High anxiety = High turnout

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On the roster: High anxiety = High turnout - Q Poll: Nelson maintains solid lead over Scott - Early voting shows massive turnout, warning to GOP - DeSantis, Gillum duke it out in nasty debate - Turns out you can pick your nose 

HIGH ANXIETY = HIGH TURNOUT 
Conspiracy theorists on the right (and the Republican politicians who exploit their credulity) have said that the band of Central American activists, agitators and refugees making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border are in the employ of the right wing’s version of the Smoking Man, George Soros

Aside from missing the truth of the rapidly deteriorating economic and security situation in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the mercenary caravan theory falls down on basic logic. 

If one wanted to push America toward a more lenient position on granting asylum to those fleeing Central America, the last thing to do would be to send thousands marching for the southern border en masse, smashing through barricades and steamrolling police. 

Every day this story persists it’s free advertising for Republican lawmakers in competitive House races. And as the WSJ/NBC News poll out today shows, the persuadable voters in these districts are hardly lefties. 

“In districts rated as the most competitive by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, the parties are dead even on the question of which one should control Congress,” says the WSJ. “In last month’s poll, Democrats led by 13 percentage points among registered voters and six points among likely voters.”

Or how about this one?

“The poll found that urban voters favor a Democratic-controlled Congress by a 36-percentage-point margin; rural voters favor the GOP by 31 points. Among suburban residents, the parties are virtually tied: 44% favor GOP control and 45% favor a Democratic Congress.”

Think about that for a second. In one month, Democrats lost a 6-point advantage among voters living in the most competitive House districts and are also now trailing (albeit by a single point) in the make or break suburbs.

We’ve known all along that a sizable chunk of Democrats’ advantage on generic ballot polls was due to hugely lopsided sentiment in places where there aren’t competitive races. If the last Republican moves out of Marin County, Calif. it wouldn’t make any difference for control of Congress. 

What we’re seeing now, though, is that as Republican intensity reaches new heights, the GOP is matching already white-hot Democratic intensity. Voters are all of a sudden treating midterms like a general election, and it’s going to have some weird consequences in House races.

If you’re a candidate in either party who relies on a substantial number of crossover votes, things are getting tougher. As a result, we expect to see plenty of casualties among the remaining moderates in both parties. 

To keep that going, Republicans will have to work hard to keep their voters as frightened and angry as core Democrats have been since Election Day 2016. This caravan won’t reach the U.S. by the election – if it ever does – but it will still help the president and his party keep voters on edge.

So unless Soros is trying to save the House for the Republicans by ginning up voter anxiety in suburban Texas and California, he’s probably not the guy. 

THE RULEBOOK: SAD BUT TRUE  
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –Alexander Hamilton or James MadisonFederalist No. 51

TIME OUT: WINE BEFORE ITS TIME 
Smithsonian: “Monte Kronio rises 1,300 feet above the geothermally active landscape of southwestern Sicily. … [People] left behind vessels from the Copper Age (early sixth to early third millennium B.C.) as well as various sizes of ceramic storage jars, jugs and basins. … [In 2012 researchers] found that four of the five Copper Age large storage jars contained an organic residue. … But the fourth jar held the greatest surprise: pure grape wine from 5,000 years ago. … At the end of 2017, research similar to [the research of 2012] using Neolithic ceramic samples from Georgia pushed back the discovery of trace of pure grape wine even further, to 6,000-5,800 B.C. … From an economic standpoint, the evidence of wine implies that people at this time and place were cultivating grapevines. Viticulture requires specific terrains, climates and irrigation systems. Archaeologists hadn’t, up to this point, included all these agricultural strategies in their theories about settlement patterns in these Copper Age Sicilian communities.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 44.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.2 percent
Net Score: -8 points
Change from one week ago: up 2.6 points 
[Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; CBS News: 42% approve - 53% disapprove; Fox News: 47% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 44% approve - 51% disapprove; ABC/WaPo: 43% approve - 53% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
40.4 percent
Democratic average: 49.6 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 9.6 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 1.8 points  
[Average includes: Fox News: 49% Dems - 42% GOP; ABC/WaPo: 53% Dems - 42% GOP; CNBC: 42% Dems - 36% GOP; CNN: 54% Dems - 41% GOP; NPR/PBS/Marist: 48% Dems - 42% GOP.]

