Posts tagged with "Pennsylvania"

The morning after: Biden captures slim lead—but races too close to call

November 5, 2020

With the presidential election too close to call—and not all mail-in ballots yet counted nationwide—all eyes were focused on Wednesday morning, November 4, on Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the three northern industrial states that likely will prove crucial in determining who wins the White House, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Indeed, by early Wednesday, neither candidate had the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the Oval Office. And as votes continued to trickle in, it’s possible the American people could be hours or even days away from knowing who will lead their nation.

Michigan and Wisconsin turned the lightest shade of blue on results maps later Wednesday morning, with outstanding vote still to count in those states. The same is true of Nevada. Georgia and North Carolina—states in which Trump is narrowly leading, which also have outstanding votes.

It could be several days before Pennsylvania, where Trump currently leads, finishes counting mail ballots—which are thought to significantly favor Biden.

The Biden campaign is signaling confidence that they will meet the 270 mark in the coming days, but there is simply too much uncertainty at the moment to clearly predict a winner, and the cloud of litigation hangs over the entire proceeding.

Four years after Trump became the first Republican in a generation to capture that trio of “Rust Belt” states, they again are positioned to make or break a presidential election. Trump kept several states he won in 2016 that had seemed wobbly in the final days of the campaign—including Texas, Iowa and Ohio—where the Biden camp made a play.

Trump cried foul over the election results, falsely calling the process “a major fraud on our nation.” But, the Tribune notes, there’s no evidence of foul play in the cliffhanger.

The president had vowed to take the election to the Supreme Court, and received criticism from conservative pundits after making his comments. The Biden campaign said it would fight any such efforts to stop the counting of votes.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Supreme Court declines to diminish extended ballot deadlines in North Carolina, Pennsylvania

October30, 2020

New Justice Amy Coney Barrett, still getting up to speed, didn’t participate in either case—but, on October 28, the Supreme Court “declined to disturb” extended ballot deadlines in the battleground states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania—leaving the states more time to receive mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In the North Carolina litigation, the justices denied Republican requests to block a decision by state elections officials to extend the deadline for accepting mail-in ballots until November 12, a six-day extension of the date set by the legislature.

North Carolina elections officials said they extended their deadline “to keep voters from having their votes thrown out because of mail delays that the Postal Service had explicitly warned the state about.”

The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, the GOP state lawmakers, and others challenged the deadline extension and other changes—saying those officials improperly rewrote unambiguous rules set COVID -19 pandemic.

The high court didn’t explain its reasons for rejecting the requests, the Journal notes. Three of the court’s conservatives, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, registered objections and said they would have granted the challengers’ request to roll back the deadline. Justice Gorsuch wrote that the pandemic wasn’t the kind of natural disaster that gave the state board of elections a license to change voting rules.

The Supreme Court in the Pennsylvania matter refused to expedite a Republican challenge to a state court order providing three extra days for the state to accept absentee ballots mailed by Election Day.

The court’s order in that case included no noted dissents, although the same three conservative justices issued a statement indicating they were open to considering the case after Election Day.

On Friday, October 23, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, backed by the Trump campaign, asked the Supreme Court to hear and decide its challenge before Election Day, November 3. The motion was unusual in that, only days earlier, the Supreme Court, by a 4-4 vote, had refused to block the three-day extension.

In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended to 5 p.m., November 6, the deadline to accept absentee ballots, from 8 p.m., November 3. The court credited guidance from the Pennsylvania secretary of state that the three-day extension would adequately account for processing backlogs in elections offices and postal delivery delays related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats, who sued for public-health accommodations in accepting ballots, had asked for a weeklong extension, equivalent to the deadline federal law sets for accepting ballots mailed by military families and Americans overseas.

Although it leaves intact, for now, the Pennsylvania court order, Wednesday’s decision indicated that at least four justices are skeptical that state courts can alter election regulations adopted by state legislatures for presidential and congressional elections.

