The Hill's Morning Report - Too close to call




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday (or just Tuesday continued?). We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the co-creators, and readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 230,996; Tuesday, 231,562; Wednesday, 232,626.

The close race between President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Should deficits matter any more? Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE remains up for grabs this morning in familiar battleground states, even as Biden racks up more than 50 percent of the popular vote as the electoral tally is tabulated.


The Hill: Trump, Biden head toward a photo finish. 


Vote counting is still underway in states where Trump leads, including Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina, and the final tabulations needed to determine a winner with 270 electoral votes may not be known for days.


In North Carolina and Pennsylvania, ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can still be received and counted this week.


The uncertain dynamics after polls closed, however, did not stop the president from asserting victory in the wee hours of today among supporters gathered in the East Room. Speaking at 2:29 a.m., Trump falsely stated, “We did win the election,” threatening to head to court to challenge the ongoing ballot-counting process, which could take days.


The Associated Press: Presidency hinges on tight races in battleground states Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan.


“This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump told a crowd gathered indoors at the White House, many not wearing masks. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win the election.” 


“We want all voting to stop,” he said, inaccurately suggesting a rigged presidential contest. “We will win this.”


The president said he wanted to stop the counting of votes and put the outcome of the election in the hands of the Supreme Court. “As far as I am concerned, we already have won it.”


Trump also said he wants the counting of votes to continue in Arizona, which handed its 10 electoral votes to Biden, becoming the only state as of press time this morning to shift from a 2016 Republican win to the Democratic column after Tuesday. The president suggested he wants to see ballot counting stop in Pennsylvania and Georgia, two states in which he hailed his momentary leads while precinct tabulations remained incomplete. 





Speaking hours beforehand, Biden projected an air of confidence in the results set to arrive in the coming days. 


“We feel good about where we are. We really do,” Biden said. “I’m here tonight to tell you we’re on track to win this election. ...I’m optimistic about the outcome.”


“It may take a little longer,” Biden told a Wilmington, Del., parking lot full of drive-in supporters who honked their horns. “As I’ve said all along, it’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who won this election. That’s the decision of the American people.”


Because ballots continue to be tallied in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit and Atlanta and their suburban areas, the presidential outcomes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia have not been determined.  


As of this morning, Arizona and Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District stand alone in their shifts from Republican territory four years ago to favor Democrats.


BBC: Where things stand in Election 2020 as of this morning.


Reid Wilson, The Hill: On The Trail: Deeply divided nation shows blue islands in a red sea.


The Hill: Trump cleans up in safe Great Plains, Mountain West states.


The Hill: Trump, Biden campaigns brace for protracted battle beyond Election Day.


The total voter turnout in 2020 is expected to be record-setting, including an astonishing 101 million early votes, according to the U.S. Elections Project


John Podhoretz, New York Post opinion: The pollsters were wrong again — why do we listen to them?





SENATE ELECTIONS: Republicans are in pole position to retain control of the Senate, having scored a number of key wins as a number of GOP candidates remain in the lead in key toss-up contests.


After heading into the evening with a 53-47 seat majority, Republicans pulled off multiple important victories on the Senate map, with Sens. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Just five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback MORE (R) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord MORE (R)  winning reelection bids in Iowa and Montana, respectively (The Hill). The GOP also continue to hold leads in North Carolina, Maine, Georgia and Michigan, where final results are still being counted.


In North Carolina, Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback Democrat Jeff Jackson jumps into North Carolina Senate race MORE (R) is in a strong position to win his reelection effort. He leads Democrat Cal Cunningham, who was besieged during the final month of the campaign after admitting an extramarital affair. Tillis was ahead by 97,000 votes (a 1.8 percent margin) with 94 percent of precincts reporting this morning.





Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators discussing Trump censure resolution Senate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Just five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE (R-Maine) leads Democrat Sara Gideon by 34,000 votes (49.5 percent to 43.6 percent) with 66 percent of the vote outstanding. However, Collins’s potential inability to reach the 50 percent marker could open the door for Democrats as it would invoke ranked choice voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference on the ballot if they decide to do so.


CNN: Maine's ranked choice voting, explained.


Meanwhile, Georgia will have at least one Senate runoff in early January, but the possibility of both contests going to a runoff remains as Sen. David Perdue (R) leads Democrat Jon Ossoff, though it is unclear whether he will clear the requisite 50 percent to win outright. Perdue leads with 50,8 percent to Ossoff’s 46.9 percent, with 91 percent of precincts reporting as votes still need to be counted in Atlanta and the surrounding areas, which are Democratic strongholds. 


