When confronted with a prediction that doesn't match your own, it's natural to assume you are right and to try and prove it. It's why, with polls showing President Obama headed toward a comfortable re-election two years back, many Republicans set about frantically trying to "unskew" the results. It looked great on paper — "Hey, Romney is actually winning!" — but proved flawed come November.
With the midterms on the way, the unskew movement is back. And this time, the poll in question is a New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation survey, released Wednesday, that shows Democrats doing well in four crucial Senate races. In the most remarkable finding, the poll gave Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) — who was believed to be the most vulnerable Senate Democrat this cycle — a 10-point lead.
The Republican National Committee's response: "Desperate after losing Nate Silver, The New York Times published a poll taken from people they found outside the DSCC who confidently predicted they'd keep the Senate."
The RNC's beef is that the poll ostensibly overrepresented Obama supporters, thus boosting the Dem candidates. (The percentage of respondents who said they voted for Romney in 2012 didn't match the actual elections results.)
But as the Times' Nate Cohn explained in defending the survey, "there's a well-known bias toward the victor in post-election surveys," so it's likely some Romney voters either claimed to have backed Obama, or declined to say whom they voted for. And since the rest of the poll's demographics make sense, the results can't just be dismissed out of hand. Jon Terbush
Agnes Nixon, the trailblazing soap opera writer and the creator of All My Children and One Life to Live, died Wednesday at a senior living facility in Pennsylvania. She was 93.
Nixon got her start in daytime serials thanks to her father's inadvertent assistance, the Los Angeles Times says. He was actually trying to convince her not to launch a writing career, hoping she would follow him into the burial garments business, when he set up a meeting with a pioneer in radio serial writing, Irna Phillips, to convince his daughter that her dream was foolish. But Phillips enjoyed Nixon's sample script so much, she asked her to come work for her. "It was one of the greatest moments of my life," Nixon said. "It was freedom."
During the 1950s and 1960s, Nixon helped launch As the World Turns, was head writer of Guiding Light, and helped turn around Another World. She was ahead of her time, giving a Guiding Light character in 1962 uterine cancer, but CBS and sponsor Proctor & Gamble agreed to let the storyline air only if the words "cancer," "uterus," and "hysterectomy" were not used. She later formed a company with her husband to produce One Life to Live, Loving, and All My Children; she based the latter show's villain, Adam Chandler, on her father, and gave Erica Kane, her favorite character, abandonment issues like she thought she had, the Times reports. In 1981, she became the first woman to receive the Trustees Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and in 2010, she was honored with a Daytime Emmy for lifetime achievement. Nixon's husband died in 1996. She is survived by her children Cathy, Mary, Robert, and Emily, and 11 grandchildren. Catherine Garcia
During a military town hall on Wednesday, President Obama said it was a "mistake" for Congress to override his veto of a bill to allow 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia over its alleged role in the 2001 terrorist attacks, something the kingdom has long denied.
Speaking to troops at Fort Lee in Virginia, Obama said he understands why Congress acted the way it did, as "all of us still carry the scars and trauma of 9/11," but the legislation "eliminates this notion of sovereign immunity," potentially putting "our men and women in uniform around the world... subject to reciprocal laws." Obama warned that this sets a "dangerous precedent," and said his job as commander-in-chief is "to make sure we're looking ahead at how this is going to impact our overall mission. It means this time it's Saudi Arabia, next time let's say it's Great Britain, our closest ally." Catherine Garcia
New Hampshire voters, feel free to snap away inside the voting booth this November.
On Wednesday, a federal appeals court in Boston ruled New Hampshire's ban on selfies in the voting booth is unconstitutional. In 2014, the Granite State made it illegal for residents to take photos of their ballots and share them on social media, with a fine of up to $1,000. The state has argued that the the law is designed to discourage vote-buying and intimidation, NBC News reports, but last year, a federal judge blocked its enforcement.
The appeallate court found that while New Hampshire does have a point, the ban is directed at an "unsubstantiated and hypothetical danger" and suppresses political speech. "It's like burning down the house to roast the pig," the court stated. This is the first time a federal appeals court has heard the issue, but it likely won't be the last — there are still 26 other states that have various laws banning photography at the ballot box. Catherine Garcia
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders put on a united front Wednesday in New Hampshire, with Sanders imploring young supporters in the audience to vote for the Democratic nominee in November.
The former rivals spoke at the University of New Hampshire in Durham in front of more than 1,000 people, and Sanders urged them to talk with friends and family members about voting. New Hampshire could "decide the outcome" of the election, Sanders said, and it is "imperative" that they hit the polls for Clinton. He then dropped some names to energize the crowd, saying, "If anybody tells you that this election is not important, you ask them why the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and other billionaires are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elect their candidates."
Clinton and Sanders also went over a college affordability plan, which would provide young people from middle- and working-class families with free tuition to public universities. Clinton had nothing but praise for Sanders, calling him a friend and "one of the most passionate champions for equality and justice who I have ever seen." She also reminded the crowd that it's "not just my name on the ballot. Every issue you care about, think about it, because in effect, it's on the ballot, too. The next 40 days will determine the next 40 years." Catherine Garcia
Authorities say a teenager who allegedly shot and wounded two students and a teacher Wednesday at a South Carolina elementary school killed his father earlier in the day.
Jeffrey Osborne, 47, was found dead inside his Townville home from a gunshot wound, police say. The teenage suspect, who was homeschooled, is in custody, and authorities are trying to determine what ties he might have to Townville Elementary School. Deputy Chief Keith Smith said the teen did not enter the school, and the shooting took place on the playground.
One 6-year-old victim is in critical condition and undergoing surgery, while the other victim, also six, has been discharged from the hospital. The teacher is still being treated. The school, which has an enrollment of 286 students, was evacuated after the incident, and is closed for the rest of the week. Catherine Garcia
Saturday Night Live is ramping up the drama for this weekend, when it returns for its 42nd season.
In a sketch about Monday's presidential debate, show star (and newly minted Emmy winner) Kate McKinnon will be reprising her usual role as Hillary Clinton, but she will be joined by a special guest star in the role of Donald Trump: Alec Baldwin. Baldwin, of course, has an infamous reputation of his own for his short temper and unfriendly encounters with the media — much like the man he'll be portraying:
Earlier this election season, Trump was portrayed by the show's announcer Darrell Hammond, who had also played Trump among many other celebrity impersonations during his original run from 1995 to 2009 as one of SNL's featured actors.
The real question, though: What can SNL's writers, McKinnon, and Baldwin do to improve on any of the real zaniness from the debate itself? Find out Saturday, when the premiere episode for SNL's 42nd season, hosted by actress Margot Robbie, airs at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Eric Kleefeld
While joblessness among recent college graduates is finally on the decline, the problem of "underemployment" seems to be on the rise: Think the young, overeducated barista working at your local coffee shop. Underemployment — that is, a college grad working in a job that doesn't require a college degree — is higher today than it has been at any other point in the 21st century, The Atlantic reports, and the number of "non-college" jobs opening up for newly minted adults is rising at a faster rate than jobs that require higher education.
A large gap has opened between those with humanities degrees and those with STEM training. Underemployment afflicts more than 50 percent of college graduates with majors in history, communications, political science, and philosophy, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Graduates with degrees in math, science, and engineering typically have much better job prospects and starting salaries.
But as The Atlantic points out, college graduates still reap benefits overall, no matter what major is written on their diploma. The college-educated are still more likely than those without a degree to have higher wages, get married, and have kids that also go off to college. Kelly Gonsalves