Election Countdown: Trump frames midterm as referendum on presidency | Senate seats most likely to flip | Huge turnout raises Dem hopes | Controversy over Trump ad | Weather forecast has storm headed to key states | DOJ to monitor voting in 19 states

Election Countdown: Trump frames midterm as referendum on presidency | Senate seats most likely to flip | Huge turnout raises Dem hopes | Controversy over Trump ad | Weather forecast has storm headed to key states | DOJ to monitor voting in 19 states
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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 ONE day from the 2018 midterm elections and 729 days from the 2020 elections.

 

It's election eve--and for political junkies it feels like the night before the Super Bowl.

In just 24 hours, the first polls of the night will be closing in Kentucky where the results from GOP Rep. Andy BarrGarland (Andy) Hale BarrKentucky radio host: Schumer recruit can't beat McConnell On The Money: Wells Fargo chief gets grilling | GOP, Pence discuss plan to defeat Dem emergency resolution | House chair sees '50-50' chance of passing Dem budget | Trump faces pressure over Boeing Campaign to draft Democratic challenger to McConnell starts raising funds MORE's race for reelection in the state's 6th District could signal if a wave election is on the horizon for Democrats.

 

The math and environment favor House Democrats, who are voicing confidence they'll win at least the 23 seats needed for a House takeover. Democrats are playing on one of the biggest battlefields in recent memory and have been buoyed by massive candidate fundraising and enthusiasm among suburban and female voters.

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But it remains to be seen just how many seats Democrats pick up, and if they do win the majority, the size of their caucus--which could cause some speed bumps for House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi, Dems plot strategy after end of Mueller probe Coons after Russia probe: House Dems need to use power in 'focused and responsible way' Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings MORE's (D-Calif.) speakership prospects.

 

It's a totally different battlefield in the Senate, where Republicans are likely to maintain their slim 51-seat majority. It remains to be seen whether they can take advantage of a favorable map--with 10 Democratic incumbents up in red states--and expand that majority.

That question is open because a handful of toss-up races remain too-close-to-call entering the final day. North Dakota has been slipping away from Democrats for a while, but it still looks like a dead heat in states like Missouri and Indiana. And Democrats have regained small edges in polling in their two best pick-up opportunities: Nevada and Arizona.

 

Even with historical trends, the midterm elections have had an air of uncertainty thanks to an unpredictable environment marked by deep polarization, racial animus and political violence. Plus, President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE's brand will be on the line after he barnstormed the country with rallies to save Republican majorities.

 

One thing we know for sure: the enthusiasm on both sides is real and points to what's expected to be a huge turnout. Two-dozen states surpassed their early vote totals from the 2014 midterms, with at least 35 million people already casting their votes early or through absentee ballots.

 

Senate showdown

Senate Republicans are confident in their chances of flipping Democratic-held seats in Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota. Meanwhile, races in Florida and Montana remain tight. Republicans are also increasingly bullish in their ability to hold down the seats of all their incumbents up for reelection this year, including that of 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 (Nev.), who was once seen as possibly the most vulnerable incumbent. From The Hill's Jordain Carney, here are the top Senate seats most likely to flip.

 

Wave watch

President Trump launched a final-day campaign blitz on Monday to save the GOP Congress, framing the midterms as a referendum on his presidency.

Trump is visiting three states for three separate rallies on Monday, doing everything he can to motivate his core supporters to vote for GOP lawmakers on Tuesday.

"In a sense, I am on the ticket," Trump told attendees at a rally in Ohio.

Our White House correspondent, Jordan Fabian, who is traveling with the president today, reports from Cleveland.

 

Former President Obama also issued a last-day message to Americans ahead of Election Day.

In a series of tweets, Obama noted that the "character of our country is on the ballot" and that this year's midterms may be "the most important of our lifetimes." More on Obama's last-day pitch from The Hill's Avery Anapol here.

 

The Cook Political Report shifted nine House races toward Democrats on Monday, delivering the party some welcome news a day before Election Day. Among the races to move in Democrats' favor: Fla.-25, Ga.-06, Mich.-06, Calif.-49, Pa.-10, W.Va.-02, Wash.-08, Texas-10, and Texas-06. In Arizona, Rep. Tom O'Halleran's (D) race moved slightly toward Republicans, shifting from "Likely Democratic" to "Lean Democratic."

 

A jump in turnout among young voters, minorities and first-time voters may prove to be a boon for Democrats in the midterms, The Hill's Reid Wilson reports. More than 34 million people have already cast their ballots this year – a more-than 50 percent increase over the total number of early votes from 2014. While turnout has increased across the board this year, the surge is most notable among young people, minorities and people who rarely or never vote.

 

Survey says…

A new Emerson College poll shows Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (D-Nev.) leading in her bid to oust Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) in Nevada. Among likely voters, Rosen leads Heller 49 percent to 45 percent – just outside the survey's 3-point margin of error. Four percent of respondents said they were undecided. The race is one of the closest-watched Senate contests in the country and is one of Democrats' best chances for flipping a GOP-held Senate seat this year.

 

Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowChris Evans talks NATO, Marvel secrets on Capitol Hill Overnight Health Care: Senators grill drug execs over high prices | Progressive Dems unveil Medicare for all bill | House Dems to subpoena Trump officials over family separations Senators grill drug execs over high prices MORE (D) holds a comfortable 7-point lead in her reelection bid against Republican John James in the race for Senate in Michigan, according to a new poll from Mitchell Research & Communications. The survey shows Stabenow leading James 53 percent to 46 percent, with only 1 percent of respondents remaining undecided.

