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Essential Politics: About those voters who haven't made up their minds

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton nearly crossed paths in their home state. Gov. Jerry Brown is signing climate change legislation today in Los Angeles, and we know there will be at least one Senate debate.

I’m Christina Bellantoni. This is Essential Politics.

Get used to where Clinton and Trump stand in the polls, because the voters who are having trouble committing during this election season of discontent probably won’t be changing their mind until after the first debate takes place 18 days from now.

David Lauter writes that the large number of undecided voters reflects the distaste they have for both major party nominees.

He also dives into the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll, explaining one reason Trump might be performing better there than he does in some other national surveys. Among absolutely certain voters, Trump leads 51% to 45%. This tracking poll of 3,000 voters gives more weight to people certain of their vote than those who are less sure.

Get the latest from the campaign trail on Trail Guide and follow @latimespolitics. Watch our daily USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times tracking poll at the top of the politics page.

A FORUM ABOUT VETERANS

At a military forum aboard the Intrepid aircraft carrier, Clinton faced repeated questions Wednesday night about her use of a private email server while secretary of State, just as a newly released January 2009 email exchange between Clinton and Colin Powell contradicted his previous claim that they didn’t speak about it until long after she had been in the position.

Trump was pressed repeatedly about his previous statement he knows more about ISIS than do U.S. generals.

Seema Mehta and Kurtis Lee covered the event in real time here. At one point, Trump expressed support for a path to citizenship for those who serve in the military.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump said he’d restore hundreds of billions in cuts that have been made to the military over the last several years.

MEET THE STRATEGISTS BEHIND THE SENATE CANDIDATES

Longtime California political consultant Bill Carrick had a plan for getting Rep. Loretta Sanchez into the U.S. Senate, but Trump is making it difficult.

Carrick and Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris’ consultant Sean Clegg are trying to do something that’s never been done in California politics: run a statewide campaign in a Democrat-versus-Democrat race. How they advise the two candidates to cobble together a majority could set the stage for what intraparty races look like in the future.

Sarah Wire reports on how Carrick and Clegg might shape the U.S. Senate race going forward.

For more on California politics, watch our Essential Politics news feed.

SAVE THE DATE

Well, we know there’ll be at least one debate in California’s U.S. Senate race. Sanchez and Harris are still fighting over how many debates to have before the November election, but both have agreed to met in Los Angeles on Oct. 5 for a debate sponsored by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles and KABC-TV.

Phil Willon reports that the Sanchez campaign continues to demand more debates. But a political consultant for Harris, who continued to maintain a sizable lead over Sanchez in a poll released on Wednesday, says all debate negotiations have closed.

CALIFORNIANS JOIN FORCES ON SEXUAL ASSAULT ISSUE

It’s not common for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to praise legislation championed by the head of California’s Democrats in Congress, but that’s what he did this week in praising a bill providing new protections for sexual assault victims.

An unlikely pair of California representatives teamed up on the bill. Wire has the backstory on how Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine), a freshman and the only female Republican in the delegation, ended up working together on the bill.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

— Brown is taking his time on the more than 700 bills awaiting his signature. “It’s like a mini PhD in government structure and policy,” he told a group of reporters Wednesday.

B. Wayne Hughes Jr., a Malibu-based GOP mega-donor, gave the maximum legal donation to Libertarian presidential contender Gary Johnson. He explained to Melanie Mason why he ponied up more than $100,000.

— Mehta reports that GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence will speak Thursday morning at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, a popular stop on the conservative speaking circuit. A spokesman says the Indiana governor will compare Reagan’s legacy with Trump’s vision for the nation. Trump, who appeared at the library during a 2015 GOP primary debate, is the first Republican presidential nominee in recent history to not deliver a speech at the sprawling library and grounds in Simi Valley. To welcome Pence to town, Democrats put together a video of Reagan’s three living children blasting the GOP nominee.

— Pence also made clear he wants the conversation about the birther issue to end this election season.

— Democratic congressional candidate Bryan Caforio wants to raise $5,000 off Pence’s visit.

Justin Fareed, a 28-year-old Republican running for retiring Rep. Lois Capps’ Central Coast seat, has a new ad out. You could be forgiven for mistaking it for a Subway commercial.

— Trump says he’ll make a serious play for New York this fall.

— Adam Elmahrek has the story of Commerce in Southeast Los Angeles — a city fueled by hefty tax revenue from the Commerce Casino and Citadel outlet mall at such an extent residents have a giant pool and even a mountain retreat. But, he writes, the generous largess masks what to many residents is another problem that has plagued the region: government dysfunction.

— Who will win the November election? Give our Electoral College map a spin.

LOGISTICS

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