Popular political Twitter accounts frequently use the refrain “Twitter is not real life,” and data from a recent CBS News poll backs that up with just 29% of respondents saying they use Twitter to follow the campaign, report CBS News election analyst Elena Cox and CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. But as one communications professor put it, Twitter plays an “outsized role” in politics today as many politicians and news organizations engage on the platform regularly. According to the recent CBS News Battleground Tracker poll, just 14% of that 29% who use Twitter said they use it a lot. Half of voters say they use other social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to follow the race.
Twitter users only make up a small portion of the population. According to the company’s latest earnings report, the platform said it had 36 million daily active users in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2020. That’s only about 9% of the entire country. However, Twitter is a crucial part of the daily routine for most public officials and for journalists.
“Twitter plays an outsized role in U.S. politics and U.S. political media,” Shannon McGregor, an assistant professor of communications at the Hussman School of Media and Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Just the platform itself and the fact that it is such an insular bubble of political users and news media users, it can be sort of a self-reinforcing loop in terms of limiting the range of perspectives, potentially that journalists or political actors are exposed to and reinforcing those, I would say, polarizing ideas,” McGregor said.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
Joe and Jill Biden traveled to Washington on Friday to honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she lied in state at the Capitol. The Bidens sat behind the Ginsburg family at the memorial service, the two families’ paths first intertwining 27 years ago when then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Biden oversaw Ginsburg’s Senate confirmation hearing, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson notes. At the hearing Biden asked for Ginsburg to introduce her large family sitting behind her. “I must tell you that, in preparation for these hearings, I have read briefing books, opinion books, law review, but there is no book in the world that means as much to me as this one. This is Paul’s book. It says, ‘My Grandma is Very, Very Special,’ by Paul Spera. I thank you, Paul, for this wonderful book,” Ginsburg said. “I will tell you, Paul, the handwriting is good, the pictures are beautiful and you don’t need a publisher,” Biden replied. At the ceremony on Friday, Biden and running mate Senator Kamala Harris appeared publicly together for the first time in-person since the August convention week, 36 days ago. And after the ceremony a clip aired of Biden’s upcoming interview on MSNBC responding to President Trump’s questioning of a peaceful transition of power. “I am confident all the irresponsible, outrageous attacks on voting – we’ll have an election in this country that we always have had. And he’ll leave,” Biden said.
Later in the day speaking at the 111th NAACP Virtual National Convention, Harris paid tribute to Ginsburg, reports CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry. Speaking with moderator Angela Rye, Harris said of Ginsburg, “I can’t help but think that she wanted to live much longer. But that she probably held on longer than most could because of that sheer determination.” Harris added, “She earned the right to rest in peace.” Harris also spoke on the charges brought forward by a Kentucky grand jury in the police shooting of Breonna Taylor. Only one officer involved was charged with “wanton endangerment,” a charge many believe was not severe enough. Harris called it a, “gut punch.” But when Harris, a former prosecutor, was pressed on whether she would have charged all three officers involved she said, “I don’t, I don’t know all the details of the case, but I will say this, that there needs to be transparency about what happened and that family and that community deserve justice. And that’s just the bottom line.”
Mr. Trump on Friday unveiled a “platinum plan” for Black-owned small businesses at a campaign event in Atlanta, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. The Trump campaign revealed in a news release, the president proposes increased lending through community development financial institutions, with aims to direct up to $40 billion in government funds to Black owned businesses, pending the approval of Congress. Under these second term agenda goals, the president also seeks to designate the KKK and ANTIFA as terrorist organizations, make lynching a national hate crime and establish Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Mr. Trump previously came under fire for planning a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on “Juneteenth” of this year. The June 19 anniversary commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. In 2016, Mr. Trump earned 8% of the Black vote. This year, the incumbent president has struggled to garner that same level of support as voters overwhelmingly support his Democratic rival according to recent CBS News Battleground Tracker polling. In the wake of civil unrest following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Mr. Trump has been particularly outspoken in his criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement. “It’s really hurting the Black community. It’s hurting the Black community,” Mr. Trump said during Friday’s event in Atlanta. Following a lone indictment in the case of Breonna Taylor, the president told reporters Thursday afternoon, “I think it’s a sad thing, and I give my regards to the family of Breonna.” During a rally in Jacksonville, Florida, on Thursday night, Mr. Trump boasted of firing military staff teaching racial sensitivity to U.S. troops. “That’s not happening anymore,” the president told supporters. “We fired so many of these wise guys. We had one getting $350,000 a year teaching our military this stuff. And he said, what happened? We said, you’re fired, get out. Done.” Black-owned businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout, with Black business owners facing greater barriers in accessing PPP loans. According to a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, businesses with Black owners have been twice as likely to close amid COVID-19’s outbreak.
