Harris-Perry Wins MRC Honor For The Dumbest Quote Of The Year

Flashback to the time when Melissa Harris-Perry had a show on MSNBC, where she and Alfonso Aguilar, President for the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, were discussing Rep. Paul Ryan assuming the House Speakership. Aguilar was saying how Ryan was a great choice to become the next House Speaker, citing his work ethic. Harris-Perry agreed, but chastised Aguilar for using the term “hard worker” to describe Ryan. This apparently triggered Harris-Perry, who then said we must look at this term through relative privilege, or something. In all, saying “hard worker” could constitute a microaggression:

It’s totally absurd, which is why the Media Research Center honored Harris-Perry, whose show has since been cancelled by the liberal news network, for having the Quote of The Year at their annual gala on Thursday. Harris-Perry also won the organization’s Dan Rather Dan Rather Memorial Award for Stupidest Analysis for the exact same quote.

Here’s the full exchange:

ALFONSO AGUILAR: But let’s be fair. If there’s somebody who is a hard worker when he goes to Washington, it’s Paul Ryan. Not only works with the Republicans but Democrats. You know very well that I work on [the] immigration issue, trying to get Republicans to support immigration reform. Paul Ryan is somebody who has supported immigration reform, has worked with somebody like Luis Gutierrez. Luis Gutierrez is very respectful, speaks highly of Paul Ryan. This is somebody who’s trying to govern.

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Alfonso, I feel you. But I just want to pause on one thing. Because I don’t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great choice for this role. But I want us to be super careful when we use the language “hard worker,” because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like. So, I feel you that he’s a hard worker. I do. But in the context of relative privilege, and I just want to point out that when you talk about work-life balance and being a hard worker, the moms who don’t have health care who are working–

AGUILAR: I understand that.

HARRIS-PERRY: But, we don’t call them hard workers. We call them failures. We call them people who are sucking off the system.

AGUILAR: No, no, no, no.

HARRIS-PERRY: No, no. Really, ya’ll do. That is really what you guys do as a party.

AGUILAR: That is very unfair. I think we cannot generalize about the Republican Party.

HARRIS-PERRY: That’s true. Not all Republicans. That is certainly true.

The Scott Family Responds to Video Footage of Charlotte Shooting

After calls from Keith Lamont Scott's family for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to release the video footage from this week's fatal shooting, they have complied. CNN showed the dash cam video from the deadly encounter live on air on Saturday. The Charlotte police approached Scott after they discovered him with marijuana. In the video, we see the two officers beside the truck as Scott steps out of his car, seemingly retreating from the truck, before they shoot him. In the body camera video, we see another angle of the incident, with Bob Owens at Bearing Arms noting you can clearly see Scott wearing an ankle holster. (Warning: graphic)

At a press conference Saturday night, the Scott family attorney Justin Bamberg insisted the footage suggests the police officers' shooting was not justified.

"Mr. Scott doesn't appear to be acting aggressive" in the video, Bamberg says. "He doesn't lunge at the officers. It appears he has his hands by his side. The moment he is shot, he is passively stepping back."

Furthermore, he says one cannot say Scott was wielding a gun because it's impossible to identify what is in his hand at the time of the shooting.

Ray Dotch, Keith Scott's brother-in-law, said their family is dedicated to finding the "absolute unfiltered truth." 

"Unfortunately, we are left with far more questions than we have answers" after watching the video, he said. "It doesn't make sense."

Dotch also criticized the media for demanding information into Scott's demeanor. 

"We shouldn't have to humanize him in order for him to be treated fairly." 

Still No Sign of the Two Wanted Men in NY Bombing

Three days after the FBI released images of two men walking away from the scene that left over 20 injured in the suburb of Chelsea, Manhattan, no one has come forward with any information. Investigators say the two men picked up a suit case form the scene that contained one of the improvised explosive devices used by Ahmad Rahimi to kill Americans.  

The men apparently saw the abandoned suitcase on 27th Street and found the pressure cooker inside that had been fashioned into a bomb. They set the device on the sidewalk and left with the suitcase.

One possibility that investigators have proposed is that the men were tourists, and may have already left the country.