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 TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit 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 HeitkampOn The Money: Stocks sink on Trump tariff threat | GOP caught off guard by new trade turmoil | Federal deficit grew 38 percent this fiscal year | Banks avoid taking position in Trump, Dem subpoena fight Fight over Trump's new NAFTA hits key stretch Former senators launching effort to help Dems win rural votes 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 McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval 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 BidenJoe BidenGiuliani meets with former Ukrainian diplomat to get info on Dems Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign DNC boss says candidates to be involved in debate lottery MORE will travel to Indiana on Friday to campaign with Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Obama honors 'American statesman' Richard Lugar Former GOP senator Richard Lugar dies at 87 MORE (D-Ind.). Biden will also campaign with retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, who's running against Rep. Andy BarrGarland (Andy) Hale BarrDying on the track: Horse racing is at a crossroads On The Money: House chairman issues subpoenas for Trump's tax returns | Trump touts trade talks as China, US fail to reach deal | Five things to know about Trump's trade war with China | GOP offers support for Trump on tariffs GOP offers support for Trump on China tariffs MORE (R-Ky.).

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSan Francisco police chief apologizes for raid on journalist's home Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk MORE (D-Calif.) was in Ohio over the weekend to campaign with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayHouse rebukes Mulvaney's efforts to rein in consumer bureau The road to the White House still goes through Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan announces presidential run MORE and Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Judge upholds House subpoena for Trump financial records | Trump vows to appeal ruling by 'Obama-appointed judge' | Canada, Mexico lift retaliatory tariffs on US | IRS audit rate falls Lawmakers grapple with the future of America's workforce The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate MORE (D). She'll also travel to Arizona to help Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's Senate campaign and Wisconsin for Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinWarren vows to fight 'tooth and nail' for LGBTQ protections as president This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto MORE.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerGillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 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 WarrenGillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay: AP Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs 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: 'There are grounds for impeachment' in Mueller report Prosecutor appointed by Barr poised to enter Washington firestorm Dems struggle to make Trump bend on probes 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 SmithThirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill House votes to overturn Trump ObamaCare move Main Street businesses need permanent tax relief to grow MORE (R-N.J.). And Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyOvernight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan CNN's O'Rourke town hall finishes behind Fox News, MSNBC 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 CramerTrump pushing for GOP donor's company to get border wall contract: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Bolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran 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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights 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 BlackburnOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity MORE (R-Tenn.) in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerJeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump Corker: 'I just don't' see path to challenge Trump in 2020 Ex-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' 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 CooperCurrent, former lawmakers celebrate release of new book on Jack Brooks, 'The Meanest Man in Congress' Top Armed Services Republican: 'I don't think anybody is satisfied' with Space Force proposal Bipartisan group asks DHS, ICE to halt deportations of Iraqi nationals 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 CruzOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay Conservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan MORE (R-Texas) is leading Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeButtiegieg backs NFL players' right to protest during anthem: I 'put my life on the line to defend' that Overnight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan CNN's O'Rourke town hall finishes behind Fox News, MSNBC 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 McSallyOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Senate defense bill would make military sexual harassment standalone crime 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) MenendezEnding the Cyprus arms embargo will increase tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean We can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison 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 RosenLawmakers introduce legislation to improve cyber workforce funding Dem lawmakers accuse DHS, HHS of giving them misleading information on family separations This week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report MORE (D-Nev.), who's running against Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary 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) ManchinSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats 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 Republican ousted in 2018 says he will run to reclaim House seat The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Anxiety grows in first tax season under Trump law MORE (Iowa), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamBlue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try Illinois Dems offer bill to raise SALT deduction cap Illinois New Members 2019 MORE (Ill.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Kansas Senate race splits wide open without Pompeo Mike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation MORE (Kan.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Ex-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (Texas), Jason LewisJason Mark LewisInvestigation concludes marijuana, medication impaired driver involved in GOP train crash The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MLB donated to GOP lawmaker who made controversial comments about women, minorities 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-LehtinenK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Ex-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm K Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems 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 ClintonHillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign DNC boss says candidates to be involved in debate lottery 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 JayapalPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval House Democrat: Seattle airport's ban on ICE detainee flights helps 'hold a lawless administration accountable' 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.