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American politics can feel static at times. For the past two decades, the two parties have each received at least 45 percent of the vote in every presidential election, and a small number of swing states have determined the outcome.

But that surface stability has hidden a lot of churn: American politics has actually changed a lot lately.

Note that Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris will camp today in Texas, a state that President Trump won by nine percentage points four years ago and that Barack Obama lost 16 points in 2012. This year, however, Texas is a swing state. “It’s a real race,” said Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, to my colleague Jonathan Martin.

One of Harris’ three stops adds to the intrigue. In addition to Fort Worth and Houston, she will visit the smaller South Texas town of McAllen, where Joe Biden gets along with Latino voters as well as Hillary Clinton did in 2016. If someone had told you a few years ago that Trump 2020 with Latino and Black -Voters would do better than 2016 and still lose his re-election race, would you have believed it?

It happened because during the Trump presidency, voters became less racially polarized. His appeals to white nationalism have not worked for most white voters. Since 2016, white and college-educated voters have turned to the Democrats.

But Trump’s white nationalism hasn’t driven out many color voters who haven’t already opposed him. Instead, his confrontational style and harsh conversation about crime and national security seem to have appealed to some Latino and black voters, as The Times’ Nate Cohn notes. These data, writes Nate, “indicate a growing gap between the views of progressive activists and non-white voters.”

A major national poll released yesterday found that Trump won 9 percent of black voters this year, up from 8 percent in 2016 and 35 percent of Latino voters, down from 29 percent. If Trump wins re-election, the support of some Latino voters will likely be a major reason.

Of course, four days before election day, Trump is a significant outsider thanks to Biden’s great strength: he wins over women, younger voters and voters of color, and asserts himself among men, older voters and white voters.

Biden can win the orthodox way by flipping the three developed nations known as the blue wall until Trump won it in 2016: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Or Biden can prevail by winning one or more Sun Belt states that no Democratic presidential candidate has won in more than two decades, such as Arizona, Georgia, and Texas. He also almost got the presidency by winning Florida. And in a very close race, the two states that cast votes based in part on Congressional District results – Maine and Nebraska – could also matter.

The biggest advantage is that you shouldn’t assume that the future course of American politics is predetermined. After all, a Democrat could win Georgia and Texas this year, while a Republican could win part of the so-called blue wall. Imagine how much more could change in the next four or eight years.

For more: The Times’ Richard Fausset explains how Georgia became a battlefield state.

The 2020 campaign

  • Lived life: Bob Biggs saw the opportunity in the mohawk-filled mosh pits of the Los Angeles punk movement in the late 1970s. He founded Slash Records, one of the most successful independent record labels of its time. He died at the age of 74.

The Times can help you choose – to separate fact from fiction, understand the polls, and make sure your ballot counts. To support our efforts Please subscribe today.

On early Sunday morning, the clocks drop back an hour when daylight saving time ends in most of the United States and Canada. There is a movement, however, to abolish the temporal changes in the future: More than 30 states this year considered legislation to make daylight saving time permanent, which would result in both sunrise and sunset later in the year occur in colder months.

Proponents of permanent summer time argue that the current regulation pushes too much winter light into the early mornings, when many people are asleep. They cite studies showing an increase in car accidents, medical errors, and suicides related to shift time.

Supporters of the status quo answer: Winter mornings would be miserable. Two California state lawmakers wrote: “You are preparing your family for the day in the dark. Your children will be going to school or waiting for the school bus before the sun comes up. “

If you’re interested in reading more, we recommend this piece about New York’s official watchmaker who changes some of the biggest clocks in town every year.

Halloween won’t look traditional this year. But there are still ways to celebrate safely. Policies vary from place to place: some cities discourage cruise districts from buying candy, while cities in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Texas have banned door-to-door trick-or-treating altogether. Salem, Mass., Where Halloween draws hundreds of thousands of tourists, has already canceled many festivities.

In general, the CDC recommends avoiding higher-risk activities such as regular trick or treating or indoor costume parties.

Depending on the infection rate in your community, experts say safer strategies are to leave baskets of candy outside your home and let children wear gloves and hand sanitizer. Meetings should be outdoors and socially distant. And while you don’t have to sanitize every single candy wrapper, make sure your hands are clean before digging in them.

“Costumes and candy may seem frivolous, but joy and social connection are essential and can help reduce the pandemic fatigue that many people experience,” said Julia Marcus An associate professor at Harvard Medical School told us.

While they look like traditional chocolate chip cookies, this dessert offers some surprises with the addition of toasted almonds with honey and a generous sugar dusting with chilli flakes.

The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was a towline. Today’s puzzle is up – or you can play online if you have a game subscription.