In its 4-3 decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had likened the coronavirus pandemic to a natural disaster, which allows state courts to alter voting procedures should it occur on Election Day. The state justices invoked their power under the Pennsylvania Constitution’s Free and Equal Elections Clause, which the state high court has found more protective of voting rights than corresponding provisions in the federal Constitution.

In last week’s decision, Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh voted to block the Pennsylvania court’s three-day extension. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s three liberal members, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, to leave the Pennsylvania order in

Justice Alito issued a statement saying “there is a strong likelihood that the State Supreme Court decision violates the Federal Constitution,” but the proximity of Election Day made it impractical to decide the issue now. Justices Thomas and Gorsuch joined the statement; in a separate case from Wisconsin on Monday, Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued an opinion expressing similar views.

The court indicated that the justices may issue additional opinions in the case. The Supreme Court could still decide to hear the case after the election, particularly if the outcome depends on Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.i

Research contact: @WSJ

Proud Boys deny sending threatening emails to Democratic voters in multiple states

October 22, 2020

Law enforcement officials have been notified that voters in multiple states have received personalized emails purporting to be from the Proud Boys—a far-right, neo-fascist white supremacist group. The messaging is filled with intimidating threats aimed at Democrats, if they do not change their vote to Republican, The Hill reports.

CNN and The Washington Post first reported that voters in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Alaska, and Florida all said they received threatening emails warning them to vote for President Donald Trump in the upcoming election, adding that the mysterious sender claimed to have access to voter history and “will come after you” should they fail to vote for the president.

“You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you,” reads one email obtained by the Post,. Dozens were reportedly sent, including more than 180 to students, faculty and staff of the University of Florida, a school spokesperson told CNN.

Chris Krebs, the director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency tweeted that the agency was “aware of threatening emails with misleading info about the secrecy of your vote.”

“This is what we mean by not falling for sensational and unverified claims. The last line of defense in election security is you—the American voter. So be prepared, be a smart consumer and sharer of information. Vote with confidence,” added Chris Krebs.

Elections officials in Alaska and Florida confirmed to CNN that they were aware of the emails, with Alaska’s Division of Elections telling the network that federal authorities had been alerted. Representatives with elections boards in Pennsylvania and Arizona did not immediately return The Hill’s requests for comment. A spokesperson for the FBI’s field office in Anchorage also did not immediately return a request for comment from the Post.

The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, told USA Today and CNN in a statement that his group was not responsible for the emails, which appeared to have been sent from an email address affiliated with the group but may have been the result of spoofing software, one expert told CNN.

“No, it wasn’t us. The people [who sent the emails] used a spoofing email that pretended to be us,” Tarrio said. “Whoever did this should be in prison for a long time.”

“We have spoken to the FBI and are working with them. I hope whoever did this is arrested for voter intimidation and for maliciously impersonating our group,” he added.

Trump recently faced criticism after he demurred follow his prompting by Fox News’s Chris Wallace to disavow the group during the first presidential debate between him and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“Stand back and stand by,” Trump said during the contentious debate.

Research contact: @thehil

Editor’s note: According to multiple sources, U.S. officials on Wednesday night accused Iran of targeting American voters with faked but menacing emails and warned that both Iran and Russia had obtained voter data that could be used to endanger the upcoming election.

 

Trump Administration cuts off funding to 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in five states

June 25, 2020

The Trump Administration is doing its level best to close—or at the very least, slow down—coronavirus testing nationwide by cutting off support to 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites on June 30; and leaving operation and funding of those sites to the states—even as cases spike in several parts of the country, Politico reports.

This is not the first time that the Administration has tried to offload control of the drive-thru sites to the states—but the last effort was suspended in April when governors in the states affected objected strongly.

The 13 sites—in Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas—are the last federally run sites out of 41 originally established across the country. Seven sites are in hard-hit Texas, where cases are climbing.

Taking the offensive on Thursday, June 24, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir told Roll Call that the sites were always meant to be a temporary solution as the country worked to ramp up testing capacity in traditional health care settings.

