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Biden said he will win Scranton. Trump said he will only lose if it’s rigged. Who’s right?
YORK, Pa. – Pennsylvania has a long history of voting Democrat for president.
In every presidential election since 1988, Pennsylvania has given its electoral votes, which have ranged from 23 to 20 in the last 30 years, to the Democratic nominee.
That pattern changed in 2016, when then-Republican nominee Donald J. Trump won the state narrowly by 44,000 votes, or less than 1 percent. Those 44,000 voters wouldn’t fill half of the capacity at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium.
But they were enough to decide the razor-thin 2016 election in Pennsylvania, where more than 6.1 million people voted.
Analysts have been predicting another close race in battleground Pennsylvania. But if the results aren’t in Trump’s favor, it’s because the election was rigged, the president has said.
Then a candidate, Trump in 2016 was down in the polls and said the election was rigged. He won.
Trump is down in the polls again and saying that mail-in balloting will allow widespread voting fraud, rigging the election. His campaign’s lawsuit against mail-in balloting in Pennsylvania produced no evidence of fraud in the state’s primary.
But there are foreign influences working to undermine the U.S. presidential election, according to the FBI.
U.S. intelligence officials have said Russian operatives worked to interfere with the 2016 election and are doing it again, spreading false information through social media. Four years ago, Russian meddlers were trying to make Democrat Hillary Clinton lose and help Trump win, according to the FBI.
This year, Russian operatives are working to help Trump win, while China and Iran want a Joe Biden victory, intelligence reports say.
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New investigation in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Republican majority Legislature passed a voting reform package in 2019, months before the coronavirus was detected in China and nearly half a year before it was detected in Pennsylvania.
The legislation enabled mail-in voting, which Gov. Tom Wolf says will help protect vulnerable Pennsylvanians who may be susceptible to COVID-19. For example, the virus has been most deadly to seniors in the state, accounting for about 70 percent of all the covid-related deaths in Pennsylvania.
But mail-in voting is coming under scrutiny in a contentious presidential election year, and a new federal investigation in Luzerne County, a swing county in blue-collar northeastern Pennsylvania flipped by Trump in 2016, is adding fuel to the president’s claims against election integrity.
The Justice Department on Thursday said it is investigating potential issues with nine military mail-in ballots. Of the nine ballots involved in the inquiry, seven ballots were marked for Trump and were “discarded,” according to a letter from U.S. Attorney David Freed to the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections.
Military ballots are supposed to be stored and unopened until no earlier than 7 a.m. on Election Day, according to state law.
It was explained to investigators the envelopes used for official overseas, military, absentee and mail-in ballot requests are so similar that the staff believed they were receiving ballot requests and didn’t want to miss them, Freed said in the letter.
“Our interviews further revealed that this issue was a problem in the primary election — therefore a known issue — and that the problem has not been corrected,” Freed said.
The Justice Department is working to make sure every vote is counted by Election Day.
Why this matters
Two counties in northeastern Pennsylvania — Luzerne and Lackawanna — make up one of the most important areas in the 2020 election, especially for Trump.
He was propelled to the White House on the backs of blue-collar workers in the northeast and southeast corners of Pennsylvania who had previously voted for Democrats.
Recent polling shows some of those voters are favoring Biden and going home to their party, and the president is also losing ground with older workers.
“President Trump needs working-class voters in the northeast and southwest if he’s going to win Pennsylvania again,” said Terry Madonna, a pollster and political analyst at Franklin & Marshall College.
“It’s different for Joe Biden,” said Jesse White, a political strategist at Perpetual Fortitude, a Democratic consulting and digital management firm. “If Biden wins, it will be on the backs of suburban women across the state.”
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Both Biden and Trump like their chances in the northeast, especially in Biden’s hometown of Scranton. And in a tight race in Pennsylvania, where Biden’s lead is within the margin of error, that area could be a difference-maker.
After a CNN town hall in Scranton last Thursday, Biden was asked by reporters if he could win his hometown. Former President Barack Obama, with Biden as his running mate, won Scranton by double digits in 2008 and 2012. Four years ago, Trump almost won Lackawanna County, where Scranton is, and he did flip neighboring Luzerne County.
