Today's Papers

Keeping Abreast of the Voters

Tomorrow’s elections dominate. USA Today leads with its latest poll indicating that many races are too close to call. The New York Times goes with a nationwide look at candidates’ last-minute attempts to motivate voters, in a campaign that at this late date, the Times says, still lacks a national theme. The Los Angeles Times goes with the last frantic hours of California’s gubernatorial and Senate candidates. The Washington Post gives much of its front to election coverage as well, but leads with Hamas’ threat to do battle with Yasser Arafat.

USAT reports that according to its plus-or-minus 5 percent poll of 1,105 likely voters, 49 percent said they preferred the Democrat in their local congressional race and 45 percent preferred the Republican. Today’s Papers is thrilled to note that the paper runs the preceding information about margin of error and sample size in the first few paragraphs.

The NYT lead also comments that polling shows many races to be very close. Besides the very tight congressional races, the paper says at least five Senate races (New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, Nevada and Wisconsin) and ten gubernatorial contests (Maryland, Nevada, Hawaii, Georgia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio and Rhode Island) could easily come out either way. The Times passes along some of the more incendiary last-minute phone, radio, and leaflet election messages such close races give rise to. Such as this from a Missouri Democratic Party radio appeal targeted at blacks: “When you don’t vote, you let another church explode.”

In a state where media-based campaigns are the standard, even the LAT seems stunned that California’s two senatorial and two gubernatorial candidates threw millions into last-minute ads. The paper says the Democratic candidate for governor, Gray Davis, spent $1 million just for TV time on Sunday and today. The other major effort seems to be going into attending church–all but one of the four major candidates “publicly sought divine intervention.”

Yasser Arafat, having tried to show the Israelis he’s serious about upholding his end of the just-concluded peace accords by arresting scores of Hamas members, is now, reports the WP, being threatened in a Hamas leaflet with violent retaliation. The NYT pass at the story, running inside, includes this not-quite-Miranda warning from Arafat’s chief of police, “If anyone from the Qassam Brigades [of Hamas] gets near a police officer, shoot him in the legs!” Meanwhile, the Times adds in a separate story (an Agence France-Presse dispatch) that, not to be out-thugged, the head of the Syrian- and Iranian-backed terrorist organization, Hezbollah, speaking at a rally in Beirut, told a large crowd that getting rid of the peace deal requires killing not just Israeli soldiers and settlers, but also Arafat.

USAT and the LAT front Clinton administration warnings to Iraq that it could face a U.S. or allied military strike if it doesn’t reconsider its weekend decision to shut down the UN’s weapons inspection effort. The NYT runs the story inside.

USAT’s front section “cover story” is a close look at the growing problem of Web sites that sell prescription medications to loggers-on. The paper says that medical boards in every state view the sites as illegal or at least not meeting accepted standards of medical care. The story reports one countermeasure the Federal Trade Commission has put into play: the establishment of a “teaser sting site” (one of a dozen relating to various spurious health claims and get-rich-quick schemes) that promotes fake impotence and sex aids but leads to nothing more than a warning that such e-commerce is dubious. Unlike a USAT story earlier this year on sex sites, today’s story contains no Web addresses. A policy change?

The WP’s Al Kamen reports that in the sheriff’s race in Storey County, Nevada, a much-prized voting bloc is working women. And he means working women. The county contains two legal brothels staffed by a total of 195 licensed prostitutes.

The day after Nicholas Lemann’s NYT Magazine cover story articulating how the national conversation has been utterly taken over by the concerns of the comfortable, the Wall Street Journal offers a front-page story on a previously unappreciated grave national crisis: the difficulties involved in shopping for furniture. The story’s hard-luck cases include: people with a $50,000 car and Armani suits but shabby furniture, a woman who was able to drive home her 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee the day she saw it, but twice has had to wait twelve weeks for furniture ordered at Pottery Barn, and a management consultant who despite having hired a decorator and ordering $70,000 worth of furniture including a hand-carved entertainment center, has still only received one of the pieces. There is no indication in the story that some people can’t afford furniture and don’t have houses to put it in.