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 TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' US officials testify on domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack 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 ErnstGraham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate braces for daylong brawl on elections bill Top female GOP senator compares Cheney ousting to 'cancel culture' MORE (R) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senator urges Biden to withdraw support for COVID vaccine patent waiver Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals House conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill 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 hears from Biden's high-profile judicial nominees for first time Senate Democrats take aim at 'true lender' interest rate rule Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign 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 CollinsSenate votes to repeal OCC 'true lender' rule Top female GOP senator compares Cheney ousting to 'cancel culture' Utah county GOP censures Romney over Trump impeachment vote 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 LoefflerGeorgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Loeffler asks Georgia attorney general to investigate Raffensperger over 2020 election Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race MORE (R) and Raphael Warnock (D) will face off in early January to fill the remainder of former Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler group targets Democrats with billboards around baseball stadium Warnock raises nearly M since January victory Five big takeaways on Georgia's new election law MORE’s term in office. Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsPoll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor The Hill's Morning Report - Census winners and losers; House GOP huddles Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race 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 McSallyEx-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds Arizona state senator announces bid for Kirkpatrick's seat Democratic Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick says she won't seek reelection MORE (R) in Arizona, completing a wire-to-wire victory, while former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperLobbying world DNC taps veteran campaign hands for communications staff Harris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee MORE (D) unseated Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 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 McConnellSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Republican governor of Arkansas says 'Trump is dividing our party' 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 GrahamGraham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Lindsey Graham: 'In this fight it is clear — Israel is the good guy and Hamas is the bad' 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 CornynBiden-McConnell cold war unlikely to end at White House There will be no new immigration law under Biden, unless he changes course Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls MORE (R) beats back Democratic challenge in Texas.


The Hill: Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallTennessee cuts off 0 federal unemployment supplement Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Bad jobs report amplifies GOP cries to end 0 benefits boost 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-PowellHispanic Democrats slam four Republicans over Jan. 6 vote in new ads Colombia's protests are threat, test for US Trump, Florida complicate Biden approach to Cuba MORE (D) and Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaCrist launches bid for Florida governor, seeking to recapture his old job Biden under pressure to spell out Cuba policy It's time for a second Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health MORE (D) lost to Republicans Carlos Gimenez and Maria Elvira Salazar. Elsewhere, Republicans also knocked off Reps. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornWhy does Rep. Johnson oppose NASA's commercial human landing system? The US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it What should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? MORE (D-Okla.), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamJoe Cunningham to enter race for South Carolina governor Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' Lobbying world 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 Peterson Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Six ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 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 ClintonSchumer: 'The big lie is spreading like a cancer' among GOP America departs Afghanistan as China arrives Young, diverse voters fueled Biden victory over Trump 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 FinkenauerGOP hammers Democrats over Iowa Democrat's election challenge Chamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win Iowa losses underscore Democrats' struggles with attracting rural voters 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 RoyRepublican says Stefanik not conservative enough to be GOP leader Five takeaways on the House's return to budget earmarks Hillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech MORE (R-Texas) fends off challenge from Wendy Davis to win reelection.


The Hill: GOP Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisCapitol Police watchdog calls for boosting countersurveillance House Republicans request hearing with Capitol Police Board for first time since 1945 Bipartisan lawmakers weigh in on post-pandemic health care costs 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 TrudeauBiden to record video message for 'Vax Live' concert Pranksters trick Canadian lawmakers with fake Navalny aide: report Trudeau voices 'tremendous confidence' in AstraZeneca vaccine after first Canadian death linked to shot 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 BarrettCourt watchers buzz about Breyer's possible retirement Five hot-button issues Biden didn't mention in his address to Congress Conservative justices split in ruling for immigrant fighting deportation 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.