USDA Finally Boosts China Corn Imports; Analysts Say Too Low on U.S. Soy Exports

Posted on 11/11/2020 7:40 AM

Dems win control of House next Congress | Crude oil prices rally | Biden review teams

 


In Today’s Updates


 

Market Focus:
* U.S. gov't and U.S. Treasury market closed today for Veterans Day holiday
* Why did USDA not raise U.S. soybean export forecast?
* Covid-19 vaccine would boost the global economy, but not all at once
* Malls filing for bankruptcy or shutting doors as pandemic pain spreads
* Crude oil prices continue rally

* One of China’s biggest banks selling bonds bought with U.S. dollars or bitcoin
* European banks potentially will face $1.7 trillion in bad loans
* Anec raises November export forecasts for Brazilian corn and beans
* Three killed at COFCO crushing plant in Argentina
* Ukraine winter wheat seeding nears completion
* Big ag traders optimistic about the future
* Cargill sells of Venezuela unit, Louis Dreyfus sells large equity stake

 

Policy Focus:
* McConnell to talk with Pelosi about negotiating 12 annual spending bills
* FY 2021 ag spending details released

 

U.S./China update:
* USDA's World Board finally increased its China's corn import estimate
* China wheat imports forecast by USDA at highest level in 25 years
* USDA: China rice imports are forecast lower compared to last year
* China imports 2,000 breeding sows
* Beijing tightens grip on Hong Kong


U.S. food & beverage industry update:
* Whole Foods is offering turkey “insurance” for Thanksgiving culinary mishaps
* Beyond Meat involved in the new McPlant?
* Autonomous delivery is near


Coronavirus update:
* EU to buy Covid vaccine from BioNTech, Pfizer

 

Politics & Elections:
* AP: Dems have enough votes to control House next Congress
* Republicans declare victory in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District
* Club for Growth investing $10 million in Georgia to preserve GOP Senate majority,
* Biden: Trump's failure to concede is an 'embarrassment'
* Biden indicates Senate control may not affect his Cabinet nominations
* Former Iowa governor floated as possible Biden Energy secretary
* NYT has profile of Lael Brainard, Fed governor, potential Biden Tsy secretary
* Fed policy unlikely to be much affected by Joe Biden’s election
* Biden's transition released personnel that will review departments
* Key names for Biden “review teams” at business-focused agencies
* Likely Senate Committee chairs next Congress for some panels
* Current House Ag Chair Peterson endorses Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) as successor
* Sen. Manchin (D-W.Va.) vows not to pack court, abolish filibuster, defund police
* Dems could pass budget under reconciliation rules with 50 votes plus VP
* 2020 election to crush spending records
* Trump maintains large rural margin; Dem vote grows in mid-sized and large metros
* What went wrong with election polls?


Other Items of Note:
* ObamaCare may survive Supreme Court scrutiny
* Californians rejected a proposal to lift commercial property taxes

 


MARKET FOCUS


 

U.S. government and U.S. Treasury market are closed today for the Veterans Day holiday. No government economic indicator reports will be released. Most markets are open and trading with normal hours, however the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) has recommended the bond market be closed for the day in line with U.S. Treasury Department holiday timetables

 

Equities today: U.S. equity futures are up, with technology shares poised to bounce higher after suffering earlier in the week. Of note, the Dow has outperformed the technology-heavy Nasdaq by 6.74 percentage points this week, the largest two-day performance spread since March 2001. Global stock markets were mixed but mostly up overnight. The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 edged up 0.5%. Major Asian equity benchmarks ended the day on a mixed note. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index rose 1.8% to close at its highest level since 1991. South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.4% to its highest in over two years. The main benchmarks in both Hong Kong and China ended the day lower. Shares in some of China’s biggest technology companies fell sharply for a second day.

 

     U.S. equities yesterday: The Dow finished up 262.95 points, 0.90%, at 29,420.92. The Nasdaq fell 159.93 points, 1.37%, at 11,553.86. The S&P 500 eased 4.97 points, 0.14%, at 3,545.53.

 

On tap today:

 

     • European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde gives introductory remarks for an ECB central banking forum at 8 a.m. ET.
     • Japan machinery orders for September are out at 6:50 p.m. ET.

