Two weeks from today, the nation will be shaking off the presidential campaign and assessing the person who will be the 45th president of the United States.
With all the data pointing to that being Hillary Clinton, there’s been a seismic shift in attention from the battle for the White House to the contest for control of Congress.
Welcome to Essential Politics. I’m Christina Bellantoni.
The indications are coming in multiple forms, from parties shifting money to down-ballot races across the country to analysts seeing increasing trouble for Republican incumbents once thought to be safe.
As we’ve been reporting, a number of California Republicans are seeing their races become more difficult. On Tuesday the nonpartisan analysts at the Cook Political Report said they now consider the 10th Congressional District race between Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) and Democrat Michael Eggman a toss-up.
The change comes on the heels of rating changes in a handful of other races involving House seats held by Republicans, including the 49th District seat held by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and the 25th District seat held by Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale).
We also learned a group led by Ron Nehring, the former state GOP chairman who was a top aide in Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential bid, is asking thousands of Californians who volunteered for the Texas senator’s presidential bid to help turn out Republican voters and help a slew of GOP candidates in hotly contested congressional and legislative races.
In Florida on Tuesday, it was no accident that Clinton was introduced by Senate hopeful Rep. Patrick Murphy when she took the stage in Broward County. Sen. Marco Rubio, the incumbent against whom Murphy is running, was nowhere to be seen while Donald Trump was in town. Their decisions represent divergent calculations about how to win one of the country’s most closely watched races.
At the same time, two fundraising developments Tuesday highlighted the vulnerability of down-ballot Republican candidates, Seema Mehta reports.
Trump cut off a major cash source for the Republican Party, while a super PAC dumped $25 million into six races in the hopes of preserving the GOP’s majority in the Senate.
We’re tracking the Senate landscape here and will keep up our coverage of the races that matter most.
SEARCHING FOR FRAUD IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
The question of the election’s legitimacy has been another theme in recent weeks. Joseph Tanfani took a look at one element of those worries: people in the country illegally casting votes.
He reports that records in these fights show that small numbers of non-citizens do end up registered, and a few have cast votes. However, no one has uncovered evidence of thousands of non-citizen voters — and no evidence has emerged to support Trump’s theory of a coordinated effort to throw an election by stuffing the voting rolls with ineligible immigrants.
We’re with both the Clinton and Trump campaigns as they travel the country for the final stretch. Get the latest from the campaign trail on Trail Guide and follow @latimespolitics. You can check our daily USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times tracking poll at the top of the politics page.
THERE’S A GOP DESERT IN LOS ANGELES
When 818,000 voters in Los Angeles County fill out their ballots, they will find themselves in strange political territory: the only Republican candidates listed will be Trump and Mike Pence.
Thanks to California’s top-two primary system, in this GOP dead zone — spanning parts of five Congressional districts, five state Assembly seats, and one state Senate district — not a single Republican candidate made it onto the November ballot, Javier Panzar reports.
CELEBS PUSH FOR POT
Celebrities including Common, Tim Robbins and the author of the “Orange Is the New Black” memoir are joining forces in what they are calling “Artists for 64” — the effort to legalize recreational use of marijuana in California.
Patrick McGreevy reports that the show of force announced Tuesday also includes music producer Russell Simmons; hip-hop artist Ty Dolla $ign; actors Danny Glover, Olivia Wilde, Shailene Woodley of the “Divergent” series, Jesse Williams of “Grey’s Anatomy” and Michael K. Williams of the HBO series “The Wire”; and Piper Kerman, author of “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MAILBOX?
Have you received a barrage of campaign mailers this election season? Are you bombarded with information about local races and propositions? We want to hear from you.
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— There have been more than half a million Californians who either registered to vote or updated their registrations online. Elections officials said on the final day to register, the number broke the record for online registration transactions.
— Sophia Bollag reports that California Latinos’ overwhelmingly negative views about Trump will spur them to vote in record numbers in November.
— A California congressman in a tough reelection battle has joined the chorus of lawmakers criticizing the Defense Department for demanding soldiers repay enlistment bonuses. In a letter, Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) called on the Pentagon to waive the soldiers’ debts.
— A White House spokesman said President Obama has told the Defense Department to expedite its review of the debts, but he is not backing growing calls for Congress to waive them.
— Here’s a snapshot of the campaign money situation in California’s U.S. Senate race.
— A battle of ads continues, as the “Yes on Prop. 62” campaign released two new online videos featuring crime victims speaking in opposition to the death penalty.
— The FPPC, California’s state ethics watchdog, has asked a court for help in obtaining documents from the campaign of Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach). The commission says the documents are crucial to an investigation into whether Hadley’s campaign illegally coordinated with an independent expenditure that’s supporting him. Despite issuing a subpoena on Aug. 12, the FPPC says in court documents, it has not received all of the records it requested.
— Trump had a chance to attack Clinton on Obamacare, but he seemed to get a little distracted.
— Colin Powell is voting for Clinton.
— Justin Timberlake’s voting booth selfie could have landed him in legal hot water.
— Who will win the November election? Give our Electoral College map a spin.
— Learn more about the propositions on the ballot at the SeePolitical BallotCon event Saturday. It’s free. Sign up here.
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