My talent on night’s like this isn’t understanding the details returns numbers. It’s closely watching the people who do. But looking at the map right now, it’s hard for me to see how Roy Moore wins this. At this moment it’s 85% reporting and an exact tie. But looking at the counties, virtually all the remaining votes are in big Democratic cities. They have substantial numbers of votes left to count and most of those big cities have big lopsided Doug Jones margins. In a couple they’re closer but still with Jones ahead.
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Still a complicated picture. But you’d rather be Jones right now than Moore. The current results have Moore up by a bit more than 1 point with 81% of the precincts reporting. The good news for Jones is that it’s mostly blue territory left to report – mainly the big urban conglomerations. What’s keeping Jones in this race and with a seeming advantage is big turnout in heavily African-American areas.
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We have a complicated picture so far but one that seems more favorable to Doug Jones than to Roy Moore. There is some evidence that traditionally blue parts of the state are over-performing in turnout terms while red areas are underperforming. Just how much that’s the case and whether more returns will muddy that apparent pattern we don’t yet know.
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As I mentioned below, the NYT has a very sophisticated realtime prediction widget that shifts its prediction as results come in. It had been bouncing around dead even with a mild advantage either way. Then it swung hard in Jones’ favor. I saw a number of people speculate that there had been some sort of reporting error. Here’s a tweet just now from a member of the team that runs it.

I would treat this as a tentative read, subject to change. What it points to is dramatic enough that it could be a reporting error or just a quirk in the prediction model. I am, however, seeing some indications of something we saw in Virginia: both candidates getting solid percentages from their strong regions but with Moore getting slightly weaker turnout. As always we need more data. But for the moment things look better for Jones than for Moore.

9:29 PM: This is starting to come into focus: differential turnout. Moore’s winning the red areas, and often with the percentages you’d expect. And vice versa. But turnout is a bit weaker in the red areas and a bit stronger in the blue areas. Frankly, you can’t say that’s a totally unpredictable outcome with motivated Democratic base and a Republican candidate who has been credibly accused of preying on teenager girls.

8:46 PM: We only have a tiny number of votes reported so far. But even these allow us to compare results in a few places to historical baselines. And they seem encouraging for Doug Jones. I would say that based on these very limited results there are enough good indications to make a Jones’ win plausible. Not saying probable necessarily. But we are not seeing the kind of totals that tell you, “Okay, he’s just not going to be able to do this.”

8:49 PM: It looks like this could be a long night.

8:55 PM: Latest numbers are a bit friendlier to Moore. But still extremely close. Anything could happen, etc.

8:59 PM: One major takeaway so far – and we still have less than 10% of the vote in – is that there aren’t a ton of write-ins, at least not relative to an extremely Republican state in which by many customary standards the GOP nominee would be an unacceptable alternative.

9:03 PM: A standard pattern we’re now seeing play out: earlier reporting is from white rural counties. The more Democratic and African-American cities come in later. But they’re now starting to come in a bit more.

9:05 PM: Takeaway from the early returns is that they’ve swung back and forth. But ‘swung’ only in the sense of indications of an extremely close race which have swung from a sliver of an advantage for one candidate to the other. I have basically no idea what’s going to happen.

So here we are. Only a trickle of results in so far. But we’ve seen enough early data to sense we’ve at least got a genuine race on our hands. TPM’s Cam Joseph is in Montgomery. The TPM team is at its workstations. I’m actually on a train. But as long as this train wifi holds out we’re doing this thing.

8:37 PM: So a few things I’m watching. The New York Times has a little widget that updates its predictions as data comes in. I watch it pretty closely. Right now it’s pointing to a minuscule Jones advantage. I also have a twitter list of people who are serious election night data/number crunchers. Certainly others who aren’t on my list. But these are all people I trust to help me understand the rush of numbers. Here’s the link.

8:40 PM: Only thing I think I’m comfortable saying so far is that Jones is making a very strong run in the state for a Democrat. Of course, the bar is low and the Republican is so bad Republicans considering trying to call off the election only few weeks ago. Still, this is a very, very Republican state.

Tellingly, it’s in a statement to Mike Allen at Axios. Trump’s television lawyer, Jay Sekulow, says the Trump team now demands a new Special Counsel to investigate the Mueller probe and the DOJ for anti-Trump bias. This is a parallel path to the attacks on the press. What is true for Trump characterologically is true of his movement ideologically: accept no independent centers of power.
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Roy Moore’s wife Kayla appeared quite sure that she’d decisively put to rest the charges of anti-Semitism once and for all. Watch.

Back on Friday, CNN’s Manu Raju made a major error in a report on emails tied to Wikileaks and Donald Trump Jr. As we discussed Friday afternoon, the nature of the error turned on the date of the email in question – September 4th versus September 14th. CNN had multiple sources read or describe the email to its reporter. But later in the afternoon, The Washington Post obtained the actual email, which was clearly dated the 14th. As noted, the difference was much more than the date. CNN corrected the story and had some pretty significant egg on its face.
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Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, greets supporter Patricia Jones, right, before his election party, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala.(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The most illuminating poll discussion I’ve seen about Alabama is a SurveyMonkey report showing that small differences in how they weighted their sample and modeled the electorate generated outcomes ranging from an 8 point win for Jones to a 9 point win for Moore. This is more the norm than you might imagine once you look under the hood of a lot of polling. But this is magnified greatly for this race because of several very hard to predict factors.
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Our friend Josh Green has a report out this morning about the resurrection of Roy Moore’s candidacy. Remember that only a few weeks ago Republicans were so determined to end Moore’s campaign that they were seriously debating canceling the election and trying other ploys to prevent Moore from entering the Senate no matter what. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow night. But Josh is right that the tide has turned dramatically. The President is full-force endorsing. The RNC is back in formal support. Fox News is maniacally on board.
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I had missed this. But it’s a significant development. Sen. Lindsey Graham has oscillated between being a fierce Trump critic to being increasingly supportive of the President. But he now seems to have moved firmly into the Trump loyalist camp.
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I don’t often send you to a thread on Twitter. But this one is important. It’s a longtime TPM Reader, who I did not realize was sick, debating Jeff Flake about the GOP tax plan on a airplane. It’s a series of posts with individual segments. But if you just watch one, watch this.

