The Hill's Morning Report — Judgment Day: New data suggest big Dem gains in House, governors’ races




Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report and it’s Election Day! Our daily email gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch, co-created by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!) On Twitter, find us at @joneasley and @asimendinger.

Hill.TV’s “Rising” Election Day special “Pollywood” begins at 4 p.m. ET with celebrity analysis from Chelsea Handler, Tom Arnold, Moby and many more. Special election 2018 coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET with Lanny Davis, Carl M. Cannon, Melissa Harris Perry, former Rep. Tom DeLay, Bre Payton and more.


Election Day is finally here, with a deeply polarized electorate poised to render judgment on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE’s first two years in office.

Majorities in the House and Senate hang in the balance. It appears Washington could be headed for divided government as we enter a presidential election cycle.

The midterm fundamentals have long pointed toward significant gains for Democrats in the House, and late-breaking data appears to add to the growing body of evidence that suggests the House will flip, potentially giving House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push The Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats MORE (D-Calif) a second stint as Speaker.

The Hill: Republicans fear loss of House majority.

FiveThirtyEight: Democrats aren’t certain to take the House, but they’re clear favorites.

The latest:

> Retirees, long a GOP stalwart among voting demographics, donated more money to Democrats than Republicans this cycle (The Wall Street Journal).

> The Cook Political Report has moved nine more House races toward Democrats. Far more GOP-held seats are in play this cycle and Democrats need only to perform adequately in toss-up races to flip the 23 seats they need to reclaim a majority.



 > Early voter turnout indicates that the young and irregular voters Democrats need to show up are indeed casting ballots. From The Hill’s Reid Wilson:

            “Turnout has increased the most among younger voters, minorities and people who rarely or never vote. Among voters aged 18-29, turnout is up in 39 of 41 states for which data are available,” said John Della Volpe, who directs polling for Harvard University's Institute of Politics. “For voters aged 30-39, turnout is up in all 41 states where data are available. As a consequence, the 2018 electorate appears likely to be significantly younger and more diverse than the electorate that voted four years ago — both good signs for Democratic candidates.”

Early voting is popular at the White House. Trump, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump to meet with Irish prime minister during upcoming Europe trip Cannes movie poster shows decapitated Trump in MAGA hat Security concerns hinder Trump visit to sumo tournament on Japan trip MORE, Vice President Pence and Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - After GOP infighting, Trump Jr. agrees to testify again The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems fight with Barr escalates MORE voted absentee in their home states a few weeks ago.

> The final forecast from Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics has Democrats netting 34 seats in the House, with a potential upside of 40 or more.

> Election forecasters are also warning about a potential GOP bloodbath in governor’s mansions around the country.

Republicans currently hold 33 governorships, compared with 16 for Democrats and one independent. That margin will likely be far closer after Tuesday, with a Democratic majority possible.

There are 36 gubernatorial races on Tuesday and Sabato has Democrats netting 10 governorships.

That number could tick higher depending on how a few close races break in traditionally red states, which is why Pence spent his final day on the campaign trail in South Dakota for the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate.

US News & World Report: Democrats eye a dozen governors races.

Perhaps the one thing keeping Tuesday from becoming an unmitigated disaster for Republicans is that the Senate map greatly favored the GOP coming in, with 10 Democratic senators up for reelection in states Trump won in 2016.

Barring a “blue wave” of unforeseen proportions, Republicans are expected to maintain their narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate and possibly add to it. It won’t necessarily be easy. Races in Texas and Tennessee are closer than they should be.

The Hill: Democrats have slim hopes of flipping the Senate.

The Associated Press: Election Day to test Democratic resistance in Trump era.

It seems all but certain that Election Day surprises await. We warned yesterday about questions around the polls, which has injected a level of uncertainty into an already volatile and unpredictable landscape.

            “We have long cautioned against assuming the House was a done deal for the Democrats, and we don’t think readers should be stunned if things go haywire for Democrats tomorrow night.” – Sabato

San Diego Union Tribune: Polls point to Democratic takeover of House, but there are some factors that could change that.

Trump, of course, remains at the center of it all.

On a wild, three-state swing through Ohio, Indiana and Missouri on Monday, the president cast the midterms as a referendum on himself.

            “In a sense, I am on the ticket.” – Trump to rallygoers in Ohio.

The Memo: Midterm election will render verdict on Trump.

The Hill: Trump’s closing argument frames midterms as a referendum on his White House.

Former President Obama agrees wholeheartedly.



 Polling Roundup

Nevada Senate: Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenLawmakers introduce legislation to improve cyber workforce funding Dem lawmakers accuse DHS, HHS of giving them misleading information on family separations This week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report MORE (D) leads Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (R) by 4 points.

Missouri Senate: Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Big Dem names show little interest in Senate Gillibrand, Grassley reintroduce campus sexual assault bill MORE (D) leads Republican Josh Hawley by 3 points.

Generic Ballot: Democrats lead by 6 points.

Perspectives and Analyses

The Hill: Pundits predict who will win on Tuesday.

