The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — One week to the midterms: Election handicappers weigh in




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Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, discussing the Pittsburgh synagogue shootings; Pablo Galarce, on the political outlook in Brazil following its presidential election; and Middle East Forum director Gregg Roman (The Hill).

The midterm elections are one week away.

Many election modelers believe Democrats are poised to seize a majority in the House, while Republicans appear likely to maintain or grow their 51-49 advantage in the Senate.

But the political landscape is volatile, which is why the Morning Report asked some of nation’s top election analysts to weigh in on key variables that could determine the outcome on Nov. 6.

This is how they responded:

Q. Do Democrats still have the advantage in enthusiasm, or did the confirmation fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMcConnell has 17-point lead over Democratic challenger McGrath: poll Davis: My recommendation for vice president on Biden ticket Kavanaugh urged Supreme Court to avoid decisions on Trump finances, abortion: report MORE even the playing field?

     “The most recent evidence suggests that although the Kavanaugh affair narrowed the gap, the enthusiasm edge still tilts toward the Democrats and may be widening a bit as we head toward the finish line.” — William Galston, senior fellow, The Brookings Institution

Q. Will this really be “The Year of the Woman” at the ballot box?

    “It's not another ‘Year of the Woman.’ It's the ‘Year of the Fired Up Female College Graduate.’ And it's not just a gender gap, it's a gender canyon. This is poised to be the first year Americans elect more than 100 women to the House, and Pennsylvania is likely to be home to the most dramatic surge: four new Democratic women in the Philadelphia suburbs.” — David Wasserman, House editor, The Cook Political Report

Q. What are the bellwether races you’ll be watching as an indication of where things are headed on election night?

Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, says he’s eyeing Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, held by Republican Rep. Andy BarrAndy BarrThe Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights Democrat Josh Hicks wins Kentucky primary to challenge Andy Barr McGrath fends off Booker to win Kentucky Senate primary MORE: “I don’t think Democrats need to win it to win the House, but if they do, they may be on the way to a good night."

And Kondik also pointed to Virginia’s 10th District, held by 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): “Among early reporting states, VA-10 is probably close to a must-win for Democrats – or, rather, it would be a mild surprise if they don’t win.”

Wasserman has in mind Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Dave Brat (R): “An Abigail Spanberger (D) upset of Brat would suggest Democrats are headed for a big wave.”

Galston is gazing westward to the Montana Senate race: “Trump has already been in the state three times to attack Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - At loggerheads, Congress, White House to let jobless payout lapse Overnight Defense: Senate poised to pass defense bill with requirement to change Confederate base names | Key senator backs Germany drawdown | Space Force chooses 'semper supra' as motto Democrats call for expedited hearing for Trump's public lands nominee MORE (D) and recently announced a fourth trip. If Tester loses, we’ll have to give Trump a share of the credit.”

Kirby Goidel, professor in the Department of Communication and the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University, has a different Senate race in mind, in the Hoosier State: “We might get our first hint in Indiana where the polls close at 6:00 and where Democrat Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE should win reelection.”

Galston is also watching the gubernatorial race in the Sunshine State: “I’m surprised by how little Trump has done for his hand-picked Florida gubernatorial candidate [former Rep. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisOn The Money: White House warns there's likely no deal with no agreement by Friday | More generous unemployment benefits lead to better jobs: study | 167K workers added to private payrolls in July DeSantis blames Rick Scott for 'pointless roadblocks' in Florida unemployment system Trump notes GOP governor when asked why he backs mail-in voting in Florida MORE]. Is he keeping his distance (relatively speaking) because he smells defeat in the offing?”

The Hill: The number of House seats in play has ballooned.

The Huffington Post: Where the Dems’ fight for the House will be decided.

