Election Countdown: One week from midterms, House battlefield expands

Election Countdown: One week from midterms, House battlefield expands

This is Election Countdown, The Hill's 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 7 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 735 days until the 2020 elections.

 

One week out from the midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans are fighting on the largest House battlefield in several cycles.

Even with a week to go, it's still unclear exactly how many seats will flip in an unpredictable election cycle that's had a backdrop of political violence, intense polarization and racial animus.

But we at least know what the battlefield looks like and it goes greatly beyond the key suburban seats Democrats have been targeting all cycle, though they will still be crucial for the party to get to the magic number of 23 seats.

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In the last week, the largest Democratic groups are investing in 64 media markets, while GOP group are spending in 58 markets. And since the beginning of the year, Democrats and their supporters have outspent Republicans by a margin of more than $125 million.

The expanded battlefield encompasses much more conservative terrain where President TrumpDonald John TrumpBuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' Shutdown puts dozens of federal transportation safety probes on hold Howard Schultz advisers exploring possible 2020 independent bid: report MORE had double-digit margins of victory. And that's been highlighted by the 11th hour spending by both parties' campaign committees and top House super PACs.

The largest outside groups backing Democrats are sending mailers to redder districts held by Reps. John CarterJohn Rice CarterProgressives to target Dem reps in 2020 primary fights Puerto Ricans may have elected Rick Scott and other midterm surprises Rise of big cities push Texas to swing-state territory — maybe by 2020 MORE (R-Texas), Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithCongress can stop the war on science Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Texas), Vern BuchananVernon Gale BuchananMORE (R-Fla.) and Jackie WalorskiJacqueline (Jackie) R. WalorskiWhile G-20 Summit was promising for US- China trade relations, Congress must still push for an exclusion process Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress Election Countdown: One week from midterms, House battlefield expands MORE (R-Ind.) and in the district formerly held by Republican Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida governor threatens Airbnb over West Bank settlements Florida governor announces sheriff's suspension over Parkland shooting DeSantis asks entire South Florida water management board to resign MORE in Florida. Seats like these would only get swept up if there is a big wave, but the move reflects the confidence of Democrats.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is now spending in the district held by Reps. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerLatest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House On The Money: Trump says he won't declare emergency 'so fast' | Shutdown poised to become longest in history | Congress approves back pay for workers | More federal unions sue over shutdown Overnight Energy: House votes to reopen Interior, EPA | Dems question EPA over Wheeler confirmation prep | Virginia Dem backs Green New Deal MORE (R-Wash.) and in South Carolina's 1st congressional district, where the GOP candidate is Katie Arrington, who defeated Rep. Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordMark Sanford warns US could see ‘Hitler-like character’ in the future House passes year-end tax package Pelosi sees fierce resistance from White House if Dems seek Trump’s tax returns MORE (R) in the primary. The GOP has also gone back in with spending to boost Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdTexas GOP lawmaker calls Trump border crisis a 'myth' Latest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House GOP maps out early 2020 strategy to retake House MORE (R-Texas) and the top Republican super PACs recently spent on behalf of Reps. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorEx-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax Virginia New Members 2019 Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress MORE (R-Va.) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddRepublican Ted Budd holds off challenger to win reelection in North Carolina Election Day: An hour-by-hour viewer’s guide Jockeying already stepping up in House leadership fights MORE (R-N.C.), who are both in districts once considered a reach for Democrats.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight breaks down why the battlefield has ballooned, touching on factors including the high number of GOP retirements, Democrats' steep cash advantage and Pennsylvania's new congressional map.

 

Senate showdown

Trump is slated to travel to eight states over the final week of the midterm elections. He plans to hold 11 campaign rallies in six days to boost Republicans in top Senate and House races. Some states include Florida, Montana, Indiana and Missouri--all home to marquee Senate races that'll determine which party controls the upper chamber.

 

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterCentrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Dems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D-Mont.) said at the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation that he doesn't think Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKamala Harris picks Baltimore as headquarters for potential 2020 campaign: report Dem voters split on importance of women atop the ticket in 2020 Elizabeth Warren heading to Puerto Rico next week MORE's (D-Mass.) use of a DNA test to claim Native American heritage would "pass the test." But Tester dismissed the controversy around the test as insignificant, insisting that there were more important issues to address. "The real issue that revolves around Native American people is poverty and unless you're a gaming tribe, it's a problem and we've got to figure our solutions to get it fixed," Tester said, according to The Hill's Alexander Bolton.