Stumping for his father in southern Nevada, Eric Trump on Thursday defended the Trump campaign’s ongoing events in defiance of the state’s coronavirus caps on large gatherings, according to CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. “It’s sad. Let people go out and let them exercise their First Amendment right,” Mr. Trump told a reporter for CBS affiliate KLAS in Las Vegas. Mr. Trump’s plans to host rallies in the state sparked controversy earlier this month and criticism from the state’s governor, a Democrat. One venue incurred a $3,000 fine from authorities in southern Nevada for hosting the president’s indoor rally. Local health authorities in southern and northern Nevada say they have not identified any COVID-19 cases or outbreaks linked to the gatherings, which were held close to two weeks ago. Michigan’s health department recently identified a COVID-19 case among attendees to the president’s rally there on September 10th. “The Southern Nevada Health District has seen recent increases in cases that might be attributed to a number of things. We have not identified a link to any specific gathering,” Stephanie Bethel, spokesperson for the Southern Nevada Health District, said in an email. “Any time there are groups of people who are not wearing face coverings or not practicing social distancing there is an increased risk for transmission of COVID-19. We encourage everyone to adhere to the state directives in Nevada to minimize the risk of exposure in our communities.”
BATTLEGROUNDS IN THE BATTLEGROUNDS
MINNESOTA – *IRON RANGE*
The Iron Range, which is a group of mining districts that stretches across northern Minnesota, is historically a Democratic stronghold with strong labor unions. But, Minnesota’s 8th congressional district, which encompasses the Iron Range, flipped Republican in the 2018 midterms after Mr. Trump carried the district by over 15 points in 2016, reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. President Obama won the district in 2012 by over 5 points. The Trump campaign is making a play to expand its margins in the Iron Range in their effort to flip Minnesota, which Mr. Trump lost by 45,000 votes in 2016. In August during a Vice President Pence event in Duluth, several Iron Range mayors endorsed Mr. Trump in a letter, citing the president’s economic message. Chuck Novak, mayor of Ely, Minnesota, and one of the mayors who cosigned the letter, grew up as a Humphrey Democrat, but said the Democratic party has abandoned him. Novak, who said he will support Democratic state legislative candidates, predicted Mr. Trump will carry the Iron Range in 2020. Referencing Biden’s recent statement on the Iron Range ahead of a visit to the region to pitch his message to voters last week, Novak said he is firmly supporting Mr. Trump. “The Iron Range is an engine of the economy and everything else, and it’s too little too late at this point [for Biden],” Novak said. Chris Johnson, president of the United Steelworkers Local 2075, which represents workers at the mining company Hibbing Taconite, said the Democratic party needs to return to messaging that includes “meat and potatoes, checkbook issues” to win back some voters in the region. Johnson plans to support Biden, citing his record on supporting labor and workers. “There’s a difference between being pro mining and pro miner and [Mr. Trump] may be pro miner, but he’s not pro labor,” Johnson added.