 

A Covid-19 vaccine would boost the global economy, but not all at once. Pfizer and partner BioNTech said they are on track to seek authorization for their vaccine before the end of this month, setting off a stock-market rally as investors anticipated a reopening of economies. But while a successful vaccine could indeed give the economy a shot in the arm in 2021, it will take longer to heal from a historic blow to jobs, investment and businesses — a task complicated by the current surge in infections in much of the West.

     Meanwhile, news of the vaccine breakthrough hasn’t immediately shortened expectations for the time it will take the U.S. and European economies to return to their pre-pandemic size, since most economists had already factored in the deployment of a shot. U.S. and eurozone policy makers expect each region to recover to its pre-Covid-19 size in 2022, according to the Wall Street Journal (link).

     GDP

 

Malls are filing for bankruptcy or shutting their doors as pandemic pain spreads. Mall landlords are starting to seek bankruptcy protection or shutting down, the latest signs that the pandemic is deepening a crisis that began before Covid-19.

 

Market perspectives:

 

     • Outside markets: U.S. Treasury bond and note yields have risen to eight-month highs this week, on the prospects for a solid U.S. economic recovery in 2021. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note futures is currently fetching 0.96%. The U.S. dollar index is higher early today on a corrective bounce after hitting a nine-week low Monday. The other important outside market sees crude oil prices higher, hitting a nine-week high, and trading around $42.75 a barrel.


     • Crude oil prices have moved up more than $1 as Covid vaccine hopes continue to improve demand expectations. U.S. crude is trading around $42.40 per barrel and Brent around $44.70 per barrel. Futures moved higher in Asian action with U.S. crude rising 33 cents at $41.69 per barrel and Brent crude moving up 28 cents at $43.89 per barrel.

 

     • Some private analysts say USDA's World Board's 2020-21 soybean balance sheet doesn't reflect the true export outlook. Soybean export commitments with just two months into the marketing year are already at 81% of USDA's soybean export forecast for 2020-21. Yet USDA during Tuesday's WASDE did not boost the export tally. Some say it's because the stocks-to-use ratio, now at 4.2% is already quite low and that soybean carryover is the lowest in some seven years. But it's been as low as 2.6% in 2013-14. Had USDA boosted its soybean export forecast by 50 million bu., the s/u ratio would be 3.1%; if the hike was 75 mil. bu, the s/u would be 2.5%.

        Soybean S/D

 

    • A bit of news from China... One of China’s biggest banks is selling bonds that can be bought with U.S. dollars or bitcoin.

 

     • European banks potentially will face $1.7 trillion in bad loans when government rescue measures end.

 

Items in Pro Farmer's First Thing Today include (Link to subscribe to FTT):

     • Anec raises November export forecasts for Brazilian corn and beans
     • Three killed at COFCO crushing plant in Argentina
     • Ukraine winter wheat seeding nears completion
     • Big ag traders optimistic about the future
     • Cargill sells of Venezuela unit, Louis Dreyfus sells large equity stake

 


POLICY FOCUS


 

McConnell said he'll soon talk with Pelosi about negotiating the 12 annual spending bills. "I think both sides think it would be better to do an omnibus appropriations bill before the end of the year rather than another short-term punt so hopefully we can get there," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

     Meanwhile, Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said the Senate version of the fiscal year 2021 Agriculture appropriations bill fully funds farm loan programs, supports rural innovation and bolsters agricultural research. Link for details.

 

Update on China:

  • USDA's World Board finally increased its China's corn import estimate, to 13 million tons, from 7 million, despite some in the private trade and the USDA ag attaché office at 22 million tons. USDA's World Board said, “For China, while the National Development and Reform Commission has not made any public statements indicating additional corn import quota has been allocated, shipment data for exporting countries through early November indicates they will exceed their tariff rate quota level of 7.2 million tons.”

    USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) wrote: “China’s imports of coarse grains for 2020-/21 (Oct-Sep) are forecast higher this month, mirroring the level seen in 2014-15 when imports spiked due to strong prices in the domestic market. The rise for 2020-21 is supported by strong recovery in the swine sector, which has been driving feed demand higher. Corn prices in the domestic market have rallied since February, and in October, the national price averaged around $362 per ton, the highest since August 2015.