 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott walked away when asked by a reporter on Tuesday whether he would support Trump's proposal to end birthright citizenship for children of non-U.S. citizens, the Miami Herald's Alex Daugherty reports. In a statement obtained The Hill, Scott said that he would need to see the proposal before deciding whether to support it, but argued that America's current immigration is "broken." An aide to Scott said that the governor had already begun walking away when the question was posed and did not hear the reporter ask it.

 

Wave watch

President Trump is doubling down on his hard-line immigration stance in the final days before the midterm elections, revisiting a tried-and-tested plan he hopes will fire up his core supporters and get them to the polls on Election Day, The Hill's Jordan Fabian reports. In an interview with Axios released Tuesday, Trump vowed to end citizenship for children of non-legal residents and undocumented immigrants born in the U.S., a change he proposed during the 2016 campaign, even though birthright citizenship is enshrined in the Constitution.

 

House Majority PAC, a super PAC backing Democratic congressional candidates, is canceling an $800,000 ad buy in Virginia's 10th District – a sign that Democrats are feeling good about their chances of ousting incumbent Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockDems win Virginia state Senate special election Dem rep asks for asks for pay to be withheld during shutdown New Dem lawmaker hangs trans flag outside office on Capitol Hill MORE (R-Va.) in November. Comstock is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Jennifer Wexton, who appears to have the momentum in the race. The Cook Political Report rates the contest as "Lean Democrat."

 

Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversHouse vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism House Democrats offer measures to censure Steve King MORE (R-Ohio), National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, condemned recent remarks by Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingSteve King fundraising off controversy surrounding white supremacy comments Steve King's primary challenger raises more than 0k in first 10 days of campaign GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism MORE (R-Iowa) backing white nationalist politicians. "Congressman Steve King's recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior," Stivers tweeted Tuesday. King came under fire for meeting with a far-right Austrian group and later defended the meeting by saying: "If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans." Stivers' comments came as polls show a tightening race for King.

 

Former Trump White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon will campaign this weekend in Virginia for Rep. Dave Brat (R), who faces a tough reelection bid against Democratic challenger Abigail Spanberger.

 

Survey says…

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) and state Sen. Laura Kelly (D) are virtually tied in the state's closely watched gubernatorial race, according to a new Emerson College poll. Roughly 44 percent of respondents said they back Kobach, a hard-charging conservative who has allied himself closely with Trump, while 43 percent said they support Kelly. Eight percent reported backing independent Greg Orman, while another 4 percent said they were undecided.

 

A new poll from NBC News and Marist shows Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) with a 6-point lead over her Republican opponent, Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally Schumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-Ariz.), in Arizona's Senate race. Sinema currently leads McSally 50-44 percent, according to the survey, while 6 percent of respondents said they are undecided or will vote for another candidate.  

 

Democrat Ben McAdams is leading Republican Rep. Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveWomen’s equality not just ‘firsts’ CBS News in talks to hire Flake: report Former reps Mia Love, Luis Gutiérrez join CNN as commentators MORE (Utah) by 6 points in the nationally watched race to represent Utah's 4th District, according to a new poll from KUTV 2News and Dixie Strategies. At the same time, that survey found far fewer respondents hold "very unfavorable" views of McAdams than Love – at 16 percent versus 32.2 percent.

 

new University of North Florida poll gives Democrat Andrew Gillum a 6-point lead over Republican Ron DeSantis in Florida's gubernatorial race. Also from UNF: Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonFlorida lawmaker diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Rick Scott threw party at Florida governor’s mansion after DeSantis and family had moved in: report Restoration of voting rights by felons marks shift in Florida MORE (D-Fla.) and Scott are neck and neck, with 7 percent of likely voters remaining undecided.

 

Despite weathering a barrage of ferocious GOP attacks, Democrat Antonio Delgado holds a 5-point lead over Rep. John FasoJohn James FasoTax law failed to save GOP majority New York New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote MORE(R-N.Y.) in the race for New York's 19th District, according to a Monmouth University poll. The survey shows Delgado coming in at 49 percent, while Faso trails at 44 percent. That's a 1-point increase for Delgado and a 1-point decrease for Faso since the last time Monmouth conducted the survey in September.

