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On the roster: Biden rebound continues, Warren falls to third - Inspector general scathes FBI - Audible: Slam what now? - Axe yourself why


Quinnipiac University: “In the Democratic primary race for president, former Vice President Joe Biden is in the best position that he has been since the end of the summer, with 29 percent of the vote among Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released [Tuesday]. Biden is followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders with 17 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 15 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 9 percent. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has 5 percent, businessman Andrew Yang receives 4 percent, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar gets 3 percent. No other candidate tops 2 percent. In a November 26 poll, Biden received 24 percent, Buttigieg got 16 percent, Warren had 14 percent, and Sanders got 13 percent.”

Head-to-heads show Dems with steady, decisive advantage - Quinnipiac University: “If the general election for president were being held today, 51 percent of registered voters say they would vote for Joe Biden, while 42 percent say they would vote for President Trump. When Trump is matched against other Democratic contenders the race remains in single digits: Bernie Sanders gets 51 percent, while Trump has 43 percent; Elizabeth Warren receives 50 percent and Trump gets 43 percent; Michael Bloomberg gets 48 percent to Trump's 42 percent; Pete Buttigieg has 48 percent, while Trump receives 43 percent; Amy Klobuchar receives 47 percent, while Trump has 43 percent.”

Buttigieg leads in another New Hampshire poll - WBUR: “Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and former Vice President Joe Biden are leading the crowded Democratic presidential primary race in New Hampshire, according to a new WBUR poll. With the first-in-the-nation primary less than nine weeks away, Buttigieg is running slightly ahead of Biden, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is in fourth place. … According to the WBUR survey (topline, crosstabs) of 442 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, 18% say Buttigieg is their top choice. … His rise to the top of the field in the Granite State has come as support for Warren appears to have slipped. Both are competing for highly educated voters, so it's not surprising they are now taking shots at each other.”

Biden considers making single-term pledge - Politico: “Former Vice President Joe Biden’s top advisers and prominent Democrats outside the Biden campaign have recently revived a long-running debate whether Biden should publicly pledge to serve only one term, with Biden himself signaling to aides that he would serve only a single term. While the option of making a public pledge remains available, Biden has for now settled on an alternative strategy: quietly indicating that he will almost certainly not run for a second term while declining to make a promise that he and his advisers fear could turn him into a lame duck and sap him of his political capital. According to four people who regularly talk to Biden … it is virtually inconceivable that he will run for reelection in 2024, when he would be the first octogenarian president. ‘If Biden is elected,’ a prominent adviser to the campaign said, ‘he’s going to be 82 years old in four years and he won’t be running for reelection.’”

Biden won’t back up campaign diversity claims - Politico: “Former Vice President Joe Biden claims to have ‘the most diverse staff of anybody running’ but his campaign won't prove it. Biden made the sweeping assertion in an interview with NPR this week while campaigning in Iowa. But when presented with staff diversity figures from other campaigns, Biden's campaign declined to release its own numbers. Jamal Brown, Biden’s national press secretary, emailed a statement that did not address the question but instead emphasized Biden’s support among voters of color. The campaigns of Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns all said that about 40 percent of their full-time campaign employees are people of color. … The Biden campaign's refusal to provide evidence backing the former vice president’s claim could provide an opening for his rivals to attack his veracity, as candidates work to create contrasts and score points ahead of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.”

Yang qualifies for December debate, stage likely set at seven - NPR: “Businessman Andrew Yang has qualified for the sixth Democratic primary debate next week. The upstart entrepreneur and nonprofit executive becomes the seventh — and likely final — candidate to make the Dec. 19 debate cut. He reached the polling threshold after a Quinnipiac University poll was released Tuesday. Yang will join former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, billionaire businessman Tom Steyer and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the PBS NewsHour/Politico debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. The Asian American candidate also brings some needed diversity to the debate stage amid criticism that the event could feature only white candidates after California Sen. Kamala Harris, who had already qualified, dropped out last week.”

“The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 48

Garden & Gun: “April McGreger, who for eleven years ran the beloved pickle and preserve business Farmer’s Daughter outside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is in a mixed marriage. She was raised a Christian in Mississippi. Her husband, the illustrator Phil Blank, grew up in a Jewish family in Pennsylvania. Anyone who has been in one of those relationships knows that cooking for two sets of holidays can bring on what McGreger calls ‘celebratory cooking overload.’ The cultural crush can be even more difficult when a Southern cook who made her name with hyperlocal products such as Bradford watermelon rind pickles and scuppernong chutney wades into hundreds of years of Eastern European culinary tradition. All of this helps explain why McGreger will spend Hanukkah frying dozens of sweet potato latkes for her husband’s extended family. … She hopes sweet potato latkes will help her son stay close to his Southern roots.”

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

Biden: 27.6 points (↑ 1.6 points from last wk.)
Warren: 18.4 points (↓ 1 point from last wk.)
Sanders: 18.2 points (↑ 1 point from last wk.)
Buttigieg: 8.6 points (↓ 1.6 points from last wk.)
[Averages include: Quinnipiac University, Monmouth University, CNN, NBC News/WSJ and ABC News/WaPo.]

Average approval: 43.4 percent
Average disapproval: 53 percent
Net Score: -9.6 percent
Change from one week ago: ↑ 0.2 points 
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 41% approve - 55% disapprove; Monmouth University: 46% approve - 52% disapprove; CNN: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; Gallup: 43% approve - 54% disapprove.]