Q POLL: NELSON MAINTAINS SOLID LEAD OVER SCOTT   
Quinnipiac University: “Despite his exposure in the wake of Hurricane Michael, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican challenger in the U.S. Senate race, gains virtually no ground on Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, getting 46 percent of likely voters to Sen. Nelson's 52 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today. This compares to a 53 - 46 percent likely voter lead for Sen. Nelson in a September 25 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University Poll.  Today, women, black, Hispanic and independent voters are the main drivers of Nelson's lead: Women back the Democrat 59 - 39 percent, as men back Scott 54 - 44 percent; White voters back Scott 53 - 44 percent. Nelson leads 94 - 3 percent among black voters and 59 - 39 percent among Hispanic voters; Nelson leads 93 - 6 percent among Democrats and 60 - 38 percent among independent voters. Republicans back Scott 89 - 9 percent. Only 2 percent of Florida likely voters remain undecided and 4 percent of those who name a candidate say they might change their mind in the next 15 days.”

Manchin grows his lead over Morrisey - Gray Television: “According to a survey of 650 likely voters in West Virginia conducted between October 12 - 19, 2018, incumbent Democratic Senator Joseph Manchin has the support of 52% of the electorate (a 6-point increase over Gray Television polling in September), with 36% expressing support for Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey. Four percent expressed support for Rusty Hollen, while 8% have yet to make up their mind. Manchin has solidified his lead since the last Gray Television poll in September, though a notable share of both his and Morrisey’s voters still say that they might change their mind before Election Day. This bloc of weakly attached voters includes 10% of Manchin supporters who say their support is “Not too strong” and 4% who say the same about their support for Morrisey. Manchin is viewed favorably by 49% of likely voters and unfavorably by 30%, with 15% expressing a neutral opinion and 6% unfamiliar with him. Morrisey is viewed favorably by 33% of likely voters and unfavorably by 45%, with 11% expressing a neutral opinion and 10% unfamiliar.”

Klobuchar cruising in Minnesota, Smith still sweating - [Minneapolis] Star Tribune: “With two weeks to go, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith leads but hasn’t pulled away from her Republican challenger, while U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar appears to be headed for a decisive win on Nov. 6. A new Star Tribune/MPR News Minnesota Poll found that Republican state Sen. Karin Housley trails Smith, the Democratic incumbent, 47 to 41 percent. Housley has gained new support from independent voters: 42 percent now back her, up from 33 percent in the poll last month, which gave Smith a 7-point overall edge. … But Smith, who assumed the seat vacated by former Sen. Al Franken in January, is the choice of more young voters — 58 percent prefer her. … Klobuchar, a Democrat seeking a third term, has a big lead over GOP state Rep. Jim Newberger, 56 to 33 percent. She’s ahead in every region and among both genders and all age groups.”

Heitkamp sunk - Valley News [N.D.] Live: “In an exclusive poll by KVLY, KFYR and Strategic Research Associates of 650 likely voters in North Dakota conducted between October 12 - 19, 2018, Republican challenger Kevin Cramer leads incumbent Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp 56% to 40%, increasing his lead since Gray Television’s September poll, in which Cramer held a 10-point advantage. Heitkamp’s support appears relatively fixed. Only 5% of those supporting her say that they might change their mind, compared to 17% of Cramer supporters who say they may still change theirs. Heitkamp is viewed favorably by 37% of North Dakota voters and unfavorably by 52%, with 7% holding a neutral opinion and 4% unfamiliar.”

Dem Senate majority hopes dim - Politico: “Democratic hopes of winning the Senate have faded in the final weeks of the 2018 election, with the party now needing to win every one of more than a half-dozen competitive races in order to capture control of the chamber. It’s a far cry from a month ago, when Democrats saw a path to the majority opening wider as several battleground races trended in their direction. But in recent weeks, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s (D-N.D.) seat has slipped away and looks likely to be a Republican pickup, and Democrats have not opened advantages in any of the three GOP-held seats where they’re on offense, instead trailing in public polling in Nevada and Tennessee. Democrats would have to turn around both of those races, carry Arizona, and then sweep largely conservative battleground races featuring incumbent Democrats — Missouri, Florida, Indiana, Montana and West Virginia — to win the majority, a prospect several party strategists referred to as picking up an ‘inside straight’ — a low-odds poker hand.”

Big donors keep GOP flush for the home stretch - NYT: “Republicans entered the final month of the campaign with more money in the bank than the Democrats, providing them with vital ammunition as they wage a furious effort to hold on to control of Congress. The most recent round of campaign finance disclosures, filed Saturday, showed that Republican national party committees, candidates in key House and Senate races and their top unlimited-money outside groups, or ‘super PACs,’ had $337 million on hand as of Sept. 30. Their Democratic counterparts had $285 million in the bank on the same date. It was a rare bright spot for Republicans in a fund-raising picture otherwise dominated by Democrats on the strength of their breakneck small-donor fund-raising by candidates in key congressional races. By contrast, Republicans owe their cash-on-hand advantage to brisk major-donor fund-raising, and a slower pace of spending, by their party committees and super PACs.”

