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Vox Sentences: Iceland narrowly withstands a pirate takeover (for now)

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Dems stop freaking out about FBI, start freaking out about black turnout; some of these white supremacist voter suppression plots are kind of a joke; an electoral victory for the status quo in Iceland.


The Clinton firewall is holding

Vice President Joe Biden Johnny Louis/FilmMagic
  • Hillary Clinton is still probably going to win the 2016 presidential election. [NYT / Josh Katz]
  • But the case that Donald Trump has a chance got a lot stronger earlier this week, after some strong days of polling — and the possibility that renewed attention to the FBI investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server would help tip undecided voters to Trump (and persuade soft Clinton supporters to stay home). [FiveThirtyEight / Nate Silver]
  • It does not yet look like that has panned out. Clinton's "firewall" of safe leads in swing states appears to be holding across states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • The ultimate result of the new email developments might not be in the presidential race at all — it might have killed what momentum Democrats had to take the House of Representatives, which admittedly was always a long shot. [AP / Andrew Taylor and Matthew Daly]
  • The Senate, for its part, is still a total toss-up — which means get-out-the-vote efforts are especially important. Too bad Republican Senate candidates have to rely on the halfhearted GOTV efforts of the Trump campaign. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • There are signs of concern for Clinton. Black turnout in early voting is lagging behind 2012 levels in North Carolina and Florida. It's plausible (especially in North Carolina) that this is happening because Republican policymakers have made it harder for people to vote early. [Slate / Jamelle Bouie]
  • Furthermore, in some states that have passed voting restrictions (like Arizona), early voting is way up — especially among Latinos. [Arizona Republic / Ronald J. Hansen]

Indeed, it's plausible that 2016 will set records for Latino turnout — and, of course, that the Latino vote will be more overwhelmingly Democratic than it's ever been. [Latino Decisions]


This week in white supremacist violence

Violent protesters Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images
  • Voting rights advocates and progressives are freaking out about reports that white supremacist groups, from the National Socialist Movement to TheRightStuff.biz, are bragging about planned voter intimidation efforts on Election Day. [Politico / Ben Schreckinger]
  • Voter intimidation is a serious concern. But a lot of these particular groups are kind of a joke — Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization not known for downplaying threats, called them "serial exaggerators."
  • Not everyone is waiting 'til Election Day. A black church in Greenville, Mississippi, was found burned on Tuesday night, with "VOTE TRUMP" spray-painted on the outside of the church. [CNN / Eliott C. McLaughlin]
  • Nothing is known about the motive or perpetrators of the church fire (though police have identified a person of interest). It's possible this was some sort of lone wolf attempt at a false flag operation. Given the hype over a wave of fires in black churches in 2015, many of which turned out to be accidental or set for other reasons, it's worth the caution. [Vox / German Lopez and Dara Lind]
  • Of course, in cases like this it can often be impossible to distinguish "premeditated hate crime" from "impulsive demonstration of white supremacy," and that does not make it any better. [Washington Post / William Booth]
  • Take what might be the clearest case of white supremacist violence this week: a pair of ambush killings of two police officers in the Des Moines area. [USA Today / Daniel P. Finney, Charly Haley, and Doug Stanglin]

Both police officers were white. But the suspect in their murders had had an altercation with police officers the month before (which he posted on YouTube as a violation of his civil rights) when he attempted to display the Confederate flag at a football game. And in 2014, he'd been convicted of harassment for shining a flashlight in the eyes of a black neighbor and shouting, "I'm gonna kill you, [racial slur]." [Southern Poverty Law Center / Ryan Lenz]


Iceland decides to keep this Althing around

Bjork Santiago Felipe/Getty Images
  • Iceland's president asked the center-right Independence Party to try to form a governing coalition on Wednesday, a few days after parliamentary elections had led none of Iceland's seven parties in parliament to have a clear governing mandate. [WSJ / Charles Duxbury]
  • The elections were spurred by the resignation this spring of Iceland's prime minister over revelations in the Panama Papers that he and his wife had stowed wealth in an offshore holding company (he's one of many world leaders who came under fire after the leaks). [NYT / Steven Erlanger, Stephen Castle, and Rick Gladstone]
  • The former prime minister's center-left Progressive Party was the big loser over the weekend's elections; it had been in a governing coalition with the Independence Party, but the acting prime minister stepped down earlier this week to give another coalition a chance to form. [AP]
  • Before the election, it looked like the Pirate Party — a left-populist party that didn't exist four years ago and is still something of a protest party — would win a plurality of seats and the first chance to try to cobble together a majority. [Washington Post / Geoff Witte]
  • But instead, it will be the Independence Party — which had the plurality of seats in the parliament even before the weekend's election (though if the Independence Party can't make a deal with anyone, a coalition of left parties is prepared to step forward). [WSJ / Charles Duxbury]

The upshot: Iceland has just seen a victory for the status quo. It's sort of a strange outcome, given the rise in populism across Europe. And given that they nearly lost to a bunch of pirates. [National Post / Omar R. Valdemarsson]


Miscellaneous

  • It's not like the FBI hasn't improperly interjected itself into elections before. Just ask former DC Mayor Vince Gray. [Washington Post / Vincent Gray]
  • 40 percent of respondents supporting a California ballot measure to end the death penalty say they also support Proposition 66, which would speed up the death penalty. [The Intercept / Liliana Segura]
  • Manhattan, Kansas, is being menaced by a Kit Kat robber. [Fox8]
  • Celebrating Halloween with Wiccans, for whom it's an important religious holiday. [DCist / Rachel Sadon]
  • In the '90s, Jennifer Frey was a massively successful sportswriter, an archetype of the hard-working, hard-living reporter's reporter. Then it all fell apart. [Deadspin / Dave McKenna]

Verbatim

  • "The accent we’re talking about here is among the weirdest ways of speaking in the history of the English language." [Atlas Obscura / Dan Nosowitz]
  • "The last 30 years of superhero entertainment have demonstrated the psychological and thematic depths that can be drawn out of these characters. Darkwing Duck asks: Why bother?" [A.V. Club / Kevin Johnson]
  • "November always seemed to me the Norway of the year." [Emily Dickinson via Paris Review / Sadie Stein]
  • "We might have an on-demand economy, but we cannot have an economy without demand. Do things that don't scale, but never scale things you don't do. Hashtags are the new HTML. One day, we will refer to the Internet of Things as just things.” [CB Insights]
  • "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Jesse Jackson, A. Philip Randolph … Rosa Parks … These people fought — some of them were beaten, some of them were killed — because of their desire to ensure that everybody that wanted to had the right to register to vote and participate in the process. I’m not going to cheapen the work that they did. I’m not going to embarrass them by allowing somebody that’s too sorry to get up off of their rear end to go register to vote." [Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, on why he opposes automatic voter registration, via Slate / Mark Joseph Stern]


Watch this: Want to rig the US presidential election? Good luck.

Here’s why it’s nearly impossible. [YouTube / Liz Scheltens and Dion Lee]