Wednesday Morning Briefing: Debate night: Going down for the third time

October 19, 2016

Now that Donald Trump has declared his independence from the Republican Party, the third and final debate is likely to be nothing the American public has seen before on so august a stage. So here are some pressing questions:

  • Will Trump renege on his pledge in the first debate to accept the election results?
  • Given what we’ve seen in Trump’s stump speeches over the last week, he’s likely to throw the kitchen sink at Hillary Clinton tonight. Her goal will be to remain presidential throughout without looking robotic.
  • According to a slew of polls the presidential election is increasingly out of reach for Trump. What impact will the debate have on down-ballot races?

Hillary Clinton has an 87 percent chance of winning the election, according to, comparable to where President Barack Obama was against Mitt Romney in 2012, albeit with more uncertainty because there are a greater number of undecided voters in this election. Her average lead in popular vote polls is up to 7 percent, her biggest lead since late August.

Digits of the day: 74 percent

Democrats have a 74 percent chance of winning back the Senate, with a possibility of flipping seats in six states: Pennsylvania, Missouri, New Hampshire, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. But they have only a 17 percent chance of winning back the House, according to PredictWise, though they are likely to gain ground.

Welcome to New York

A rat's head rests as it is constricted in an opening in the bottom of a garbage can in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., October 18, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2PDUG

A rat’s head pokes out of a constricted in an opening in the bottom of a garbage can in Brooklyn, NY, Oct. 18, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Around the world

  • The United States expects Islamic State to use crude chemical weapons to repel an Iraqi-led offensive on the city of Mosul, although officials believe the group’s technical ability to develop such weapons is highly limited.
  • Police in Thailand are investigating 12 new complaints of royal defamation on social media lodged since the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej last week, a sharp rise amid intensifying scrutiny of anything deemed offensive to the monarchy.
  • Philippine police used tear gas to disperse about 1,000 anti-U.S. protesters outside the U.S. embassy in Manila. A patrol van that was under attack drove at demonstrators. The rally came as President Rodrigo Duterte visits Beijing to strengthen relations with the world’s second-largest economy amid deteriorating ties with the United States, its former colonial ruler, sparked by his controversial war on illegal drugs.

Around Wall Street

  • China’s GDP expanded at a steady 6.7 percent in the third quarter, indicating a slowly stabilizing economy, but one that is increasingly dependent on government spending and a housing boom for growth, as private investment and exports remain stubbornly weak.
  • Starbucks plans to more than double its store count in China to 5,000 by 2021. That will equal the number of Starbucks in Manhattan. Just kidding. There are 220 on the island, according to the Center for an Urban Future.

Around the country

  • Donald Trump’s talk of voter fraud, for which he has provided no proof, appears to have made some of his own followers more resigned to an election loss. Independent studies show U.S. voting chicanery is exceptionally rare and certainly never on a national scale.
  • A New York City jury will hear opening arguments in the retrial of a man charged with kidnapping and killing 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979, a notorious case that drew national attention to the plight of missing children. Pedro Hernandez, 55, is on trial in a state court for the second time in the death of the boy, who disappeared in lower Manhattan 37 years ago.

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