With eight days to go and 60 million ballots already cast, Joe Biden appears to have a commanding lead. OZY’sexclusive prediction model in partnership with data firm 0ptimus — which takes into account polls, economic conditions and more — projects 318 electoral votes for Biden, well above the necessary 270. President Donald Trump needs to sweep states that are leaning Democrat, but if Biden takes the toss-ups we could see a nearly 400-electoral vote landslide. Still, our model gives Trump a 1-in-7 chance of pulling out another stunner. Want more insight? Don’t miss OZY CEO and veteran political journalist Carlos Watson break it down tonight on The 11th Hour With Brian Williams on MSNBC.
The most precious resource a campaign has is time. So peeking at travel schedules for the coming days tells you all you need to know: Biden’s in Georgia Tuesday, while Kamala Harris heads to Texas Friday. Trump’s spending lots of time in Pennsylvania, but he’ll visit Omaha Tuesday to salvage an imperiled electoral vote (Nebraska awards them based on congressional district). Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence, pressing on despite his staff’s coronavirus outbreak, is visiting South Carolina to prop up struggling Sen. Lindsey Graham — who’s tied with Democrat Jaime Harrison in one of the reddest of states. What does it all mean? Republicans are playing defense deep in their own territory in the campaign's final days.
That’s not to say this election is in the bag. In fact, Democrats could be making the same mistakes as four years ago with a key part of their base: Black voters. AsOZY’s Nick Fouriezos reports from Ohio, leaders there are sounding the alarm that the state Democratic Party and Biden campaign are not investing in finding, persuading and turning out Black voters — even though low Black turnout was a major factor in Hillary Clinton losing the election. As Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes puts it: “We didn’t have the capacity or resources because they’re giving them all to the white women groups to have wine parties.”
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Spain joined France in instituting a curfew and Italy reported a record 19,640 new cases Saturday as the second wave of COVID-19 intensified in Western Europe. Bulgaria’s prime minister also admitted that he’s tested positive. In Ukraine, officials wearing protective gear went door to door collecting ballots to let sick citizens vote in local elections. Meanwhile, hospitalizations hit a two-month high in the U.S. and Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows admitted, “We’re not going to control the pandemic.” He said mitigation must rely on treatment and vaccination rather than other prevention strategies.
Staunchly conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett is expected to sail through a confirmation vote tonight, cementing a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court majority. The court ruled last week that reluctant Pennsylvania Republicans must count mail-in ballots received within three days of Election Day — but instead of accepting that ruling, the state GOP is now resubmitting the case, hoping a preelection ruling with Barrett’s vote will go their way this time. Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who’s facing a tough reelection bid in Maine, says she won’t vote for Barrett’s nomination. Still, her one protest vote isn’t likely to make a difference.
In Santiago’s Plaza Italia, “rebirth” was projected onto a skyscraper as tens of thousands of Chileans below celebrated the overwhelming passage of a new constitution last night. Exit polls showed nearly 4 in 5 voters wanted to replace the one written during the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet that ended in 1990. The change comes a year after protests sparked by transit fare increases grew into a massive, sometimes violent, movement against inequality. Many hope that will be remedied by a new constitution, which will be drafted by an elected group of citizens — thus excluding any current office-holders.
4. Facebook Prepares ‘At-Risk Country’ Plan Ahead of Nov. 3
Using digital tools developed for use in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, the platform announced it may restrict content in new ways ahead of the U.S. election. That could mean Facebook artificially slows sharing of certain posts or restricts the type of content users can see. Past regulation attempts on social media have caused political outcry on both sides of the spectrum: Republicans recently criticized Facebook for limiting the spread of an unconfirmed New York Post story involving Joe Biden’s son, while last week it was discovered that the site had choked traffic to left-leaning source Mother Jones.
Watch This: On today’s episode of The Carlos Watson Show, Justin Simien — famous for creating the show Dear White People — talks about his new movie Bad Hair, a horror movie about a blood-sucking weave that has political relevance you may not expect. The Hollywood "overnight" success tells Carlos how embracing his Blackness and queerness helped him break through … and shares advice for other young storytellers. Watch it today on YouTube.
That’ll get you on the naughty list. The Department of Health and Human Services has scrapped its planned $250 million campaign to promote the COVID-19 vaccine using Santa Claus impersonators, which would have included early access to the vaccine for those playing not just Santa, but also Mrs. Claus and elves. The campaign to “defeat despair” would also have included public service announcements starring celebrities, hoping to overcome American skepticism of an inoculation. Recent polls indicate only about half of Americans intend to get a vaccine if one becomes available.
Don’t trust the fake nudes media. Bots on messaging service Telegram are reportedly using deepfake technology to create naked images of women from clothed photos of them. Users can submit photos and pay a fee to see the naked version. This technology surfaced last year as the software DeepNude, though its creator swiftly removed access after negative media attention. Now Italian authorities are investigating the use of this reverse-engineered software — especially considering some of the images seem to be of underage girls — and will probe whether Telegram is violating data protection regulations.
3. How Hungary’s ‘Charm Cannon’ Covers Its Authoritarian Bent
President Viktor Orban’s notoriously iron-fisted rule has raised eyebrows around the world, particularly after he cited the pandemic as reason to let him rule by decree. But Justice Minister Judit Varga’s onslaught of charm — which includes playing violin in a viral video and providing cover for criticisms of a gender gap in Orban’s regime — has stymied the opposition and enabled her to rise quickly to a top post by the age of 40, OZY reports. Still, COVID-19 doesn’t care about charm: Varga’s been sidelined in Orban’s Cabinet since testing positive last week.
The iconic New York City bookstore the Strand posted a plea for help on Twitter Friday, with owner Nancy Bass Wyden — wife of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden — saying sales have fallen 70 percent due to the coronavirus. Lines formed around the block and the store’s website reportedly crashed as many leapt to support the 93-year-old institution, which got a pandemic relief loan of as much as $2 million earlier this year. Still, many questioned whether the Strand deserved help, pointing out that Bass Wyden herself purchased Amazon stock during the crisis while laying off 188 employees.
When his father and coach died of COVID-19 in July, top-ranked MMA fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov promised his mother he’d get out of the game. And he did Saturday, laying down his gloves for good after one last fight. The 32-year-old triumphed over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi, despite having a broken foot. Even his vanquished opponent had kind words for the Russian-born Nurmagomedov, who went 29-0 in 12 years of fighting and left his gloves in the ring after Saturday’s fight: "I know he made his father so proud," Gaethje said.