Last updated on October 31, 2020
Apparently, with four days left, time has run out for the 2016-style October Surprise. Only a major terror attack(s) could make a shift in what looks to be a trending Biden victory.
There’s plenty of spookery in how Giuliani and Bannon developed the pre-impeachment attempts to sway the 2020 election. Lots of “gang that couldn’t shoot straight” to go around until next week or until some enterprising journalist with intelligence agency contacts works through the international disinformation.
Scorched earth will arrive, regardless, with a vindictive Trump still on the path to the bunker. This election must be “too big to rig”, so GOTV.
For Giuliani and Bannon, these late-game, underhanded stunts may be motivated by more than their political desires. Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are reportedly investigating whether Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine and have also probed payments he received from Florida businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were indicted last year for illegally funneling money to Republican political candidates. In September, prosecutors charged Parnas and another man with fraud for allegedly pilfering funds from a business they never launched that supposedly would offer insurance against fraud. The firm paid Giuliani $500,000 for unspecified consulting work. Guiliani has denied wrongdoing and recently said he thinks that the federal investigation into him “is the work of George Soros,” the billionaire philanthropist. Giuliani could well have a personal stake in who controls the Justice Department in the coming months—and who controls the presidential pardon power.Ditto for Bannon. He was arrested in August on a $28 million yacht owned by Guo and charged with conspiring to defraud hundreds of thousands of people who donated more than $25 million to fund the construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border. Bannon has pleaded not guilty. Guo has said the charges against Bannon are part of a Chinese government plot to “take Mr. Bannon down.” And there’s more: The Wall Street Journal has reported that the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the New York state attorney general’s office are investigating whether GTV Media, owned by Guo and directed by Bannon, violated securities laws and bilked investors while raising $300 million in a private offering last spring. (GTV Media said in August that it had carried out the private placement under the guidance of its lawyers and that “all of the raised funds are intact.” Guo and Bannon did not comment.)
One month before a purported leak of files from Hunter Biden's laptop, a fake “intelligence” document about him went viral on the right-wing internet, asserting an elaborate conspiracy theory involving former Vice President Joe Biden's son and business in China.
The document, a 64-page composition that was later disseminated by close associates of President Donald Trump, appears to be the work of a fake “intelligence firm” called Typhoon Investigations, according to researchers and public documents.
The author of the document, a self-identified Swiss security analyst named Martin Aspen, is a fabricated identity, according to analysis by disinformation researchers, who also concluded that Aspen's profile picture was created with an artificial intelligence face generator. The intelligence firm that Aspen lists as his previous employer said that no one by that name had ever worked for the company and that no one by that name lives in Switzerland, according to public records and social media searches.
One of the original posters of the document, a blogger and professor named Christopher Balding, took credit for writing parts of it when asked about it and said Aspen does not exist.
Despite the document's questionable authorship and anonymous sourcing, its claims that Hunter Biden has a problematic connection to the Communist Party of China have been used by people who oppose the Chinese government, as well as by far-right influencers, to baselessly accuse candidate Joe Biden of being beholden to the Chinese government.
Christopher Balding is an associate professor at the Fulbright University Vietnam after nine years at the HSBC Business School of Peking University Graduate School in Shenzhen, China.
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) October 29, 2020
— Isaac Stone Fish (@isaacstonefish) October 29, 2020
— ≡l≡v≡nth (@3L3V3NTH) October 30, 2020
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) October 29, 2020
— Chris Espinosa (@cdespinosa) October 30, 2020
The RealClearPolitics average of national polls pegs Biden’s lead at 7.4 points, 51.1 to 43.7 percent. But that’s a less discriminating measure, including as it does some mediocre surveys, some that seemed congenitally slanted toward one side or the other, and some that would be better utilized lining hamster cages. The FiveThirtyEight modeled average of national polls, which is more selective than the RCP average but still includes some surveys that I consider rather sketchy, puts the Biden lead at 8.8 points, 52 to 43.2 percent.
I believe his actual lead is more like 9 or 10 points, based on the higher-quality, live-telephone-interview national polls conducted since the first debate, as well as the gold standard of online polling, the Pew Research Center’s mammoth poll of 11,929 voters released two weeks ago.
— Charlie Cook (@CharlieCookDC) October 30, 2020
The House looks likely to see Republicans lose a few more seats on top of the 40 they dropped in 2018. If the over/under is 10 seats, I tend to come down on the higher side.
The Senate is increasingly less a case of whether Democrats will take a majority, but how large will it be. The chances of the GOP keeping its losses down to a seat or two are dropping; I am thinking that a five- or six-seat gain is becoming highly possible. The three most likely GOP incumbents to lose are Martha McSally in Arizona, Cory Gardner in Colorado, and Thom Tillis in North Carolina. Right on the bubble are Joni Ernst in Iowa, Susan Collins in Maine, and both Georgia seats. A touch back from that are Steve Daines in Montana and Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, as well as the open seat in Kansas. All three states are likely to be won by Trump, so look for a possible repeat of 2016, when every Senate race went to the same party that won the presidential race there—the first time that had happened since the start of direct Senate elections in 1914.
What I am wondering is if this will be one or the rarest species of national elections—a wave election in a presidential year ending in a zero, meaning it will reverberate for a decade thanks to the coming redistricting. There are not a dozen Republican Senate seats that could fall, as Democrats suffered in 1980, but Joe Biden may well replicate Ronald Reagan’s 10-point victory over President Carter. The odds are it will be a bit less, perhaps in the 53 to 44 percent range, with 3 percent going to independents and write-ins, half of the number from four years ago.
We’ll soon know. It won’t be long now.
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