“I will win Scranton,” Biden said. “Listen to me. I will win Scranton. And we were losing Scranton and Lackawanna County til I got put on the ticket. This is home. I know these people.”
He was then asked if he thinks he is why Obama won Scranton.
“I know I helped in this county,” Biden said. “I helped in this state. We were losing by seven points in Pennsylvania. I get announced as the candidate. Five days later, we were up by 6.”
Biden is up by 6 points again in the latest Franklin & Marshall poll, but Trump said he will win Scranton and Pennsylvania.
During a campaign stop last month in Old Forge, just 10 minutes south of Scranton, Trump repeated his claim that the only way he will lose is if the election is rigged and again raised concerns about mail-in voting.
“So this is just a way they’re trying to steal the election, and everybody knows that,” Trump said. “Because the only way they’re going to win is by a rigged election. I really believe that.”
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He leaves no room for the idea that, if Biden wins this year, the state is returning to a decades-long pattern of electing a Democrat for president.
Trump has, during multiple campaign stops in Pennsylvania, said he would win Pennsylvania “bigger” this year than he did four years ago.
And this week, the president wouldn’t commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the Nov. 3 presidential election.
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said at a news conference. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”
In 2016, Trump also wouldn’t commit to honoring the election results if Clinton won, breaking a practice among candidates and sitting presidents to show confidence in the the foundation of American democracy and its electoral process.
Biden has also raised concerns about the integrity of the election, accusing Trump of sowing fear and chaos.
“It’s my greatest concern. My single greatest concern. This president is going to try to steal this election,” Biden in July told Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show.” “This is the guy who said all mail-in ballots are fraudulent — voting by mail — while he sits behind a desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail-in ballot to vote in the primary.”
President Trump mailed his vote to Florida and said that state’s mail-in voting system can be trusted because it’s managed by a Republican governor. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is a Democrat, and Trump said he doesn’t trust mail-in balloting in states run by Democrats.
Trump this week said he was filling the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death because the court would need all nine jurists to decide election issues. Democrats worry Trump is trying to stack the bench and win in a scenario similar to 2000 when the Supreme Court decided the race between former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Al Gore.
“I don’t see how we get out of this election without multiple lawsuits,” Madonna said.
Candy Woodall is a reporter for the USA Today Network. She can be reached at 717-480-1783 or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.
This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Biden and Trump both say they will win Scranton. Who is right?
Drew Barrymore and ex-husband Tom Green reunite for 1st time in 15 years
Drew Barrymore welcomed a “wonderful, wonderful man” to her talk show Friday, her ex-husband Tom Green.
The comedian, who was Barrymore’s husband from 2001 to 2002, appeared on her Drew Barrymore Show. It’s clear there are no hard feelings, despite it being the first time in 15 years they were face-to-face (with six feet between them due to the coronavirus.)
Barrymore provided a “a little backstory” that “we haven’t seen or spoken to each other in far too long.” Green relayed that his parents, her former in-laws, were “very happy I’m here” and “say hello” and that they were proud of Drew over the success of her show, which just debuted.
“I’ve had two nights of great sleep in my life before my daughters were born,” Barrymore, mom of Olive, 7, and Frankie, 6, with ex husband Will Kopelman said. “I don’t know why, but sleep has been like a weird thing for me. I remember this night just being so content, I was at your parents lake house and I remember hearing all of their voices upstairs. I was by myself, I was going to sleep, [and] I was like: This is what safety and contentedness feels like before you go to sleep,” as she had a tumultuous childhood.
She continued, fighting her emotions, “I will never forget that night. I love your parents — and I really love you, and I celebrate you.”
Talking about how it’s been 20 years since they got together (with so much buzz around them as a couple — a stunt wedding on Saturday Night Live, their house fire and his bout with testicular cancer), a teary Barrymore said sometimes time passes in “the blink of an eye” and other times it’s like, “Oh, my god, we’ve lived so much” in these last two decades. “You’ve had a whole life and I’ve had a whole life, and it’s just really nice to come together and check in and talk about it.”