ISSUES THAT MATTER
Mr. Trump is expected to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court, CBS News has confirmed, according to multiple sources involved in or familiar with the selection process. It’s possible Mr. Trump could change his mind, but at this point, Barrett is expected to be announced as the president’s choice Saturday afternoon at the White House, report CBS News White House correspondents Paula Reid and Ben Tracy, White House producers Fin Gomez and Arden Farhi and CBS News digital reporter Melissa Quinn. She has been a leading candidate and was a finalist to be Mr. Trump’s second Supreme Court pick. Barrett met with the president at the White House on Monday. If confirmed, Barrett, who serves on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, would be Mr. Trump’s third Supreme Court appointee, following Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and just the fifth woman to serve on the high court. With her ascension to the Supreme Court, Barrett would further solidify its conservative majority, widening it to 6-3 and diluting the power of Chief Justice John Roberts as a swing vote. Mr. Trump’s selection of Barrett, 48, would occur just over a week after Ginsburg’s death at the age of 87 from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. A pioneer for women’s rights, Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 and served as the anchor of the court’s liberal wing. But Mr. Trump has been urging Republicans to take up his nominee’s confirmation swiftly, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed she will receive a vote on the Senate floor. In defending their decision to move forward with Barrett’s confirmation, McConnell and top Republicans argue that unlike in 2016, the same party — the GOP — now controls the White House and the Senate.
Fury over what they see as rank hypocrisy from Republicans on filling a Supreme Court seat during an election year has led some Democrats to ponder options that recently were considered fringe ideas, most notably adding seats to the Supreme Court, reports CBS News digital politics reporter Grace Segers. Some progressives say expanding the court, an idea known as “court packing,” is the only way to restore balance to a body that has become overtly partisan. The Constitution does not specify how many seats the court must have. Seats can be added or subtracted by acts of Congress, although the current composition of nine seats has been in place since 1869. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told members of his conference that “nothing is off the table” if Democrats retake the Senate, indicating that he is willing to consider expanding the court. Senator Ed Markey, one of the more progressive Democrats in the Senate, has called outright for eliminating the filibuster and expanding the court. House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler tweeted that if the Republican Senate confirms a justice after Election Day but before a new Congress is sworn in, “then the incoming Senate should immediately move to expand the Supreme Court.”
Republicans in Arizona are dismissing a report in The Atlantic that GOP-led legislatures might change rules governing electors in the battleground states, appointing the president’s supporters to the Electoral College even if Biden is declared the popular vote winner in the state, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. Andrew Wilder, communications director for Arizona House Republicans, called the report “more dubious reporting from The Atlantic,” pointing out the state’s legislature would be unable to even consider such changes having adjourned in June. “What I would say to you is we’ve been doing this since 1796, with a peaceful transition of power. And I think that those comments were clarified today in terms of that there would be respect for any free and fair election,” Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, said late Thursday, asked about the issue at a press briefing. “I think that’s every American’s expectation.”
With less than two months until Election Day, California has launched a new chatbot to help voters find critical information online, according to CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. The elections “Search Assistant Module,” also known as “Sam,” is designed to help voters navigate resources on the Secretary of State’s election website. “Sam, our new elections chatbot, will direct voters to the resources they need to register and cast their ballots with confidence,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Voters can ask the Sam questions like “how do I register to vote?” or “where can I sign up to be a poll worker?” and they will be linked to the right websites. Padilla’s office says the chatbot responds best to short questions and keywords.
Five Nevada counties, including Washoe County, the battleground state’s second most populous, say they are postponing mailing out ballots this week citing “exceptionally high demand” with K&H Election Services, one of the nation’s largest vote-by-mail vendors, according to CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. “K&H originally gave the counties a mailing date of October 2, but then K&H said they might be able to get ballots mailed on September 24. Ultimately, K&H was not able to get the ballots printed in time for the earlier mailing date, so we’re back to the original mailing date of October 2,” Wayne Thorley, Nevada’s deputy secretary of state for elections, said in a statement. The company did not return multiple requests for comment. Under a law passed in August, election officials in Nevada are mailing all active voters a ballot for this year’s general election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The delay comes as Riley Sutton, a Nevada-based political consultant, had urged followers on social media to lobby county officials to fix “MAJOR issues of incorrect and misleading information” on Washoe County’s election website about mail voting.