What he didn’t mention was that, with a looming election challenge, Trump has seen the pandemic as a drag on the economy that he simply wants to go away.

Indeed, in early March, the president transferred responsibility for flattening the line on the coronavirus pandemic to the states—and, specifically, to the governors. He will neither wear a mask nor recommend one; and he has been unwilling to release nearly $14B in Congressional funding for testing and tracing efforts to combat COVID-19. However, he continues to brag that his pandemic effort is the best ever executed.

Already protesters are piling on: Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, tells Politico that it’s not the right time to shift responsibility for the sites to the states—especially those near emerging hot spots in Texas

“The federally supported testing sites remain critically needed, and in some place like Houston and Harris County, TX and in other hotspots, are needed now more than ever,” Becker said in an email. “This is not the time for the federal government to walk back prior commitments on testing.”

Even Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) is critical of the plan, noting,. “It’s pretty clear to me, and I think it’s clear to all of us, that with the uptick of cases, now is not the time to retreat from our vigilance in testing,” he said. “I believe that they need to extend that federal support in Texas, at least until we get this most recent uptick in cases addressed.”

So what will be the outcome? HHS says there is no going back: Gigroir recommends that the state governors can use CARES Act funding to maintain operations at the current federally supported testing sites.

Research contact: @politico

One ‘bad egg’: Woman deliberately coughs on $35,000 worth of food at market

March 20, 2020

One woman has proven herself to be “at the very bottom of the U.S. food chain” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her so-called prank at a Gerrity’s Supermarket in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, has cost the grocery store $35,000 in discarded stock, The New York Daily News reports.

On Wednesday, March 25,  the shopper deliberately coughed all over the store’s produce and on parts of the bakery and meat cases—forcing management to throw all of the contaminated merchandise away so that other customers would not be exposed to possibly contaminated food.

“Today was a very challenging day,” Gerrity’s Supermarket co-owner Joe Fasula wrote on Facebook.

According to Fasula, the woman responsible was known by police to be “a chronic problem in the community.” Although they do not believe that she actually was infected with the novel coronavirus, out of an abundance of caution they worked with the local health inspector to get rid of everything she coughed on.

After getting her out of the store and contacting authorities, more than 15 employees worked to clean and disinfect the areas she had  visited.

One thing is for sure, we will have the cleanest display and freshest produce anywhere in northeast[ern] PA,” Fasula wrote.

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

Pundits shift nine House races toward Democrats

November 6, 2018

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted nine House races toward Democrats in a new forecast published on November 5—the day before the midterm elections—The Hill reported.

The changes predicted by Cook are as follows:

Three races — in Texas’s 6th and 10th Congressional Districts and in West Virginia’s 2nd — moved from solid Republican to likely Republican. Two other races—Florida’s 25th and 6th districts, went from likely Republican to leaning Republican.

The movement is the latest indication that Democrats still have the upper-hand in the House prior to Tuesday’s midterms, when Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to regain control of the lower chamber. 

Research contact: @thehill

Embraceable you: Study finds that hugs make us happier

October 8, 2018

Have you ever felt as if you needed a hug? Now, there’s scientific evidence to show that, when your day is not going well, a hug can make a huge difference.

In fact, results of an investigation conducted by Carnegie Mellon University—and posted on October 4 on StudyFinds— indicate that people who “hug it out” after an argument are less likely to harbor bad feelings for the rest of the day.

The researchers   that people who consider themselves to be “huggers” actually enjoy better overall health and stronger relationships.

Previous research has shown the benefits of hugs—and the overall role of touch in promoting better mental and physical health—but such studies typically have focused on romantic relationships; while the latest probe sought to examine the power of hugging among various social circles.

For the study, the authors analyzed responses of 404 men and women between the ages of 21 and 55 who were in good health and lived in or near to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Only 25% of the participants were either married or had live-in romantic relationships.

