**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**On the roster: It’s election day in North Carolina - McConnell readies for weeks-long shutdown fight – Pelosi says Dems are united on impeachment protocol – Ossoff jumps into Georgia Senate race – Does the Lorax use a hula hoop? IT’S ELECTION DAY IN NORTH CAROLINAFiveThirtyEight: “The North Carolina 9th District seat has remained vacant for a third of the 116th Congress — the fallout from a brazen case of election fraud that may have affected the outcome of the 2018 election. … Now, the 9th District will finally vote on a new representative in an election that could go either way. … Normally, Republicans would indeed have an edge in the North Carolina 9th District. Until January, it was represented by GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger… But we are in a Democratic-leaning national environment (albeit not quite as favorable as 2018), and [Dan] McCready has already proved himself a strong candidate. … So it may be a cliché, but the election may well come down to turnout; not all parts of this diverse district may vote in equal numbers. The 9th District runs over 100 miles along the South Carolina border, from Charlotte in the west to Fayetteville in the east.”Trump got frothy - Fox News: “High stakes were matched by some of President Trump's harshest campaign rhetoric yet at a rally in Fayetteville, N.C., on Monday night, with just hours to go until voters there head to the polls in a pivotal toss-up special election that will decide the winner of a long-contested — and long-vacant — House seat. ‘To stop the far-left, you must vote in tomorrow's special election,’ Trump told attendees, before slamming Democratic candidate Dan McCready as a dangerous proponent of ‘sanctuary cities’ and rolling back gun rights. … ‘Tomorrow is your chance to send a clear message to the America-hating left.’ A sustained chant of ‘build that wall’ broke out. ‘We don't want dangerous criminal aliens roaming free in North Carolina,’ Trump responded. ‘Our Republican candidate, Dan Bishop, will fight with everything he has.’”N.C.’s 3rd District on the ballot too - Charlotte Observer: “President Donald Trump returned to North Carolina on Monday, stumping in Fayetteville for Republican candidates on the eve of two special congressional elections, including a tight and closely watched race in the 9th district. … Republican state Rep. Greg Murphy and Democrat Allen Thomas are the top candidates in Eastern North Carolina’s 3rd district. …  Trump called Bishop and Murphy to the stage early in his speech. … Murphy, who is running to replace the late Rep. Walter Jones, said he needed voters to show up. ‘We’re here to serve you, here to help our president and here to keep America great,’ Murphy said.”THE RULEBOOK: LESS IS MORE “For the same reason that the limited powers of the Congress, and the control of the State legislatures, justify less frequent elections than the public safely might otherwise require, the members of the Congress need be less numerous than if they possessed the whole power of legislation, and were under no other than the ordinary restraints of other legislative bodies.” – Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 55TIME OUT: A BAD DAY FOR BARNEYWSJ: “Drilling into the seafloor off Mex­ico, sci­en­tists have ex­tracted a unique ge­o­logic record of the sin­gle worst day in the his­tory of life on Earth, when a city-sized as­ter­oid smashed into the planet 65 mil­lion years ago, wip­ing out the di­nosaurs and three-quar­ters of all other life. Their analy­sis of these new rock sam­ples from the Chicx­u­lub crater, made pub­lic Mon­day, re­veals a par­fait of de­bris de­posited in lay­ers al­most minute-by-minute at the heart of the im­pact dur­ing the first day of a global cat­a­stro­phe. It records traces of the ex­plo­sive melt­ing, mas­sive earth­quakes, tsunamis, land­slides and wild­fires as the im­mense as­ter­oid blasted a hole 100 miles wide and 12 miles deep, the sci­en­tists said. The sed­i­ments also of­fer chem­i­cal ev­i­dence that the cat­a­clysm blew hun­dreds of bil­lions of tons of sul­fur from pul­ver­ized ocean rock into the at­mosphere, trig­ger­ing a global win­ter in which tem­per­a­tures world-wide dropped by as much as 30 de­grees Fahren­heit for decades, the sci­en­tists said.”Flag on the play? - Email us at [email protected] with your tips, comments or questions.SCOREBOARD DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKINGBiden: 28 points Warren: 18.2 pointsSanders: 14.8 pointsHarris: 6.4 pointsButtigieg: 5 points [Averages include: IBD, Quinnipiac University, USA Today/Suffolk University, Monmouth University and CNN.] TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE Average approval: 39.6 percentAverage disapproval: 55.6 percentNet Score: -16 percentChange from one week ago: down 3 points  [Average includes: ABC News/WaPo: 38% approve – 56% disapprove; IBD: 39% approve – 55% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 56% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk University: 44% approve – 54% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve – 57% disapprove.]WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT?  You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch!MCCONNELL READIES FOR WEEKS-LONG SHUTDOWN FIGHTPolitico: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed a short-term spending bill to avoid a shutdown, a recognition that Congress needs several more weeks of negotiations to hatch a longer-term spending bill and fund the government into next fall. McConnell's position aligns with that of House Democratic leaders, who said the chamber will vote next week on a stopgap bill to fund the government past Sept. 30. McConnell said the Senate’s focus in September will be working out yearlong funding bills based on the two-year budget agreement forged before the August recess. … With consent from all 100 senators, the Senate can quickly take up and pass a short-term spending bill later this month. Congressional leaders have not yet decided on the length of time the funding bill would cover, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has suggested until Nov. 22.”No progress on gun legislation however - Politico: “Senate Republican leaders discussed gun legislation in an hourlong party meeting on Monday