    “Greater imports are primarily driven by corn. The surge in corn imports is partly based on China Customs Statistics and U.S. Grain Inspections data through early November, which indicate that imports will far exceed the tariff-rate quota (TRQ) level of 7.2 million tons in calendar year 2020. There have been no public statements that would indicate that additional quota has been allocated by the National Development Reform Commission, the authority governing the TRQs.”

    China coarse grains

    China grain prices

     
  • China wheat imports of 8.0 million tons in 2020-21 are forecast by USDA at their highest level in 25 years “as State Trading Enterprises are helping bolster domestic stocks and taking advantage of competitively priced foreign supplies. The price spread between the average domestic price and import price was approximately $70 per ton in September, accounting for over one-fifth of the total domestic price. China is taking advantage of this arbitrage opportunity to help replace and rebuild aging government reserves. Moreover, the government’s domestic wheat procurements were down more than 13.5 million tons compared to last year, further incentivizing higher imports.

    “The demand for feed-quality wheat has surged because of significant inflation in the domestic corn market. The differential between the national average prices for wheat and corn was below $5 per ton in October 2020, compared with almost $60 last year. The narrow price difference between corn and wheat (new-crop price) is driving significant auction sales of old-crop domestic wheat (at parity or lower than new-crop corn in some instances). In October 2020, domestic auctions sold more than 7.1 million tons compared with the previous year.”

    China wheat imports

     
  • USDA said China rice imports are forecast lower compared to last year. According to USDA: “The challenges that exist in the feed market have not been as concerning for China in the food market. Food use, which accounts for the vast majority of use, is estimated to be lower in 2020/21 as the government has implemented policies to reduce food waste. Although feed use for rice is typically minimal, this year more rice is being used for feed as the government draws down the massive old crop supplies in sales at very low prices. Notably, the China export forecast is trimmed, with more of the old-crop supplies from auctions expected to meet the strong domestic feed demand rather than expanding to additional foreign markets.”
     
  • China imports 2,000 breeding sows. A shipment of 2,000 breeding sows from Europe have arrived in China’s southwest Yunnan Province, customs official reported yesterday. The pigs will be quarantined for 45 days before they are used to restore hog production after African swine fever wiped out around half of China’s massive hog herd. Yunnan province has imported 4,520 breeding sows so far this year, according to customs officials.

    When pigs fly... The in-flight service on some AirBridgeCargo Airlines flights consists of plenty of water, a bit of hay and a few encouraging pats on the head. The carrier is among several that are benefiting from growing animal transport this year, the Wall Street Journal reports (link), as planes ferry thousands of pigs, goats and cattle around the world. The business has been a bright spot for a global airline industry ravaged by Covid-19 this year, and it’s growing even as many human passengers shun traveling by plane. China has been buying lots of pigs abroad after losing many of its own to African swine fever, and many will fly. Qatar Airways has added 50% more livestock flights this year. The pandemic is even putting more pets on planes, with many dogs and cats traveling in cargo holds of passenger flights because more expatriate families are returning to their home countries.

     
  • U.S./China Phase 1 tracker: China’s purchases of U.S. goods. Link.
     
  • Beijing tightens grip on Hong Kong. Hong Kong's government dismissed four opposition lawmakers overnight after China passed a law permitting the disqualification of officials deemed "unpatriotic" without having to go through the courts. The news also prompted the en masse resignation of 16 remaining opposition lawmakers in the city's 70-seat Legislative Council. Back in June, Beijing also bypassed the Legislative Council to impose controversial national security legislation, causing G7 nations to accuse China of violating the terms of the "1997 handover agreement" and the U.S. to sanction local officials.

Food and beverage industry update:

  • Whole Foods is offering turkey “insurance” for Thanksgiving culinary mishaps. The first 1,000 people who make a turkey cooking mishaps claim will receive a $35 Whole Foods gift card under the Thanksgiving Turkey Protection Plan. Link to Business Insider article.
     
