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 faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: 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 CarterAmerica's workers and small business owners need the SECURE Act Cornyn faces toughest race yet in changing Texas Texas Republicans sound alarm about rapidly evolving state MORE (R-Texas), Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithEx-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Former GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company Democratic staffer says Wendy Davis will run for Congress MORE (R-Texas), Vern BuchananVernon Gale BuchananMORE (R-Fla.) and Jackie WalorskiJacqueline (Jackie) R. WalorskiProtect American patients and innovation from a harmful MedTech Tax increase We should repeal the medical device tax on veterans Heavy loss by female candidate in Republican NC runoff sparks shock MORE (R-Ind.) and in the district formerly held by Republican Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisSaagar Enjeti: Republicans lost Kentucky by failing to appeal to working class Saagar Enjeti: Republicans lost Kentucky by screwing the working class Burr promises bill to tax scholarships of student athletes who profit off their likenesses 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 BeutlerGOP lawmakers offer new election security measure GOP group calls out five House Republicans to speak up on Ukraine Dems push to revive Congress' tech office MORE (R-Wash.) and in South Carolina's 1st congressional district, where the GOP candidate is Katie Arrington, who defeated Rep. Mark SanfordMark SanfordThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems, GOP dig in for public impeachment hearings Mark Sanford exits GOP presidential primary Pence files paperwork for Trump to be on New Hampshire ballot MORE (R) in the primary. The GOP has also gone back in with spending to boost Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHere are the key players to watch at impeachment hearing Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches Retirements pose threat to cybersecurity expertise in Congress MORE (R-Texas) and the top Republican super PACs recently spent on behalf of Reps. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorDemocratic lawmaker invites Republican to town hall after he accuses her of dodging voters on impeachment Former GOP rep launches Senate campaign in Virginia Virginia special prosecutor indicts former GOP campaign staffer MORE (R-Va.) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddNorth Carolina ruling could cost GOP House seats SEC reforms will save job creators time and money Girls Little League softball champions get invitation to White House 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) TesterOvernight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Overnight Defense: Top diplomat changes testimony to indicate quid pro quo | Dem offers measure on Turkish human rights abuses in Syria | Warren offers plan to address veteran suicide rates Manchin says he wouldn't back Sanders against Trump in presidential race MORE (D-Mont.) said at the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation that he doesn't think Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment 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 ComstockGun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers 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 StiversWaters clashes with Trump officials over 'disastrous' housing plans Financial sector's work on SAFE Banking Act shows together, everyone achieves more GOP ratchets up 2020 attacks as impeachment storm grows MORE (R-Ohio), National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, condemned recent remarks by Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingWhy the GOP march of mad hatters poses a threat to our Democracy MSNBC's Donny Deutsch: 'Pathetic' Republicans who stormed closed hearing are 'boring, nerdy-looking white guys' Overnight Defense: Trump lifts sanctions on Turkey | 'Small number' of troops to remain by Syrian oil fields | Defense official's impeachment testimony delayed five hours after Republicans storm secure room 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 McSallyThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' Advocates step up efforts for horse racing reform bill after more deaths 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) LoveFormer GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets have to stop Congressional Women's Softball team releases roster The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority 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 NelsonBottom Line Bottom Line Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity 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 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads Tax law failed to save GOP majority 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 aren't seeking reelection in 2020 House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 House GOP fears retirement wave will lead to tsunami 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 BidenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry MORE will be in Bridgeton, Mo. for Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGOP senator rips into Pelosi at Trump rally: 'It must suck to be that dumb' Iranian attacks expose vulnerability of campaign email accounts Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity MORE (D).

--Nov. 1: Biden will be in Fargo, N.D. for Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa 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. FitzpatrickHillicon Valley: Critics press feds to block Google, Fitbit deal | Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-linked accounts | TikTok looks to join online anti-terrorism effort | Apple pledges .5B to affordable housing Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-affiliated accounts after lawmaker pressure GOP lawmakers express concerns about Giuliani's work in Ukraine MORE (Pa.), Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotBottom Line Consequential GOP class of 1994 all but disappears Judiciary approves new investigative powers with eyes on 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 PelosiGiuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Brindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union 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 ClintonDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates 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 SandersDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment 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.