The Hill: 7 things to watch for on Election Day.

Susan Page: Both sides warn U.S. democracy is at risk.

Lynda Tran: Democrats closing argument is “we are better than this.”

David Graham: How far have Democrats moved to the left?

Charles F. McElwee: How Pennsylvania could tip the balance in the House.

Salena Zito: Latino voters in Florida could help Republicans win key races.

Brent Budowsky: Young voters could lift Democrats to victory.

Charlie Kirk: Why voters must elect Republicans.




ELECTION SECURITY: The integrity of U.S. elections has been of concern for decades, but much more of a front-and-center worry since Russia carried out a plan to interfere with the presidential contest two years ago.

The Obama and Trump administrations agreed on one assertion about what happened in 2016: Election meddling did not change any ballots.

But other forms of alleged interference remained in the klieg lights on Monday. In general, Democrats worry about efforts to hinder eligible voters from participating today, while Republicans fear instances of voter fraud and illegal voting.

The Associated Press: Voting officials under scrutiny amid heavy turnout.

Reuters: Facebook boots 115 accounts on eve of U.S. election after tip.

For instance, in Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is running for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, asserted without evidence on Monday that Democrats tried to hack the state’s voter registration files. Abrams dismissed her opponent’s allegation as part of a “pattern of voter suppression” in Georgia (The Washington Post).

Meanwhile, Trump returned to a favorite (and debunked) theme from 2017 — that many, many people intended to vote “illegally.” He warned of “maximum criminal penalties” for voter fraud (The Hill).

“There are a lot of people a lot of people my opinion, and based on proof that try and get in illegally and actually vote illegally,”  the president told reporters.

Norm Eisen, White House ethics adviser under Obama and a frequent Trump critic, reacted to one of Trump’s tweets:



The Washington Post: Without evidence, Trump and Sessions warn of voter fraud, signifying possible post-election fight.

The Washington Post editorial board: All the ugliness of the Trump campaign is on display in Georgia.

The Department of Homeland Security referred the Georgia hacking allegations to the state of Georgia to investigate.

Legal skirmishes about voting rights may impact key elections in states with tight races. Voting laws in North Dakota and Arizona now being challenged in court could keep thousands of voters from casting a ballot (The Hill).

This week’s contests are the first national elections to be held since Russia successfully interfered in U.S. elections. Officials have spent two years working to make sure 2018 isn’t a repeat, but they acknowledge that the elections could be subject to cyber or other threats (The Hill).

The Department of Justice, however, looked inward to the states, not to risks of international interference. It announced on Monday that it would monitor “compliance with federal voting rights law” by putting its personnel in 19 states to monitor events.

Around the country, nonpartisan groups and volunteer attorneys are mobilized today to respond to any reports that people are unable to vote if they believe they are eligible to participate. One such nonpartisan group is Election Protection.






WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: There have been rumors of a staff exodus from the White House after the election and Trump signaled on Monday that a shake-up is likely.

            “Administrations make changes, usually after midterms. And probably, we'll be right in that category, too. I think it's very customary.” — Trump

The president has made no secret about his frustration with Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHouse Democrats leave empty chair for McGahn at hearing MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump Chris Wallace: AG Barr 'clearly is protecting' Trump MORE, making him a prime candidate to be replaced. The White House still needs to tap a successor for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyWill Trump ignore the Constitution and stay in White House beyond his term? Trump taps ex-State spokeswoman Heather Nauert to help oversee White House fellowships Conservatives slam Omar over tweet on Gaza violence MORE, who is leaving soon. And Secretary of the Interior Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeSenate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats Interior's border surge puts more officers in unfamiliar role Not 'if' but 'when' is the next Deepwater Horizon spill? MORE’s seat gets hotter with each new controversy or scandal. Trump gave Zinke a vote of confidence on Monday.

            “I'm going to look at any reports. I'll take a look. Certainly, I would not be happy with that at all. But I will take a look. But he's done a very good job as secretary.” — Trump on Zinke

There have also been reports that Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisPentagon reporters left in dark as Iran tensions escalate Trump officials slow-walk president's order to cut off Central American aid: report Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences MORE is not long for the job, but the president shot down that speculation on Monday.

            “Why would I do that? … Is that the new rumor? … I hadn’t heard that one.” — Trump on Mattis

During a CBS “60 Minutes” interview last month, Trump said he was unsure whether Mattis would stay on.

            “It could be that he is [leaving]. I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth. But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That's Washington." — Trump in October

> One familiar name from the past at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, former White House counsel A.B. Culvahouse Jr., got the nod from Trump on Monday to fill a job long vacant in his administration — to become U.S. ambassador to Australia. Culvahouse, 70, served as former President Reagan’s top lawyer, and handled vetting when candidate Trump selected a 2016 running mate (The Associated Press).

Reuters: Pentagon balked at U.S. border troops building immigration detention center.

The Hill: Mattis to meet this week with Chinese counterpart.

