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Burned before by Trump, Democrats cling to not-so-comfortable lead

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on Sunday in Macon, Ga., after a campaign rally. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Nicholas Kamm

High anxiety

The last wave of pre-election polls is showing Democrats where they've been all year — ahead of Republicans on the generic congressional ballot and favored to win a majority in the House. With that new power, they could land telling blows to Donald Trump's presidency.

But for some there is also a sense of dread — a fear that Trump will pull out another upset and stun them on Election Day with what could be described, borrowing the purported words of the late Yogi Berra, as "deja vu all over again."

The Democratic lead was once in the double digits. Now it's in the high single digits — 8 points and 7 points, respectively, in the ABC News/Washington Post and NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls out Sunday. The margin has eroded since Trump used the Brett Kavanaugh hearings to stir up Republicans and a migrant caravan to launch a fear-storming tour in the final weeks.

Democrats haunted by 2016 are literally having nightmares, reports Politico. “We're kind of just in the bed-wetting phase now" and “There’s some PTSD,” said Democratic pollster John Anzalone.

At Vassar College and Brown University, college Democrats have moved their results-watching parties to different venues than two years ago to avoid triggering upsetting memories.

A CBS News poll found the likeliest scenario in the House is a narrow Democratic majority — 225 to 210. But NBC News said historic levels of turnout on both sides makes predictions tricky.

Trump is predicting Republicans will do "really well" in the Senate — thanks to him — but has conceded the GOP may lose the House because "I can't go everywhere." And if that happens, what next? "My whole life, you know what I say? 'Don’t worry about it, I’ll just figure it out,' " Trump said. For more, see Newsday's stories by Candice Ferrette and Tom Brune.

The GOP's unhealthy choices

The Democrats' biggest weapon in the midterm elections has been the health care issue, and Republicans handed it to them, writes The Washington Post.

The Obamacare repeal that Republicans tried to get through Congress last year wasn't popular to begin with, but GOP leaders made it worse by caving in to hard-line conservative demands to remove protections of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. That's provided the dominant attack line in Democratic ads.

Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi called Trump's pulling of the alarm on a migrants' "invasion" a "desperate" effort "to change the conversation from their assault on Americans’ health care to the baseless fear of some families 1,000 miles away from the border." For more on the dominant issues in the campaign, see Emily Ngo's story for Newsday.

More head-cracking, please?

Now that more than a week has passed since the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the letter-bomb mailings, Trump seems to be getting comfortable again with the notion of violence against his foes, as when he encouraged his backers to beat protesters during the 2016 campaign.

At a Georgia, rally, Trump suggested the Antifa groups, who have sometimes attacked right-wingers, get off too easy. They have "little arms," not strong arms, and have to resort to using clubs, Trump said. He then added: "Where are the Bikers for Trump? Where are the police? Where are the military? Where are ICE? Where are the Border Patrol?"

Whatever did they mean by that?

Right after Ron DeSantis, Trump's favored Republican candidate for governor in Florida, won his primary, he urged voters not to "monkey this up" by supporting Democrat Andrew Gillum, who would be the state's first African-American governor.

Trump's Agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, told a rally for DeSantis Saturday that the election "is so cotton-pickin' important to the state of Florida" and "I hope you all don’t mess it up.” Trump, at a separate rally with DeSantis, said, "Andrew Gillum is not equipped to be your governor. He’s just not equipped. It’s not for him. It’s not for him."

The lies have it

The Washington Post's fact-checkers have updated their tally of Trump's false or misleading claims as president. It's now 6,420, with 1,419 of them in the seven weeks leading up to the midterms.

Some are bigger than others. He is painting an over-the-top, apocalyptic vision of Democrats wanting to erase the nation’s borders, give sanctuary to killers, destroy the economy, obliterate Medicare, unleash a wave of violent crime and transform the United States into Venezuela with socialism run amok, the Post reported.

And then there's Oprah Winfrey, who has been campaigning for the Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, Stacey Abrams. Trump repeated a false claim that he was friends with Winfrey and appeared on "the last week" of her show, adding a new twist that she considered him one of "the five most important people." In reality, his final appearance on Winfrey's show was more than three months before the May 25, 2011, finale.

What else is happening:

  • Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as daughter Ivanka have been out campaigning for Republican candidates, but first lady Melania Trump, a presence in 2016, has stayed off the trail, CNN notes.
  • Prospective Democratic committee chairs say that if they get control of either house of Congress, they will seek a look at Trump's never-disclosed tax returns, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said on ABC's "This Week" that his party still has a "narrow path" to winning the Senate.
  • The number of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 who have cast ballots early has surpassed turnout levels from the last midterm elections in just about every state, reports The Hill.
  • Banks and big companies accused of lawbreaking have been able to negotiate lighter penalties since the Trump administration took office, The New York Times reports.
  • In an interview with "Axios on HBO," Trump said he was more than "bothered" by the civilian casualties caused by U.S.-supplied Saudi arms in Yemen. "Certainly I wouldn't be having people that don't know how to use the weapons shooting at buses with children," he said.


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