Participants were interviewed every night for two weeks about their interactions with others each day. That meant describing such things as social activities, conflicts, resolutions, and of course, hugs. They also were asked about their mood and any changes as the day wore on.

The researchers found that people who got a hug after they had experienced a conflict showed a smaller decrease in positive emotions and a smaller increase in negative emotions, compared with individuals who were not hugged. In other words, being hugged at some point in the day may have helped them to keep a positive attitude—and, similarly, may have prevented them from feeling more upset about the conflict. In fact, hugs were shown to help reduce bad moods in participants through the following day, as well.

However, the authors identified several limitations of their study. For example, participants weren’t asked who they received their hugs from, or whether or not the hug was received before or after a conflict, which could perhaps play a role in the effectiveness of the hug.

“This research is in its early stages. We still have questions about when, how, and for whom hugs are most helpful,” admitted Michael Murphy, one of the study’s co-authors, in a press release.. “However, our study suggests that consensual hugs might be useful for showing support to somebody enduring relationship conflict.”

Murphy and his co-authors say that additional research is needed to better understand how, why, and even when hugging is so effective. Still, they believe their results show the potential power of a hug on harder days: “[H]ugs may be a simple yet effective method of providing support to both men and women experiencing interpersonal distress,” they conclude.

Research contact: michaelmurphy@cmu.edu

ACA credited for Lamb victory in special election

March 16, 2018

Following the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District on March 13, Affordable Care Act advocates are touting a telephone exit poll of voters showing that fully 52% of those who cast ballots saw healthcare as a top priority—and they believed that Democrat Conor Lamb better represented their views on the issue than did his opponent, Republican Rick Saccone.

Conducted by Public Policy Polling within the heavily Republican district—which President Trump won by 20 points in 2016—the research found that voters remain angry about Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare last summer, The Washington Post reports.  

On healthcare, voters said Lamb better reflected their views by 7 points (45% to 38%) over Saccone. Among Independents, that gap widened to 16 points—with 50% saying Lamb’s healthcare views were more in line with theirs.

Saccone advocated for repealing the ACA and called on his website for “using free-market principles to fix our health-care crisis.” The Washington Post reported, noting, “His defeat raises many questions for Republican candidates eyeing this election year nervously—including how to talk about healthcare now that Congress has failed to repeal the law.”

Research contact: information@publicpolicypolling.com

Special election in Pennsylvania is too close to call

March 2, 2018

A high-profile political prognosticator has changed its projections for a House special election in Pennsylvania to favor the Democratic candidate, The Hill reported on February 27.

The Cook Political Report now says that the March 13 race for a seat in the Keystone State’s 18th District is now a “toss-up ”—with State Representative Rick Saccone (R) enjoying only a single-digit lead over Conor Lamb (D), although President Trump won the district by 20 points in 2016.

The race is “exceedingly close,” the Cook newsletter said.

According to The Hill, Lamb raised nearly three times as much as Saccone in 2017—giving him more money fo political advertising. GOP leadership has had to spend millions backing up Saccone to keep up with the 33-year-old challenger.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), House Republicans’ campaign arm, has put $2.2 million into bolstering Saccone, The Hill reported. Meanwhile, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backing the GOP majority, has spent another $2.7 million.

Cook noted the ads have focused on aligning Saccone with Trump and the GOP tax cuts.

Lamb, a Democratic prosecutor, has promised to protect Social Security and Medicare from funding cuts, while staying strategically silent and moderate on hot-button issues such as abortion and fracking, and also distancing himself from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California). 

The congressional seat opened up after Republican Representative Tim Murphy, who had been staunchly anti-abortion, resigned in October 2017  following reports that he had asked his mistress to get an abortion.

Some turnout models show Saccone taking a wider lead on election day, but the Lamb campaign could surge with a high turnout from college graduates, The Hill reports.

The race has been the focus of a national spotlight, with Vice President Pence appearing at a rally for Saccone earlier this month.

Research contact: @JTDelk