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Election Countdown: Midterm fight heats up over Kavanaugh | McConnell sees energized base | Dems look to women to retake House | How suburban voters could decide control of Congress | Taylor Swift backs Tennessee Dems | Poll shows Cruz up 5 in Texas

Election Countdown: Midterm fight heats up over Kavanaugh | McConnell sees energized base | Dems look to women to retake House | How suburban voters could decide control of Congress | Taylor Swift backs Tennessee Dems | Poll shows Cruz up 5 in Texas
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This is Election Countdown, The Hill's weekly newsletter from Lisa Hagen (@LA_Hagen) and Max Greenwood (@KMaxGreenwood) that brings you the biggest stories on the campaign trail. We'd love to hear from you, so feel free to reach out to Lisa at LHagen@thehill.com and Max at MGreenwood@thehill.com. with any questions, comments, criticisms or food recommendations (mostly the latter, please). Click here to sign up.

 

We're 29 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 757 days until the 2020 elections.

 

Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday closed out a tumultuous chapter in the Senate. As for the midterms, its effects are still being felt.

Less than a month before Election Day, Kavanaugh's placement on the high court is driving the fight for the House and Senate in different directions. In the battle for the House, it could increase the chances of a "blue wave," especially in must-win suburban districts where Republicans are already struggling to win over female voters.

 

But the confirmation could also help boost Republicans running for Senate seats in red states currently held by Democrats. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report MORE and congressional Republicans are looking to weaponize the confirmation fight in the final month of the midterms. In North Dakota, for example, the GOP pounced on Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE's (D) decision to vote against Kavanaugh, casting it as a sign that she's out of touch with her state.

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"I talked to a couple of my political advisers yesterday and this has been a shot in the arm for us going into the fall election because it underscores the importance of the Senate and our role in personnel, and of course the most important personnel decisions we make are the courts, and particularly the Supreme Court," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout Sanders: Democrats ‘absolutely’ have chance to win back rural America  Trump privately ready to blame Ryan and McConnell if Republicans lose midterms: report MORE (R-Ky.) told The Hill in an interview.

 

Whether Kavanaugh's confirmation continues to reverberate through Election Day remains to be seen. Strategists suggest that Republicans may be less inclined to cast their ballots in November, having gotten what they wanted from the GOP-controlled Senate. And that outrage among Democrats could prompt more of them to turn out.

"If the Republicans thought they had a problem before, they have an earthquake now," Jon Reinish, a Democratic strategist, told The Hill's Max Greenwood.

 

Race for the White House

Less than 30 days until the midterms, the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is already underway, reports The Hill's Amie Parnes. Potential White House hopefuls are traveling around the country to give 2018 candidates a boost. Here's a rundown of their campaign schedule:

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenTrump: 'You know what I am? I'm a nationalist' Biden jokes about Obama memes: 'Barack did the first friendship bracelet, not me' 'Broad City' stars urge Clinton not to run again MORE will travel to Indiana on Friday to campaign with Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign Donnelly parodies 'Veep' in new campaign ad MORE (D-Ind.). Biden will also campaign with retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, who's running against Rep. Andy BarrGarland (Andy) Hale BarrElection Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach Biden: Trump is 'trashing American values' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem victories in `18 will not calm party turbulence MORE (R-Ky.).

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris presses young people to vote early in Iowa trip We need economic progress for more Americans Booker bill would create federally funded savings account for every child MORE (D-Calif.) was in Ohio over the weekend to campaign with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayDems go on offense against GOP lawsuit on pre-existing conditions Trump attacks Democrat in Ohio governor's race Election Countdown: Minnesota Dems worry Ellison allegations could cost them key race | Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters | Takeaways from Tennessee Senate debate | Poll puts Cruz up 9 in Texas MORE and Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem victories in `18 will not calm party turbulence MORE (D). She'll also travel to Arizona to help Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's Senate campaign and Wisconsin for Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinElection Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout Obama to campaign for Dems in Wisconsin Treasury sets politics aside, admits China isn't a currency manipulator MORE.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOn The Money: Trump to seek new round of tax cuts after midterms | Mnuchin meets with Saudi crown prince | Trump threatens to cut foreign aid over caravan Booker bill would create federally funded savings account for every child Big Dem donors stick to sidelines as 2020 approaches MORE (D-N.J) was in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday night headlining the party's annual fall gala, the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren wants probe into whether former U.S. soldiers worked as assassins for UAE 'Broad City' stars urge Clinton not to run again Big Dem donors stick to sidelines as 2020 approaches MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDems lower expectations for 'blue wave' Booker bill would create federally funded savings account for every child Affordable housing set for spotlight of next presidential campaign MORE (D-N.Y.) are both headed to Georgia to campaign with Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams. Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderBen Shapiro condemns Republicans confronting Nancy Pelosi: ‘Stupid, nasty, and counterproductive’ Trump rebukes Holder, Clinton with 'jobs not mobs' refrain Eric Trump calls out Holder on kicking comments: 'Who says this?' MORE was in Georgia on Sunday for Abrams and is heading to North Carolina on Monday.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will campaign with Democrat Josh Welle, who is challenging 19-term Rep. Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithElection Countdown: Midterm fight heats up over Kavanaugh | McConnell sees energized base | Dems look to women to retake House | How suburban voters could decide control of Congress | Taylor Swift backs Tennessee Dems | Poll shows Cruz up 5 in Texas Dem 2020 primary season is unofficially underway Trump's move on unethical fetal tissue experimentation isn't enough MORE (R-N.J.). And Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyTop-tier Dems begin making way to Iowa Election Countdown: Midterm fight heats up over Kavanaugh | McConnell sees energized base | Dems look to women to retake House | How suburban voters could decide control of Congress | Taylor Swift backs Tennessee Dems | Poll shows Cruz up 5 in Texas Dem 2020 primary season is unofficially underway MORE (D-Md.), who's announced his presidential campaign, will make appearances in Texas.