evening, including expanding background checks, according to an attendee. But no one is making a move without President Donald Trump, who senators expect will be presented options on gun legislation by White House officials later this week. Trump himself has been nearly impossible to pin down on the issue. Top GOP leaders in the House and Senate — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Whip John Thune, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise — will meet with Trump on Tuesday to discuss the fall agenda, according to three sources familiar with the meeting. That gives Republicans the opportunity to hear the latest from the president himself.”PELOSI SAYS DEMS ARE UNITED ON IMPEACHMENT PROTOCOLFox News: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi exclusively assured Fox News on Monday evening that Democrats ‘all work together,’ even as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler made a major push towards impeachment proceedings that she has consistently resisted. Pelosi's public show of unity belied a simmering fissure in the Democratic Party. At least 135 House members now support an impeachment inquiry — but many moderate Democrats in swing districts do not. Nadler's panel announced earlier in the day that it would take up a procedures resolution on Thursday on rules that would govern rules for any impeachment hearings, as it works to determine whether to recommend formal impeachment proceedings. The committee said that the resolution was similar to procedural votes taken at the beginning of the impeachment investigations into Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.”Rules of the road - Politico: “House Democrats have spent months trying to make obstruction of justice charges stick against President Donald Trump as they build a case for impeachment. But in recent weeks, senior Democrats have shifted their focus toward reports that Trump is using his presidency to enrich himself in violation of the Constitution. And they’ve hammered the president more than ever on a range of allegations, from campaign-finance crimes to abuses of power. Pro-impeachment Democrats are hoping that a renewed focus on corruption and self-dealing could give their effort to oust Trump the momentum that former special counsel Robert Mueller never had. ‘The Mueller report has clearly been muddled and I’m not sure that the public really has much of a concept of what that showed,’ said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), who supports impeachment.”TRUMP CAMPAIGN SAYS IT’S SERIOUS ABOUT NEW MEXICOTime: “…Trump’s campaign is betting it can win in New Mexico. Flush with cash, the campaign is planning to announce a state director and additional ground staff there in the coming weeks, a campaign official tells TIME. Internal campaign data has convinced Trump’s political advisors they can energize a slice of the state’s Hispanic voters to vote for Trump in 2020 by emphasizing Trump’s handling of the economy, border security and his trade confrontation with China. … The move is part of a series of bets Trump is making to win states that went for Clinton in 2016. Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner says that voter data has convinced the reelection effort to fund robust field operations in a much larger number of states than in 2016. … The broader bets, made very early in the election cycle, signify some defining characteristics of Trump’s 2020 effort. To win, Trump probably needs to come up with a different set of states than those that garnered 304 electoral college votes and carried him to the White House…”OSSOFF JUMPS INTO GEORGIA SENATE RACEAJC: “Former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff said he will challenge Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and ‘mount a ruthless assault on corruption in our political system’ that’s prevented Congress from addressing urgent issues. The Democrat told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he would ‘raise a grassroots army unlike any this state has ever seen’ by expanding the network of supporters who helped him raise roughly $30 million in a 2017 special election he narrowly lost. ‘We have squandered trillions on endless war. We have squandered trillions on bailouts for failed banks. We have squandered trillions on tax cuts for wealthy donors. Then we’re told there’s nothing left over for the people,’ he said… Ossoff’s campaign, which he’ll formally announce Tuesday, makes him the fourth Democrat in the race against Perdue… He also becomes arguably the best known contender thanks to his nationally-watched campaign for Georgia’s 6th District.”Warren endorses Texas Dem’s primary challenger - Texas Tribune: “Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is wading into one of Texas' highest-profile intraparty fights, endorsing Jessica Cisneros, the primary challenger to U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. ‘The people of Texas’ 28th district are ready for systematic change and deserve a Democrat that will be on the side of working people; not the side of big money and obstructionist Republicans,’ Warren, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts, said in a statement Monday morning. ‘I believe Jessica Cisneros is that fighter.’ Cisneros, a young immigration attorney from Laredo, has the backing of Justice Democrats, the progressive group famous for helping elect freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., last year. Cuellar is among the more conservative Democrats in the House.”PLAY-BY-PLAYNational Security Advisor John Bolton, Trump’s third, out - Fox NewsAd-makers to 2020 Dems: Stop being boring - PoliticoPergram: For Congress, a new session of compressed chaos - Fox NewsAUDIBLE: HEAR, HEAR “Be honorable and be a gentleman. In being honorable, you exhibit trust in your classmates and in your professors and in the community at large. In being a gentleman, which is to say being chivalrous, courteous, and empathetic, you show the people around you that they have worth and that you are aware of it. … The tribulations of a wicked society stop at the gates. There is no place in the world like this college, where we take each other at each other’s word, where we are all our brother’s keeper, where we can be idealists.” – John Pittman, a senior at Virginia’s Hampden-Sydney College, in his remarks to the freshman class as the chairman of the school’s student court, according to the WSJ.   