Just chill, everybody

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On the roster: Just chill, everybody - FBI pushes back on GOP claims of Clinton collusion - No spike in Hispanic voter registration - Data Dive: All the single ladies - Meta moose

It looks like the 2016 election needs a time out.

Of all of tantrums of this cycle, we have reached the most unsettling. People are discussing, with straight faces, the possibility that America’s 219-year-record of the peaceful and orderly transfer of executive power is at risk.

It says as great deal about this cycle that a major party’s vice presidential nominee had to be asked, and had to answer a question about whether he and his party would honor the outcome of the Nov. 8 election.

But don’t worry, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence assures us that he and Donald Trump will not lead an armed insurrection against the properly constituted government if they lose.

At least we’ve got that going for us!

Pence was obliged to make this assurance as Trump’s “Apocalypse Now” routine intensifies. Trump’s closing argument seems to be that he will lose, but that his defeat will only prove him right. The worldview laid out by Trump and his loyal surrogates like Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is that the cabal of international bankers that controls America’s economy, media and politics is orchestrating Trump’s defeat.

This is a change from before when Trump was trailing Clinton by similar margins in August but argued he wasn’t really losing at all, the pollsters were just lying.

Somewhat confusingly, Trump now seems to acknowledge that he is losing with just three weeks to go, yet still alleges that voter fraud could rob him of the presidency. On the one hand, Trump blames fellow Republicans and the press for his deep deficit in the polls to Democrat Hillary Clinton. But on the other hand, Trump & Co. are telling supporters that Democrats in “inner cities” are going to steal the election. Trump would probably loses still lose Pennsylvania if they moved Philadelphia to Delaware. He’s that far behind.

You have to be close to be robbed. As a political note of Appalachian-American origin, Halftime Report is more than familiar with election fraud. Vote buying and ballot burning are both time honored traditions of southern West Virginia politics. And Voter fraud occurs all over the country, but its effectiveness is at the very margins of close elections.

Trump supporters who talk of a rigged system in reference to media bias and campaign coverage are playing a dangerous game. By using the same language to talk about the natural bias of the mainstream press as Trump uses to discuss systemic election fraud, they invite a belief among supporters that Trump’s impending defeat is evidence that America has already fallen to the international financiers.

Basically, Trump argues that he couldn’t lose in a fair fight so a loss must be proof of fraud.  

Some point to the report that Trump’s son-in-law has been looking to launch a Trump television network as evidence that the GOP nominee is looking beyond the election and thinking about ways to galvanize his core supporters, whom he plans to turn into loyal viewers.

Of course, that depends on whether Trump loses and, in that event, how it happens.

If Trump is nicked by a few thousand votes in Florida, could we be witnessing the beginning of the end? Well, maybe. If Trump refused to accept the findings and millions of his followers refused to accept the legitimacy of Clinton’s presidency, we could see worse depredations for the republic.

We have already had a campaign office firebombed this cycle. Who can say they know exactly what’s ahead?

But there’s no reason to think that’s what’s going to happen. If the election ended today, Trump would lose by so much that his claims of voter fraud would resonate with very few beyond his absolute core supporters.

Even so, both sides and the political press are taking seriously the possibility that this is really the end of the republic. Everybody needs to calm down here.

We don’t do election forecasts here, per se, but Halftime Report will make this prediction: this election will come and go and we will see on January the 45th peaceful transition of power.

This election is heinous. But it will end.

We promise.

“But quitting the dim light of historical research, attaching ourselves purely to the dictates of reason and good sense, we shall discover much greater cause to reject than to approve the idea of plurality in the Executive, under any modification whatever.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 70

Tuesday marks the 165th anniversary of the publication of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” in London. But the story behind this epic tale is more horrifying that the story lets on. Smithsonian: “Captain George Pollard Jr. was just 29 years old when the Essex went down, and he survived and returned to Nantucket…Pollard had told the full story to fellow captains over a dinner shortly after his rescue from the Essex ordeal, and to a missionary named George Bennet. To Bennet, the tale was like a confession. Certainly, it was grim: 92 days and sleepless nights at sea in a leaking boat with no food, his surviving crew going mad beneath the unforgiving sun, eventual cannibalism and the harrowing fate of two teenage boys, including Pollard’s first cousin, Owen Coffin. ‘But I can tell you no more—my head is on fire at the recollection,’ Pollard told the missionary. ‘I hardly know what I say.’”