 

Senate showdown

In the wake of Kavanaugh's confirmation fight, Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE (R-N.D.) rebuked the #MeToo movement in a weekend interview with The New York Times, calling it a "movement toward victimization."

"That you're just supposed to believe somebody because they said it happened," Cramer told the Times. He then referenced women in his family, saying "they cannot understand this movement toward victimization."

Cramer is running against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who gave an emotional rebuttal to the congressman's description of the movement. She referenced her own work with victims and noted that her mother was a victim of sexual assault as a teenager.

"I think it's wonderful that his wife has never had an experience, and good for her, and it's wonderful his mom hasn't," Heitkamp told the Times. "My mom did. And I think it affected my mom her whole life. And it didn't make her less strong."

 

Meanwhile, in other Kavanaugh fallout: Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice elicited a strong response over Twitter when she responded "me" to former White House Communications Director Jen Psaki's tweet asking, "Who wants to run for Senate in Maine? There will be an army of supporters with you."

Rice later walked it back, saying she was "not making any announcements." She told The New Yorker on Sunday that she's been "moved by the enthusiasm" expressed by Democrats about a possible run against Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (R-Maine), saying she'll give it "due consideration."

 

And in pop culture/political newsTaylor Swift broke her silence on politics to endorse former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen(D) over Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP-affiliated voters outperforming Democrats in key states’ early voting: report Democrats slide in battle for Senate Katy Perry praises Taylor Swift for diving into politics MORE (R-Tenn.) in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCongress raises pressure on Saudi Arabia GOP-affiliated voters outperforming Democrats in key states’ early voting: report The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says he is cutting foreign aid over caravan | Lawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince | DNC chair downplays 'blue wave' talk MORE (R-Tenn.). She wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday: "As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim CooperJames (Jim) Hayes Shofner CooperCelebrity endorsements aren't kingmakers, but they may be tiebreakers Taylor Swift reportedly sees bump in album sales after endorsing Democrats Pollster says celebrity endorsements rarely have major impact on elections MORE for House of Representatives."

 

Survey says…

A series of new CBS News/YouGov polls delivered some bad news for Democrats in two red-states they're hoping to flip in November. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump recounts 2016 feud with Cruz at Houston campaign rally Trump says he’s made up with ‘Beautiful Ted’ Cruz The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says he is cutting foreign aid over caravan | Lawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince | DNC chair downplays 'blue wave' talk MORE (R-Texas) is leading Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeTrump recounts 2016 feud with Cruz at Houston campaign rally Election Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout ABC News reporter labels Beto O'Rourke a 'rock star' during interview MORE (D-Texas) by a 6-point margin in the race for the Senate in Texas. And in Tennessee, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) carries an 8-point lead over Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R).

While the Senate races in both those states are competitive, they're considered longer shots for Democrats to flip than in states like Nevada and Arizona.

 

Speaking of Arizona, the CBS News/YouGov poll shows Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) ahead of Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArizona Senate candidate doubles down attacking opponent over Taliban comments Arizona newspaper backs Democrat in dead heat Senate race Trump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona MORE (R) in the state's hotly contested Senate race. According to the survey, Sinema leads McSally 47 percent to 44 percent. But that's still within the poll's 3.9 percent margin of error, meaning the race remains highly competitive.

 

And in deep-blue New Jersey, Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezTrump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it Blame Senate, not FBI, for Kavanaugh travesty Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints MORE (D) has a solid lead over his Republican challenger Bob Huginaccording to the poll. He's leading Hugin 49 percent to 39 percent. Those results are a bit of good news for Democrats, coming amid reports that Menendez's re-election might not be as much of a shoo-in as once thought.

