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 TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller 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 CarterPopulation shifts set up huge House battleground GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats wonder: Can Nadler handle the Trump probe? MORE (R-Texas), Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithDemocratic staffer says Wendy Davis will run for Congress Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm Anti-corruption group hits Congress for ignoring K Street, Capitol Hill 'revolving door' 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 DeSantisFlorida public schools will be required to provide mental health education for students To win over Midwesterners, Democrats should rethink school choice stance DeSantis wants statue of civil rights activist to replace Confederate figure on Capitol Hill 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 BeutlerDems push to revive Congress' tech office Bill allowing Congress to hire Dreamers advances House fails to override Trump veto on border wall 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 SanfordTrump faces new hit on deficit Sanford calls for 'overdue conversation' on debt as he mulls Trump challenge Trump primary challenger Bill Weld responds to rally chants: 'We are in a fight for the soul of the GOP' MORE (R) in the primary. The GOP has also gone back in with spending to boost Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdAl Green says impeachment is 'only solution' to Trump's rhetoric Trump primary challenger Bill Weld responds to rally chants: 'We are in a fight for the soul of the GOP' Democratic strategist on Trump tweets: 'He's feeding this fear and hate' MORE (R-Texas) and the top Republican super PACs recently spent on behalf of Reps. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorFormer GOP rep launches Senate campaign in Virginia Virginia special prosecutor indicts former GOP campaign staffer The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R-Va.) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddConservatives ask Barr to lay out Trump's rationale for census question 58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill Blockchain could spark renaissance economy 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) TesterPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi looks to squash fight with progressives MORE (D-Mont.) said at the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation that he doesn't think Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Harris voices support for Puerto Rico protesters: 'I stand with them' Democrats slam Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, back protesters 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 ComstockProgressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers GOP lawmaker introduces bill to stop revolving door 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 StiversOvernight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker House approves amendment to reverse transgender military ban Fed chief: Facebook crypto project poses 'serious concerns' for economy, consumers MORE (R-Ohio), National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, condemned recent remarks by Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingYoung Turks reporter tricks Steve King into tweeting about 'A Few Good Men' villain Holocaust survivor who offered to tour Auschwitz with Ocasio-Cortez calls for her to 'be removed from Congress' Liz Cheney hits back at Ocasio-Cortez over concentration camp comments: 'This isn't model Congress' 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 McSallyTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses 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 NelsonDemocrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups How Jim Bridenstine recruited an old enemy to advise NASA 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 GianforteTrump declares Gorka 'wins big' after clash with reporters in Rose Garden Republican who lost Montana Senate bid to run for House next year Gianforte files to run for Montana governor 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 BidenHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Biden campaign rips 'Medicare for All,' calls on Dems to protect Affordable Care Act Harris voices support for Puerto Rico protesters: 'I stand with them' MORE will be in Bridgeton, Mo. for Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Feds allow campaigns to accept discounted cybersecurity services GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (D).

--Nov. 1: Biden will be in Fargo, N.D. for Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments McConnell's Democratic challenger says she likely would have voted for Kavanaugh 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. FitzpatrickThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Al Green says impeachment is 'only solution' to Trump's rhetoric House approves bill raising minimum wage to per hour MORE (Pa.), Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotHouse passes annual intelligence bill House passes bills to boost small business cybersecurity Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller 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 PelosiDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets 10 questions for Robert Mueller Ocasio-Cortez tears into Trump's immigration agenda: 'It's about ethnicity and racism' 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 ClintonGeorge Takei: US has hit a new low under Trump Democrats slam Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, back protesters Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' 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 SandersBullock: I would not have endorsed health care for undocumented immigrants on debate stage Harris faces pressure to define policy proposals Biden campaign rips 'Medicare for All,' calls on Dems to protect Affordable Care Act 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.