More from the Trump administration … Frost thaws in U.S.-China ties ahead of G20 meeting (Reuters) … Pence tells Hill.TV that a bipartisan infrastructure package is possible after the elections (The Hill) … National security adviser John Bolton says additional sanctions on Iran could be in the works (Reuters) … IRS sparks new fight over school donations (The Hill).




56 - Interviews Trump granted to news media outlets during the 64 days between Labor Day and this morning, according to presidency scholar and Towson University professor emeritus Martha Joynt Kumar, who told The Hill that’s a ton of interviews compared with previous presidents during similar midterm periods. Thirty percent of the 186 media interviews Trump has given as president took place in those weeks, Kumar told us. Plus, Trump held 30 reelection rallies, and 27 of his interviews were with outlets considered local to his rally sites. In other words, the president had a midterm media strategy.

$100 million - Campaign cash raised by Trump thus far for his 2020 reelection, an astonishing sum.

$5.2 billion - Spent by candidates, political parties and outside groups on House and Senate contests this cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. 2018 tops spending records for any congressional midterm cycle (Reuters).

69 percent - Campaign ads in the post-Labor Day period that featured attacks and negative information (Wesleyan Media Project). “This election season feels exceptionally negative to many viewers because the sheer number of negative ads on the air is up by 61 percent over the 2014 midterms.”

3,638 - Female candidates on ballots today for House, Senate, governorships and state legislative seats — a record (NPR).

81 - House seats lost by a president's party set a midterm bloodbath record in 1938 while Franklin Roosevelt was president (American Presidency Project). Analysts’ expectations today: 25-35 House GOP seats may flip.

31 million - Early ballots cast as of Monday morning in participating states, a record-breaking number (CNN).

4 - States in which voters decide today whether to expand Medicaid.

3 - States deciding today whether to restrict access to abortion.

3 - Deceased candidates whose names will appear on ballots today are Florida Democrat April Freeman, 54, running for the House, who died in September, too late for the party to put chosen Democratic successor Allen Ellison on the ballot; Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof, a 72-year-old Republican candidate for the state assembly, who died last month after a night of energetic partying (The New Yorker); and Wyoming Republican defense attorney Tony Lopez, 65, who campaigned to become Albany County Attorney before his death in October.

2 - House members seeking reelection while under federal indictment are Republican Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterHouse ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter accused of violating 'parole' after pretending to cross US-Mexico border Challenger outraises embattled California rep ahead of 2020 rematch MORE in California (CBS News) and New York Republican Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsHouse ethics panel renews probes into three GOP lawmakers The Hill's Morning Report - Barr stiff-arms House following Senate grilling Trump ally in House calls for doubling gas tax to pay for infrastructure MORE (The Hill).

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Trump’s Iran policies are proving effective, by Alex Titus, RealClearPolitics.

Trump’s sanctions against Iran emboldens U.S. enemies and weakens allies, by Simon Jenkins, The Guardian.



The House and Senate will return to Washington to resume work on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

The president wrapped up his campaign swing before 2 a.m. today. He is expected to make phone calls, monitor races across the country and meet with his political team for election updates. In the evening, the president and first lady will watch election returns in the White House residence with invited family and friends.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds MORE meets with Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides of Cyprus at the State Department at 4:30 p.m.


> Net neutrality: A 2016 court ruling preserving Obama-era net neutrality regulations aimed at ensuring a free and open internet will stand for now, despite the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal the rules. The Supreme Court declined to take up the case, leaving in place the earlier ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Reuters). … The fight over how internet access will be regulated is still far from over (The Hill).

> Retirement: Fidelity says 187,000 of its clients have $1 million or more in their retirement accounts, a record (

> Amazon headquarters: The company is said to be nearing deals to locate its newest headquarters in two cities beyond Seattle - Long Island City, N.Y., and Arlington, Va., -  according to The New York Times, and the surprise announcement could come soon (The Hill).


And finally … Who knew the power and punch of “I Voted” stickers? We learned this week that those innocuous, petite lapel stickers dispensed at polling stations have sparked design contests, inspired social media show-offs, triggered humorous columns, are worth discounted drinks and freebies, and annoy some citizens who think they’re a complete waste of public money.

Before you receive yours today, catch the wave:

Stickers as art: Culpeper County, Va., wanted to involve more students in the election process this year. So it held a competition, funded by the PATH Foundation, that asked fourth-grade students to redesign the iconic “I Voted” sticker. And high school seniors were asked to create a “Future Voter” sticker, given to children who accompany grown-ups to polling places today. The winning young artists added color and creativity (WTOP).

Sticker yucks: “I voted because my gun can’t!” (The New York Times, by comedy writer Rebecca Caplan).

Stickers for swag: Freebies! It’s illegal! Federal law says you can’t exchange something of value for a vote, so some businesses, including Uber and Lyft, are getting around that legal wrinkle today (USA Today). But Austin, Texas, is one city that apparently just ignores these pesky technicalities (

Sticker peer pressure: Behavioral scientists know the power of those little oval pats on the back. They’ve studied public enthusiasm for “I Voted” stickers, and dissected what psychological sway they hold ( Hint: Experts say that in a herd, “we’re afraid of being judged.”