Analysis & Comment

Amy Coney Barrett, Vaccines, Election Polls: Your Monday Evening Briefing

Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.

By Victoria Shannon and Judith Levitt

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. “All the Republicans will vote yes, all the Democrats will vote no.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the deeply divided Judiciary Committee, left little doubt about the expected result as confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett began today.

In their opening statements, Democrats characterized Judge Barrett as a conservative ideologue who would overturn the Affordable Care Act and invalidate abortion rights, while Republicans directed attention to her sterling résumé and compelling personal story.

Judge Barrett herself steered clear of controversy in her remarks. Questioning of the nominee begins tomorrow.

Outside of the hearings, some liberals said expanding the size of the Supreme Court would be a fitting response to recent Republican moves in the confirmation wars.

2. The medical cavalry is coming. But don’t wave the victory flag just yet.

That’s the cautiously optimistic assessment of the coronavirus crisis from our epidemics reporter Donald McNeil, who admits he has been gloomy about the unfolding catastrophe since January.

Today, he writes, it’s clear that the acceptance of masks and other precautions have made a huge difference in lives saved. The next step is pharmaceutical — vaccines and monoclonal antibodies — and they are in sight, if not within reach.

Our science columnist Carl Zimmer cautions that the rollout of vaccines in the U.S. will most likely be messy. The first vaccines, probably in the spring, may provide only moderate protection, low enough to make it prudent to keep wearing a mask.

3. President Trump, returning to the campaign trail, holds a rally in Florida tonight, while Joe Biden visited Ohio to court G.O.P. voters.

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