Where Things Stand: All But Certain
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Vice President Mike Pence won’t be around for tonight’s confirmation vote in the Senate. Republicans are clearly unconcerned that they will need him to break any sort of tie.

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Facebook Generates Extremism for Society and Profits for Investors
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We’re all in the final stretch of the big contest. But I wanted to flag your attention to a column in the Post about some new peer-reviewed research about Facebook and its effect on political polarization. Unsurprisingly the more time someone spends on Facebook the more polarized their beliefs become. But it’s five times more polarizing for conservatives than for liberals. And that’s not the most telling data.

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Where Things Stand: Trump Reignites War On Civil Servants
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President Trump has had an issue with career professionals since he took office.

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Quick Take
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This debate went like how I expected the first debate to go: Biden better on the merits but both guys playing to their preferred ways of speaking to the public, their core audiences. Trump wasn’t out of control like he was in the first debate. I thought he might be just as feral; but he wasn’t. I got that wrong.

But that’s a crazy standard. In the first debate Trump showed his absolutely worst self, someone who simply has no business being President. It pushed him from clearly losing to landslide defeat territory. Trump held it together for the first twenty minutes before sliding into conspiracy theories and nonsense. But he never got near the fusillade of petulance and predation we saw three weeks ago. He was better here. But so was Biden.

Biden was sharper in this debate than three weeks ago. I’m not sure whether that’s because he was barely allowed to speak and constantly interrupted last time. But he was better.

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The Last Clash Debate Blogging
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9:31 PM: Still claiming he’s under audit.

9:25 PM: For the first fifteen minutes Trump did a pretty good job being relatively normal and non-feral. But then after about 15 minutes in the feral-o-meter started to tick up minute by minute.

9:24 PM: Trump on Fauci: “I think he’s a Democrat but that’s okay.”

8:58 PM: I realize that I look forward to this debate with a sense of dread. That’s not because I think it will go badly necessarily – badly in the sense of making a bad election result more likely. But I recognize that is one more big opportunity for this predatory degenerate to inflict more harm on the country.

Don’t Study Court Reform To Death
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Kicking an issue to a fancy commission is a notorious method for taking it off the table and putting it out of play with little political cost. That can be handy! But if you want the issue in play, Joe Biden’s plan for a blue ribbon commission on reforming the federal courts is a bad sign of where he’s headed.

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Where Things Stand: Closing Arguments
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Tonight, the candidates will make their closing arguments. But it will likely be a far-cry from the professional demeanor of attorneys making their final cases in the court room.

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Face Off at the Last Chance Corral
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Ever since the debacle of the first presidential debate we’ve been hearing that President Trump has to be nicer in the next face off and let Joe Biden (or even just the moderator) talk. Numerous articles in recent days purport to quote top Trump advisors saying this, demanding this. I have no doubt they’re saying this and may even believe it. But it seems basically a certainty that in tonight’s final debate – likely the last chance to change the dynamic of the race – President Trump will be every bit as aggressive, feral and rage-soaked as he was three weeks ago.

Indeed, we should expect it to be worse.

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Not Over Till It’s Over

Two points on the latest polls. The first is that President Trump does appear to have regained a small measure of support in recent days – very small and it still leaves him in landslide loss territory but it seems to show up as some real movement. At the same time, I keep seeing polls in which the “likely voter” screen shows a slightly better result than the “registered voter” screen. Most of you know that that inverts the rule of thumb in which Republicans – who tend to be older, wealthier, more fixed in communities – do better on likely voter screens. This suggests a non-trivial turnout advantage.

Where Things Stand: They’re Really Sticking With The ‘Anarchist Cities’ Thing
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Yesterday, President Trump tweeted a disingenuous rallying cry to residents of states like New York, California and Illinois — messaging that won’t do much for him in the relatively blue states that are home to some of country’s largest deep blue cities.

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