In the other Peach State race, Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerState-level Republicans wracked by division after Trump's loss Limbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration Suburbs pose challenge for GOP in post-Trump era MORE (R) and Raphael Warnock (D) will face off in early January to fill the remainder of former Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler concedes to Warnock Hawley to still object to Pennsylvania after Capitol breached Hillary Clinton trolls McConnell: 'Senate Minority Leader' MORE’s term in office. Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsDrudge congratulates Warnock, says Ann Coulter should have been GOP candidate Warnock defeats Loeffler in Georgia Senate runoff Warnock says he needs to win 'by comfortable margin' because 'funny things go on' MORE (R) tweeted that he called Loeffler and conceded the race to her, also pledging his support to her campaign (The Hill).


Three Senate seats flipped party control. Democrat Mark Kelly defeated Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyState-level Republicans wracked by division after Trump's loss Cindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' Arizona state GOP moves to censure Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake MORE (R) in Arizona, completing a wire-to-wire victory, while former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperColorado delegation wants Biden to stop Space Command move to Alabama Moderates vow to 'be a force' under Biden Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief MORE (D) unseated Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs denounce Capitol attack | Contractors halt donations after siege | 'QAnon Shaman' at Capitol is Navy vet Lobbying world Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R) (The Hill). Moving the other direction, Republican Tommy Tuberville trounced Sen. Doug Jones (R-Ala.), giving Republicans their only pick-up of the evening (The Hill). 


Tuesday was considered a disappointing night for Democrats, who hoped to capture the Senate after six years in the minority. The party and its candidates raised unprecedented millions of dollars across the map, yet many of those challengers fell quickly on Tuesday night.


Among those who Democrats tossed massive sums of money against was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHumanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE (R-Ky.), who defeated Democrat Amy McGrath to win a seventh term in the Senate. McGrath, who lost a 2018 House bid, raised $88 million compared to $55 million for the longtime Kentucky Republican. McConnell defeated her by a 21-point margin. 


Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Trump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair MORE (R-S.C.) also will return to the Senate after defeating Democrat Jaime Harrison and his mammoth war chest, which Democrats shoveled behind his effort to defeat the incumbent. Harrison set a record for money raised in a contest that was not for president, including his $57 million haul in the third fundraising quarter (The Hill).


The Hill: Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Bush-, Obama-era officials urge Senate to swiftly confirm Biden's DHS pick Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback MORE (R) beats back Democratic challenge in Texas.


The Hill: Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' MORE (R) wins Kansas Senate race.


The Associated Press: Round-up of Senate contests.


HOUSE RACES: While capturing the Senate majority was always seen as an uphill climb for Democrats, the party for months had been bullish that it would gain seats in the House as part of a blue wave. That did not happen on Tuesday. Instead, House Republicans are expected to make gains in the lower chamber.


Democrats nevertheless held their majority (The Hill). However, Republicans flipped at least six seats on Election Day. Five Democrats defeated were freshmen lawmakers.


Headlining the wins for Republicans were a pair of triumphs in South Florida: Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellTrump, Florida complicate Biden approach to Cuba The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread The Memo: Democrats see warning signs beyond 2020 MORE (D) and Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaBiden's new challenge: Holding Trump accountable Trump, Florida complicate Biden approach to Cuba Florida Rep.-elect Elvira Salazar tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D) lost to Republicans Carlos Gimenez and Maria Elvira Salazar. Elsewhere, Republicans also knocked off Reps. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornThe US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it What should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (D-Okla.), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamWe lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money Chamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win Coalition of 7 conservative House Republicans says they won't challenge election results MORE (D-S.C.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.).


Perhaps the most notable loss on the Democratic side was Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel MORE (D-Minn.), the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and a 30-year House veteran. He lost to Republican Michelle Fischbach (The Hill). 


Four years ago, Peterson won reelection by 5 percentage points in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District despite the president defeating Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonEverytown urges Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign over newly uncovered remarks Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed support on Facebook for violence against Democrats McConnell last spoke to Trump on Dec. 15 MORE by a 30-point margin.