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

Average of national head-to-head presidential polls: 
Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +8.4 points
[Polls included: Monmouth University, NBC/WSJABC/WaPoFox News and The Atlantic.]

Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +8.4 points
[Polls included: Monmouth University, NBC/WSJABC/WaPoGW Battleground and Fox News]

CBS News: “The FBI denied Sunday that the agency ever engaged in a ‘quid pro quo’ arrangement with Hillary Clinton’s State Department over the classification of an email, following Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s accusation of ‘potential criminality’ in an interview with Fox News last week. Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who chairs the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News Friday that he had been briefed on an ‘alleged quid pro quo’ between an FBI official and Patrick Kennedy, who serves as the State Department’s undersecretary for management…The Utah Republican said documents recently released from the FBI’s year-long investigation into Clinton’s private email server proved it. But the bureau is pushing back against that claim, saying that the email in question doesn’t prove any such arrangement.”

New WikiLeaks dump: Hillary has ‘character problem’ - Fox News: “Some of the toughest criticism leveled at Hillary Clinton in the emails released by WikiLeaks comes not from any Republican but the head of the liberal Center for American Progress – who is seen complaining about Clinton’s honesty issues and calling her instincts ‘suboptimal.’ Even as she was rooting for the campaign, Neera Tanden – who replaced the target of the email hack, Campaign Chairman John Podesta, as head of the CAP in 2011…‘Everyone wants her to apologize. And she should,’ Tanden wrote in one September 2015 email. ‘Apologies are like her Achilles heel.’…In another August 2015 email, Tanden offered this particularly tough criticism of Clinton’s handling of the email scandal.’…[Her] inability to just do a national interview and communicate genuine feelings of remorse and regret is now, I fear, becoming a character problem (more so than honesty.)’”

Conspiracy theories abound over more odd Assange behavior - Fox News: “WikiLeaks said Monday that its founder Julian Assange’s Internet link was severed by a ‘state party’ and that “appropriate contingency plans” had been activated. Julian Assange's internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party. We have activated the appropriate contingency plans. The website’s announcement came hours after it published three cryptic tweets. The messages referenced Ecuador, Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth Office. Each tweet was matched with a string of numbers.”

But at least he has company - Time: “Pamela Anderson…supports Assange and has concerns for his family and well-being, came bearing gifts [when she visited him at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London]. Among them was a vegan lunch…Assange was apparently unimpressed with the meal choice. ‘He said I tortured him with bringing him vegan food,’ Anderson said.”

USA Today: “Donald Trump’s derogatory comments about Mexicans and his vow to build a wall along the southern U.S. border have failed to spark a surge in voter registrations among Hispanics living in key swing states, a USA TODAY analysis shows. The study looked at the 50 counties with the largest Hispanic population in 10 swing states and found that voter registrations in those counties have increased during the 2016 election cycle. But the gains simply mirrored the growth in the Hispanic population and did not represent a ‘Trump effect’ — a rush to register by Hispanics who plan to vote against the Republican presidential nominee — as some Democratic and Hispanic groups had expected.”

Trump increases fundraising, but still widely trails Hillary - Bloomberg: “Donald Trump raised $100 million for himself and the Republican Party in September, distantly trailing Democratic competitor Hillary Clinton as the campaign enters its final stretch. Trump and a pair of joint fundraising committees with the party began October with $75 million on hand, the Trump campaign said in a statement today. Clinton said earlier that she raised $154 million for her campaign and the Democrats, and started October with twice Trump’s cash on hand.”

When it comes to coveted female voters, those who are single tend to vote Democratically, while their married counterparts tend to vote for the GOP. As people have been waiting longer to get married, this has changed the amount of available voters to both parties. How is this demographic playing out in 2016? Chris Stirewalt explains it all on “Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What” WATCH HERE.

As Donald Trump tumbles in polls, can down-ballot Republicans protect their seats? Chris Stirewalt checks in with Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips on the group’s efforts to help the GOP hold the Senate. WATCH HERE.

“I don’t know, because I hear him saying a lot of different things.” – Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., when asked on a Philadelphia radio station if Donald Trump would pick better Supreme Court nominees than Hillary Clinton.