Q. How helpful are Trump’s rallies for Republican candidates?

    “If Trump can transfer some of his popularity to other Republicans when he’s not on the ballot, he will have accomplished a feat that eluded Ronald Reagan, Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonA political hero is born in Ohio: America needs more Tyler Ferhmans Presidents, crises and revelations Biden needs to bring religious Americans into the Democratic fold MORE, and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHearing for Twitter hack suspect Zoom-bombed by porn, rap music Read: Sally Yates testimony Michelle Obama says she is managing 'low-grade depression' MORE.”— Galston

    “This election is largely a referendum on Trump, helped by the fact that he has embraced this idea that the election should be about him.” — Goidel

Q. Will the midterm elections turn on policy issues or on emotion and partisan anger?

    “For Republicans, it turns out cultural flashpoints like Kavanaugh and the caravan are more effective at motivating the Trump base than tax cuts. Democrats angry with Trump will crawl over broken glass to vote, but their candidates are making the most headway on health care and pre-existing conditions. The ultimate health care race might be NJ-03, where Andy Kim (D) is running against Rep. Tom MacArthurThomas (Tom) Charles MacArthurRepublican David Richter wins NJ primary in race to challenge Rep. Andy Kim What to watch in New Jersey's primaries on Tuesday Republicans plot comeback in New Jersey MORE (R) as the ‘architect’ of the GOP repeal plan and its ‘age tax’.” — Wasserman

    “What is fascinating is that unlike previous presidents who have largely stayed out of the midterm [cycle], Trump has embraced the role. Often base voters for the in-party turn out at a lower rate, so it will be interesting to see what impact this has.” — Goidel

The Hill: Major GOP group leans into immigration, tax law in final week.




CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS:  *** BREAKING ***  Trump, during an interview with Axios, said he’ll sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship for babies born on U.S. soil to non-citizens and undocumented immigrants. Any such action would challenge U.S. law, the Constitution and wind up in court (Axios).


President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MORE and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate GOP, House Democrats begin battle over trillion bill Melania Trump announces plans to renovate White House Rose Garden Trump tweets photo of himself wearing a mask MORE fly into Pittsburgh today to meet with the families of victims from the mass shooting at a synagogue.

Trump’s visit is controversial – the mayor of Pittsburgh has asked that his visit be delayed until the dead are buried, and tens of thousands of people have signed a petition asking that the president not visit at all.

The Associated Press: Trump to visit amid divide.

Eleven people were killed and six more injured after a man opened fire on a bris ceremony in the Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill. The shooting came a day after another man was arrested for mailing pipe bombs to top Democrats.

The Hill: Dems call for emergency hearing on “white supremacist views” after attacks.

Trump’s critics in both parties have blamed the president’s rhetoric for the spate of violence and many in Washington are calling on politicians from both parties to lower the heat.

Hill.TV/Harris X Poll: Voters say it’s up to Trump to tamp down heated partisan rhetoric.

But on Monday, the president ratcheted up his political attacks, blaming the media for the anger in the country and describing Andrew Gillum, the African-American mayor of Tallahassee who is running for Florida governor, as a “thief.”

The Washington Post: Trump, aides struggle to balance midterm attacks with empathy.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Gillum tells supporters to get away from Twitter and to round up voters to fight back against Trump.

New polling suggests Trump is paying a political price for staying on the attack in a time of fear and grief.

Gallup: Trump approval drops 4 points in one week.

Public Religion Research Institute: Majority say Trump’s behavior encourages white supremacists.

The president has an ambitious campaign travel schedule through Nov. 6, resuming on Wednesday with Florida appearance. He’ll hold 11 rallies in six days.

Bloomberg: White House braces for GOP losses and staff exodus.

Polling roundup

Los Angeles Times: Democrats lead generic congressional ballot by 17 points.

Texas Tribune: Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  Ted Cruz bashes Oprah for 'lecture' on race: 'What utter, racist BS' Senate Democrats prepare seven-figure spending spree in Texas MORE (R-Texas) leads Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) by 5 points, down from 9 in the previous poll.