A number of contests are still uncalled that could doom a number of other vulnerable Democrats, including Reps. Max RoseMax RoseOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Austin sworn in as nation's first Black Pentagon chief We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money MORE (D-N.Y.), Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerChamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win Iowa losses underscore Democrats' struggles with attracting rural voters Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (D-Iowa) and T.J. Cox (D-Calif.), among others. The result is a far cry from the Democratic wave that swept the party into power in the lower chamber two years ago, having picked up 41 seats in the 2018 midterms. 


Across the aisle, Democrats only flipped two seats, both coming in North Carolina as a result of redistricting. Political prognosticators and Democratic sources expected that the party would gain 10 to 15 seats. 


The Hill: Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyWyoming county votes to censure Liz Cheney for Trump impeachment vote GOP divided over Liz Cheney's future Trust between lawmakers reaches all-time low after Capitol riots MORE (R-Texas) fends off challenge from Wendy Davis to win reelection.


The Hill: GOP Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisCapitol Police tribute turns political Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack House GOP leader says he has 'concerns' over Cheney's impeachment vote MORE fends off Democratic challenger in Illinois.


The Hill: QAnon proponent Marjorie Taylor Greene wins Georgia House race.

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 


Issues to watch for while the election results unfold this week, by Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3883v25


Count every vote, by Sophia Lin Lakin of ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3oXagcS


The House is out.


The Senate will return to work on Nov. 9. 


The president and Vice President Pence have no public events scheduled.


The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube


CORONAVIRUS: The COVID-19 surge, at the heart of voters’ concerns about future governance, is most pronounced in the Midwest and Southwest today. Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota and New Mexico all reported record high hospitalizations this week. Nebraska’s largest hospitals started limiting elective surgeries and looked to bring in nurses from other states to cope with the surge. Hospital officials in Iowa and Missouri warned bed capacity could soon be overwhelmed. Wisconsin health officials reported 5,771 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, a new record. Some cities and communities are experimenting with new mandatory restrictions (The Associated Press). 


> Research: Weather by itself does not affect the spread of COVID-19 outdoors, according to the World Health Organization. Cold weather does not kill the coronavirus (The Associated Press).


> International: Europe continued to see a rising number of infections on Tuesday — including new single-day case records in Russia and Germany — with multiple nations imposing new restrictions in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. As The Associated Press notes, new restrictions went into effect in Greece, Austria and Sweden on Tuesday, while the Netherlands and Hungary both introduced new measures.  … Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte ordered new lockdown provisions, including a ban on public meetings involving more than two people not in the same family, with the possibility of shuttering schools under consideration (Reuters).  

 … In Canada, Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Canadian lawmakers vote to label Proud Boys a terrorist organization Biden talks NATO, climate change in first presidential call with France's Macron MORE said on Tuesday that the nation’s chance to slow the virus’s spread is “closing” (Reuters). However, Ontario announced plans to allow indoor dining and gyms to reopen in Toronto, the province’s largest city (Reuters).   


> Sports: Saturday’s football game between the University of Wisconsin and Purdue University was canceled on Tuesday due to a continued high number of cases in the Wisconsin football program. As of Tuesday, the school has reported 27 active cases, with 15 players and 12 staff members testing positive since Oct. 24 (CBS Sports). … Denver Broncos CEO Joe Ellis and General Manager John Elway both tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday (ESPN).  


SUPREME COURT: Justices will hear oral arguments at 10 a.m., with participation by newcomer Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettRubio reintroduces amendment to block court packing Undoing Trump will take more than executive orders Political peace starts with everyday interactions MORE, in a high-profile LGBTQ rights case. The dispute involves the city of Philadelphia’s refusal to place children for foster care with a Catholic Church-affiliated agency that excludes same-sex couples from serving as foster parents (Reuters).


TRANSPORTATION: Pilot unions are warning that a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposal for Boeing 737 Max training should be improved for safety purposes. The union that represents Southwest Airlines pilots said Monday that the FAA should reduce the number of steps pilots must remember and perform in the event of an emergency, adding that “error rates increase exponentially” with long checklists. The 737 Max models were grounded following deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019 (The Hill).


And finally …  Thirty-four-year-old Canadian rapper, songwriter, actor, producer, entrepreneur and occasional “Saturday Night Live” host Drake surpassed music greats Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder on Tuesday by achieving 21 No. 1 Billboard hits. Drake’s “Laugh Now Cry Later,” featuring rapper Lil Durk, shot to the top of Billboard’s R&B/Hop-Hop songs chart. 


Franklin, who died in 2018, and Wonder each have had 20 songs top the chart (The Associated Press). Drake, pictured last year, also appears on lists of the richest rappers.