Eli Lake
 wants you to get real about Russia - Bloomberg

Bernie to campaign in Arizona for Hillary - The Hill

Cruz tweets about death of GOP - 

Cotton seeks pole position for 2020 - 

Former Christie confidant expected to take the stand in corruption trial today - 

Lobbyists raise $11 million for Hillary since July, none for Trump - WaPo

Koch-backed group pummels Bayh in Indiana - Freedom Partners Action Fund

“I note that pundits and pollsters never fail to remind that there is only so much time between now and Election Day. They also report when early voting begins in this state or that. Yet, there appears to be precious little analysis devoted to what influence on the numbers such early voting brings, particularly in today's volatile political environment.  Do voters vote at the earliest opportunity because they don't want to have to think about late breaking news? Or, do they wait to gather information until ‘the last teardrop falls?’ Can it be measured? Do the campaigns pay attention? Does it matter?” – William Lennard, Bella Vista, Ark.

[Ed. note: It matters very much indeed! One caution about early voters, though: These are not typically swing voters. Simply put, the higher propensity voters tend to be more committed partisans. It’s not to say that there aren’t swing voters who cast ballots today and think differently three weeks hence. But most of those who are certain enough of their preferences to vote now are dead-rock partisans. And campaigns do pay attention, but not with an eye towards persuading undecided voters, but rather mobilizing their core supporters to get to the polls as early as possible. ]

“I have been following you from the beginning and find your insight and WV humor a relief from some other sources. However, you do seem to dwell on the adverse about Donald Trump and I (and others) would like to know about the emails coming out from WikiLeaks. It might help to even your information to your fans. Thanks Chris.” – Vira Doughton, Pittsburgh Pa.

[Ed. note: Ms. Doughton, yinz are very kind to offer such fine praise and such gentle reproof.  As journalists we strive for fairness and balance in what we do. But those are not arbitrary standards. If we were to look at stories written about the amusement park industry over the last several years we would probably find a lot more negative stories about SeaWorld than anybody else in the sector. The aquatic theme park’s proprietors would no doubt have a point to make about media bias against live animal shows, something that was nearly uncontroversial until very recently. But, that wouldn’t change the fact that the news has not been good for SeaWorld. There wouldn’t be the same number of negative stories about competitors that were having more successful seasons. This is a political note, focused for the next 22 days, on the question of which individuals and which party prevails in the current campaign. Clinton has had a rough year, and certainly the hacked emails have made her life more uncomfortable as the seedy inner workings of her political machine have been laid bare. But what is happening with the Republican candidate is truly history making. We expected the historical nature of this campaign to be about the gender of the Democratic nominee. Instead, it has been the rise of angry populism in the Republican Party, and the degree of self-destructive behavior in the GOP, unprecedented in that party’s 170 year history. But we will take your encouragement to heart. While we take no position on the election, we are staunchly in favor of accommodating loyal readers like you.]

“We have been dealt the choice between steer manure and chicken manure. Come November 8th, will we be able to tell the difference?” – William F. Cleary, Carmel, Calif.

[Ed. note: Colorfully put, Mr. Cleary! We’ll take a different view on your analogy and say that the grounds for political discourse will be well fertilized going forward.]

“I’m a lot like the gorilla Kumbuka in your report on Friday. But, instead of banging on a glass enclosure, I pound on the glass of my TV, hoping someone will tranquilize me like they did Kumbuka. A nice nap that last until November [8] would be welcomed.” – JR Douglas, Wetumpka, Ala.

[Ed. note: Mr. Douglas, Halftime Report is not licensed to prescribe any sedatives or administer any tranquilizer darts. But we do have one recommendation: cue up a little bit of your home state’s greatest contribution to the world’s culture, Hank Williams, pour yourself something cold to drink, and remember that we’ve survived worse than this.]

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

Calgary Sun: “Newfoundland [Canada] police say a driver who hit a moose on the Trans-Canada Highway Thursday morning was most likely distracted because he was looking at another driver who had hit a moose. The accident, near Holyrood, was among five separate moose accidents in the Avalon Peninsula that happened within 80 minutes of each other. ‘It appears that one vehicle may have struck a moose while trying to see what was happening across the highway at another crash minutes earlier,’ RCMP said in a press release sent to the CBC. No one was seriously injured in the string of accidents, but damages are estimated to cost thousands of dollars.”

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.