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Good morning. The U.S. hits 90,000 daily infections. The wine industry has a sexual harassment problem. And the political map has shifted.
American politics can sometimes feel static. For the last two decades, the two parties have each won at least 45 percent of the vote in every presidential election, and a small number of swing states have determined the outcome.
But that surface stability has hidden a lot of churn: American politics has actually changed a lot lately.
Consider that Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, will be campaigning today in Texas, a state that President Trump won by nine percentage points four years ago and that Barack Obama lost by 16 points in 2012. This year, however, Texas is a swing state. “It’s a real race,” Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, told my colleague Jonathan Martin.
One of Harris’s three stops adds to the intrigue. In addition to Fort Worth and Houston, she will be visiting the smaller city of McAllen, in South Texas, where Joe Biden is struggling to do as well with Latino voters as Hillary Clinton did in 2016. If somebody had told you a few years ago that Trump would be doing better with Latino and Black voters in 2020 than in 2016 and yet still losing his re-election race, would you have believed it?
It’s happened because voters have become less polarized by race during Trump’s presidency. His appeals to white nationalism haven’t worked with most white voters. Since 2016, white voters, both with and without college degrees, have shifted toward the Democrats.
But Trump’s white nationalism hasn’t driven away many voters of color who didn’t already oppose him. Instead, his confrontational style and tough talk on crime and national security seem to have appealed to some Latino and Black voters, as The Times’s Nate Cohn notes. This data, Nate writes, “suggests a widening gap between the views of progressive activists and the rank-and-file of nonwhite voters.”
A large national poll released yesterday showed Trump winning 9 percent of Black voters this year, up from 8 percent in 2016, and 35 percent of Latino voters, up from 29 percent. If Trump manages to win re-election, support from a slice of Latino voters will probably be a key reason.
Of course, four days before Election Day, Trump is a substantial underdog, thanks to Biden’s broad strength: He’s winning women, younger voters and voters of color and holding his own among men, older voters and white voters.
Biden can win in an orthodox way, by flipping the three industrial states that were known as the blue wall until Trump won them in 2016: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Or Biden can prevail by winning one or more Sun Belt states that no Democratic presidential candidate has won in more than two decades, like Arizona, Georgia and Texas. He could also all but clinch the presidency by winning Florida. And in a very close race, the two states that award electoral votes based partly on congressional-district results — Maine and Nebraska — may also matter.
The biggest takeaway is that you shouldn’t assume the future course of American politics is predetermined. After all, a Democrat could win Georgia and Texas this year, while a Republican wins part of the so-called blue wall. Imagine how much more could change in the next four or eight years.
For more: The Times’s Richard Fausset explains how Georgia turned into a battleground state.
THE LATEST NEWS
The 2020 Campaign
The U.S. recorded more than 90,000 new coronavirus cases yesterday, a new daily high. That’s more than one new case every second, The Times’s Mike Baker notes.
The growth is worst in the Midwest and Southeast, as this map shows.
Some good news: Survival rates among severe virus patients are improving. At N.Y.U.’s hospital system, the death rate dropped to 8 percent in August, from 26 percent in March.
other big stories
Lives Lived: Bob Biggs sensed opportunity in the Mohawk-filled mosh pits of the Los Angeles punk movement in the late 1970s. He founded Slash Records, one of the most successful independent record labels of its era. He has died at 74.
The Times can help you navigate the election — to separate fact from fiction, make sense of the polls and be sure your ballot counts. To support our efforts, please consider subscribing today.
IDEA OF THE DAY: The daylight-savings debate
Early Sunday morning, clocks will fall back one hour when daylight saving time ends in most of the U.S. and Canada. But there is a movement to abolish the time changes in the future: More than 30 states considered legislation this year to make daylight saving time permanent, which would cause both sunrise and sunset to occur later in the colder months.
Advocates of making daylight saving permanent argue that the current arrangement pushes too much winter daylight to the early-morning when many people are asleep. They cite studies showing a rise in car crashes, medical errors and suicides related to the shifting time.
Supporters of the status quo respond: Winter mornings would become miserable. As two California state lawmakers wrote, “You’ll be getting your family ready for the day in the dark; your kids will be walking to school or waiting for the school bus before the sun rises.”
If you want to read more, we recommend this piece about New York City’s official clock master, who changes some of the city’s grandest clocks each year.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, SCARE
A safe Halloween
Halloween will not look traditional this year. But there are still ways to celebrate safely. Guidelines vary from place to place: Some cities are discouraging cruising neighborhoods for candy, while towns in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Texas have banned door-to-door trick or treating altogether. Salem, Mass., where Halloween draws hundreds of thousands of tourists, has already canceled many festivities..
In general, the C.D.C. recommends avoiding higher-risk activities like regular trick-or-treating or indoor costume parties.
Depending on the rate of infection in your community, experts say safer strategies include leaving baskets of candy outside your home and having kids wear gloves and carry hand sanitizer. Gatherings should be outdoors and socially distanced. And while you don’t need to sanitize every single candy wrapper, make sure your hands are clean before digging in.
“Costumes and candy may seem frivolous, but joy and social connection are essential and can help reduce the pandemic fatigue many people are feeling,” Julia Marcus, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, told us.
While they look like traditional chocolate chip cookies, this dessert packs some surprises with the addition of honey-roasted almonds and a generous dusting of chile flake-spiked sugar.
The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was towline. Today’s puzzle is above — or you can play online if you have a Games subscription.