 

Paper chase

We keep seeing some massive House fundraising hauls and Democratic Senate candidates are also announcing some eye-popping numbers. Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenGOP-affiliated voters outperforming Democrats in key states’ early voting: report Trump says Heller won lone Nevada Senate debate: 'He beat her very badly' Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada MORE (D-Nev.), who's running against Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerGOP-affiliated voters outperforming Democrats in key states’ early voting: report Democrats slide in battle for Senate Biden: American values being 'shredded' under Trump MORE (R-Nev.) said she raised nearly $7.1 million in the third fundraising quarter, which runs from July to September. She ended September with $2.6 million in the bank.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who's been one of the top Senate fundraisers this cycle, raised more than $6 million in the third quarter, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She ended September with more than $5 million cash on hand. Baldwin faces Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir in November.

 

Liberal groups are withholding support from Democrats who either voted or supported Kavanaugh's nomination. Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinElection Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Early ballots pouring in with 15 days to the midterms Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia MORE (D-W.Va.), who's running for reelection in a state that Trump won by 40 points, is the only Democrat to vote for Kavanaugh. And former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), who's running for an open seat against Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said that he supported his confirmation.

MoveOn, a progressive outside group, said Friday it cancelled a planned six-figure digital ad for Bredesen and is pulling "all planned campaigning" for Manchin. The decision comes after Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action, said it won't spend resources on either Democrat, though it hadn't yet spent money on Bredesen. Senate Majority PAC, however, told the Washington Examiner that it's still standing by both Democrats.

 

What we're watching for

Senate Debate schedule:

--Monday night debates in Indiana (7 p.m. ET) and Wisconsin (7 p.m. ET)

--Friday night debate in Wisconsin

--Sunday night debates in West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan

 

Trump rally schedule:

--Tuesday rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa at 7:30 p.m. ET

--Wednesday rally in Erie, Pa. at 7 p.m. ET

--Friday rally in Lebanon, Ohio at 7 p.m. ET

--Saturday rally in Richmond, Ky. at 7 p.m. ET

 

Coming to a TV near you

Abortion-rights advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America is launching a $1 million ad campaign seizing on Democratic outrage over Kavanaugh's confirmation. The TV and digital ads will go after top-targeted GOP districts, including those held by Reps. David YoungDavid Edmund YoungHarris presses young people to vote early in Iowa trip GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa MORE (Iowa), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamDems target small cluster of states in battle for House Kavanaugh becomes new flashpoint in midterms defined by anger Election Countdown: Big fundraising numbers in fight for Senate | Haley resigns in surprise move | Says she will back Trump in 2020 | Sanders hitting midterm trail | Collins becomes top Dem target | Takeaways from Indiana Senate debate MORE (Ill.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderSmall-dollar donations explode in the Trump era Election Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach Dems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms MORE (Kan.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonElection Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout O'Rourke's rise raises hopes for Texas Dems down ballot Kavanaugh becomes new flashpoint in midterms defined by anger MORE (Texas), Jason LewisJason Mark LewisGOP lawmaker once belittled sexual harassment: 'How traumatizing was it?' Paul Ryan to campaign for 25 vulnerable House Republicans How America’s urban-rural divide is changing the Democratic Party MORE (Minn.) and Dave Brat (Va.).

 

The National Republican Congressional Committee launched a new digital ad mocking Democrat Donna Shalala, who's running for retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenRepublicans bail on Coffman to invest in Miami seat Democrats have a long history of supporting Israel GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost MORE's (R-Fla.) seat, arguing that she lacks the same energy of her Republican opponent Maria Elvira Salazar.

 

Wave watch

While Democrats face a tough battle in the Senate, they're feeling much more confident about flipping the House--particularly in the wake of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight.

Republicans are claiming heightened enthusiasm, but it's unclear if it'll last throughout the next 30 days. And when it comes to the battle of the House, the confirmation battle appears likely to hurt Republicans with suburban female voters in toss-up races that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: Bolton tells Russians 2016 meddling had little effect | Facebook eyes major cyber firm | Saudi site gets hacked | Softbank in spotlight over Saudi money | YouTube fights EU 'meme ban' proposal Dems lower expectations for 'blue wave' Election Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout MORE won in 2016.

"This is going to mean that we win more Dem seats than we would have without this. This is absolutely going to help us in the House," Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalElection Countdown: Midterm fight heats up over Kavanaugh | McConnell sees energized base | Dems look to women to retake House | How suburban voters could decide control of Congress | Taylor Swift backs Tennessee Dems | Poll shows Cruz up 5 in Texas Dems look to women to take back the House after Kavanaugh fight Wrong for Democrats to call for more Kavanaugh investigations MORE (D-Wash.), vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill's Melanie Zanona.

"These independent women who are so critical will sit it out and just not vote, which will help Democrats, or they will come out and vote for a Democrat."

The Hill's Reid Wilson breaks down the types of suburban districts that are critical parts of the House battlefield. Of the 64 competitive GOP-held seats on the Cook Political Report, 42 are classified as suburban by the researchers David Montgomery and Richard Florida at CityLab.