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Fox News: “Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday decried what he called ‘failure’ by the entire ‘chain of command’ involved in the FBI’s initial Trump-Russia investigation, saying they made ‘so many basic and fundamental errors’ on ‘one of the most sensitive FBI investigations.’ Horowitz appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday to testify on his report on the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation and alleged misconduct related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). He also criticized FBI leadership for the ‘inaccuracies’ and ‘omissions’ in their FISA applications for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, among other things. ‘We are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams; on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations; after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI; even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign’ … Horowitz said in his opening statement before the committee.”

Senate GOP may skip impeachment witnesses altogether - WashEx: “Senate Republicans do not expect to call witnesses President Trump might want to hear from most in an impeachment trial, conceding there are not the votes to summon key figures such as Hunter Biden and the unidentified government whistleblower whose complaint sparked the process. Senate impeachment rules require a majority vote to call witnesses, and with just two out of 53 votes to spare, there is no ‘appetite’ among Republicans to pursue testimony from people that Democrats blocked Republicans from subpoenaing during the House investigation. Indeed, Republicans might forgo calling witnesses altogether, saying minds are made up on Trump’s guilt or innocence and that testimony at trial on the Senate floor would draw out the proceedings unnecessarily. ‘Here’s what I want to avoid: this thing going on longer than it needs to,’ Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the Washington Examiner. ‘I want to end this.’”

Trump to sign executive order targeting anti-Semitism on college campuses - NYT

Trump paid $2 million in damages for misuse of charity funds WaPo

“We put it in, slam it in the oven, take it out and there it is -- get Brexit done.” – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson campaigning at a caterer as pies were being made on the eve of Thursday’s parliamentary elections. 

“My wife wants to give a generous donation to Biden, believing Biden to be the weakest candidate. I keep waiting for Warren and Sanders to forge an alliance that would vault one of them into ‘first place’ with a combined 35% backing of Democrat voters. What are your thoughts? Can Liz and Bernie make peace with one another (probably with Warren at the top of the ticket) and win the contest to be the Democrat nominee?” – Lois and Jack Conrad, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

[Ed. note: I will say this for you guys: You’ve elevated strategic voting to the next level! As for your second question, I think any such alliance to be highly unlikely. There’s real antipathy there. Remember that people treat adversaries better than heretics. Sanders is pretty clearly banking on taking his fight to Milwaukee. As for the matter of where to make a donation to do the most harm to Democratic chances, I would only remind you of all the Republicans who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 primaries on the grounds that it would weaken Hillary Clinton or deliver an Obama nomination, making it easier for the GOP. The future is not a straight-line projection, certainly when it comes to politics.]  

“During the past few ‘I'll Tell You What’ podcasts, I've had the delightful experience of taking in (and laughing roundly at) the recap of Dana's take on and your reaction to her pronunciation of the word ‘raccoon.’ I missed the original episode the first time around, but I'm heartily glad I have experienced the highlight reel the second. Dana's blueblood-ish pronunciation made me think of a pet belonging to the nouveau riche summering in Newport in an Edith Wharton novel (not that I believe the Vanderbilt’s would have ever made social calls with raccoons in tow). Yours was the pragmatic take: RAC-coon. As a native Tennesseean, I can tell you our pronunciation draws out both syllables equally and longer with a bit more liquid in the second vowel sound: rac-cooon. Regardless, I think we all know what's to be done when it's confirmed there's a raccoon out back somewhere.” – Cari Shanks, Argyle, Texas (by way of Cleveland, Tenn.)

[Ed. note: But did you know that the Coolidges kept a pet raccoon at the White House? Maybe not the cottages at Newport, but pretty darned swishy for a ringtail!]

“I want to commend you for writing a courageous and uplifting article in Monday’s Halftime Report. You are right, that the world is not addicted to the awful, but to the hopeful. It seems nowadays that the media at large seems to have taken the old adage ‘if it bleeds, it leads,’ and pushed it to our breaking point. … I think the remedy is in part one that you constantly (in a good way) proclaim, that the news needs to be more local, as does the politics. Yet in this information (overload) age, I don’t see how that will ever be a profitable venture.” – Joshua A. Biggs, Susanville, Calif.

[Ed. note: I so much wish I knew the answer to that conundrum. And I promise that if I knew it, I would be out there doing it. We are watching now as the new owners of Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the land, looks for another $300 million in cuts. One suggestion on the table is loosening anti-trust restrictions to allow news outlets to collectively bargain with social media providers on rates, etc. But given the demand, I have to believe someone is going to find a new way to make it work. I just hope they hurry! ]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

WFTS: “A middle school in Manatee County [Florida] evacuated its students after someone sprayed too much Axe body spray. According to school officials, the bus carrying Buffalo Creek Middle School students had to remove students off the bus because of the strong odor. The bus stopped at the intersection of 119th Avenue East and Erie Road near Parrish. Another bus arrived at the smelly scene to pick up the students. A local EMS came to check out the students but thankfully, no one was transported to the hospital from having too much Axe body spray.”

“First, how naive we are about what constitutions are and what they mean around the world. And the second thing, the reason for the first, is how much reverence we have — in the United States and very few other countries — for this document.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) in a column from his posthumous book, “The Point of It All,” on Nov. 29, 2018.

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