Essential Politics: A hardly visible get-out-the-vote operation in a pivotal swing state

No Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying Ohio. And to make that happen, political machinery must kick into high gear as thousands of staff and volunteers knock on doors and dial telephones. If that is happening in Ohio at the moment for Donald Trump, it’s hardly visible.

I’m Christina Bellantoni. This is Essential Politics.

Cathleen Decker writes for Monday’s front page that there is scant evidence of a Trump operation in Ohio, despite a neck-and-neck contest there.

As Hillary Clinton’s operation pushed early voting and worked the phones, some of Trump’s offices, visited over the last week, were nearly empty. With just over three weeks until Americans decide the next president of the United States, will get-out-the-vote efforts in Ohio matter? And given the Electoral College map has shifted dramatically away from Trump, how much ground could he even make up in such a short period of time? Some of those questions may be answered Wednesday night at the final debate.

Over the weekend, a handful of headlines emerged.

A ninth woman came forward accusing Trump of unwanted sexual advances.

His campaign announced it raised $100 million in September, a huge haul but still dwarfed by Clinton’s $154 million for the month.

And Noah Bierman finds Trump has moved to darker corners in recent days with a scorched-earth strategy, and many who have watched Trump’s campaign warn that the spread of such ideas may be only the beginning. Could the campaign rhetoric create a lasting and bitter divide in American society?

Get the latest from the campaign trail on Trail Guide and follow @latimespolitics. Check our daily USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times tracking poll at the top of the politics page.


Trump has faced the stormiest stretch so far of his tumultuous campaign. But you wouldn’t know it talking to his supporters at rallies in battleground states last week. Melanie Mason found that Trump loyalists are united in their conviction that the GOP presidential nominee will win the election.


Clinton has no intention of ceding her cash advantage to Trump, and she’s spending crucial time in the last month before the election meeting with big donors to keep the dollars flowing.

Chris Megerian and Michael A. Memoli report on Clinton’s exclusive fundraisers featuring singers like Elton John, which she’s using to compensate for her weaker network of small-dollar donors.


Case in point: President Obama is headed to Beverly Hills for a high-dollar fundraiser on Oct. 24. He’ll appear at the home of Marilyn and Jeff Katzenberg for a “discussion” to raise money for the Hillary Victory Fund. That means some of the money raised will go to the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties.

According to an invitation obtained by The Times, the contribution level is $100,000 per person.

The president also will appear the next day at a fundraiser to benefit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as his party attempts to reclaim control of the Senate on Nov. 8.

On Oct. 18, Jon Favreau will appear at a fundraiser featuring a special appearance by Moby at the Abbey in West Hollywood. Tickets range from $125 to $2,500.

Also coming up is an Oct. 28 fundraiser to benefit the Clinton campaign starring former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and his guitar. The event will be held at the Studio City home of Suzanne Steinke and Dixon Slingerland and is being billed as “the last official HRC event in Los Angeles.”

O’Malley will perform as guests who pay at least $1,000 to attend enjoy food from “prominent L.A. chefs” and “sing along” to “take this one out in style.” Donors who pay $2,700 will get a photo with the former presidential hopeful and be named as co-hosts.

The invitation obtained by The Times comes along with a message from campaign manager Robby Mook detailing how the money raised could be used for get-out-the-vote efforts. Mook noted that $1,000 pays for a field office in a battleground state for the final weeks, $2,700 sends 50 volunteers from California to Nevada for a weekend of canvassing voters and $10,000 delivers text messages with polling locations to one million potential voters in Florida. Slingerland says guests who pay $10,000 will get a personal tour of his home.


For years, campaigning for president has meant bunking down in hotels on the road. But Clinton and Trump spend almost every night in their own beds, returning home even when stumping in battleground states like Ohio or Pennsylvania.

Megerian and Seema Mehta show how their schedules are a reflection of the candidates’ strategies and the changing nature of presidential contests.


Kamala Harris role in the $25-billion national mortgage settlement in 2012 has become one of her signature accomplishments as California attorney general and, in her U.S. Senate campaign against Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez, has anchored her message of being a “fearless” leader.

Phil Willon reports that Harris’ tough negotiating helped bring $20 billion in financial relief to homeowners in her home state. But Harris had said her primary goal was to allow Californians to stay in their homes, and close to half of the mortgage relief provided was for short sales — meaning owners were forced to leave their homes.


