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Newsletter: Essential Politics: Election despair at Disneyland

(LAT)

It may be the happiest place on Earth, but Disneyland visitors seem to be just as sick and tired of this election as everyone else in America.

I’m Christina Bellantoni. Welcome to Essential Politics, with just over one week to go until the big day.

As we check in with voters in the final stretch, Team Politics wanted to try something different. So we journeyed to Disneyland to find out how a wide sampling of people are viewing the contest. What we found was a dark picture: Voters are eager to see the contest conclude and feel the political conversation has hurt society over the last year. Most expressed dissatisfaction with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as presidential candidates.

We asked them to describe the election in one word. “Interesting” and “game changer” were the nicest words anyone could come up with. The rest, well, you can probably guess. Check out the entire project.

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THE EMAIL SCANDAL THAT WON’T DIE

Perhaps it’s fitting that like a zombie rising again and again, the email server that continues to threaten Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency resurfaced ahead of Halloween weekend.

On Sunday, the FBI obtained a new warrant to examine the emails in question, and the issue of course dominated conversation on political shows and on the campaign trail.

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So far, polls show voters haven’t shifted their positions since the Friday news.

Cathleen Decker writes for Monday’s front page that one reason the latest dustup might not matter is that voters have hardened, with mostly negative views of both nominees, and have stuck with their choice regardless of any new revelations. Bad news has eventually paled against the level of distaste for the opponent.

Kurtis Lee has a quick look at everything you need to know about Clinton’s emails.

Chris Megerian writes from the trail that while she was facing the new wave of questions, Clinton returned to a familiar theme for her campaign -- refusing to give up despite any obstacles in her path.

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Get the latest about the race on Trail Guide and follow @latimespolitics. And check our daily USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times tracking poll at the top of the politics page.

CLINTON SETS HER SIGHTS ON THE SENATE

President Obama has been repeatedly frustrated by Republicans’ control of the U.S. Senate, something Clinton is working to avoid if she wins the White House. So she is increasingly stumping for Democratic Senate candidates to help clear a path for her agenda in Washington. At the same time, Trump is nowhere to be seen on behalf of Republican senators, who have struggled to distance themselves from his sagging candidacy.

Here is the Senate balance of power scenario.

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The fight for the House is much more of a longshot for Democrats, but any plausible scenario for the party includes winning the congressional district in San Antonio held by Rep. Will Hurd, who, after some equivocation, has strongly denounced his party’s nominee. Mark Z. Barabak examines the race between the freshman Republican and Democrat Pete Gallego, who lost the seat two years ago.

Here in California, we’re watching another bellwether district in the Central Valley. At issue is if conservative voters turned off by Trump and dismayed by the choice of two Democrats in the U.S. Senate race won’t turn out to support House candidates. Sarah Wire looked at how this could play out in the 10th Congressional District, where Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) was initially expected to win handily, but faces a tougher contest in the final days of the election.

INDEPENDENT WORRIES

Why was Trump taking aim at a little-known independent presidential candidate during a Fox News interview this weekend?

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It could be because that candidate, Evan McMullin, has a credible shot at winning in Utah, a coup that would mark the first time a Republican presidential nominee lost the state in more than 50 years. Melanie Mason reports from Draper, Utah, on the upstart campaign that has transformed this deep-red state into a battleground and how McMullin’s post-election plans include shaking up conservative politics.

Meantime, McMullin joins Bernie Sanders as one of California’s officially certified write-in candidates for president.

SPEAKING OF THE GOLDEN STATE

It hasn’t always been a lock for the Democrats. Our graphics team runs through California’s electoral history. Take a trip down memory lane and see how things have trended from red to blue since George H.W. Bush was the last Republican to win here.

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And keep track of California political news on our Essential Politics news feed.

EARLY VOTING UPDATE

At a rally in Las Vegas on Sunday, Trump touted higher-than-usual voting rates as proof that his campaign has energized a base of previously inactive voters who will power the GOP presidential nominee to victory on Nov. 8. But Mason reports that the political data wonks who are obsessively parsing incoming data paint a more nuanced picture of the early vote so far. With millions of votes already cast in the general election, experts see positive signs for the Clinton campaign.

CATCHING THE STORY IN MID-AIR

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What is it like to be traveling with a presidential campaign when a major story breaks? Very confusing and frustrating, especially when the in-flight Wi-Fi isn’t working. Here’s a look at 24 hours inside the Clinton campaign bubble after Megerian first spotted the news about the FBI’s email investigation while flying toward Iowa on the candidate’s plane.

ALL ABOUT POT

Proposition 64 is complicated. Patrick McGreevy delivers a Q&A to answer all your questions about the ballot measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

He also reports that, given only 47% of Latino voters support the idea, the campaigns for and against the measure are launching dueling ads targeting that demographic.