EARLY VOTING SHOWS MASSIVE TURNOUT, WARNING TO GOP
Fox News: “Early voting numbers show a dramatic increase in voter engagement in this year's midterm elections compared with 2014 totals, and preliminary turnout results in some states are sending Republicans renewed warnings of a so-called ‘blue wave’ just weeks before Election Day. More than 4.3 million Americans have already voted, and results posted over the weekend by Nevada's secretary of state indicate a strong Democratic showing across the board in that state. In Washoe County, where Reno is located and where Republicans hold an edge in voter registration (99,675 to 94,520), 3,409 Democrats voted in-person compared with 2,365 Republicans on Saturday. And on Sunday, when many polling places and businesses in urban areas are closed, 1,927 Democrats cast ballots in-person in Washoe County, compared with 1,483 Republicans. Taking into account mail-in votes after two days, Democrats have a roughly 6 percentage-point, 600-vote lead there, despite Republicans' built-in registration advantage.”

DESANTIS, GILLUM DUKE IT OUT IN NASTY DEBATE 
Tampa Bay Times: “Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum had never met before Sunday night's Florida governor debate. It was not the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Rather, it was a nationally televised brawl between the two candidates neck-and-neck in one of the nation's most closely watched state races. They unleashed a torrent of attacks and accusations aimed at the other's credentials, policy positions and those who associate with them. DeSantis had barely finished thanking his wife, Casey, in his opening remarks before he called Gillum a ‘failed mayor’ of Tallahassee who wants to raise taxes. ‘That was a mouthful,’ a surprised Gillum said. Gillum then painted DeSantis as an obstructionist former Congressman that worships ‘at the feet of (President) Donald Trump.’ From the beginning of the hour-long debate, it was clear there is little common ground between these two men, each of whom rose from obscurity and the activist wings of their respective parties to become unlikely gubernatorial nominees.”

Illinois governor spending is bonkers - Chicago Tribune: “Billionaire Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker continued his record-shattering self-funding pace, putting another $15 million in his campaign and bringing his out-of-pocket total to $161.5 million. Pritzker reported his latest self-contribution on Saturday. His total is a national record, eclipsing retired business executive Meg Whitman’s $144 million self-funding in losing the 2010 California governor’s race to Jerry Brown and the $109 million that Michael Bloomberg spent in winning a third term as New York mayor in 2009. Since forming his political committee in March 2017 through the end of September, Pritzker has spent $135.9 million while Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has spent $71.5 million on his re-election, records show. Rauner, a wealthy equity investor, has given himself $95.3 million for his campaigns for governor starting in March 2013.” 

Independent Alaska Gov. Walker drops re-election bid, backs Dem -
 Anchorage Daily News: “Alaska Gov. Bill Walker announced Friday he is dropping his bid for re-election, and threw support to Democrat Mark Begich over Republican Mike Dunleavy. Walker, elected as an independent, made the surprise announcement at the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention, three days after former Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott abruptly stepped down from both his office and the re-election campaign over unspecified ‘inappropriate comments’ he made to a woman. With less than three weeks until Election Day and with more than 23,000 absentee ballots already mailed to voters, Walker's decision to step away from his campaign marks a significant, last-minute change in the battle to become Alaska's next governor. The three-way race has now become a two-way fight between Begich, a former U.S. senator, and Dunleavy, a former state senator. How this complicates voting is not yet completely clear. Some Alaskans have already sent in their voted ballots.”

BERNIE AND WARREN BECOMING 2020 FRENEMIES  
Politico: “Bernie Sanders says he speaks with Elizabeth Warren nearly every day — just not about 2020. But with the two progressive behemoths on a collision course in the presidential primary — and with some progressive activists alarmed that they might split the vote, allowing a more moderate Democrat to win the nomination — Sanders suggested Friday that a pre-2020 discussion among like-minded potential candidates could be forthcoming. Asked whether he and other progressive contenders should hold talks in an effort to ensure one of them prevails, Sanders told POLITICO, ‘I suspect that in the coming weeks and months, there will be discussions.’ Asked whether he has spoken already with Warren or Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) about the 2020 campaign, Sanders said, ‘No, not really.’ An aide to Warren did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Sanders’ remarks come as progressive Democrats begin to grapple with the burgeoning field of prospective 2020 candidates. At least three senators — Sanders (I-Vt.), Warren (D-Mass.) and Merkley — are likely to compete for many of the same hard-left supporters Sanders drew in 2016.”