 

Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteHere are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown GOP lawmakers push Trump to take ‘any appropriate action’ to save Keystone XL 'Murphy Brown' episode focuses on assault of reporter at Trump rally MORE (R-Mont.) is tied with former Democratic state Rep. Kathlene Williams in Montana's at-large House race,according to a new poll from Gravis Marketing. Gianforte and Williams are in a dead heat, with both candidates at 48 percent. Trump still remains popular in a state he won by 20 points, with an approval rating of 58-38 percent. Trump recently stumped for Gianforte in Montana. The president raised eyebrows for joking that Gianforte assaulting a reporter helped the congressman win the 2017 special election.

 

What we're watching for

Campaign trail:

--Oct. 31: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenKamala Harris picks Baltimore as headquarters for potential 2020 campaign: report Congress should elevate those trapped in the gap – support ELEVATE Act Sen. Casey says he won't run for president in 2020 MORE will be in Bridgeton, Mo. for Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Ex-Sen. McCaskill joins NBC, MSNBC Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D).

--Nov. 1: Biden will be in Fargo, N.D. for Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOn 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 Gary Cohn criticizes the shutdown: 'Completely wrong' EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D).

--Nov. 2: Former President Obama will campaign for Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams in Atlanta. He'll also be stumping for Democrat Andrew Gillum, who's running for Florida governor, in Miami.

 

Trump rallies (All times in ET):

--Oct. 31 in Fort Myers, Fla. at 7 p.m.

--Nov. 1 in Columbia, Mo. at 7:30 p.m.

--Nov. 2 in Huntington, W. Va. at 4 p.m.

--Nov. 3 in Pensacola, Fla. at 7:30 p.m.

 

Debates:

--Oct. 30: Indiana Senate debate

--Nov. 1: West Virginia Senate debate

--Nov. 4: Georgia gubernatorial debate

 

Coming to a TV near you

In a first for the House Democrats' campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a multi-state, Spanish-language TV ad to boost turnout among Hispanic voters. The 500,000 ad buy will run through Election Day in eight media markets that'll cover major House districts in Nevada, Texas, New Mexico and Utah. The ad features a young woman alongside her mother explaining why they'll vote on Nov. 6.

 

The translated script: "My mom has worked very hard to give me a better future. I work in a hospital, I have a bachelor's degree and even though I want to get ahead I can't right now. We need a Congress that will fight for us. And for that reason we are going to vote for a change. We are going to vote Tuesday, November 6. Together."

 

Meanwhile on the Republican side, the Congressional Leadership Fund is focusing its closing argument on immigration and the tax law. CLF is running contrast ads in the final week in districts held by GOP Reps. Andy Barr (Ky.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickLatest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House GOP maps out early 2020 strategy to retake House A rare display of real political courage MORE (Pa.), Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump headed to border as shutdown hits Day 20 | Talks fall apart | Emergency plan could set up clash with GOP House passes resolution calling for release of Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar This week: Lawmakers return to mourn George H.W. Bush MORE (Ohio) and Claudia Tenney (N.Y.) -- all districts Trump won with the exception of Fitzpatrick's. The ads tie the incumbents to Trump and his economic and immigration agenda, while continuing to link Democrats to House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Calif.).

 

In a donor memo obtained by The Hill, CLF executive director Corry Bliss said Republicans need to sell that contrast in the more than 20 races he said remain too close to call. "Winning the close races will come down to getting Republicans to vote and defining the choice."

 

Race for the White House

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDershowitz to The Atlantic: Do not violate Constitution to safeguard it Why Joe Biden (or any moderate) cannot be nominated GOP Rep. Tom Marino resigns from Congress MORE's team says she won't run for president despite speculation she'd mount a third White House bid. "She's more likely to win Powerball," Philippe Reines, Clinton's longtime adviser, told The Hill's Amie Parnes on Monday.

 

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he'll "take a look" at a 2020 run. The former independent re-registered as a Democrat earlier this month. But he insisted that his focus remains on the midterms, spending tens of millions on advertising to boost Democrats' efforts to take back the House.

 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersWomen's March plans 'Medicare for All' day of lobbying in DC Group aiming to draft Beto O’Rourke unveils first 2020 video Why Joe Biden (or any moderate) cannot be nominated MORE (I-Vt.) declined to pledge to serve a full six-year term if reelected in November. Sanders is highly favored to win a third term and is seen as a potential White House hopeful in 2020. "The simple truth is I have not made that decision. But I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I may not run. I may. But on the other hand, I may not," Sanders said at a Monday forum regarding a potential presidential bid.

 

The Hill's Election Countdown was written by Lisa Hagen, Max Greenwood, Rachel Cohen and James Wellemeyer.