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We also examined the pot measures under consideration in other states. After Nov. 8, marijuana could be legal for medical or recreational use in 29 states.

CRIME VICTIMS ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE DEATH PENALTY

California has the largest death row population in the country, with more than 740 inmates awaiting punishment after executions were suspended in 2006. As voters this November consider doing away with the death penalty system, victims’ families have become prominent speakers behind two dueling ballot measure campaigns: one to end executions (Proposition 62) and another to speed them up (Proposition 66). Their voices are a reminder that justice, closure and vengeance are still a painful part of the debate for many, Jazmine Ulloa reports.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed Proposition 62 to repeal the death penalty, calling the punishment “cruel and unusual” under the Constitution.

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PROPOSITION ROUNDUP

-- Comedian Kathy Griffin has released a spoof a No on Proposition 56 television ad, highlighting that tobacco companies are behind the campaign against raising the cigarette tax.

-- Eva Longoria voiced support for a ballot measure that would repeal English-only education in California.

-- Sanders and Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) were featured in a 30-minute documentary-style advertisement for the Yes on Proposition 61 campaign that ran over the weekend statewide. Christine Mai-Duc reports the infomercial continued the “Yes” campaign’s tactic of stoking public anger over rising drug prices and made use of airtime the campaign had bought previously when it challenged pharmaceutical industry executives to a televised debate.

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To keep track of California’s 17 propositions as you make your decisions, don’t miss The Times’ ballot box guide on each of them.

SKELTON PRAISES PAROLE REFORM

Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 57 would offer early release for more inmates who were convicted of nonviolent crimes. But opponents, primarily prosecutors, have criticized the ballot measure, saying the governor moved ahead without inviting them to help plan the proposition. Complaints aside, motivating bad guys to become good guys is worth a “yes” vote, George Skelton writes in his Monday column.

HARRIS CAMPAIGN BUS ON CRUISE CONTROL?

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U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris launched a 10-day campaign bus tour in Santa Clarita on Sunday, holding a rally with down-ballot Democrats who hope she’ll bring out party loyalists in the November election. Phil Willon reports that the rally was jam-packed and will be the first of many Harris will hold this week in congressional districts where Democrats threaten to nab seats from Republican incumbents.

Meantime, Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez took her campaign to the Inland Empire on Saturday, touting her record on water issues and taking a few swipes at Harris. Sanchez said she’s the only candidate in the race talking about the issues, and that all she’s seen from Harris are “commercials on TV.”

The Sanchez campaign also launched a website critical of Harris’ record as California attorney general and her tenure as San Francisco district attorney.

POLITICAL ROAD MAP: CALIFORNIA’S GOP BRAND TAKES A BEATING

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There are few states where the Republican image came into the 2016 election at a point as low as it did here in California. And where GOP leaders hoped the worst was behind them, some new data shows that was wishful thinking.

In his Political Road Map column on Sunday, John Myers took a closer look at the dismal low opinion many California voters have of the Republican Party -- even the party’s own voters. It could be a huge problem after next week’s election as the GOP sets its sights on 2018.

PODCAST: THE DOWN-TICKET LOWDOWN

While campaigns have become ever more nationalized in presidential election years, this one has reached all the way to individual state legislative races across the Golden State.

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Myers leads a discussion on this week’s California Politics Podcast of the Clinton-Trump effect across the board, from congressional contests to battles for the state Assembly and Senate.

TODAY’S ESSENTIALS

-- A Times investigative team found a curious pattern with local donations tied to a major real estate development in Los Angeles.

-- The campaign of Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach) was supposed to appear in a Sacramento court Friday over documents that the FPPC says he still hadn’t turned over in an ongoing investigation of possible coordination between Hadley’s campaign and an independent expenditure committee funded by Charles Munger Jr. The court date was canceled after Hadley turned over the documents Wednesday, according to a letter from the state ethics watchdog.

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-- Obama endorsed three Assembly candidates in a rare move Thursday. Just hours later, Spirit of Democracy, an independent expenditure committee funded largely by Munger, reported spending $965,455 in TV ads against Cheryl Cook-Kallio, one of the candidates Obama is supporting.

-- Michelle Obama has become Clinton’s most effective supporter this year, providing a moral underpinning to a candidacy that has sometimes struggled to frame an inspiring rationale for itself. Megerian and Christi Parsons chart her transformation from someone who avoided the political spotlight to the campaigner that Clinton’s team calls a “rock star.”

-- Mickey Kantor disagrees with Clinton on trade, he said at a Friday roundtable with former Rep. David Dreier.

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

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