Gillibrand hoards cash for possible 2020 bid - NYT: “The last time that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was on the ballot for re-election, she poured $8 million into a summer television-advertising spree en route to a landslide victory. This year, she has invested zero dollars on television and has spent only a fraction of what she did in 2012. Ms. Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, has instead methodically conserved her campaign cash, building a $10.7 million federal treasury that is among the largest in the country; a war chest that she could use to jump-start a bid for the White House in 2020. The lack of spending is just one sign of Ms. Gillibrand’s possible trajectory: On Thursday, she stumped in New Hampshire to rally support for Molly Kelly, the Democratic candidate for governor in one of the first two states that will kick off the presidential nominating contest. Ms. Gillibrand’s visit followed recent appearances in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania where she also campaigned primarily for female candidates ahead of the November elections. She has so far essentially ignored her own Republican challenger, Chele Farley, a finance executive and first-time candidate.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Read this: ‘The Issues That Russian Operatives Used to Divide Americans, in Their Own Words’ -NYT

Trump says he'll pull US from nuclear agreement with Moscow - Fox News

Chad Pergram: Congress faces tough choices on Saudi Arabia in wake of Khashoggi killing - Fox News

Obama rallies for Dems in Las Vegas - AP

AUDIBLE: BAD BROMANCE 
“He’s not Lyin’ Ted anymore. He’s Beautiful Ted.” – President Trump said about Sen. Ted Cruz to reporters before leaving Washington for a rally in Texas Monday night.  

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“One of your best [Friday’s Halftime Report]. I feel as if I could get three college credit hours for the history lesson. Kudos from the Lone Star State! I always love your insights.” – Mark L. Mazow, Dallas

[Ed. note: And we love our generous and kind readers! Thanks, Mr. Mazow.]

“Hi Chris - I am fascinated by the evolution of the two party system in American politics, particularly the ideological lineage of modern conservatism vs. progressivism going back to the founders (and even pre founders). Do you have any recommendations for books that examine this subject? Thanks! PS - Love the podcast!” – Mike Schafer, Ashburn, Va.

[Ed. note: I think you might enjoy Jonah Goldberg’s latest, “Suicide of the West.” It’s a detailed intellectual history of modern political ideologies. I found it quite useful. I also commend to you Richard Brookhiser’s Lincoln biography, “Founders’ Son.” Brookhiser quite elegantly bridges the gap between the early republic and the modern time through the person of our greatest president. Also, I hear “Every Man A King” is good…

“Hi Chris, as I was reading … the comments about restrictions on lobbying, it occurred to me that if you could restrict the political contributions to a candidate to those only from constituents in their own district, it would lead to better representation of those constituents. Could this be the case, or am the missing something? I appreciate your insight and comments. Keep it up!” – Joe Graham, Yuba City, Calif.

[Ed. note: It might do some good, but I promise you that whatever restriction that’s applied will be circumvented. Part of the problem with campaign finance rules is that they are barely enforced and when they are, the punishments tend to be quite mild. The other problem is that political spending from outside groups is a big part of what’s driving the current campaign finance climate. I think the only practical solution is to follow the Commonwealth of Virginia’s lead. Virginia allows unlimited contributions to candidates but with very strict reporting rules and penalties for non-compliance. I think we have to re-empower candidates and bring more transparency to the process.]

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TURNS OUT YOU CAN PICK YOUR NOSE 
UPI: “An Oregon family is offering a $6.27 reward for the return of a 50-pound nose sculpture stolen from the front porch of their home. The Albert family said the 2-foot-tall sculpture, which they rescued from being thrown in the trash after a photo shoot, has been a fixture on their Portland front porch since last Halloween, but someone stole it Sunday night. ‘It's just something that we thought was really funny and make us a part of Keep Portland Weird,’ Sayre Albert, 11, told KGW-TV. The family is putting up posters asking for the return of their beloved sculpture. Sayre and his brother, Albert, 7, are offering a $6.27 reward for the nose's safe return. They said they had wanted to offer a $2,000 reward, but their mother vetoed the idea.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Some claim that putting America first is a reassertion of American exceptionalism. On the contrary, it is the antithesis. It makes America no different from all the other countries that define themselves by a particularist blood-and-soil nationalism.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Jan, 26, 2017.  

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.