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 TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate 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 HeitkampHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates MORE's (D) decision to vote against Kavanaugh, casting it as a sign that she's out of touch with her state.


"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 McConnellIsrael boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate Schumer blasts GOP request for immigration 'slush fund' Trump: 'Too early to say' if shutdown will be averted 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 BidenKlobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Group launches campaign to 'Draft Beto' for 2020 White House bid Kamala Harris top 2020 choice in poll of women of color MORE will travel to Indiana on Friday to campaign with Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches Schumer gets ready to go on the offensive 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: Florida fight ends with Scott, DeSantis wins | Dems see Sunbelt in play for 2020 | Trump to campaign in Mississippi ahead of runoff | GOP wipeout in Orange County | Ortiz Jones concedes in Texas House race The Memo: Trump seethes, two weeks after midterms Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 MORE (R-Ky.).

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisDem pollster says it's 'misstated wisdom' to assume competitive primaries damage presidential nominees Kamala Harris top 2020 choice in poll of women of color Warren unveils bill to lower drug prices by letting government manufacture them MORE (D-Calif.) was in Ohio over the weekend to campaign with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayFive challenges facing new consumer bureau chief Mulvaney will stay on as White House budget chief Trump names Mulvaney acting chief of staff MORE and Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownKlobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Five challenges facing new consumer bureau chief Dem senator: Trump 'seems more rattled than usual' MORE (D). She'll also travel to Arizona to help Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's Senate campaign and Wisconsin for Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinDem senator accuses Wisconsin Republicans of 'power grab' Schumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Number of LGBT lawmakers in Congress hits double digits MORE.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerKlobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Klobuchar moves up in Iowa poll of 2020 Dems Harris announces support for White House-backed criminal justice bill 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 WarrenKlobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Warren calls for probe into Trump name change for consumer bureau Warren unveils bill to lower drug prices by letting government manufacture them MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandJuan Williams: The GOP's worsening problem with women Gillibrand says she's worried about top options in Dem 2020 poll being white men Biden team discussed 2020 run with O'Rourke as VP: report MORE (D-N.Y.) are both headed to Georgia to campaign with Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams. Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderEric Holder-backed group sues Wisconsin over early-voting limits New Jersey redistricting reform blasted as gerrymandering power grab Trump attorney general pick a prolific donor to GOP candidates, groups: report 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 SmithUS has made a genuine response to the plight of Iraq’s persecuted religious minorities Charities fear hit from Trump tax law during holidays Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP MORE (R-N.J.). And Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyBiden to discuss 2020 bid with family over holidays: report Julián Castro launches exploratory committee for possible 2020 White House bid The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump, Dem leaders spar before cameras at meeting over border wall | Senate to vote on criminal justice bill | Google chief gets grilling 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 CramerDem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches North Dakota New Members 2019 Rick Scott appears with GOP senators, ignores voter fraud question as recount continues 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 CollinsGOP lawmakers distance themselves from ObamaCare ruling The Hill's Morning Report — No deal in sight as shutdown looms Bipartisan senators doubt ruling striking down ObamaCare 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 Sen. Lamar Alexander won't seek reelection Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Amgen — ObamaCare signups lag behind last year despite recent surge | Drug company offers cheaper opioid overdose treatment after hiking price 600 percent | CDC calls fentanyl deadliest drug in US GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand MORE (R-Tenn.) in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerThe Hill's Morning Report — What a shutdown would mean for the government GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander won't seek reelection Corker dodges on Trump primary question 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 CooperWHIP LIST: Pelosi seeks path to 218 16 Dems sign letter opposing Pelosi as Speaker Divided Congress to clash over Space Force, nuclear arsenal 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 CruzGroup launches campaign to 'Draft Beto' for 2020 White House bid Look out ‘losers’ — Trump focused on ‘winning’ The Memo: GOP frets as Trump shutdown looms MORE (R-Texas) is leading Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeDem pollster says it's 'misstated wisdom' to assume competitive primaries damage presidential nominees Group launches campaign to 'Draft Beto' for 2020 White House bid Kamala Harris top 2020 choice in poll of women of color 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 McSallyThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Flynn awaits sentencing | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown Arizona gov taps McSally for McCain Senate seat Juan Williams: The GOP's worsening problem with women 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) MenendezMore oversight of America’s international media networks a good idea Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Trump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it 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 RosenLeading contenders emerge to replace Zinke as Interior secretary Schumer walking tightrope with committee assignments 10 things we learned from the midterms MORE (D-Nev.), who's running against Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThe Hill's Morning Report — What a shutdown would mean for the government Leading contenders emerge to replace Zinke as Interior secretary How to reform the federal electric vehicle tax credit 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) ManchinOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber Manchin puts hold on FCC nomination over wireless internet fund delay 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 YoungIowa New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote Dem Axne beats GOP Rep. Young in Iowa MORE (Iowa), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamIllinois New Members 2019 Defeated Republicans mocked by Trump fire back at president House GOP returns to Washington after sobering midterm losses MORE (Ill.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderGOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses' New House GOP campaign chairman lays out challenges for 2020 Dems play ‘Let’s make a deal’ with Nancy Pelosi MORE (Kan.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonNASA lost key support to explore Jupiter's moon Texas New Members 2019 Republicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration MORE (Texas), Jason LewisJason Mark LewisMLB donated to GOP lawmaker who made controversial comments about women, minorities Minnesota New Members 2019 Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — Medicaid expansion gets extra boost from governors' races | Utah's expansion to begin April 1 | GOP lawmaker blames McCain for Dems winning House 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-LehtinenJuan Williams: The GOP's worsening problem with women GOP lawmaker tells party to stop focusing on 'white, male conservative' voters ‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women 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 ClintonRoger Stone fundraising off promise not to testify against Trump Rivaling chants of 'USA,' 'lock him up' greet Flynn after sentencing hearing The Hill's 12:30 Report — Flynn awaits sentencing | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown 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 JayapalLiberal groups launch effort to get progressives on key House committees The Hill's Morning Report — Will Trump strike a deal with Chuck and Nancy? Push to pay congressional interns an hour gains traction with progressives 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.