“The Sunday Political Brunch”—November 6, 2016

Sunday, November 06, 2016


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It’s finally here!!! Election Day is Tuesday, November 8; and - as I do every election season - I'm listing here some key things to watch. Remember, it’s not just the White House at stake; Congress is worth watching, too! Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Plan Your Bedtime” – I know that not everyone is a political junkie like me. I am scheduled to work all day and night (with a HUGE Facebook appearance, the details of which I can’t share yet), and then I will probably see the sunrise Wednesday morning. Here’s your bedtime cue from the Eastern Time Zone. If Hillary Clinton is declared the winner in Florida, North Carolina, or Ohio, then you can mosey off to bed. Donald Trump must win all three, or he won’t be President of the United States. I’ve done the math countless times, and he must win all three states.

“Rust Belt Never Sleeps” – Okay, let’s assume Trump wins all three of the above-mentioned states and carries Arizona and Nevada, too. That brings him (with the other definite Trump states) to 265 Electoral College votes, just five short of the White House. Trump needs just one more state, and here are the only options: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, or Colorado. A top Trump operative – who is a trusted friend of mine – tells me this is why Trump has spent so many of the campaign's waning days in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. He needs just one more state to go over the top.

“Expect the Unexpected” – Today, Real Clear Politics moved Michigan from “Leans Democrat” to “Toss-Up” status. So, too, for Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. National poll averages still have Clinton up by 1.7 percent – or similar amounts – but the race is trending to Trump. Whether he can win is still challenging. Finding that last state is tough; but if I had to pick the likely one, it would be Colorado.

“North Carolina is King!” – In 2000, Florida was the most important state. In 2004, Ohio was the “king-maker.” This year, I believe that distinction will go to North Carolina, and for two reasons. First, as stated, if Hillary Clinton wins North Carolina, she’s our next President. Second, but almost of equal importance, her coattails may carry North Carolina U.S. Senate nominee Deborah Ross to Capitol Hill. The Senate race in North Carolina is just as close as Clinton v. Trump. If Trump wins the state, incumbent Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) is likely going back to Washington, and the GOP will remain in control of the Senate.

“Why the Senate Matters” – According to the Constitution, only the U.S. Senate has the power to confirm or reject Federal Court Judges (including U.S. Supreme Court Justices). Only the Senate gets to approve international treaties. Hillary Clinton would be greatly empowered if she wins the White House and also wins control of the Senate. In 1980, Ronald Reagan won the Presidency in a landslide so huge that it also swept in Republican control of the Senate for the first time in 24 years. That paved the way for a lot of the Reagan agenda, and helped shaped the Federal Court system for a generation.

“Plan-B” – Well, I painted a scenario above of a Pennsylvania-Michigan-Wisconsin path for Trump to become President if he wins only one of those states. But can he still win if he loses in all three? The answer is "Yes," and it depends on Colorado. If Trump heads west of the Mississippi with the 265 Electoral Votes in states where he now leads, then he still needs one more state. The only possibilities are New Mexico (where Clinton holds an eight-point lead) or Colorado (where her lead is just two points). Colorado could decide the White House race if we have no clear winner as we move into the Mountain Time Zone.

“The Significance of ‘October Surprises’” -- I am surprised I am even writing some of the things I’m writing this week. When the “Access Hollywood” tapes were released on October 7, I figured Trump was toast. Clinton’s poll lead ballooned to 12-to-14 points. How could Trump overcome that? But Clilnton's problem is that WikiLeaks emails and the FBI reports came out in the last week, and that simply swung the momentum away from her. In short, the effect of Trump’s “October Surprise” peaked and then waned, just as Hillary's “October Surprises” surfaced. In politics – as with so many things in life – timing is everything.

“Third-Party Swing” – Another thing to watch is the exit polling, especially among those who are (or planned to be) third-party voters. Last summer, the two most prominent third-party candidates were Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Jill Stein, who collectively polled as high as 18 percent. Their combined total is now down to six percent. My educated guess is that people who earlier wanted to vote for Johnson or Stein simply decided to cast their votes for someone who could actually win – Trump or Clinton. The most fascinating exit poll numbers will show where the majority of Bernie Sanders’ voters wound up casting their ballots. That may be what decides this election!