 

Democrat Andrew Gillum is leading Republican Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGillum launches voter-registration campaign Republicans need solutions on environment too Republicans up for reelection fear daylight with Trump MORE by 7 points in Florida's closely watched gubernatorial race, according to a new Quinnipiac University survey. The poll shows 50 percent of likely voters supporting GIllum and 43 percent backing DeSantis. The fight for the Florida governor's mansion has emerged as one of the most bitter races in the country this year, and while Gillum has carried a narrow lead in most public polls, the race is far from decided.

 

There's some mixed polling on the House generic ballot a day out. Democrats' lead on the generic ballot dropped to just 3 points, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Monday. That survey shows 43 percent of likely voters backing Democratic congressional candidates, while 40 percent said they supported Republicans. A good chunk of respondents – 18 percent – said they were undecided about which party's candidates they preferred. Meanwhile, a CNN survey conducted by SSRS found Democrats with a sizable 13-point lead.

 

Paper chase

Former New York City mayor and billionaire donor Michael Bloomberg announced Sunday that he is spending $5 million on an ad spot boosting Democratic candidates. In the ad, Bloomberg, a rumored 2020 presidential contender, says that Republicans have ultimately "failed to lead." "I've never been a particularly partisan person. I've supported candidates from both sides. But at this moment, we must send a signal to Republicans in Washington that they have failed to lead, failed to find solutions and failed to bring us together. That's why I'm voting Democratic."

 

Race for the White House

Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaSouthern Poverty Law Center head announces resignation Michelle Obama on 'Becoming': 'Sasha still hasn't read it' Michelle Obama seeks volunteers for local campaigns: There are 'no "off" years' MORE, Oprah Winfrey and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris to pitch using federal funds to give teachers pay raises Dem senator: 'Appropriate' for Barr, Mueller to testify publicly about Russia probe Here's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report MORE (D-Calif.) lead Trump by double digits in potential 2020 presidential races, according to a new Axios poll conducted by SurveyMonkey. The poll gives Obama a 13-point lead over Trump, while Oprah carries a 12-point lead and Harris a 10-point lead. It also showed Trump trailing Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE (D-Minn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements CNN town halls put network at center of Dem primary MORE (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE (D-Mass.), as well as Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIf Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report The wisdom of Trump's lawyers, and the accountability that must follow Mueller's report MORE by single digits.

 

With former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Former Georgia candidate asks Abrams be given 'space' amid 2020 buzz Biden team denies 'pre-cooked plan' of Abrams as early running-mate pick MORE, Warren and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE (I-Vt.) emerging as early favorites to challenge Trump in 2020, some question whether age will become an issue in the race. "Democrats would be better off with a young candidate," Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist, told The Hill's Amie Parnes, suggesting that an electorate in desire of change may be more excited to support a younger nominee.

 

Odds and ends

An expansive stormfront is looming over Election Day in several key states along the East Coast and in parts of the Midwest, threatening to batter voters with heavy wind and rain as they head to the polls on Tuesday.

Weather forecast models from the National Weather Service show the front bringing heavy rains to states ranging from Georgia to West Virginia to Wisconsin. Rain is also possible in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota.

The weather is unwelcome news to Democrats in a number of closely watched races who are hoping that high turnout will help them secure victories. Max has the Election Day weather forecast and what it could mean here.

 

Fox News on Monday announced that it has pulled President Trump's controversial immigration ad from its airwaves.

Marianne Gambelli, president of ad sales at Fox News, told The Hill that the network on Sunday decided to pull the ad, which has been widely criticized for stoking anti-immigrant anxieties using false or misleading messages.

Controversy over the ad exploded on Monday.

NBC earlier on Monday announced that it would pull the ad after facing pushback for airing it during "Sunday Night Football."

 

The Justice Department will deploy personnel to 35 voting sites across 19 states on Election Day to "monitor compliance with the federal voting rights laws," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday. Among the locations on the list are counties in Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

 

Hackers have tried to break into U.S. election systems, including voter registration databases, more than 160 times since August, according to a federal election threats report viewed by The Boston Globe. Officials have said publicly that they have been able to prevent the breaches. Officials haven't yet attributed the attempts to any one foreign entity. But one cybersecurity official in the Homeland Security Department told the Globe that the hacking attempts are similar to those used by Russia ahead of the 2016 election.

 

Trump claimed on Sunday that Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for Georgia governor, would turn the state into a "giant sanctuary city for criminal aliens" and seize citizens' guns. The president's remarks came as he stumped for Abrams' Republican opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. In fact, Abrams' immigration platform does not involve so-called sanctuary cities and she has previously said that she's "not planning to confiscate and ban guns."

 

The Georgia Secretary of State's office announced Sunday that it has opened an investigation into Georgia's Democratic party for potential unspecified cyber crimes. The announcement comes after an attempted hack of the state's voter registration system. Democratic Party of Georgia Executive Director Rebecca DeHart pushed back on the notion that her party had any involvement in the hack. She described the investigation as "yet another example of abuse of power by an unethical Secretary of State."

 

The Hill's Election Countdown was written by Lisa Hagen, Max Greenwood, Madeline Rundlett, James Wellemeyer and Kenna Sturgeon.