Less than 48 hours after the North Carolina State Board of Elections announced it had received resignation letters from two Republican board members, the state’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein released a fact sheet in a tweet. The fact sheet is intended to debunk what he described as “myths” and “false claims” around changes the NCSBE regarding curing absentee ballots with witness signature issues–one of the top cited reasons that ballots have been returned in the state, according to CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell. “Republican leaders in NC are lying about the State Board of Election’s consent decree to create mistrust in our elections. That’s disgraceful & un-American,” said Stein in a tweet. “They should care more about helping people stay safe, healthy, & have their vote count than trying to maintain power.” On Wednesday evening, the NCSBE sent around resignation letters from Republican NCSBE board members David Black and Ken Raymond, who cited that misinformation about curing absentee ballots with witness signature issues and the extension of the mail-in ballot receipt deadline were part of the reason for their decision to leave the board. At the time, the NCSBE released a statement saying that the members of the board appreciated the two Republican members’ service and the “knowledge and perspective they provided from their years of service as members of county boards of elections.” On Friday, the board released minutes from a closed session meeting that took place on September 15, and memos that the board says proved all five board members were “thoroughly briefed on the pros and cons of any settlement regarding absentee voting and that all board members had ample opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the proposed settlement.” However, Republican North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore implied in a tweet Friday that the attorney general is playing politics. “Josh Stein is citing a federal court order which upheld the witness requirement – as justification for gutting the witness requirement. He must think North Carolinians and other state leaders are pretty dim to accept such nonsense,” said Moore in a tweet. “Another false claim from this joke of a ‘fact sheet.’ Claim: These proposed actions comply with a federal court order. Truth: The federal court ruled the witness signature requirement must remain, but under the consent agreement, unwitnessed ballots will be counted.”
The key Pennsylvania county of Luzerne has fired a temporary employee for incorrectly discarding a handful of military and overseas ballots, county manager David Pedri said Friday. CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak reports Pedri also said the Luzerne election director alerted the local district attorney’s office about the incident. The local district attorney alerted the Justice Department, which announced Thursday that a federal investigation found that nine military general election ballots had been discarded, in a move that confounded some elections experts. Seven were marked for Mr. Trump, and the other two are unknown, U.S. Attorney David Freed from the Middle District of Pennsylvania, a Republican, said in a release. Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the security of mail-in voting, and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany mentioned the announcement minutes before Freed’s office posted it on Twitter. The initial release from the Justice Department said all the ballots were marked for Mr. Trump, but a later release corrected that number to seven. Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor and former Justice Department official, said it’s typical for the Justice Department to investigate ballots not being counted, but that it’s highly irregular to release preliminary findings before the investigation is complete and even more out of the ordinary to release the contents of the ballots in question. “There is no — literally no legitimate law enforcement reason to identify the candidate for whom those ballots were cast. It does not matter who they were voting for,” he told CBS News. “The ballots were either properly or improperly handled. To include that information makes this a partisan act rather than a legal one.” Read more about the investigation here.
IN THE SENATE
Former President Obama released his final list of endorsements for 2020 races Friday, and the list includes many candidates in closely watched Senate races, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Friday’s list includes Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia, M.J. Hegar in Texas, Senator Gary Peters in Michigan, and Ben Ray Lujan in New Mexico. Mr. Obama previously endorsed in August Democratic Senate candidates John Hickenlooper in Colorado, Theresa Greenfield in Iowa, Sara Gideon in Maine, Cal Cunningham in North Carolina and Jaime Harrison in South Carolina. Notably missing from Mr. Obama’s endorsements are Democratic candidates Steve Bullock in Montana, Amy McGrath in Kentucky, and Al Gross in Alaska – all of whom are running against Republican incumbents in historically red states. His list also does not include an endorsement for incumbent Democratic Senator Doug Jones who is running for reelection in Alabama, a state Mr. Trump won by almost 30 points.
IN THE HOUSE
Mr. Obama also endorsed 14 House challengers and 14 House incumbents running in vulnerable seats, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. One of the endorsements was for Diane Mitsch Bush in Colorado’s 3rd district, where Republican Lauren Boebert knocked off incumbent Congressman Scott Tipton in the primary. Mr. Obama also backed Ritchie Torres in New York’s 15th district, who was notably left off his first slate of New York endorsements following their primaries. Two gubernatorial candidates also got a nod from the former president: Nicole Galloway in Missouri and Dan Feltes in New Hampshire.