Fight for Senate control going down to the wire

 

On the roster: Fight for Senate control going down to the wire – Time Out: ‘Sioux chef’- More FBI disclosures on Clinton email ‘unlikely’ before Election Day – Audible: Woah – Imagine a town where no one owns a shotgun

FIGHT FOR SENATE CONTROL GOING DOWN TO THE WIRE
The presidential race has reverted to its form for much of the general election: a small but clear lead for Hillary Clinton.

It’s close enough, especially in some key states that we will be sweating the exit polls from early until probably very late on Tuesday, but the race has a discernable shape.

But the Senate? Who the heck knows?

Democrats need five seats to regain the majority in the Senate, and it certainly looks like they could pull it off. But without tornadic suction from the top of the ticket, the task becomes much harder.

How close is it? The Cook Political Report forecasts, Democrats are likely to pick up between four and six seats. It’s on the razor’s edge.

You’ve got to go state by state and county by county to get a sense of how things will play out.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick tour of the key races.

THE TRUE TOSS UPS
North Carolina:
The Tar Heel State is a true tossup state in several key races for the GOP this cycle, but the Senate came as rather a surprise. Many in the GOP feel Sen. Richard Burr waited too long to take his Senate race seriously and allowed former State Rep. Deborah Ross to get the edge on him, especially on fundraising and using Burr’s support for Trump against him. Burr has remained competitive, however, and leads in the Real Clear Politics average of polls by 1.5 points, but with such a slim margin Burr will need to push to the very end to ensure a victory here.

Nevada: A Democratic seat since 1987, this is the Republican’s insurance policy. The blue team was expecting a fairly easy transition from outgoing Senate Minority leader Harry Reid to his anointed successor, former state Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto. Both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have campaigned for her showing how important this state is for Democrats to keep. But Rep. Joe Heck is well known in the state, representing Henderson and part of Las Vegas, and leads an RCP average of polls by 1.4 points. This is the GOP’s best chance to take a seat away from the Democrats.

LEANS DEM
Pennsylvania:
Incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey was looking pretty competitive through the summer and into early fall, but as Trump’s campaign took a dive in Pennsylvania, so did Toomey’s. But Katie McGinty, the state’s former environmental protection boss, has led in every poll since the end of October and the RCP average shows her up 3.8 points. She was also endorsed by President Obama before the Democratic primary, showing the importance of this seat.

Wisconsin: Former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold’s remains the favorite in his rematch with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. Johnson is down by about 4.7 points in the RCP average, but late polling has shown a tightening race. While you have to give Feingold the edge, Johnson isn’t done yet. The late moves by pro-GOP groups to flood the state with cash show just how competitive the contest remains.

Indiana: Similar to Wisconsin, the entrance of a long-time and well known Democrat caused a flip in the status of the race for Republicans. Former Sen. Evan Bayh’s recruitment by his party changed the state of the race here. Three-term Republican Rep. Todd Young has been trying to paint his opponent as a “Washington insider” since Bayh has turned into a lobbyist, which has worked somewhat. Bayh only leads by 2.3 points in RCP’s average. Bayh’s high name recognition and favorability in the state plus the open seat due to Sen. Dan Coats’ decision to retire have made the Hoosier State a tossup.

LEANS GOP
New Hampshire:
One of the most-watched races in the country, incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte was once considered a lost cause. Popular Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan looked like a sure thing as Republicans struggled statewide. But Republicans have rallied, led by Ayotte, who holds a 2.5 point advantage in the RCP average.

Missouri: Missouri could end up being the state that decides the majority party in the Senate. Incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt has been in for a much-tougher fight than expected. Trump’s nomination turned this seat from once safely-red to competitive. Although Blunt is up 1.5 points in RCP’s average against Democrat and Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander, the state’s turmoil in Ferguson and less-than-enthusiastic embrace of the GOP presidential nominee have given Kander a decent shot at victory. This would be a major get for Democrats considering the seat has been in Republican hands since 1987.

SOLID DEM
Illinois:
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk’s 2010 victory was a major surprise in true-blue Illinois. Kirk has been one of the most bipartisan Senators, and has broken with core GOP issues including: gay marriage and allowing Obama to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat. These shows of bipartisanship have not won him favor, however, in his race against Rep. Tammy Duckworth. RCP’s average shows Kirk at a 13.3 point deficit.

SOLID GOP
Florida:
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s decision to enter the race after his presidential hopes were squashed was a godsend for anxious GOPers. Not only is Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy struggling with possible campaign finance law issues, but his families ties to Trump’s buildings in Florida were a major blow…especially since he had adamantly denied any connection. Rubio has been closing strong and looks to put the hapless Democrat away early on Tuesday.

Ohio: Once thought to be in for a tough fight, Sen. Rob Portman leads by a buckeye-cracking 15.6 points in the RCP average of polls. This is in part due to the poorly executed campaign of former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland who, despite an early endorsement from Bill Clinton, has floundered. Portman, on the other hand, gets credit for probably the best executed Senate campaign of the cycle.