Emerson College: Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Democrats warn Biden against releasing SCOTUS list MORE (D-Mich.) leads Republican John James by 9 points; Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezVOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage Bottom line Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads MORE (D-N.J.) leads Republican Bob Hugin by 5 points.

NBC/Marist: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has small lead on Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGroup of GOP senators back more money for airlines to pay workers The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  ACLU targets Democrats, Republicans with mobile coronavirus billboards MORE (R-Ariz.).

More from the campaign trail … Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBill from Warren, Gillibrand and Waters would make Fed fight economic racial inequalities The other reason Democrats want Biden to shun debates The Memo: Biden faces balancing act MORE’s (D-Mass.) use of a DNA test to claim Native American heritage doesn’t “pass the test” (The Hill) … Long time advisers and confidants say that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Top federal official says more details coming on foreign election interference The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  MORE will not run for president in 2020 (The Hill) … Coverage of the Indiana Senate debate between Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Republican Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton begins at 7 p.m. (C-SPAN) … Should Dems capture the House majority, here are profiles are some of next year’s committee chairmen who want to challenge Trump and the GOP (The New York Times).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Immigration: The U.S. military will send more than 5,200 active duty troops to the southern border with Mexico by the end of the week, the Defense Department announced Monday.

The deployment, called Operation Faithful Patriot, will be to “build up southern Texas, and then Arizona, and then California … to harden the points of entry and address key gaps in areas around the points of entry,” U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command head Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy told reporters (The Hill).

A week before the midterm elections, Trump has injected drama to his argument that there is a national security need for the militarization of the southern border against an unarmed caravan of Central American immigrant families moving north on foot through Mexico.



The deployment of more than 5,000 troops is a major increase from the Pentagon’s initial estimate of 800 and represents a military force equivalent to one-third the number of customs officials at the border, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The president is expected to make an immigration announcement this week. The administration is considering a plan to limit most, if not all, the caravan trekkers from crossing the U.S. border, CNN reported.

The administration believes it can limit legal ports of entry and then waitlist migrants tied to U.S. capacity, slowing the processing. Under one scenario, the migrants could then be handed a choice: Be detained together as a family during long immigration proceedings or be separated from their children, who would enter the care of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to CNN’s reporting.





Tariffs: The United States is preparing to announce by early December tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if talks next month between Trump and President Xi Jinping fail to ease the trade war. The administration is preparing fallback tariffs in case the discussion between the two leaders on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, yields no breakthroughs (Bloomberg).

“I have $267 billion waiting to go if we can’t make a deal,” Trump said in an interview on Monday with Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham (Reuters).


Federal Reserve: Jerome Powell, chairman of the nation’s central bank, will testify about the Fed’s outlook for the economy before the Joint Economic Committee on Dec. 5 (Reuters). Powell and his Fed colleagues have been under pressure from the White House and Wall Street over hikes in interest rates to stave off inflation.


Health insurance: On Thursday, the annual sign-up period for ObamaCare health coverage begins, and it’s the first year Americans won’t have to pay a penalty for not having health insurance. It’s also the first year consumers will have the option of buying non-ObamaCare plans expanded by the Trump administration. These changes lead experts to suggest enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, now nearly eight years old, could decline in 2019 (The Hill).


TECH: In what ways are social media platforms culpable in the spread of hate speech and extremist messaging?

Gab, a social media platform that became a haven for the alt-right, is the latest extremist-friendly community to be pushed off the Internet. Before truck driver Robert Bowers allegedly killed 11 people in a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, he posted his hatred of Jews on Gab. As a result, GoDaddy, which hosted Gab’s domain, and PayPal cut off services to the company (The Hill).

Twitter apologized to some account holders who were targeted on social media by Florida’s Cesar Sayoc Jr., the alleged package bomber. Some had complained to Twitter that they received threatening messages via his account, but the company did little in response before he allegedly switched his messaging from social media to the U.S. Postal Service (MSNBC).  