Proposition 51 is a $9-billion bond designed to replenish a state fund for school construction and repairs. It has big support from developers and parent-teacher groups, but Gov. Jerry Brown and others believe it doesn’t direct enough money to low-income districts. Liam Dillon tells you what you need to know about the measure.


Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into efforts to end executions in California, as voters take up two opposing death penalty measures on the Nov. 8 ballot. Jazmine Ulloa reports that the top tech donors have contributed more than half of the funds in a $7-million campaign to support Proposition 62, which would replace capital punishment with life in prison without parole. The same funding drive is opposing Proposition 66, which would speed up the process.

But will their dollars make a difference? California voters rejected a measure to repeal the death penalty in 2012, even as a campaign to support that initiative raked in more money. Polls on the latest proposition to abolish the practice have been mixed, though nationally, public opinion of capital punishment has reached a record low in four decades.

Here’s The Times’ ballot box guide to California’s 17 propositions. Learn our editorial board’s positions on each measure, and get in-depth coverage on everything from school bonds to condoms.


At a debate for the 25th Congressional District race Thursday, Republican Rep. Steve Knight and his Democratic challenger Bryan Caforio squared off on a number of issues, but the one that lingered to the following day was about the presidential race. The short version: Knight reiterated he can’t support either Clinton or Trump on Nov. 8. He wouldn’t reveal his choice, but said he would indeed be voting. Caforio’s camp interpreted that as saying he would vote for Trump anyway. The audio suggests otherwise.  

Also during the debate, Knight said that he doesn’t plan to vote for either Democrat in California’s U.S. Senate race. Instead, he plans to write in the name of a local veteran.

Willon reports that Caforio rightly pointed out that because of California’s top-two primary system, write-ins are not allowed in the general election. Caforio said he plans to vote for Harris in the Senate race, praising her for cracking down on “greedy” corporations and for-profit colleges.


As the debate moderator, I asked Knight and Caforio their stance on Proposition 64 and if they have used marijuana.

They couldn’t have been more different in their answers.


Millions of Californians are now finding an absentee ballot in the mailbox, but how long will it sit on the kitchen table? The changing nature of voting in the Golden State is sparking an evolution in how campaigns are trying to make their case.

In this week’s Political Road Map column, John Myers takes a closer look at how election day in California has become an election month. And some believe this fall’s election, with so many complicated issues on the ballot, could spark even more voters to wait before they act.


Proposition 60 would require actors in porn films to wear condoms, force producers to pay for sexually transmitted disease testing and would allow any state resident to sue over violations of the law. But it might not make sense to deputize every Californian as a condom cop, George Skelton writes in his Monday column.


On this week’s California Politics Podcast, Myers leads a discussion on how the U.S. Senate race appears to be stuck in status quo — which is ostensibly good news for Harris. The episode also examines the chances of Democrats to reclaim a supermajority of seats in both houses of the Legislature.


Have you received a barrage of campaign mailers this election season? Are you bombarded with information about local races and propositions? We want to hear from you.

Send images of campaign mailers and door-hangers, mp3 recordings of robo calls or links to web ads to Include your name, city, state and age, and tell us about the material you’re sharing. Your submissions may be featured on our site.


— It’s back, and it’s going to be spectacular! Join me, John Myers and Seema Mehta at another Los Angeles Times Debate Watch Party, Wednesday night at the Ace Hotel. RSVP here.

— Harris reported raising $2.4 million from July through September for her U.S. Senate campaign and having $4.4 million cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

— Clinton and Sanchez were big winners in an Oct. 11 student mock election held at more than 500 high schools and middle schools throughout California. The mock election was sponsored by the California Secretary of State’s office.

— Sorry, Californians: You still can’t take ballot selfies on election day.

— Reminder to Californians: You’ve got until Oct. 24 to register to vote.

— In 2016, roughly one in five California primary voters was Latino. Research released Wednesday from UC Davis shows Latino voters this year made up the largest percentage of the California primary vote that they have in the last decade.

— Retiring California Sen. Barbara Boxer is among political leaders who oppose Proposition 66, the November ballot measure that intends to speed up executions.

–The “No on Prop 66” campaign is also pointing to an infamous Texas case to warn against faster executions in California.

— Is the election rigged? Trump and his running mate disagree.

— A Republican Party office in North Carolina was burned and vandalized over the weekend.

Steve Lopez wins over a skeptical Trump voters.

— Who will win the November election? Give our Electoral College map a spin.


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