“My Prediction” – I make predictions, not endorsements. I make educated guesses, not exercises in wishful thinking. My gut and my analytical mind both tell me that the Electoral College outcome will be 273 for Clinton, to 265 for Trump, meaning that he never finds that one missing state which I spoke of above. It is also possible that Trump wins the popular vote, but loses in the Electoral College, a party reversal of the 2000 outcome. I also predict Republicans will hold the U.S. Senate by a 52-48 margin, but may lose 10 to 20 seats in the U.S. House, where they will still hold solid control. Divided (and shared) governance will continue, but may do so in gridlock.

What are your predictions for Election Day? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.


Related Slideshow: Can an Election Be Stolen?

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Cianci in 2014

As GoLocal reported, there were questions about mail ballots being collected by what turned out to be two off-duty Providence Police Officers at Crossroads. 

Independent candidate for Mayor Vincent Cianci has released a statement in response to accusations of mail ballot tampering. 

“We are nearing the end of of an intense election and, with just over a week to go, a fast and furious onslaught of misconduct allegations is to be fully expected," Cianci said.

Cianci continued, “As far as the Crossroads allegations are concerned, we have hundreds of volunteers, many of whom perform the perfectly legal task of collecting mail ballots.  We would certainly never tolerate any impropriety in this effort and would swiftly remove anyone from our outreach team whose conduct violated the highest ethical standards."

“We have no knowledge of any volunteer acting outside of these standards, other than what has been reported in the press.  We will cooperate fully and freely with any official inquiries made on this subject," said Cianci.

Photo: Richard McCaffrey

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Cicilline in 2002

2012 Was the Year of Voter Fraud in RI

Anthony Gemma looked like a viable opponent to beat David Cicilline in the Democratic primary in 2012. Cicilline had recorded some of the lowest approval ratings for anyone ever to run for Congress. Gemma railed about Cicilline, including in this story.

As GoLocal reported in 2012:

Woman Claims She Was Part of Voter Fraud Scheme in 2002

A woman claiming she was paid under the table to work for Congressman David Cicilline during his 2002 Mayoral campaign accused Cicilline of committing voter.

The woman, Enerolisa Escobar, said she was paid $250 per week in cash (occasionally by Cicilline) for a six-month period leading up to the Democratic primary. She claims to have been responsible for creating a “not coming list” so the Cicilline campaign knew who would not be voting that year.

Cicilline won a four-way primary with just over 50 percent of the vote.

Cicilline campaign manager Eric Hyers said the claims are “part of an ongoing and desperate smear campaign” by Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma.

“After 2 weeks of witnessing a string of unsubstantiated claims, absolutely nothing that comes out of the Gemma campaign is remotely credible,” Hyers said. “In five hours, the Republicans will nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, both of whom Brendan Doherty enthusiastically supports, to lead the most radical and extreme agenda in recent memory, and this circus is distracting from the harm this agenda will do to Rhode Island's middle class, women, and seniors. Voters deserve a substantive discussion of the issues.”

Photo: Richard McCaffrey

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LBJ in 1948

''Means of Ascent,'' by Robert A. Caro, on the life of one of America's bigger-than-life Presidents Lyndon Baines Johnson, outlines how LBJ stole the 1948 race -- his first run for the U.S. Senate.

''Mr. Caro maintains that although ballot fraud was common in the late 1940's in some parts of Texas, the Johnson campaign of 1948 raised it to a new level. Mr. Caro supports his charge with an interview with Luis Salas, an election judge in Jim Wells County who said he acknowledged his role only after all others involved in the theft had died," as the New York Times reported.

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Elorza Had His Issues Too

The battle between Cianci and now Mayor Jorge Elorza had charges on both sides. GoLocal unveiled a video that raised questions during the campaign.

VIDEO: Elorza Supporter Rep. Slater Caught with Mail Ballot

A new video shows State Representative Scott Slater with what appears to be an unsealed mail ballot in Providence.

The fifty second video, which was shot at the Kilmartin Plaza highrise on Benedict Street at around 6:30 P.M. on Saturday, October 25, was taken by Juan Noboa.   

GoLocal has exclusively learned that the Rhode Island State Police is now in possession of the video.  

Noboa said that he saw the ballot in Slater's back pocket, and when it fell out, and he said he saw it was unsealed, he began to ask questions -- and shoot the video.  

