Steady as she goes

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STEADY AS SHE GOES
First off: Great job, fellow weirdos.

Aside from a few handfuls of angry protesters, right and left, Americans seem to be handling Election Week with aplomb. We knew it would probably take some time before we could sort out all the results, and citizens – and markets – are so far showing admirable patience.

Despite the fears and forecasts of chaos and destruction, Americans seem to be hanging loose.

Since the dawn of no-excuse absentee voting in the late 1970s, the trend has moved toward more and more early voting and, by extension, longer waits for election results. We all remember how it took days and days to get the full picture of the 2018 midterms. But because of coronavirus, what had been adagio has turned into largo this year.

The price Americans pay for the ease and comfort of avoiding Election Day waits is waiting longer for the elections to actually be resolved.

But the wait seems to be coming to an end.

There are now four toss-up states on the presidential level – Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Nevada – worth a combined 57 electoral votes that have yet to be called. Challenger Joe Biden is sitting on a stack of 264 votes, just six away from victory, compared to incumbent Donald Trump’s 214. Trump can’t afford to lose a single state if he hopes to retain power. While he stands a good chance to hold on in North Carolina, Trump’s next-best hope, Georgia, is shaping up as a real struggle. He faces steepening odds in Pennsylvania and has the slimmest of hopes in Nevada.

Like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, he’s going to have plenty of trouble protecting his tail today.

Trump and his campaign are trying to convey the idea that he is on offense by filing lawsuits from coast to coast to try to stop some of the remaining votes from being counted. But unless we soon see signs of a Trump rally in the ballots still out, it will be hard for Trumpland to maintain a sense of possibility.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican heavyweights are already starting to turn the page on the presidency a bit, shifting focus to how a Senate still likely in GOP hands will confront a Biden presidency and to start fencing in loose talk about a Trump victory.

There are still about 1.3 million votes yet to be counted across Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia, but the counting should go quickly today. By the time we get to the end of Election Day IV, the world may look very different.

But whenever we get there, we can be proud that so far we’ve mostly kept our heads about us. 

THE RULEBOOK: MIX IT ALL TOGETHER
“The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are, first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision for its support; fourthly, competent powers. The ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense are, first, a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due responsibility.” – Alexander Hamilton, writing about the executive department, Federalist No. 70

TIME OUT: END OF THE TRAIL
Smithsonian: “Despite pandemic-caused shutdowns and travel restrictions across Alaska, a small valley in the Southeast still expects its habitual visitors: bald eagles. In early November, thousands of the birds of prey gather in Haines, Alaska, forming one of the largest congregations of the species in the world. Alaskans often depict their location in the state by using their right hand as a map. With just a pointer finger and thumb extended, thumb pointing down, the Chilkat Valley—also known as the Valley of the Eagles—is where thumb meets hand on Alaska’s panhandle. The Chilkat Valley, a peninsula saddled between glaciated mountain chains and the Chilkat and Chilkoot river systems, is nearly 75 miles north of Juneau. The valley extends from the Canadian border south, past the indigenous village of Klukwan, to the small town of Haines, originally called Deishú by Alaska Natives, or ‘end of the trail.’”

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

HOW IT’S PLAYING
Thousands of Georgia absentee ballots still need to be counted – AJC: “About 78,000 absentee ballots remained to be counted in Georgia Wednesday night as Joe Biden pulled within about 32,000 votes of President Donald Trump. Most of these uncounted absentee ballots are concentrated in highly populated areas, led by Fulton County in Atlanta and Chatham County in Savannah. … These figures are publicly available from the secretary of state’s website. There are likely additional absentee ballots left to be tallied that were returned to county election offices before Tuesday’s 7 p.m. deadline but hadn’t yet been processed. The large number of remaining absentee ballots could delay final election results into Thursday or later. … Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he wants counties to finish counting absentee ballots quickly so that close races can be decided. State law gives county election officials until Nov. 13 to certify final election results.”