“The Facebook Dilemma” is a two-part Frontline investigation on PBS that explores questions about the unifying ambitions of the social media giant and some ominous and unforeseen consequences. Frontline asks: Is Facebook more harmful than helpful? (Oct. 29 and Oct. 30).

The Washington Post: Despite calls on Capitol Hill to regulate hate speech on social media platforms, it would be hard for lawmakers to do so.

The New York Times: Repercussions of social media companies’ inability to handle disinformation and hate speech.

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Congress needs to get serious about violent extremism, by Neema Hakim, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Shootings and bombing reflect attack on our democratic values, by Alan Dershowitz, opinion contributor, The Hill.



The House and Senate will convene after Election Day.

The president and first lady Melania Trump will travel to Pennsylvania to offer condolences following the shooting deaths on Saturday of 11 people attending synagogue services in Pittsburgh.

Vice President Pence participates in a live interview at 9:30 a.m. with Politico’s Playbook in Washington; info HERE. The vice president later flies to Birmingham, Ala., to headline a National Republican Senatorial Committee political event.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Trump outraises Biden in July, surpasses billion for the cycle Duckworth: Republican coronavirus package would 'gut' Americans With Disabilities Act MORE will campaign in Madison, Wis., for Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden: I'll have a running mate picked next week The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided GOP to unveil COVID-19 bill Biden strikes populist tone in blistering rebuke of Trump, Wall Street MORE (D) and other Democratic candidates, including Tony Evers (who is challenging GOP Gov. Scott Walker), and repeat his appearance for them in Milwaukee. In the evening, he’ll be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for Democrats Abby Finkenauer and Fred Hubbell, along with state Sen. Rita Hart. (Iowa state Rep. Finkenauer is challenging Republican Rep. Rod Blum for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, and Hubbell is seeking to unseat Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, with Hart as his running mate.)

Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump prizes loyalty over competence — we are seeing the results Lawmakers torch Trump plan to pull 11,900 troops from Germany Are US-Japan relations on the rocks? MORE will discuss the National Defense Strategy at a 5:30 p.m. event hosted by United States Institute of Peace.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers discusses “The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage and Fear in the Cyber Age” during a conversation that includes private-sector cyber experts, to be moderated by The New York Times national security correspondent and author David Sanger. Location: Jack Morton Auditorium at George Washington University, 6:30 p.m. Info HERE.

Treasury Department Assistant Secretary Marshall Billingslea speaks to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington at 1 p.m.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index for October will be released at 10 a.m. Days before the midterm elections, analysts expect to see a slight downward trajectory in consumer confidence compared with September, when the index hit an 18-year high.


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> The courts: Chief Justice John Roberts will have his hand on the throttle as the Supreme Court veers to the right (Bloomberg).

> Sports: The 2018 World Series was good for the Red Sox, and bad for baseball (The Atlantic).

> Personal finance: Personal incomes rose 0.2 percent in September, the smallest gain since June 2017, the government reported on Monday. Roughly half of that increase was wiped out by inflation. The personal savings rate slipped to a still-healthy 6.2 percent in September, but that was the lowest level in 2018 (

> Around town: Two leading communications and public affairs firms in Washington are merging. Blue Engine Message & Media and JDA Frontline will relaunch with a new name on Jan. 1, saying their clients are “increasingly looking for bipartisan teams to service their public affairs needs and manage a volatile, divisive and increasingly challenging political climate.”


And finally … We were searching for something sunny somewhere in the news this morning, so naturally we bring you NASA’s solar probe, launched in August. It set a record on Monday for the closest approach to the sun, and it will fly even closer next week through the sun’s outer atmosphere, and keep exploring for seven years (The Associated Press). The Parker Solar Probe, which looks a bit like a giant, disemboweled washing machine, will repeatedly break scientific records in space for years to come.