"I knew he was caught red-handed," said Noboa of Slater, a supporter of former Speaker of the House Gordon Foxwho has endorsed Democrat Jorge Elorza in the Providence Mayoral race. "The began to threaten us, and that's when we called the police."

The incident is the latest in mail ballot tampering allegations in the race for Mayor of Providence.  

The State Police are now investigating an alleged incident at Crossroads facility. 

Last week the Elorza campaign asked the state Board of Elections to investigate possible ballot tampering by Vincent Cianci’s campaign and to increase monitoring of voter fraud in the Providence mayoral race.

Elorza spokesman David Ortiz asked the Cianci campaign: “Given your previous campaign history of mail ballot tampering and voter fraud, can you assure Providence voters that there are no unlawful activities occurring from people associated with your campaign this time? If so, what is the oversight involved?”

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JFK's Election in '60

According to most historic and journalistic accounts — the Texas and Illinois results in the Presidential election in 1960 may have been tainted and the election may have very well been stolen.

In a feature in Slate in 2000 by David Greenberg outlines the fraud and Nixon’s reaction:

Even before Election Day, rumors circulated about fraud, especially in Chicago, where Mayor Richard Daley's machine was known for delivering whopping Democratic tallies by fair means and foul. When it became clear how narrowly Nixon lost, outraged Republicans grew convinced that cheating had tipped the election and lobbied for an investigation.

Nixon always insisted that others, including President Eisenhower, encouraged him to dispute the outcome but that he refused. A challenge, he told others, would cause a "constitutional crisis," hurt America in the eyes of the world, and "tear the country apart." Besides, he added, pursuing the claims would mean "charges of 'sore loser' would follow me through history and remove any possibility of a further political career."

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Cianci/Griffin in '82

Cianci’s Election and Mail Ballots

Buddy Cianci thought he lost his first election for Mayor in 1982 until a South Side Councilman came through. According to Mike Stanton’s book, “Prince of Providence” Cianci was saved by Lloyd Griffin - and his paper ballots.

“When Cianci realized that the race would come down to the nearly six thousand outstanding mail ballots, he was elated — because he had in his corner the maestro of mail ballots, Lloyd “Satchel” Griffin. His scheme to collect mail ballots by promising senior citizens a free bus ride to Atlantic City in 1974 helped lift Cianci to Victory over Joe Doorley. In 1978, he had delivered again.

At the start of the 1982 race, Griifin had professed neutrality. But then, eleven days before the election, state police troopers armed with shot-guns raided Griffin’s campaign headquarters in search of stolen mail ballots….Griffin brought in more than eight hundred mail ballots, assuring Cianci of victory," according to Stanton.

Cianci’s total margin of victory in 1982 was just 1,074 votes.

Photo: Richard McCaffrey

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More Claims

Cicilline Accusers Tied to Mail Ballot Misdeeds in 2008

According to a 2008 Providence Journal article, State Senate candidate Maryelyn Alba-Acevedo and State Rep. candidate Wilbur Jennings, both Democrats, were accused of turning in an extraordinarily high number of mail ballots during their campaigns that year.

(Editor’s Note: A link to the Providence Journal story was not available)

The article states that Alba-Acevedo turned in over 100 applications for mail ballots, with 36 applicants filing for a religious exemption. At the time, state police Major Steven O'Donnell (now the Superintendent of the State Police) investigated the matter and said that some voters may have not known what the mail ballots were for.

"The people who signed it were unsure what they were signing," O’Donnell told to the Journal.

Jennings, who would go on to become a Providence Councilman in 2010, was accused of turning in more than 30 mail ballot applications from voters who said they could not vote because of a disability. Six of his family members were included in that group.

Alba-Acevedo and Jennings are among several residents who came forward after Cicilline’s opponent in this September’s Democratic primary, Anthony Gemma, hired a private investigation firm to look into voter fraud. Following a Wednesday press conference, Gemma released sworn statements from individuals making claims about Cicilline and his allies.

One was from Alba-Acevedo, who claimed that in 2006, she was told by Cicilline’s Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Bizzacco that she had to resign from her position in the Providence Tax Assessor’s office because of her husband was running for City Council.

Jennings was not among those who provided sworn statements, but he did claim Cicilline had a hand in his 2006 loss in a City Council race.

“My election was torn apart by the Cicilline people,” Jennings told GoLocalProv. “I was a victim of the Cicilline administration.”

Congressman Cicilline has denied the accusations leveled against him.


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