Tar Heel State won’t finish vote counting for days – The [Raleigh] News and Observer: “The nation’s attention turned to North Carolina Wednesday as its choice for president remained undecided, its major races split along party lines and its final outcome uncertain until next week. With record voter turnout, President Donald Trump held a narrow lead in the state over Democratic candidate Joe Biden in a nail-biter contest watched nationwide. North Carolina is one of several battleground states where provisional and absentee ballots are still being counted, preventing either Biden or Trump from claiming the 270 electoral votes needed to win. The process, spelled out in state law, means it’s likely that the winner of North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes for president won’t be known until Nov. 12 or 13. … A few hundred people gathered Wednesday afternoon at CCB Plaza in downtown Durham, marching to the Board of Elections office, where they raised their fists and cheered in appreciation for those working to count ballots.”

Biden catching up to Trump in Pennsylvania – Politico: “With President Donald Trump leading Joe Biden by 196,000 votes and 12 percent of the estimated vote still uncounted, Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans spent Wednesday working out the rough math surrounding the as-yet-uncounted mail-in ballots. There were more than 1 million mail ballots left to be counted as of 2:35 p.m., according to Pennsylvania’s Department of State. So far, 78 percent of mail ballots have broken for Biden and 21 percent have been won by Trump. If that pace continues — and it’s a big if — Biden would take the lead. Looking at the amount of mail ballots Biden is winning as well as the places still to be fully counted, some Democratic elected officials and consultants, including Sen. Bob Casey, estimate Biden will carry Pennsylvania by about 100,000 votes in a tight race.”

Still waiting on Nevada – Nevada Independent: “Joe Biden’s slim lead over President Donald Trump in Nevada remained unchanged on Wednesday after several hours of will-they-or-won’t-they from state and local elections officials in Nevada who had earlier in the day said they would release new numbers in the tight and increasingly important contest. … The secretary of state’s office is now expected to post new results about 9 a.m. Thursday, while Washoe County said to expect its results before 10 a.m. and Clark County has a press briefing scheduled for the same time. The back-and-forth among state and local election officials on Wednesday came as the nation trained its eyes on Nevada as Biden slowly inched his way toward securing the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidential race.”

Alaska absentee, early votes won’t be counted until next week – Alaska Public Media: “Usually on Alaska’s Election Night, the big story is the votes that are counted. But in a year unlike any other, Tuesday’s takeaway was about the votes that still remained to be counted. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 120,000 Alaskans cast absentee and early votes that won’t be counted until next week. Another 40,000 absentee ballots were mailed to Alaskans and haven’t been returned, and will be counted as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day and received by the state by legal deadlines later this month. And even as of midnight Wednesday, state officials had only counted a total of about 130,000 votes that came from about half of Election Day polling places, with the other half of polling places still not reporting results — meaning that altogether, more than half of all ballots still remain to be counted.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
McConnell shifts on timing and calls for coronavirus package before end of the year – Politico

The 2022 Senate battle has already begun – Roll Call

AUDIBLE: WOOF!
“Wilbur will follow in the pawprints of Brynneth Pawltro, a rescue pitbull mix, who served as mayor last term, the outlet reported.” – A small town in Kentucky elected their new “mayor,” a French bulldog named Wilbur Beast, in a landslide victory Tuesday.

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

STAY WEIRD, AMERICA
KEZJ: “This is weird, even by 2020 standards. A group of people, including a man from Idaho Falls, was recently busted in Yellowstone National Park while they were cooking a chicken in one of the park’s geothermal hot springs. The culinary event happened in early August, according to Nate Eaton at East Idaho News, when park authorities were given reports of a group carrying cooking gear towards a hot spring. Rangers arrived and found the group had two chickens cooking in the hot waters of a spring. The Idaho Falls man was given a citation for walking in the thermal area, to which he plead guilty. He was also given a $600 fine, probation, and he is banned from Yellowstone for the next two years.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Nothing has so impressed me in my brief experience with fatherhood as the apparent autonomy of a child’s soul, the inner logic by which it seems to develop. It has a fixedness that is, perhaps happily, beyond a parent’s control. At least thinking so is a relief.”  Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Feb. 23, 1990.

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. 

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.