Election Daily: Hurricane politics and a new Trump conspiracy

Maclean's Bulldog, Oct. 7: Clinton rests and a storm is brewing. Our daily roundup from the U.S. election campaign trail.

Two small boys balance themselves on the rail of a border fence during an event organized by the Border Network for Human Rights, on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/AP)

Two small boys balance themselves on the rail of a border fence during an event organized by the Border Network for Human Rights, on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/AP)

Oct. 7, 2016: Hillary Clinton has taken some time of the campaign trail to prepare for this Sunday’s second presidential debate, but her team hasn’t stopped arguing over hurricane politics in Florida. Donald Trump, meanwhile, found a new conspiracy theory—border-jumping, voting illegal immigrants—as his stock fell even further in the polls. What won’t help is a newly unveiled video from 2005 where he has some pretty crass things to say about women.

Here’s our daily U.S. election Bulldog, rounding up what you need to know about what happened on this day on the campaign trail. 

A new Trump conspiracy theory

Remember several weeks ago when  Trump was losing big in the polls and he suggested the election was going to be rigged? He added another layer to that conspiracy theory on Friday, after a member of the National Border Patrol Council—a union group that endorsed Trump earlier this year—claimed that agents have been instructed not to deport illegal immigrants so they can cast their vote in November. “They’re letting people pour in to the country so they can go and vote,” Trump said.

A Border Patrol spokesman later clarified that there is no pouring in of illegals for the purpose of voting and definitely agents aren’t being told to let them through.


Hot microphone

While travelling with Access Hollywood back in 2005, a hot mic caught Trump saying some pretty lewd things about women. In the clip obtained by the Washington Post and NBC, Trump talks about unsuccessfully trying to have sex with a married women, mentions how being a star he can do anything to women—eg. “grab them by the p***y,” he says—and how if compelled by the beauty of a women he’ll just start kissing without waiting.

In a statement released Friday, Trump said: “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”

Debate prep

Clinton has been less present on the campaign trail in recent days. Her team said she’s preparing for Sunday’s second presidential debate, but Trump used her absence to take another shot at her stamina during his own Town Hall-style event Thursday night in New Hampshire. “Do you really think that Hillary Clinton is debate-prepping for three or four days?” Trump asked. “She’s resting and I want to be with the American people.”

We’ll see Sunday whether Clinton’s debate prep pays off—like it did last time.

More emails!

The seemingly bottomless trove of Clinton emails continues as the U.S. State Department announced it will release another 350 pages of them, as part of the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private server. According to CNN there are about 15,000 emails total, but two-thirds of them have been deemed personal and therefore won’t be released publicly. Then, there are a bunch of duplicates among the remaining third. Even if the latest batch of emails contains nothing suspicious on the part of Clinton’s behaviour, the scandal simply won’t end—no matter how sick and tired Bernie Sanders might be of hearing about them.

Not seeing Trump’s light

Trump has never been super popular among Evangelicals—a twice divorced admitted adulterer isn’t normally their first pick—but polls have shown that despite their tepid support, the majority are still inclined to vote Republican come November. In the last three presidential elections, the Republican candidate got anywhere between 74 and 78 per cent of the Evangelical vote.

That could change, however. A group of almost 80 American Evangelical leaders posted on their concerns with Donald Trump.

“Mr. Trump has fueled white American nationalism with xenophobic appeals and religious intolerance at the expense of gospel values, democratic principles, and important international relationships,” they wrote. “We…simply will not tolerate the racial, religious, and gender bigotry that Donald Trump has consistently and deliberately fueled, no matter how else we choose to vote or not to vote.”

They had their chance

Despite many Florida-natives being impacted by Hurricane Matthew, the state’s governor has declined to extend the voter registration deadline. “People have had time to register,” said Gov Rick Scott, a Republican. Call it hurricane politics. At any rate, Florida’s deadline still hasn’t passed yet either. Locals have until Tuesday, Oct. 11, but it might not be worth sticking around to register—especially not if this weather report is to be believed.

Independence Day

Trump needs to get independent voters behind him again if he wants to become president. In mid-September, a Quinnipac University survey had Trump leading Clinton by seven points among independents, but the same survey released Friday had Clinton now leading Trump by 14 points.

Among all likely voters, Clinton has now opened up a 5-point national lead, which might explain why polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight said Clinton has about an 80 per cent chance to win the presidency based on current survey data. (Less than two weeks ago, they said Clinton was only 55 per cent likely to win.)

Who endorsed this message?

The Trump campaign has pulled the plug on $16 million worth of TV ads that were to air next week in eight battleground states, according to Politico, including Florida, Ohio and Colorado. Why on earth would his campaign pull ads with a month left until Election Day? According to one of Trump’s advisor’s on Twitter:

Where the increase ad buys will be targeted is still to be seen.


Outworking Trump

Trump often boasts about his long workdays and impressive work ethic. But when it comes to each campaign’s ground game, Clinton can boast her army of workers outnumbers Trump’s by a five-to-one ratio. According to an NBC analysis of Federal Election Commission filings, Clinton has 4,200-plus paid staff, including 3,000 of them directly employed with Democratic parties in 13 key battleground states. Trump’s total paid roster is approximately 880 people.

Required reading: How to Rebuild the Republican Party (The Atlantic)

…And tune in on Sunday at 9 pm for our live coverage of the second Trump-Clinton debate.