Green said they didn’t talk for “about 15 years” after their 2001 split, adding it’s also “really the first time we’ve looked at each other face-to-face in 15 years.”
They spoke about getting together, how she hired him to play her boyfriend, The Chad, on 2000’s Charlie’s Angels.
“We kind of hit it off right away,” Green recalled. “One of our first dates we went and bought lobsters. Because we both love animals .. we released them into the ocean.”
In what started to feel like an intimate reunion we were spying on, Barrymore talked about Green buying her a camera, which she still has, noting how it started her two decade love of photography, gushing, “You got me into my whole Annie Hall phase of taking photographs.”
The whole thing was positive and fun — and Green tweeted after the fact that it was “such a nice experience.” He said “life is strange sometimes,” but in this instance, “it was quite sweet.”
This was such a nice experience today. It felt good to chat with Drew again for the first time in 15 years. And on national TV! Life is strange sometimes but in this case it was also quite sweet. Best of luck with the show Drew! You deserve it. 😀 https://t.co/REd5bg0MSv
— Tom Green (@tomgreenlive) September 25, 2020
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3 ‘Strong Buy’ Stocks With Over 7% Dividend Yield
Markets are volatile, there can be no doubt. So far this month, the S&P 500 has fallen 9% from its peak. The tech-heavy NASDAQ, which had led the gainers all summer, is now leading the on the fall, having lost 11% since September 2. The three-week tumble has investors worried that we may be on the brink of another bear market.The headwinds are strong. The usual September swoon, the upcoming election, doubts about another round of economic stimulus – all are putting downward pressure on the stock markets.Which doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities. As the old saw goes, “Bulls and bears can both make money, while the pigs get slaughtered.” A falling market may worry investors, but a smart strategy can prevent the portfolio from losing too much long-term value while maintaining a steady income. Dividend stocks, which feed into the income stream, can be a key part of such a strategy.Using the data available in the TipRanks database, we’ve pulled up three stocks with high yields – from 7% to 11%, or up to 6 times the average dividend found on the S&P 500 index. Even better, these stocks are seen as Strong Buys by Wall Street’s analysts. Let’s find out why.Williams Companies (WMB)We start with Williams Companies, an Oklahoma-based energy company. Williams controls pipelines connecting Rocky Mountain natural gas fields with the Pacific Northwest region, and Appalachian and Texan fields with users in the Northeast and transport terminals on the Gulf Coast. The company’s primary operations are the processing and transport of natural gas, with additional ops in crude oil and energy generation. Williams handles nearly one-third of all US commercial and residential natural gas use.The essential nature of Williams’ business – really, modern society simply cannot get along without reliable energy sources – has insulated the company from some of the economic turndown in 1H20. Quarterly revenues slid from $2.1 billion at the end of last year to $1.9 billion in Q1 and $1.7 billion in Q2. EPS in the first half was 26 cents for Q1 and 25 cents for Q2 – but this was consistent with EPS results for the previous three quarters. The generally sound financial base supported the company’s reliable dividend. Williams has been raising that payment for the past four years, and even the corona crisis could not derail it. At 40 cents per common share, the dividend annualizes to $1.60 and yields an impressive 7.7%. The next payment is scheduled for September 28.Truist analyst Tristan Richardson sees Williams as one of the midstream sector’s best positioned companies.“We continue to look to WMB as a defensive component of midstream and favor its 2H prospects as broader midstream grasps at recovery… Beyond 2020 we see the value proposition as a stable footprint with free cash flow generation even in the current environment. We also see room for incremental leverage reduction throughout our forecast period on scaled back capital plans and even with the stable dividend. We look for modestly lower capex in 2021, however unlike more G&P oriented midstream firms, we see a project backlog in downstream that should support very modest growth,” Richardson noted.Accordingly, Richardson rates WMB shares as a Buy, and his $26 price target implies a 30% upside potential from current levels. (To watch Richardson’s track record, click here)Overall, the Strong Buy analyst consensus rating on WMB is based on 11 Buy reviews against just a single Hold. The stock’s current