[Watch Fox: New national polls on the presidential race on “Special Report with Bret Baier” tonight on 6 p.m. ET]

THE RULEBOOK: BIG DIFFERENCE
“What answer shall we give to those who would persuade us that things so unlike resemble each other? The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that a government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of the elective and periodical servants of the people, is an aristocracy, a monarchy, and a despotism.”– Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 69

TIME OUT: ‘SIOUX CHEF’
Of all the cuisines American culture has integrated as personal favorites, the food of Native Americans is not one of them, but one “Sioux Chef” is trying to change that. Atlantic: “Chef Sean Sherman had been working in restaurant kitchens for decades. Then a strange fact struck him: The food of his people, the Oglala Sioux, was completely unrepresented in American cuisine…’I just had an epiphany,” he said, “I should be doing the food of my ancestry and my heritage.’ In the past few years, Sean has launched Tatanka Truck in Minneapolis, a food truck focused on indigenous food, as well as the Sioux Chef, the catering company he runs with his partner Dana Thompson. Today, Sean and Dana are preparing to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant devoted to indigenous foods of Minnesota and the Dakotas. The public seems to agree with Sean and Dana that such a restaurant is needed: the Sioux Chef was the most-funded Kickstarter restaurant project, ever.”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions

SCOREBOARD
Average of national head-to-head presidential polls: 
Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +3.8 points
[Polls included: IBDABC/WaPoCBS/NYT, Fox News and Pew.]

Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +3 points
[Polls included:  IBDABC/WaPoCBS/NYT, Fox News and Pew.]

MORE FBI DISCLOSURES UNLIKLEY BEFORE ELECTION
Reuters: “FBI Director James Comey was driven in part by a fear of leaks from within his agency when he decided to tell Congress the FBI was investigating newly discovered emails related to Hillary Clinton, law enforcement sources said on Thursday. The examination of the email traffic is now being carried out under the tightest secrecy by a team at Federal Bureau of Investigations headquarters in Washington, the sources said, requesting anonymity because of the inquiry’s sensitivity. Several sources said it was unclear whether the FBI would make any further public disclosures about its latest review before Tuesday’s presidential and congressional elections. Two sources said such disclosures were unlikely.”

Clinton State Dept. emails found on Weiner’s computer – CBS News: “The FBI has found emails related to Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state on the laptop belonging to the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner, according to a U.S. official. These emails, CBS News’ Andres Triay reports, are not duplicates of emails found on Secretary Clinton’s private server. At this point, however, it remains to be seen whether these emails are significant to the FBI’s investigation into Clinton. It is also not known how many relevant emails there are.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Who better to spend the final Sunday before Election Day with than Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt? On this week’s “Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What” the duo give you everything you need to know before the big day Tuesday. Watch at 5 p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel.

Fox News Sunday – Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence joins Mr. Sunday to make a final push for the Team Trump ahead of Tuesday’s widely anticipated Election Day. Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

AUDIBLE: NOW THAT’S A DISAVOWAL!
“The guy does deserve a bullet.” – Eric Trump talking to a Denver radio show about Louisiana Senate candidate and former KKK leader David Duke.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Early Latino voting could help Clinton in several states – WaPo

More than words: What the campaigns font styles say about them – Vice

Red states move Trump’s way in new polls, but Georgia shows a toss-up race – NBC News

New ad for Rep. Trey Gowdy pokes fun at his haircut – McClatchy

Clinton to campaign in N.H. Sunday – The Hill

Tax appeals on Trump’s Fla. property reveal he isn’t as wealthy as he claims – NYT

Meet the Macedonians profiting from fake pro-Trump news –  BuzzFeed

Trump accuses Clinton of perjury at rally in N.C. – Fox News

Melania Trump makes plea for civility in Philly burbs – AP

Romney campaigns for McCain in Ariz. – KTAR

From the bleachers – Chris will be back Monday with your color commentary on the eve of Election Day. Keep the comments coming! Share your color commentary by emailing us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

IMAGINE A TOWN WHERE NO ONE OWNS A SHOTGUN
KCRA: “A Davis [Calif.] turkey known as Downtown Tom has become so aggressive residents have taken to calling 911 for help. The turkey spends most of his time hanging around the Wells Fargo parking lot in downtown, lunging at, circling and chasing after people…Officials recommend clapping your hands and shouting at the bird – not running away from it – and using whatever you’re carrying to block its approach toward you. City Wildlife Resource Specialist John McNerney helped create the tips and also helped write a new ordinance passed last week that allows the city to euthanize aggressive turkeys… ‘Be the dominant species, essentially,’ McNerney said. … On Tuesday, wildlife officials attempted to catch Downtown Tom without success. However, the half-mile chase pushed the bothersome bird out of downtown, where they hope it’ll stay.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily “Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including “The Kelly File,” “Special Report with Bret Baier,” and “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.

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