I needed to kill a little time this morning, so here's a comparison of three different polling averages for the presidential race. I've stretched them out so that all three are roughly to the same scale. The Pollster model shows a very steady race, with just a little tightening but no real trend for either candidate. Upshot and 538 both show significant tightening, but with Hillary Clinton still in a solid lead with only 48 hours to go.

Who's right? We'll probably never know. If Clinton wins by, say, four points, all three will most likely be able to say they were within a point of the final number. On the other hand, if Clinton wins by six points, then Pollster was clearly closer than the other two. If she wins by one point, then the Upshot was closest. Exciting, isn't it?

So how is the economy doing this year compared to when President Obama took office? Mostly pretty well, though some economic indicators are a little sluggish. In any case, the numbers are the numbers. If you want to know what they are, with no editorializing, here they are:

Tonight's news: at a Trump rally in Reno, a guy lifted his hands to hold up a sign. Someone nearby panicked, thinking he was raising a gun. The Secret Service hustled Trump offstage, and Trump reappeared shortly after it became clear that nothing had happened. Here's the reaction—as always, nothing but class from Trump and his supporters:

We're not just three days away from the presidential election, we're also three days away from voting on California's massive list of ballot initiatives.1 Here are my recommendations:

  1. $9 billion school bond. YES.
  2. Hospital fees. NO.
  3. Voter approval for revenue bonds over $2 billion. NO.
  4. Three-day wait before voting on bills. YES.
  5. Extension of income tax increase. NO.
  6. $2 cigarette tax. NO.
  7. Early parole for nonviolent offenders. YES.
  8. Repeal of Prop 227. YES.
  9. "Advisory question" to overturn Citizens United. NO.
  10. Condoms in porn films. NO.
  11. Prescription drug price regulation. NO.
  12. Repeal the death penalty. YES.
  13. Background checks for ammunition purchasers. NO.
  14. Marijuana legalization. YES.
  15. Plastic bag revenue. NO.
  16. Death penalty procedures. NO.
  17. Plastic bag ban. YES.

My longer write-up about each of these initiatives is here. It's not a comprehensive description of every initiative, just enough to give you an idea of what each one is about and why I'm for or against it. It's nice and short, and it's written in plain English.

1If you live in California, that is.

With only 3 days to go, all the talk is now about early voting. Last night my Twitter feed was jammed with photos of long lines in Nevada and gleeful reports of Latinos turning out in droves. Here is fellow CSULB journalism major Cathleen Decker in the LA Times this morning:

The early vote is an imperfect measure of results, but two points seem clear.

The first is that an election whose negativity seemed destined to drive away more voters than it attracted has so far done the reverse, prompting a record deluge of early voting in many of the states that will decide the presidency....The second is that Trump has been helpful to Clinton’s efforts to increase voting among women and Latinos.

....In Nevada, a giant get-out-the-vote operation by Culinary Union Local 226, which represents casino workers, has contributed to a dominant showing for Clinton in early voting. Half of the local’s 32,500 registered voters have cast votes. Shuttles cart workers to and from voting sites. Nine hours a day, 300 volunteers knock on doors and others call voters from the union hall. The operation, which began with citizenship and voter registration drives, is aimed at union workers, their relatives and the public.

The big question, of course, is whether this demonstrates lots of enthusiasm for Clinton, or if these are voters who would have voted anyway and are just doing it early. Philip Bump of the Washington Post suggests it's a real thing: "The numbers in Clark County overall, both last night and over the course of Nevada's two weeks of early voting, suggest a big surge in voters over 2012 — and an electorate that likely favors Clinton."

Time will tell. For what it's worth, though, the guru of Nevada voting, Jon Ralston, says it's all over but the tallying:

I'm not surprised. It's not just that Trump has spent the last year humiliating Latinos, and now they're making him pay the price for that. It's also that this is Nevada. Home of Las Vegas. If there's any state where they recognize con men and hustlers on sight, this is it.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The company that owns the National Enquirer, a backer of Donald Trump, agreed to pay $150,000 to a former Playboy centerfold model for her story of an affair a decade ago with the Republican presidential nominee, but then didn’t publish it, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter.

The tabloid-newspaper publisher reached an agreement in early August with Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year....Ms. McDougal expected her story about Mr. Trump to be published, people familiar with the matter said. American Media didn’t intend to run it, said another person familiar with the matter. Ms. McDougal didn’t return calls for comment.

....A contract reviewed by the Journal gave American Media exclusive rights to Ms. McDougal’s story forever, but didn’t obligate the company to publish it and allowed the company to transfer those rights. It barred her from telling her story elsewhere. The company said it also would give her monthly columns to write and would put her on magazine covers.

Trump and the Enquirer deny everything, so this is probably just idle gossip. It doesn't really seem like him anyway, does it? Anyway, this was all back in 2006, when Trump was only 60 years old and didn't know he'd run for president someday. I'm sure he's given up cheating on his wife since then.