  • Beyond Meat involved in the new McPlant? On Monday, the Golden Arches said it had developed a plant-based patty called the McPlant — "crafted exclusively for McDonald's, by McDonald's" — that will be tested in 2021 on a market-by-market basis. The news sent shares of Beyond Meat — a previous Mickie D's partner in Canada — tumbling that morning, as well as later in the session as weak pandemic demand hit its Q3 results. Following the moves, a spokesperson for Beyond Meat said that both the company and McDonald's "co-created the plant-based patty," but that part was likely the one that shouldn't have been said aloud. "All the investment we're making here, all the scaling we're doing here, would suggest the relationship [with McDonald's] is really strong," Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown told CNBC's Jim Cramer. "That's really all I could say." Link for details.
     
  • Autonomous delivery is near. Walmart and General Motors' Cruise are planning to test using self-driving cars to deliver customer orders, which will take place in the early part of next year in Scottsdale, Arizona. If the program works well, the two companies could expand it to other stores. "You've seen us test drive with self-driving cars in the past, and we’re continuing to learn a lot about how they can shape the future of retail," said Tom Ward, SVP of Customer Product, Walmart U.S. "We're excited to add Cruise to our lineup of autonomous vehicle pilots as we continue to chart a whole new roadmap for retail."

Coronavirus update:

  • Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are at 51,510,.231 with 1,273,055 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. case count is at 10,257,825 with 239,683 deaths.

    Coronavirus hospitalizations set a record in the U.S. on Tuesday in a fresh reminder that the pandemic is far from over.

    Covid daily cases

    Link to Covid Case Tracker

    Link to Our World in Data

     
  • EU to buy Covid vaccine from BioNTech, Pfizer. The European Union (EU) will buy up to 300 million doses of the Covid vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, with Pfizer indicating deliveries are hoped to start by year end provided the vaccine gets approval from the European Medicines Agency, according to the Financial Times. “Today’s finalized supply agreement with the European Commission represents the largest initial order of vaccine doses for Pfizer and BioNTech to date and a major step toward our shared goal of making a Covid-19 vaccine available to vulnerable populations,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

 

POLITICS & ELECTIONS


 

  • Although they held on to the House, Democrats came up short in several races where they hoped to make gains, and so far have lost eight incumbents, seven of whom won two years ago and helped the party take control. Further losses are still possible, with incumbents trailing in states such as California and New York where ballot counting is slow. Republicans have so far netted six seats, including Michigan’s 3rd District, where Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash is retiring.

    Heading into the election, Democrats had a majority of 232 to 197, with one Libertarian and five open seats. That balance is now at 218 Democrats to 201 Republicans. A surge in mail ballots due to the pandemic prolonged vote counting in a number of states, and about 16 House races have still not been called.

    Democrats did flip two open seats in North Carolina, which became more Democratic after court-ordered redistricting. And they flipped an open seat in suburban Atlanta, with Democrat Carolyn Bordeaux defeating Republican Rich McCormick in Georgia’s 7th District.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is running to lead the House again, told her caucus on a call last week, “We did not win every battle, but we did win the war.”

    Meanwhile, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) said she plans to leave her position after this term, in the wake of the party’s setbacks. Bustos, who represents a district that President Trump won in 2016, had campaigned for the position by saying she understood Trump voters. Bustos is reportedly among the many potential people Biden could pick as his USDA Secretary.

     
  • Republicans Tuesday night declared victory in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District after nearly a week of vote recounting tightened the race to become the closest 2020 contest. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Republican candidate, secured a razor-thin margin of victory of 47 votes, according to Tuesday's final count from the Iowa secretary of state. Her Democratic opponent, Rita Hart, has three days to call for another recount, which she is expected to do.
     
  • Club for Growth is investing $10 million in Georgia to preserve the Republican Party's Senate majority, with plans to boost GOP candidates in two Jan. 5 runoff elections that will determine the balance of power on Capitol Hill for the next two years.
     
  • Biden says Trump's failure to concede is an 'embarrassment'. President-elect Joe Biden called President Trump’s refusal to concede the election an “embarrassment” on Tuesday and warned that failing to do so would reflect poorly on his legacy in office. “I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” Biden said, when asked to comment on Trump’s refusal to acknowledge defeat in last week’s presidential election.
     
