The New York Times has the big Senate story Thursday on Democrats’ plan to make the midterm electorate more friendly. It’s also another signal to allies about why the party needs help on TV.
— The DSCC will run a $60 million field operation, using a staff of thousands to find, register, and turn out eligible but irregular voters in 10 states. If this was easy, it wouldn’t be interesting, but it might be the best path forward for Dems. The voters are out there: It took over 2 million voters to win North Carolina in the 2008 and 2012 elections, but Sen. Richard Burr (R) won in a relative landslide with fewer than 1.5 million votes in 2010.
— The “Rising American Electorate” on which Democrats rely so heavily (minorities, young people and unmarried women) turns out in droves in presidential years and grows each time, but it lags 10 years behind in midterms: RAE turnout in the 2010 midterms basically matched its 2000 presidential turnout. This turnout project is Democrats’ attempt to build a time machine for the midterms.
— Don’t miss an important subtext in the NYT, where Senate Dem strategists again not-so-subtly call for help in the TV war. AFP has already spent $27 million, most of it against Democratic senators, and the media has been full of appeals for big Democratic donors to step up. DSCC director Guy Cecil saying he’s “not willing to sacrifice the turnout operation” looks like another nudge for help on the airwaves.
The early TV battle right now is catching eyes now, but field programs will play a critical role later. Democrats will hope they have money behind both.
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"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."
Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."
NBC's Lester Holt hasn't hosted the "Nightly News" since Tuesday, as he's prepped for moderating the first presidential debate tonight—and the first of his career. He's called on a host of NBC talent to help him, namely NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; the news division's senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez; "Nightly News" producer Sam Singal, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann. But during the debate itself, the only person in Holt's earpiece will be longtime debate producer Marty Slutsky.
"The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January. And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163."
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”