Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1. 2020 Elections: Republicans On Offense In Senate Elections
Republicans are running short of time, money, and options to stop Democrats from winning a majority of seats in the US Senate in an election that is now only two weeks away. President Donald Trump’s slide in opinion polls weighs on Senate Republicans in 10 competitive races, while Democrats are playing defense over two seats, increasing the odds of Trump’s Republicans losing their 53-47 majority. That gives Democrats a good chance of adding a Senate majority to their control of the House of Representatives, which could either stymie President Trump in a second term or usher in a new era of Democratic dominance in Washington if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins the White House. “The Republican Party probably has to start thinking about what it can salvage between now and Nov. 3,” said Republican strategist Rory Cooper, a one-time aide to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. While demographic changes were long expected to work against Republican incumbents, including North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, Arizona’s Martha McSally, and Colorado’s Cory Gardner, powerful Republican senators, including South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Iowa’s Joni Ernst, are also facing strong challengers.
2. 2020 Election: Early Voting, Absentee Votes, Exceed 2016 Total In Majority Of States
Early Voting counts show a record level of civic participation before Election Day. The tens of millions of ballots already cast show highly enthusiastic voters are making sure their votes are counted amid a pandemic. Democrats hope this energy leads to a decisive victory in the Presidential election. Registered Democrats are outvoting Republicans by a large margin in states that provide partisan breakdowns of early ballots. Republicans, however, are more likely to tell pollsters they intend to vote in person, and the Republican party is counting on an overwhelming share of the Election Day vote going to President Donald Trump. Voting before Election Day has been expanded this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, an option that more than 60 percent of registered voters want, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll in September.
3. Coronavirus Relief Negotiations Stall As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Comes Out Against Proposed Relief Bill
Congressional negotiations on a substantial Coronavirus relief bill took a modest step forward on October 20, though time is running out and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, President Donald Trump’s most powerful Senate ally, is pressing the White House against going forward. Senator McConnell on October 20 told fellow Republicans that he has warned the Trump administration not to divide Republicans by sealing a lopsided $2 trillion relief deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the election — even as he publicly said he would slate any such agreement for a vote. Pelosi’s office said talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on October 19 and 20 were productive. However, other veteran lawmakers said there is still too much work to do and not enough time to do it to enact a relief bill by Election Day.
4. In Victory For Voting Rights Advocates, US Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Pennsylvania’s Mail-In Ballot Counting Procedures
The Supreme Court turned down an appeal from Pennsylvania’s Republican leaders on October 19 and left in place a ruling that says late-arriving mail ballots will be counted as long as they were mailed by election day. The justices were split 4-4, with four conservatives on one side, and Chief Justice John Roberts joining liberals on the other. Both of President Donald Trump’s appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, sided with the Pennsylvania Republican party and felt that it was justified for the Supreme Court to hear their argument. The decision has the effect of upholding a state supreme court ruling that allowed for counting mail ballots that arrive up to three days after November 3 as long as they are postmarked or mailed by election day. Pennsylvania is a battleground state, crucial to both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Election officials anticipate the outcome there may turn on the nearly 3 million ballots that are likely to be sent by mail. The October 19 decision is a victory for Democrats and voting rights advocates. They feared postal delays could result in mail ballots arriving after election day. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh said they would have granted the appeals filed by Republican leaders in the state legislature and the Pennsylvania Republican Party, which said mail ballots should not be counted unless they arrived by election day. It takes a majority to issue such an order, and with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month, the court now has just eight justices.