And speaking of Melania, I guess we finally got the goods on her. Apparently she did paid modeling jobs in the United States seven weeks before she got a work permit:

The details of Mrs. Trump's early paid modeling work in the U.S. emerged in the final days of a bitter presidential campaign in which her husband, Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on immigration laws and those who violate them.

....The documents obtained by the AP show she was paid for 10 modeling assignments between Sept. 10 and Oct. 15 [of 1996], during a time when her visa allowed her generally to be in the U.S. and look for work but not perform paid work in the country. The documents examined by the AP indicate that the modeling assignments would have been outside the bounds of her visa.

We can all let this go, right? It's bad enough being married to Donald. She doesn't deserve any more grief.

When I got home from lunch this afternoon, I switched on my tablet to see if anything had happened while I was away. I got this:

If you see a reference to "Spirit Cooking" anywhere, this is what it's all about. Apparently conservatives have lost whatever few marbles they had left.

Last week we had Hopper posing next to a concrete rabbit. This week it's Hilbert's turn.1 And while you might think Hilbert is gazing inquisitively at a hummingbird or something, I don't think he was. He was actually watching Hopper, and his head just happened to turn upward for a moment.

Then again, maybe there was a hummingbird there. Hilbert, after all, is much more attuned to such things than I am.

1We have a lot of concrete rabbits in our yard.

Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, former aides of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, were convicted today on all charges of being the masterminds behind a plan to tie up traffic on the George Washington Bridge as a way of getting back at a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse Christie:

It was Kelly who was the author of a now-infamous email in which she wrote to [David] Wildstein “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.’’

During the traffic chaos, the Fort Lee mayor sent a series of increasingly frantic messages to Baroni at the Port Authority in which he wrote of “total gridlock” and a “town ready to revolt.” Baroni forwarded them to Wildstein, who in turn sent them to Kelly. “Is it wrong that I am smiling?” she wrote back.

And what about Christie himself?

Though Ms. Kelly and Mr. Baroni were the only ones charged in the scandal, the trial suggested that Mr. Christie, who has maintained that he knew nothing about the scheme until after it had ended, was deeply involved. A top ally and key prosecution witness testified that Mr. Christie was told of the lane closings as they were occurring and Ms. Kelly said she discussed the shutdown with the governor before it happened.

Donald Trump agrees that Christie was involved. Here's what he said last year:

"The GW Bridge, he knew about it,” Trump said during a speech in Mount Pleasant, S.C., of Christie’s involvement in the scandal, which has been dubbed “Bridgegate.”

“How do you have breakfast with people everyday of your lives. … They’re closing up the largest bridge in the world … they’re with them all the time,” Trump continued. “They never said ‘Hey boss, we’re closing up the George Washington Bridge.’ No, they’re talking about the weather right? So he knew about it. … He totally knew about it.

Needless to say, this is the kind of thing Trump admires. That's why he chose Christie to run his transition team and has defended him ever since. As long as Christie is screwing people on Trump's behalf, he's a standup guy.

So what are Republicans up to these days? Well, they still want to lock up Hillary Killary, of course. Some of them are threatening to blockade all of her Supreme Court nominees forever. Others are going further, suggesting that Congress should just impeach her sight unseen. They're claiming the vote is rigged, and some of them are promising the apocalypse if the establishment insists on keeping Donald Trump out of the White House. As for Trump himself, he's now calling out individual reporters for abuse, prompting supporters at his rallies to surround her and heckle her. He's promising to sic the Justice Department on Clinton if he wins. Even conservative icon Paul Ryan is in trouble for not being enthusiastic enough about Trump, with his reelection as Speaker of the House now in doubt. And I think we can assume that budget showdowns and debt ceiling hostage taking will both be back on the table next year.

In the meantime, the Republican Party is 89 percent white. It continues to resist any kind of immigration compromise. It is institutionally opposed to any kind of affirmative action. Republican governors and legislators are almost unanimously in favor of policies designed to suppress the nonwhite vote. They blame Black Lives Matter every time a police officer is shot.

Their candidate wants to ban Muslims from entering the country. He continually tells audiences that the places where black people live are hellholes. He calls out China, Japan, and South Korea repeatedly as countries that are cheating us. Asked about how to heal the racial divide in a nationally televised debate, he mentioned only "law and order" and stop-and-frisk. He calls a Democratic senator Pocahontas as a way of insulting her. I could go on and on.

So what's my point? Take a look at the chart on the right. If Republicans are having a tough time winning in 2016, even after eight years of Democratic rule and running against a widely-disliked figure, how are they going to win in 2020 when the nonwhite population has grown another 1.6 percent? Or in 2024, when it's grown 3.2 percent? What's the strategy here? Keep running the same base-friendly obstructionist playbook and pray for a huge recession or a major terrorist attack?