- The Washington Times
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Will America tune in again to watch President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden square off Thursday night in their second and last face-to-face debate? A hefty 73 million tuned in to see the pair squabble with one another and moderator Chris Wallace three weeks ago, and the second debate was canceled.

“The presidential debates have become a hot mess,” writes Nate Ashworth, founder of Election Central, which tracks the presidential race and many more.


He cites a new debate rule which will mute an opponent’s microphone until his rival is finished speaking during a two-minute time period at the start of each 15-minute segment of the 90-minute encounter.

Mr. Ashworth is also curious about the change of focus in Thursday’s event. Moderator and NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker has switched the focus from foreign policy to domestic concerns.

“Other reporting, however, opens questions about Welker’s objectivity as a reporter. According to records, Welker had been a registered Democrat up until at least 2012, and Welker’s family has a history of donations exclusively to Democratic candidates including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama,” says Mr. Ashworth, citing a New York Post report on this phenomenon.

He points out that there are “literally thousands of journalists that work in national news organizations that do not have any ties to any politician.”

Is he talking change here?

“It may be time to consider an alternative to the model of finding a single person to act as a debate moderator. The Commission on Presidential Debates can handle things like venue selection and the logistics of the debate, they’re very good at that. However, they seem to be lacking when it comes to vetting a moderator or relying so heavily on the single moderator model. Perhaps it’s time for a panel of moderators or an entirely new format altogether,” Mr. Ashworth concludes.

‘A LANDSLIDE IN THE MAKING’

Many liberal analysts insist that early mail-in voting will yield a victory for Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden once everything is sorted out after Election Day. Not so, says Jesse Watters, co-host of “The Five” on Fox News. Mail-ins may be the key to Trump victory instead.

Mr. Watters is mulling over myriad reports arriving from battleground states and now says that President Trump is leading in the mail-in votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, and very close in Arizona and Florida. And there’s one other telling gauge.

“If you just look at the early vote-by-mail, this is Trump landslide in the making,” declares Mr. Watters, also citing evidence that new voter registrations favor the Republican Party over the Democratic Party in Florida, North Carolina and Arizona, according to a new analysis by JP Morgan.

A PERFECT PITCH

President Trump still has the ability to cut to the chase and articulate voter woes in pivotal states, and in a reassuring way.

“To the great people of New York, California, and Illinois, your states are way too highly taxed. There’s big crime, people fleeing, and just about every other problem you can have. Vote Trump, I will turn them around for you. Fast!” tweeted Mr. Trump on Tuesday.

A MOMENT WITH CATHOLIC VOTERS

An EWTN News and Real Clear Opinion Research poll of 1,490 Catholics in the U.S. who identify as “likely voters” finds that 60% are less likely to support a political candidate who favors abortion at any time during pregnancy. Another 59% agree that abortion is “morally wrong” while 52% are less likely to support a candidate who backs taxpayer-funded abortion.

And one more: Just 15% would support abortion being available to a woman at anytime in her entire pregnancy.

This demographic is complicated, meanwhile. While President Trump trails Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden among Catholic voters, the race gets very close in battleground states. In addition, Mr. Trump has a 47% approval rating, and 93% of the respondents are concerned about the economy and jobs — the president’s strongest issue. More numbers and information in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

YOUR HANDY MEDIA UPDATE

One media analyst is accusing The New York Times of producing “panic porn” as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Stephen Kruiser, a senior columnist for PJ Media, is irked at the Gray Lady for offering coverage with dramatic embellishments — like referring to the predicted increase in coronavirus infections as “another dangerous, uncontrolled surge.”

Mr. Kruiser has some advice for the Times.

“Reporting statistics is fine. Using words like ‘dangerous’ and ‘uncontrolled’ is propaganda solely intended to keep people panicky,” he writes.

“Remember, the only hope Joe Biden has of winning the election is if voters don’t think about the economy because they’re too distracted by the fact that they think the ‘rona is going to kill them before the next morning’s breakfast,” Mr. Kruiser notes, advising reporters to simply check the CDC’s Twitter page for current and accurate updates about the pandemic.

FOXIFIED

Fox News remains the most-watched network in cable TV for the 41st straight week, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Fox News averaged 4.4 million prime-time viewers last week, followed by MSNBC with 2.3, ESPN (2.1 million), TBS (2 million) and CNN (1.9 million).

Prime-time hosts Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson continue to be the ratings kingpins, each drawing 5.1 million viewers. Nielsen also reveals that Laura Ingraham drew her largest audience in the program’s history — 4.4 million viewers.

POLL DU JOUR

86% of Catholic registered voters in the U.S. voted in the 2016 presidential election.

48% of this group voted for Donald Trump, 46% for Hillary Clinton, 5% for “someone else.”

45% of all Catholic voters say they are Democrats, 36% are Republicans and 18% are independents.

28% say they are conservative; 12% are moderate, leaning conservative; 24% are moderate; 10% moderate, leaning liberal; and 26% liberal.

Source: An EWTN News and Real Clear Opinion Research poll of 1,490 Catholics in the U.S. who identify as “likely voters.” The survey was conducted Oct. 5-11.

• Helpful information to jharper@washingtontimes.com


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