  • President-elect Joe Biden indicated that Senate control may not affect his Cabinet nominations, saying he understands that McConnell "will make it clear who he's prepared to support and not support." Biden said he hopes to "let people know at least a couple" nominations before Thanksgiving.
     
  • Former Iowa governor floated as possible Biden Energy secretary. Even as the formal transition process relative to what is expected to be a Biden administration is not yet formally underway, there continue to be names that are surfacing relative to potential cabinet offices in the new administration. Former Iowa Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, has been contacted by the Biden transition team, according to Bloomberg. Culver could be tapped for a “senior role” at the Department of Energy that would tap his experience in renewable power and energy in Iowa, the report said.

    Culver currently operates a renewable energy consulting firm and was active while Iowa governor on renewable fuel, wind and solar power efforts and was also co-chair of the National Governors Association’s wind coalition. Plus, Culver’s father served in the US Senate in the 1970s with Biden and Chet Culver endorsed Biden shortly before the Iowa caucuses earlier this year.

     
  • NYT has profile of Lael Brainard, the Fed governor who is a top candidate to be President-elect Biden’s Treasury secretary. Link to article.
     
  • Fed policy is unlikely to be much affected by Joe Biden’s election, but his appointments and fiscal policies could reshape the central bank. Link to WSJ item.
     
  • Joe Biden's transition team released personnel that will review departments, including the following people to review the Agriculture Department, the Farm Credit Administration and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation. Link to full list.

    The team will be led by Robert Bonnie, who was the undersecretary for natural resources and environment at USDA in President Barack Obama’s second term. During Obama’s first term, he served as senior adviser to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for environment and climate change. Before joining USDA, Bonnie was vice president for land conservation at the Environmental Defense Fund, where he focused on developing incentives to reward farmers, ranchers and forest owners for stewardship activities on private lands. The list:

    ▪ Robert Bonnie, team lead, Duke University, Bipartisan Policy Center
    ▪ Nicholas Anthis, University of California
    ▪ Sanah Baig, The Good Food Institute
    ▪ Brooke Barron, Office of the Speaker, Maine State Legislature
    ▪ Kumar Chandran, FoodCorps
    ▪ Jonathan Coppess, The University of Illinois
    ▪ Andrea Delgado, UFW Foundation
    ▪ Debra Eschmeyer, Arizona State University
    ▪ Meryl Harrell, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards
    ▪ LaQuita Honeysucker, The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
    ▪ John Padalino, Bandera Electric Cooperative Inc.
    ▪ Gregory Parham, U.S. Department of Agriculture (retired)
    ▪ Lisa Pino, State of New York, Department of Health
    ▪ Amy Pitelka, Barker Pitelka PLLC
    ▪ Jeffrey Prieto, Los Angeles Community College District
    ▪ Audrey Rowe, self-employed
    ▪ Corey Then, Moneta Group

     
  • Here are some of the key names for Biden “review teams” at business-focused agencies:

    Commerce Department:
    The review team is led by Geovette Washington of the University of Pittsburgh, who previously served as general counsel and senior policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget. Other members include Anna Gomez, a partner at the law firm Wiley Rein; Arun Venkataraman, who works in government relations at Visa (and was director of policy at the Commerce Department under Obama); and Ellen Hughes-Cromwick of the think tank Third Way, who served as chief economist at Mr. Obama’s Commerce Department and held a similar role at Ford.

    Treasury Department: The team is led by Don Graves, who heads corporate responsibility at KeyBank and previously worked as director of domestic and economic policy for Mr. Biden. Others include Nicole Isaac of LinkedIn and Marisa Lago, who works at the New York City Department of City Planning and previously oversaw global compliance at Citigroup.

    Federal Reserve, Banking and Securities Regulators: The team is led by Gary Gensler, a top Wall Street regulator in the Obama administration who is now a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. The team also includes Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets, long a proponent of tougher rules for banks.

    Council of Economic Advisers: The team is led by Martha Gimbel, the senior manager of economic research at Schmidt Futures, the philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt.

