Nov 1, 2020

Axios AM

🍂 Good Sunday morning, and welcome to November. Your phone fell back at 2 a.m.

  • Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,396 words ... 5 minutes.

🇬🇧 Breaking: England's one-month lockdown, set to begin Thursday, could be extended beyond early December, senior cabinet minister Michael Gove told Sky News today. Premier League soccer matches will continue. (Reuters)

1 big thing: A safe, sane way to navigate election night — and beyond

On Halloween, Colin Buckley of Omaha wears a Spiderman suit as he votes early at the Douglas County Election Commission office in Omaha, Neb. Photo: Nati Harnik/AP

We all need to be clear-eyed about the social and political volatility heading into Election Day:

  • The chances of sporadic violence, significant unrest or voting issues are quite high, according to basically every federal and state official monitoring voting and its aftermath in 2020.

But all of us — Democrats, Republicans, independents alike — can do our part to minimize the drama and darker scenarios, Axios CEO Jim Vandehei writes:

1. Vote and then chill until late Tuesday night. There'll be dumb rumors, wild speculation and armchair projections, all of it meaningless.

  • There's no chance you have even a clue who wins until Florida, Georgia and North Carolina are counted and reported.
  • More likely, you will need to wait for clear-cut results in Pennsylvania, where it will take days to count all mail-in votes.

2. Don't expect a quick, clear winner: We can't stress enough the chance of it taking days to fully count mail-in and absentee votes, to determine the real outcome in places like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

  • Be patient: COVID and the mail-in torrent make this election unlike any other.

3. Brace for the possibility of a "Red Mirage." We first told you about this term, coined by the Democratic data firm Hawkfish, on "Axios on HBO" before Labor Day:

  • Because polling and modeling shows Republicans are more likely to vote in person and Democrats are more likely to vote by mail, early counts could look heavier for the GOP than the final result, when absentee votes are all counted.
  • So the trends could look more Trump-friendly than the final outcome. This is not a partisan belief; it's a simple fact. (See the full "Red Mirage" segment.)

4. Don’t share social-media posts that aren't from a source you trust and know well. Period. Too many people share too much garbage too often. 

  • Only pay attention to sources of information you trust and can validate with 100% certainty. Measure twice, tweet once (or, better yet, never).

5. Don’t overreact. You might see images on cable or social media of protests, or what seem like massive voter intimidation or issues. This can often seem bigger or more widespread than it is.

  • Top officials tell us they fear Russia or other actors plan to amplify even the smallest issues to sow chaos. So don't assume the worst.

6. Expect that President Trump may refuse to accept results, if he loses.

  • Why? Because he has told us he will fight the voting rules and results all the way to the Supreme Court. Watch his actions more than his words.
  • Here's a small sign of what may lie ahead: As reported by the N.Y. Times, the Trump campaign — citing the possibility that "multiple states will require recounts" — is raising money to continue ballot fights into mid-December:
Via WinRed

7. Don’t hyperventilate about court cases. There will probably be many. But wait until there are actual verdicts and appeals to appraise the significance.

8. Brace yourself for 78 days of drama and turmoil from Nov. 4 through the inauguration.

  • No one working for Trump or Joe Biden thinks the post-election period will be remotely normal. Even if you get the result you want, anticipate months of wild maneuvering and protests.
  • Here, too, keep it in perspective and don’t make matters worse by sharing or overreacting to false or misleading reports. 

What's next: The nation is headed into a firestorm. There's no way it's orderly or normal, or even necessarily over when it seems over. 

  • All we can do is be smart about what’s to come, and wise in our responses. 
2. Biden's high bar

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden wouldn't get the honeymoon that a new president traditionally enjoys, as he confronts a persistent pandemic and economic despair in a nation where a huge swath of voters will refuse to accept him, Alexi McCammond reports.

  • As Barack Obama's vice president, Biden saw a tamer version of this movie: They inherited a war Obama ran against, and a financial crisis that overshadowed much of their campaign ambitions.

David Axelrod, former senior adviser to Obama, told Axios that when Obama got elected, in 2008, "I said he got dealt the most difficult hand since Franklin Roosevelt, and that record will only have stood for 12 years. ... There’s no doubt in my mind that if Biden is elected, what he will inherit is harder.”

  • Axelrod's advice to Biden: Make sure that you’re telling a big story — the narrative is crucial.
  • Axelrod said of the Obama years: "We got a little bit too balled up in the details."

