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 TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could 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 HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction 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 McConnellBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' Winners and losers in the border security deal House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency 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 BidenO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates Feinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him MORE will travel to Indiana on Friday to campaign with Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D-Ind.). Biden will also campaign with retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, who's running against Rep. Andy BarrGarland (Andy) Hale BarrSchumer urging ex-congressional candidate Amy McGrath to run against McConnell House Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 Poll shows 25 percent view McConnell favorably, lowest among leaders in survey MORE (R-Ky.).

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHillicon Valley: New York says goodbye to Amazon's HQ2 | AOC reacts: 'Anything is possible' | FTC pushes for record Facebook fine | Cyber threats to utilities on the rise O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation 2020 Dems slam Trump's plan to declare national emergency MORE (D-Calif.) was in Ohio over the weekend to campaign with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayOn The Money: Consumer bureau proposes scrapping borrower safeguards from payday loan rule | Negotiators running out of time to avert shutdown | Trump nominates World Bank critic as its next chief Consumer bureau proposes scrapping borrower safeguards from payday loan rule Supreme Court should do what Congress won’t: Rein in the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection MORE and Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownShep Smith: Signing funding bill is a 'loss' for Trump no matter how it's packaged Exclusive: Biden almost certain to enter 2020 race Tim Ryan ‘seriously considering’ 2020 bid MORE (D). She'll also travel to Arizona to help Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's Senate campaign and Wisconsin for Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinDems offer smaller step toward ‘Medicare for all' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Powerful House committee turns to drug pricing | Utah governor defies voters on Medicaid expansion | Dems want answers on controversial new opioid Why does the bankruptcy code discriminate against disabled veterans? MORE.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation 2020 Dems slam Trump's plan to declare national emergency NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates 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's 'ultra wealth' tax is misleading Hillicon Valley: New York says goodbye to Amazon's HQ2 | AOC reacts: 'Anything is possible' | FTC pushes for record Facebook fine | Cyber threats to utilities on the rise O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOn The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation 2020 Dems slam Trump's plan to declare national emergency MORE (D-N.Y.) are both headed to Georgia to campaign with Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams. Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderOcasio-Cortez to be first guest on new Desus and Mero show Holder says he will make 2020 decision in coming weeks Holder: If Trump directed Cohen to lie, impeachment proceedings ‘must begin’ 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 SmithDems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland House panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales Cuomo to meet with Trump over SALT deduction cap MORE (R-N.J.). And Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyNBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates 2020 Dem slams Green New Deal: As realistic as Trump's claim that Mexico will pay for wall Poll: Biden, Sanders, Harris early Dem favorites in New Hampshire 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 CramerSenators highlight threat from invasive species Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs GOP senators think Trump would win vote on emergency declaration 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 braces for Trump's emergency declaration DOJ warns White House that national emergency will likely be blocked: report On The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration 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 BlackburnTrump’s new Syria timetable raises concern among key anti-ISIS allies Dem lawmaker invites Parkland survivor to attend State of the Union Bipartisan senators press Trump for strategy to protect Syrian Kurds MORE (R-Tenn.) in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy 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 CooperWhy Democrats are pushing for a new nuclear policy The 15 Democrats who voted against Pelosi House elects Pelosi to second Speakership 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 CruzO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown For 2020, Democrats are lookin’ for somebody to love MORE (R-Texas) is leading Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeO'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates O'Rourke, Schumer huddle on possible 2020 bid: report 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 McSallyPoll shows McSally, Kelly tied in Arizona Senate race Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid Overnight Defense: House votes to end US support for Saudis in Yemen | Vote puts Trump in veto bind | Survey finds hazards in military housing | Senators offer new bill on Russia sanctions 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) MenendezWilliam Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president 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 RosenTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump administration secretly shipped plutonium to Nevada Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds MORE (D-Nev.), who's running against Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds 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 confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Senate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick 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 YoderMike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation Yoder, Messer land on K Street Bold, bipartisan action on child care will win plenty of friends MORE (Kan.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonDCCC official says Democrats look to make 'big gains' in Texas, Georgia Democrats need a worthy climate plan NASA lost key support to explore Jupiter's moon 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-LehtinenComstock joins K Street firm Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm 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 ClintonO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Exclusive: Biden almost certain to enter 2020 race 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 JayapalOvernight Health Care: Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Democrats seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Utah tests Trump on Medicaid expansion | Dems roll out Medicare buy-in proposal | Medicare for all could get hearing next month | Doctors group faces political risks on guns 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.