Newsletter: Essential Politics: Down to the wire in the swing states


“Pretend we’re slightly behind.”

That’s how Donald Trump implored his supporters to behave as they get ready to vote in swing-state Florida.

I’m Christina Bellantoni, this is Essential Politics, and the stakes are high for both campaigns with just days to go until the election is over.

Hillary Clinton was on the other side of the country in swing-state Nevada and had her own strategy to make sure her backers show up on Tuesday — paint Trump as basically hostile to minority groups.


“If you don’t fit into a very narrow category of people he can relate to, then somehow you don’t have a part of Trump’s America,” she said at a union hall filled with Latino voters in Las Vegas. “That really bothers me.”

For each, the question is of course about turnout, as well as about momentum at a time when the polls seem to be all over the place and anxiety is high.

As David Lauter writes, the 2016 campaign — after all the controversy and twists — is ending in a familiar way, almost identical to the last days of the race four years ago. The Democratic nominee is moving down the final stretch with a small lead, while the Republican scrambles to find a way to flip blue states.


Trump’s stump speech had a new twist Wednesday, as he urged voters who have “buyer’s remorse” after casting early ballots for Clinton to revisit their decision. As Seema Mehta reports, their ability to do so depends on what state they live.

Lisa Mascaro looks at Trump’s movement and finds there’s a surprising ambivalence from his army of supporters — and even the candidate himself — over what to do next.

Win or lose, Trump is in a prime position to either lead a remaking of the party he has upended or launch a new one, she writes. But if Trump does not win the White House, it’s not clear whether the Republican nominee will stay as actively engaged in politics as he has been in the many months of the campaign.

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


As the presidential race plays out, the down-ballot contests are getting even hotter and more competitive. We’ve got handy guides to the states that matter most as the Democrats attempt to retake the Senate, and a close look at the most competitive congressional districts.


$5.7 million. That’s how much Democratic Rep. Mike Honda and his Democratic challenger Ro Khanna have spent in their rematch in the Bay Area. Runner-up for the biggest spending in a competitive contest? Rep. Darrell Issa’s surprisingly interesting battle with Doug Applegate.


Sarah Wire looks at the most expensive — and cheapest — races in the state.


Christina Aguilera is performing in Pacific Palisades this weekend to raise money for Clinton.

The Sunday afternoon event is co-hosted by Matthew Rutler, Viveca and Will Ferrell, Debra and Sim Farar, Michael Kives, Phil Mercado and Todd Quinn, and Darnell Strom, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by The Times.

Tickets start at $250. Donors who give or raise $5,000 can attend a host reception with the singer.


With the election looming, a new poll finds California voters continue to support Proposition 63, a gun control measure on the statewide ballot. The initiative is supported by 58% of likely voters, while 35% are opposed, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

California voters also appear to be ready to pass Proposition 64, an initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, the poll found. Young voters and pot users were the most supportive of the measure.


We’ll be rolling out a series of polls over the next few days, so check those out here, and keep an eye on our Essential Politics news feed for the latest on California campaigns and ballot measures.


Proposition 51 seems to have everything for it. The $9-billion state school bond ballot measure has support across the political spectrum, a decent chunk of campaign money and a strong history of voters looking kindly on school construction spending.

But as Liam Dillon reports, the measure is having trouble in the polls, registering less than 50% support. A pollster says that voters could be scared off by the bond’s size and impact on the state budget.

Catch up on all the measures quick with The Times’ ballot box guide to California’s 17 propositions.


California voters face competing ballot measures dealing with the death penalty on Nov. 8 — Proposition 62, which would abolish capital punishment in the state in favor of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and Proposition 66, which would speed up the death penalty process. George Skelton writes in his Thursday column they don’t have to choose between the two and argues why, instead, they could consider voting for both.


— Our team put together a database detailing the stories of each and every person on California’s death row.

— The Trump campaign condemned the burning and vandalism at a historic black church in Mississippi, where someone spray-painted “Vote Trump” on the wall.

— California Democrats’ voter intimidation line opens Friday.

— Despite some Wall Street jitters in recent days, most businesses and investors are betting Clinton will win and the status quo will continue. So if Trump pulls off a surprising victory, brace for a Brexit-style jolt to the markets and economy.

— Hailey Branson-Potts explains why political parties matter in a race for Los Angeles County supervisor that is supposed to be nonpartisan.

— The National Republican Congressional Committee is attacking Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) over 2010 comments in a new television ad, accusing the congressman of supporting higher taxes. In response, Bera’s campaign pointed to several instances when he voted for tax breaks for families.

— A judge denied the ACLU’s request to allow California voters to take “ballot selfies” when they go to the polls Tuesday. A new law repealing the state ban on sharing marked ballots goes into effect Jan. 1, but in the meantime Secretary of State Alex Padilla says voters can take pictures with their “I Voted” stickers and use smartphones in the voting booth.

— Billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given more than $18 million to two Bay Area ballot measures seeking to tax sodas and other sugary beverages by the ounce. The issue, up for a vote in Oakland and San Francisco, has become a pet project of Bloomberg, who has supported similar efforts in Philadelphia and Berkeley.

President Obama faulted the FBI for its handling of newly discovered Clinton emails so close to the election.

— Trump’s campaign manager dismissed supporters espousing anti-Semitic views at his rallies as “fools.”

— Who will win next week? Give our Electoral College map a spin.


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