Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Barrett Is Seated at a Pivotal Moment

By Giovanni Russonello

Amy Coney Barrett joins the court as the conservative majority limits ballot-counting in Wisconsin. It’s Tuesday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

Where things stand

Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court yesterday by a deeply divided Senate, with every Republican except Susan Collins supporting her nomination.

Democrats made a number of symbolic displays of objection, trying and failing to delay debate and force Republicans to wait until after the election. Instead, Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, jammed Barrett’s nomination through the Senate within 38 days of the death of her predecessor, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

President Trump held an evening swearing-in ceremony, wasting no time in putting Barrett on the bench as voting-related cases continue to reach the court. The roughly 200-person event, held at the White House, was reminiscent of the president’s nomination ceremony for Barrett last month, which experts consider a possible superspreader event.

Joe Biden is showing signs of confidence, and he’s planning to tour the country’s battleground states in the final week of the campaign with an urgency that he has not generally shown this year. Biden announced yesterday that he would head to Georgia and Iowa this week, making a bold play for two states that Trump won handily in 2016. And he said he would head to Florida, Wisconsin and possibly other states too.

In Iowa, where Trump won by almost 10 points four years ago, the large rural population was widely thought to give the president an immovable advantage. But its pro-Trump governor, Kim Reynolds, has been widely panned for her handling of the coronavirus, exacerbating voters’ frustration with the president’s own failure to confront it.

Biden also made an uncommonly candid pronouncement for a presidential candidate yesterday, declaring himself confident that he would win Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. “I am not overconfident about anything,” he said during a stop at a voter center in Chester, Pa. “I just want to make sure we can earn every vote possible.”

Both candidates were in Pennsylvania, a key battleground, as the state reported a spike in daily virus cases on Monday. Biden has maintained a sizable polling lead there for months.

Speaking in Allentown, Trump boasted about what he called his great standing among suburban women, immediately after rattling off insults toward several prominent women in politics and the news media, including Senator Kamala Harris.

A Times/Siena College poll of Texas found Trump maintaining a four-point edge in what is a do-or-die state for him. Biden failed to match Hillary Clinton’s margin among Latino voters, and was unable to cut into Trump’s wide lead among rural white voters, as he has managed to do in other parts of the country.

In early voting over the past two weeks, Texas may have upturned its reputation as a low-turnout state. More than seven million people — over 80 percent of total turnout four years ago — had voted by mail or in person as of Sunday.

Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that he would pour money into a last-minute TV ad spree in Texas and Ohio, helping Biden in two states that would represent powerful upsets if he won. The total donation amount is expected to equal close to $15 million.

The Supreme Court last night rejected a Democratic request to extend the deadline for counting mail-in ballots in Wisconsin, cutting off the collection of mailed ballots at 8:30 p.m. on election night.

The 5-to-3 decision, announced just minutes before Barrett’s confirmation vote, found the conservative wing united in its opposition to expanding enfranchisement after a string of voting-related decisions in which Chief Justice John Roberts had joined the liberal wing.

Democrats and civil rights groups had filed the lawsuit to extend the deadline for six days, arguing that the pandemic would drive up mail participation and that thousands of ballots were likely to be received after Election Day.

Photo of the day

A screen showed a video of the candidates’ final debate as President Trump spoke yesterday at a rally in Allentown, Pa.

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