I’ve wanted to, but haven’t had the time, to pull together a sampling of the rapid ramping up of demands on the right, particularly on Fox News, for President Trump to fire Robert Mueller. Yesterday, when FBI Director Christopher Wray was testifying, I was surprised to see just how aggressively several GOP Reps backed President Trump’s claims about the FBI’s reputation being in tatters.

Here CNN has put together a good quick sampling of where they’re going.

[ed.note: I’m leaving this post intact. But the core factual premise was based on CNN reporting that turned out to be wrong. Specifically, the email was not September 4th but September 14th. A mere ten days. But it makes a huge difference since it meant this came after a major Wikileaks email dump. Thus, Futerfas’s statement, rather than being inexplicable did in fact make sense. And these weren’t secret documents but public ones. As I said, I’ll leave this as originally written. Because there’s no rewriting it. It now seems far more likely that the email was simply a supporter flagging attention to a Wikileaks dump that was in fact public.]

We’re currently looking into various aspects of this encryption key email to Donald Trump Jr. which I discussed below. Here’s one part we’re looking into that I wanted to flag. Trump Jr.’s lawyer Alan Futerfas released a statement in which he said this: “We understand that the media reported 12 hours prior to this email that the DNC emails had been hacked or leaked. We do not know who Mike Erickson is. We have no idea who he is. We never responded to the email.”
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[ed.note: As noted in my editor’s note on the post above, CNN subsequently corrected this story. The correction – dating the email to September 14th, rather than September 4th dramatically changed what the email meant. See the editor’s note above for more detail. But the upshot is that this seems to have been simply an email from a supporter flagging public Wikileaks documents rather than an approach from a secret source. I’m leaving the post below in place. But read it with this in mind.]

This morning CNN released yet another story in the Russia investigation, noting that on September 4th 2016 Donald Trump, Jr., Donald Trump himself and others in the Trump inner circle got an email with an encryption key and a link to download what CNN called “hacked Wikileaks documents.” It was unclear from the story whether this was a real offer of hacked documents or simply a prank. Seemingly, it was unclear to investigators too. There was also no clear evidence either way whether any of the recipients acted on it, in other words, whether they tried or succeeded in downloading the documents.
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From TPM Reader RM

The one thing I think your piece needs to address is the personal interests or motivations for pushing rapprochement with Russia. We should keep in mind that the GOP’s position on Russia underwent a radical shift from hawkish to fawning. Had any other person won the GOP nomination, the position on Russia would’ve been as skeptical as that of the Obama Administration and maybe even more hawkish (particularly if former Romney advisors had influence on a hypothetical non-Trump nominee).


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A good run-down of the GOP Senators who were (probably knowingly) hoodwinked into signing on to the GOP tax bill with false promises and other baloney.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Cohen is schedule to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In recent months, Donald Trump Jr has made a run for the prize of Trump insider with most dogged effort to collude with Russia, even partly sidelining the efforts of Trump lawyer and enforcer Michael Cohen.

But perhaps Cohen has yet to cede the title.
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It’s quite astonishing. In the FBI Director’s testimony this morning, GOP Congressman are openly backing the President’s claim that the FBI’s reputation is “in tatters.” In response Director Wray is avoiding the charge but simply not pushing back against it.

One of the wildest, weirdest dumpster fires of a year ever to hit Washington, D.C. is coming to an end, and we’re bidding it farewell with TPM’s 11th annual Golden Duke Awards.

As you know, each year TPM celebrates the nation’s top promoters of all that is crazy, corrupt, and shameless in public life by awarding The Dukes, named in honor of Congressman-turned-convicted felon and inmate Randy “Duke” Cunningham. We’re hoping readers can point us to 2017’s worst (best) offenders. Sarcasm encouraged.
Nominations should be submitted no later than Tuesday, December 12. To get a sense of what we’re looking for, check out last year’s winners here.

This year’s categories are:

1. Best Scandal — General Interest

2. Best Scandal — Local Venue

3. Meritorious Achievement in The Crazy

4. Most Heartwarming On-The-Record Quote From A Trump Associate

5. Literary Achievement in 140 Characters (or Instagram) By A Public Official

6. Best Shameless Cartoon Villain Move By An Administration Official

7. Best Moment From A Press Conference

Email talk (at) talkingpointsmemo.com with your nominations, identifying the person you’re recommending and making your case in no more than 250 words for why he or she is worthy of a prestigious Golden Duke. Only real, specific individuals are eligible—no parties, issues, groups, amorphous concepts, etc.

We’ll announce the nominees on Thursday, December 14 and send the list off to our panel of judges. The lucky winners will be named on Saturday, December 30.

Be in touch!

Welcome news. MSNBC had fired Sam Seder from his contributor role on the network after racist provocateur Mike Cernovich dug up and tendentiously misinterpreted a 2009 tweet to gin up a faux outrage campaign. After a significant backlash, MSNBC has now reversed course and offered Seder his gig back.

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