What we're watching: Progressive leaders tell us that if Biden focuses on a coronavirus relief package, that could open the door to their priorities — canceling student loan debt, expanding Social Security and bolstering union jobs.

3. Fall of an empire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The decline of ExxonMobil has been remarkable in its magnitude and unexpectedness, chief financial correspondent Felix Salmon writes.

  • Why it matters: While all major oil companies are facing troubles, Exxon has fallen the furthest, in large part because it has made the biggest bets on oil and gas — and the smallest bets on renewable energy.
  • While rival BP has recently promised to get to zero net emissions by 2050, Exxon has been doubling down on fossil fuels.

Exxon reported a loss of $680 million in the third quarter of this year, bringing its losses for 2020 up to $2.37 billion. (In 2008, it made a profit of $46 billion.)

  • The company announced it would shed up to 15% of its workforce over the next two years, including roughly 1,900 U.S. layoffs.

Flashback: The oil giant was the largest company in the world, by market value, as recently as 2013.

  • Today, ExxonMobil isn't even in the top 40 most valuable companies in America.

Share this story.

4. 📊 Today's new polls

Republican hopes were fueled by a Des Moines Register poll last evening showing President Trump with a 7-point lead over Joe Biden in Iowa, 48% to 41%.

  • Why it matters: Iowa wasn't supposed to be a battleground. But Trump wound up on defense all over the map.
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) pulled ahead of Democrat Theresa Greenfield, 46%-42%, in a poll with a margin of error of ±3.4 points.

Washington Post-ABC News polls out at midnight had Biden up 7 in Pennsylvania (51%-44%), with a statistical tie in Florida (Trump 50%, Biden 48%).

N.Y. Times polls at 5 a.m. show Biden with a clear advantage over Trump in four of the most vital swing states, "bolstered by the support of voters who did not participate in the 2016 election and who now appear to be turning out in large numbers ... mainly for the Democrat," Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin write:

Graphic: The New York Times, from a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely voters, Monday through yesterday.
5. Split-screen America

Agence France-Presse created these keeper combos of Joe Biden events in Florida, Delaware and Iowa on Thursday and Friday, and President Trump rallies in Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania on Thursday, Friday and yesterday:

Photos: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Photos: Mandel Ngan and Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
6. Tales from the trail: Trump's last campaign
Nicole Hester/Mlive/The Ann Arbor News via AP

A video screen during a Trump campaign event Tuesday in Lansing, Mich.

Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters

President Trump tosses out caps as he arrives for a campaign rally at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford Township, Mich., on Friday.

7. Tales II: Biden on the brink
Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Former President Obama greets Biden at a rally at Northwestern High School in Flint, Mich., yesterday.

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

A supporter gets shelter from the rain as Biden speaks at a drive-in rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Thursday.

8. MAGA invades the suburbs 😉

The WashPost's Glenn "The Fact Checker" Kessler, arbiter of the Pinocchio scale, reports from suburban Virginia:

Via Twitter

AP Justice Department reporter Mike Balsamo tweets:

A DOJ official says Barr went outside to greet the crowd, chatted with the folks out there, explained DOJ’s role generally in investigations and then shook hands and posed for photos with them.

🚌 Video: President Trump on a supporters' caravan surrounding a Biden campaign bus: "I love Texas!"

  • The Biden campaign's Symone Sanders tweeted: "What the President tweeted in regards to Texas is reckless, dangerous and an intimidation tactic."
9. Space station marks 20 years tomorrow
In 2000, space station Expedition 1 crew members toy with oranges. From left, cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko, astronaut Bill Shepherd, cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev. (NASA via AP)

The International Space Station was a cramped, humid, puny three rooms when the first crew — two Russians and an American — moved in.

  • Twenty years and 241 visitors later, the complex has a lookout tower, three toilets, six sleeping compartments and 12 rooms, AP's Marcia Dunn writes.

🚀 Fun fact: It takes a mere 90 minutes for the station to circle the world, allowing astronauts to soak in a staggering 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets each day.

10. 1 smile to go: "SNL" channels Nate Silver
Photo: Kyle Dubiel/NBC

Above, Mikey Day plays FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver (using a die to show President Trump's odds) — and Kate McKinnon (below) appears as Hillary Clinton — during the "Biden Halloween" cold open on "Saturday Night Live."

  • Jim Carrey, as Joe Biden, riffs on Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven":
Carrey: "Quoth the Clinton ... "
McKinnon: "We lost before!"
{Thunder and lightning.}

YouTube ... 1 min., 41 sec. clip.

Photo: Kyle Dubiel/NBC

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