FROM THE BLEACHERS “Your numbers on the Obama vs. Romney poll don't match the difference between them.  You show Obama at 47 percent, and Romney at 46.8 percent.  That is a 0.2 percent difference, which you showed instead as a 1.8 percent difference.  This matters especially when you frame the difference as ‘small but decisive.’  I don't think most people would consider a 0.2 percent difference as decisive.” – Don Proeschel, Plano, Texas [Ed. note: Quite so! Thank you for discovering my typo, Mr. Proeschel. The actual averages from September 2011 were: Obama – 47 percent; Romney – 45.2, a difference of 1.8 points. I will be more careful when transcribing my calculations.] “Why do we not have polls for each state so we could see the standing in the Electoral College? We know that a Presidential nominee can lose the popular vote and still win the Electoral College depending on which states they win. I understand and appreciate the Founding Fathers for the genius of the Electoral College. It means voters in smaller states have a say in who is the next president. The idea of allowing California, New York and other neon blue state being the ones to make the selection would give me nightmares.” – Mary Blanton, Alpharetta, Ga. [Ed. note: It’s waaaay too early to start doing much serious-state level polling. We talked Monday about how the exsanguination of local news is depriving us of state polling. As local news outlets dry up, so too does their ability to pay for costly statewide polling. That’s bad news. But even if we had newspapers flush with cash humming along coast to coast, it would still be too early to get so specific. As for the goal of the Electoral College, it isn’t necessarily about the sizes of states, per se, but rather that winning candidates have to draw support from multiple kinds of states. To become president, one must have the backing of a geographically, culturally diverse coalition of states. Practically speaking, that means Democrats have to break out of their coastal strongholds to win and, conversely, Republicans can’t succeed without reaching into the coastal regions. Take it away, Federalist No. 68: “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”] “In the vein of your answer in today's halftime report comparing head-to-head polling now versus the same time period in the recent past presidential elections, I'd like to see one more comparison: What was Obama's net approval/disapproval rating at this same time in his first term? The House went from the party of the White House to the opposition party in the previous election, and the opponent was an also-ran from a previous presidential election. So knowing how Obama fared, I wondered how his poll numbers compared to Trump's poll numbers and what headwinds he may have faced. Thanks so much and look forward to reading you each day.” – Jared Della Rocca, Shaftsbury, Vt. [Ed. note: A good question, indeed, Mr. Della Rocca! In our average of polls today, President Trump has an average approval rating of 39.6 percent and an average disapproval rating of 55.6, for a score of -16 points, down 3 points from one week ago. If we apply the same measurements to Barack Obama at the same point in his presidency, we find an average approval rating of 43 percent and an average disapproval rating of 50.4 percent for a score of -7.4 points. That’s not so good compared to George W. Bush, who had majority approval throughout September of 2003, but pretty good compared to Trump. The summer of 2011 had been hard on Obama. The killing of Usma bin Laden that spring had helped reverse what had been a strong negative trend in public approval, but the same problems – particularly a still-saggy economy and disenchantment with ObamaCare – reasserted themselves. September and October of 2011 were the worst months for Obama’s job approval of his eight years in office. But as the economy improved and the worst initial estimates about ObamaCare faded, Obama found himself gradually improving until he was eventually back in positive territory by February of 2012. He remained in a narrow band around an even split through the spring and summer, but then started climbing again in the fall as campaign season began in earnest. That late surge probably reflected Democrats, particularly in the left wing, who were dissatisfied with some of Obama’s moderate moved rallying around their party’s leader. On Election Day, he had average approval of 50.2 percent and a net score of +4.1. Trump’s chart looks completely different. He has never had majority approval. His best day was his first day on the job when he had a score of -5.1, but quickly went to a double-digit deficit. His worst point came in the fall and winter of 2017, when just prior to passing a tax cut, he clocked in at -22 points. His numbers recovered along with economic optimism, but he has seen in recent weeks a return to the same dismal kinds of numbers of two years ago.] Share your color commentary: Email us at [email protected] and please make sure to include your name and hometown.DOES THE LORAX USE A HULA HOOP?KCRG: “The Jones County [Iowa] Board of Supervisors plans to discuss ‘liability concerns’ about the ‘Hula Hoop Tree’, which sits north of Anamosa, at their Tuesday meeting. The Hula Hoop Tree, which, as the name suggests, is covered in hundreds of hula hoops, has become a popular attraction in recent years and has even drawn visitors from out of state. … Jones County Supervisor Lloyd Eaken said he thinks the future of the tree needs to be discussed because he believes it is ‘in bad shape.’ Eaken is worried that the tree, which is dead, and was even set on fire in 2017, will not be able to hold up the weight of the hundreds of hula hoops that surround its branches for much longer. Eaken also said supervisors are considering making a new hula hoop tree somewhere else in the county to address the concerns.”AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES… “Chinese students, Kurdish rebels, Bangladeshi disaster victims seek aid and succor. To whom do they turn? America.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in The New Republic on July 29, 1991.Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. 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