     
  • Likely Senate Committee chairs next Congress for some panels:

    Agriculture

    If GOP wins: Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

    Appropriations
    If GOP wins: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

    Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs:
    If GOP wins: Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
    If DEM wins Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

    Budget
    If GOP wins: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

    Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    If GOP wins: Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

    Energy and Natural Resources
    If GOP wins: Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
    If DEM wins: Sen. John Manchin (D-W.Va.)

    Environment and Public Works
    If GOP wins: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.)

    Finance
    If GOP wins: Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

    Foreign Relations
    If GOP wins: Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)

    Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
    If GOP wins: Unclear, perhaps Sen. Richard Barr (R-N.C.)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

    Homeland Security and Government Affairs
    If GOP wins: Sen. Rob Portman (R-S.D.)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.)

    Judiciary
    If GOP wins: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

    Rules and Administration
    If GOP wins: Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Amy Klobuchar

    Small Business and Administration
    If GOP wins: Either Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) or Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)
    If DEM wins: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)

     
  • Current House Ag Chair Peterson endorses Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) as his successor. In a letter (link) to Scott, Peterson (D-Minn.) wrote that he is a supporter of the seniority system, that he was pleased to follow House Agriculture Committee Chairman Kika de la Garza (D-Texas), the first Hispanic chairman of the committee, to the top of the committee leadership and that “it will be another important milestone to have the first African-American chair.” Scott is second in seniority on the committee after Peterson, who was defeated in his re-election race.
     
  • Democratic West Virginia Sen. Manchin vows not to pack court, abolish filibuster, defund police. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told Fox News that he will not vote to pack the Supreme Court, end the filibuster, or defund the police. "50-50 [control] means that if one senator does not vote on the Democratic side, there is no tie and there is no bill," Manchin said. "I commit to tonight and I commit to all of your viewers and everyone else that's watching, I want to allay those fears, I want to rest those fears for you right now because when they talk about, whether it be packing the courts or ending the filibuster, I will not vote to do that," Manchin added.
     
  • Democrats could pass a budget under reconciliation rules with 50 votes plus the Vice President to make 51 in the Senate. This can include spending and tax measures. Most of the Biden plan would pass because Democrats want the revenue to spend. This is one of the reasons why the two Georgia Senate runoffs on Jan. 5 are so important to both parties.
     
  • 2020 election to crush spending records. OpenSecrets projects total federal spending in the 2020 election will near $14 billion, establishing itself as the most expensive election in U.S. history by a large margin.

    Election spending total

    Democrats dominate election spending. Democratic candidates and groups have spent $6.9 billion, compared to $3.8 billion for Republicans. Democrats' spending falls to $5.5 billion when excluding spending by billionaire presidential candidates Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer.

    Election spending parties

     
  • Trump maintains his large rural margin; Democratic vote grows the most in mid-sized and large metros. President Donald Trump got a bigger share of the rural vote this year than he did in 2016. But then again, so did President Elect Joe Biden, compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to Daily Yonder. Reason: Fewer votes went to third-party candidates. That left a greater share of the vote for the major-party candidates. In 2016 nearly 6% of the national vote (8 million voters) went to third-party candidates.

    Election rural vote

    The graphic below shows the gain each candidate made in each type of county. You can find the county definitions at the bottom of the story.

    Election gains

     
  • Fox in hen house... What went wrong with election polls? The NYT Upshot’s Nate Cohn has some theories. Link to item.

 


OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE


 

  • Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) challenge gets a cool Supreme Court reception. Several conservative justices joined liberals voicing skepticism about the case, brought by a group of Republican-leaning states, which argues the entire Affordable Care Act must fall because of one 2017 change by Congress. Though some conservative justices appeared more open to the argument, the response suggested the law may survive when a decision is announced later this term. "It's hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate was struck down," said Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored 2012 and 2015 rulings that upheld ObamaCare in previous Republican legal challenges. The Trump administration had argued that the individual mandate, ruled as unconstitutional by an appeals court almost a year ago, is not "severable," therefore ObamaCare is unconstitutional and should be repealed.
     
  • Californians rejected a proposal to lift commercial property taxes. Proposition 15, which would have eliminated a 40-year cap on some real estate taxes to raise billions for education, was defeated, 51.8% to 48.2%. Backers included Mark Zuckerberg’s family foundation; opponents included Blackstone.

 

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