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 TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group 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 CarterDemocrats launch bilingual ad campaign off drug pricing bill Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families America's workers and small business owners need the SECURE Act MORE (R-Texas), Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithEx-Tea Party lawmakers turn heads on K Street Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Former GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company MORE (R-Texas), Vern BuchananVernon Gale BuchananMORE (R-Fla.) and Jackie WalorskiJacqueline (Jackie) R. WalorskiCongressional leaders unite to fight for better future for America's children and families The Suburban Caucus: Solutions for America's suburbs Protect American patients and innovation from a harmful MedTech Tax increase MORE (R-Ind.) and in the district formerly held by Republican Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida Supreme Court rules convicted felons must pay fines, fees before voting Florida moves to purchase land to protect Everglades from oil drilling Top Latino group: Trump is about to hold a 'fake Christian campaign rally' 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 BeutlerDCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements Democrats launch bilingual ad campaign off drug pricing bill The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday MORE (R-Wash.) and in South Carolina's 1st congressional district, where the GOP candidate is Katie Arrington, who defeated Rep. Mark SanfordMark SanfordTrump challenger Bill Weld rules out 2020 independent bid Judge throws out lawsuit against South Carolina GOP for canceling 2020 primary The Hill's Campaign Report: Late bids surprise 2020 Democratic field MORE (R) in the primary. The GOP has also gone back in with spending to boost Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdThe Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' House Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts MORE (R-Texas) and the top Republican super PACs recently spent on behalf of Reps. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorAvenatti held in El Chapo's old jail cell, lawyers say Vulnerable Democrats feel heat ahead of impeachment vote The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE (R-Va.) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddKoch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says The Hill's Morning Report - Vulnerable Dems are backing Trump impeachment The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage 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) TesterDemocrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Nadler gets under GOP's skin I'm a conservative against Citizens United MORE (D-Mont.) said at the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation that he doesn't think Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Warren pledges to release Trump records if elected 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 ComstockLive coverage: House holds third day of public impeachment hearings Gun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats 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 StiversKoch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill Waters clashes with Trump officials over 'disastrous' housing plans Financial sector's work on SAFE Banking Act shows together, everyone achieves more MORE (R-Ohio), National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, condemned recent remarks by Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingNebraska Democratic Party Chair: Rural vote should be 'bedrock' of party With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response Steve King challenger: 2020 Democrats have 'huge' opportunity to win over rural America 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 McSallyDemocrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Senate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses How Citizens United altered America's political landscape 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) LoveThe biggest political upsets of the decade Former GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets have to stop Congressional Women's Softball team releases roster 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 NelsonThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world Bottom Line 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 FasoThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads 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 GianforteProviding more information on the prescription drug supply chain will help lower costs for all Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 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 BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE will be in Bridgeton, Mo. for Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillHow Citizens United altered America's political landscape #MidnightMoscowMitch trends amid criticism of McConnell's proposed impeachment trial rules The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (D).

--Nov. 1: Biden will be in Fargo, N.D. for Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSusan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same 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. FitzpatrickDCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements House revives agenda after impeachment storm Former Pennsylvania Rep. Fitzpatrick dead at 56 MORE (Pa.), Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotDCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements Koch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says Judiciary Committee abruptly postpones vote on articles of impeachment 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 PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address 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 ClintonSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Sekulow vows Bidens, Ukraine will be part of Trump impeachment defense Elizabeth Warren: More 'Hillary' than Hillary 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 SandersBernie SandersSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Human Rights Campaign president rips Sanders's embrace of Rogan endorsement 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.