share price is $19.91 and the average price target is $24.58, making the one-year upside potential 23%. (See WMB stock analysis on TipRanks)Magellan Midstream (MMP)The second stock on our list is another midstream energy company, Magellan. This is another Oklahoma-based firm, with a network of assets across much of the US from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi Valley, and into the Southeast. Magellan’s network transports crude oil and refined products, and includes Gulf Coast export shipping terminals.Magellan’s total revenues rose sequentially to $782.8 in Q1, and EPS came in at $1.28, well above the forecast. These numbers turned down drastically in Q2, as revenue fell to $460.4 million and EPS collapsed to 65 cents. The outlook for Q3 predicts a modest recovery, with EPS forecast at 85 cents. The company strengthened its position in the second quarter with an issue of 10-year senior notes, totaling $500 million, at 3.25%. This reduced the company’s debt service payments, and shored up liquidity, making possible the maintenance of the dividend.The dividend was kept steady at $1.0275 per common share quarterly. Annualized, this comes to $4.11, a good absolute return, and gives a yield of 11.1%, giving MMP a far higher return than Treasury bonds or the average S&P-listed stock.Well Fargo analyst Praneeth Satish believes that MMP has strong prospects for recovery. “[We] view near-term weakness in refined products demand as temporary and recovering. In the interim, MMP remains well positioned given its strong balance sheet and liquidity position, and ratable cash flow stream…” Satish goes on to note that the dividend appears secure for the near-term: “The company plans to maintain the current quarterly distribution for the rest of the year.”In line with this generally upbeat outlook, Satish gives MMP an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating, and a $54 price target that implies 57% growth in the coming year. (To watch Satish’s track record, click here)Net net, MMP shares have a unanimous Strong Buy analyst consensus rating, a show of confidence by Wall Street’s analyst corps. The stock is selling for $33.44, and the average price target of $51.13 implies 53% growth in the year ahead. (See MMP stock analysis on TipRanks)Ready Capital Corporation (RC)The second stock on our list is a real estate investment trust. No surprise finding one of these in a list of strong dividend payers – REITs have long been known for their high dividend payments. Ready Capital, which focuses on the commercial mortgage niche of the REIT sector, has a portfolio of loans in real estate securities and multi-family dwellings. RC has provided more than $3 billion in capital to its loan customers.In the first quarter of this year, when the coronavirus hit, the economy turned south, and business came to a standstill, Ready Capital took a heavy blow. Revenues fell by 58%, and Q1 EPS came in at just one penny. Things turned around in Q2, however, after the company took measures – including increasing liquidity, reducing liabilities, and increasing involvement in government-sponsored lending – to shore up business. Revenues rose to $87 million and EPS rebounded to 70 cents.In the wake of the strong Q2 results, RC also started restoring its dividend. In Q1 the company had slashed the payment from 40 cents to 25 cents; in the most recent declaration, for an October 30 payment, the new dividend is set at 30 cents per share. This annualizes to $1.20 and gives a strong yield of 9.9%.Crispin Love, writing from Piper Sandler, notes the company’s success in getting back on track.“Given low interest rates, Ready Capital had a record $1.2B in residential mortgage originations versus our $1.1B estimate. Gain on sale margins were also at record levels. We are calculating gain on sale margins of 3.7%, up from 2.4% in 1Q20,” Love wrote.In a separate note, written after the dividend declaration, Love added, “We believe that the Board’s actions show an increased confidence for the company to get back to its pre-pandemic $0.40 dividend. In recent earnings calls, management has commented that its goal is to get back to stabilized earnings above $0.40, which would support a dividend more in-line with pre-pandemic levels.”To this end, Love rates RC an Overweight (i.e. Buy) along with a $12 price target, suggesting an upside of 14%. (To watch Love’s track record, click here)All in all, Ready Capital has a unanimous Strong Buy analyst consensus rating, based on 4 recent positive reviews. The stock has an average price target of $11.50, which gives a 9% upside from the current share price of $10.51. (See RC stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for dividend stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
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