Election Countdown: Midterm fight heats up over Kavanaugh | McConnell sees energized base | Dems look to women to retake House | How suburban voters could decide control of Congress | Taylor Swift backs Tennessee Dems | Poll shows Cruz up 5 in Texas

This is Election Countdown, The Hill’s weekly 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 29 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 757 days until the 2020 elections.


Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday closed out a tumultuous chapter in the Senate. As for the midterms, its effects are still being felt.

Less than a month before Election Day, Kavanaugh’s placement on the high court is driving the fight for the House and Senate in different directions. In the battle for the House, it could increase the chances of a “blue wave,” especially in must-win suburban districts where Republicans are already struggling to win over female voters.


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But the confirmation could also help boost Republicans running for Senate seats in red states currently held by Democrats. President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE and congressional Republicans are looking to weaponize the confirmation fight in the final month of the midterms. In North Dakota, for example, the GOP pounced on Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE‘s (D) decision to vote against Kavanaugh, casting it as a sign that she’s out of touch with her state.


“I talked to a couple of my political advisers yesterday and this has been a shot in the arm for us going into the fall election because it underscores the importance of the Senate and our role in personnel, and of course the most important personnel decisions we make are the courts, and particularly the Supreme Court,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.) told The Hill in an interview.


Whether Kavanaugh’s confirmation continues to reverberate through Election Day remains to be seen. Strategists suggest that Republicans may be less inclined to cast their ballots in November, having gotten what they wanted from the GOP-controlled Senate. And that outrage among Democrats could prompt more of them to turn out.

“If the Republicans thought they had a problem before, they have an earthquake now,” Jon Reinish, a Democratic strategist, told The Hill’s Max Greenwood.


Race for the White House

Less than 30 days until the midterms, the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is already underway, reports The Hill’s Amie Parnes. Potential White House hopefuls are traveling around the country to give 2018 candidates a boost. Here’s a rundown of their campaign schedule:

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE will travel to Indiana on Friday to campaign with Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (D-Ind.). Biden will also campaign with retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, who’s running against Rep. Andy BarrAndy BarrKentucky Senate candidate: McConnell ‘couldn’t care less if we die’ House GOP to launch China probes beyond COVID-19 Put entrepreneurs, workers and flexibility in next stimulus package MORE (R-Ky.).

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.) was in Ohio over the weekend to campaign with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayPoll: Biden, Trump neck and neck in Ohio On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials ‘looking at’ offering coronavirus bonds Ex-CFPB director urges agency to ‘act immediately’ to help consumers during pandemic MORE and Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests | Amazon pauses police use of its facial recognition tech | FBI warns hackers are targeting mobile banking apps Democratic senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests Some realistic solutions for income inequality MORE (D). She’ll also travel to Arizona to help Rep. Kyrsten Sinema‘s Senate campaign and Wisconsin for Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden launches program to turn out LGBTQ vote We need a ‘9-1-1’ for mental health — we need ‘9-8-8’ Democrats introduce bill to rein in Trump’s power under Insurrection Act MORE.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-N.J) was in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday night headlining the party’s annual fall gala, the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers MORE (D-N.Y.) are both headed to Georgia to campaign with Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams. Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderTrump official criticizes ex-Clinton spokesman over defunding police tweet Obama to speak about George Floyd in virtual town hall GOP group launches redistricting site MORE was in Georgia on Sunday for Abrams and is heading to North Carolina on Monday.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will campaign with Democrat Josh Welle, who is challenging 19-term Rep. Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithNY, NJ lawmakers call for more aid to help fight coronavirus Stranded Americans accuse airlines of price gouging Lawmakers propose waiving travel fees for coronavirus evacuations abroad MORE (R-N.J.). And Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what ‘policing’ means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight Minnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan says there will be consequences from fraying US-China relations; WHO walks back claims on asymptomatic spread of virus MORE (D-Md.), who’s announced his presidential campaign, will make appearances in Texas.


Senate showdown

In the wake of Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight, Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerRepublicans prepare to punt on next COVID-19 relief bill GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police Trump tweets spark fresh headache for Republicans MORE (R-N.D.) rebuked the #MeToo movement in a weekend interview with The New York Times, calling it a “movement toward victimization.”

“That you’re just supposed to believe somebody because they said it happened,” Cramer told the Times. He then referenced women in his family, saying “they cannot understand this movement toward victimization.”

Cramer is running against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who gave an emotional rebuttal to the congressman’s description of the movement. She referenced her own work with victims and noted that her mother was a victim of sexual assault as a teenager.

“I think it’s wonderful that his wife has never had an experience, and good for her, and it’s wonderful his mom hasn’t,” Heitkamp told the Times. “My mom did. And I think it affected my mom her whole life. And it didn’t make her less strong.”


Meanwhile, in other Kavanaugh fallout: Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice elicited a strong response over Twitter when she responded “me” to former White House Communications Director Jen Psaki‘s tweet asking, “Who wants to run for Senate in Maine? There will be an army of supporters with you.”

Rice later walked it back, saying she was “not making any announcements.” She told The New Yorker on Sunday that she’s been “moved by the enthusiasm” expressed by Democrats about a possible run against Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRepublicans prepare to punt on next COVID-19 relief bill Trump tweets spark fresh headache for Republicans Trump’s tweet on protester sparks GOP backlash  MORE (R-Maine), saying she’ll give it “due consideration.”


And in pop culture/political newsTaylor Swift broke her silence on politics to endorse former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen(D) over Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police GOP senators dodge on treatment of White House protesters Five things to know about Trump’s legal power under the Insurrection Act MORE (R-Tenn.) in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Trump asserts his power over Republicans Romney is only GOP senator not on new White House coronavirus task force MORE (R-Tenn.). She wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday: “As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim CooperJim CooperOvernight Defense: Army now willing to rename bases named after Confederates | Dems demand answers on ‘unfathomable’ nuke testing discussions | Pentagon confirms death of north African al Qaeda leader Top Democrats demand answers on Trump administration’s ‘unfathomable’ consideration of nuclear testing Taylor Swift slams Trump tweet: ‘You have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence?’ MORE for House of Representatives.”


Survey says…

A series of new CBS News/YouGov polls delivered some bad news for Democrats in two red-states they’re hoping to flip in November. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police MORE (R-Texas) is leading Rep. Beto O’RourkeBeto O’RourkeBiden will help close out Texas Democrats’ virtual convention: report O’Rourke on Texas reopening: ‘Dangerous, dumb and weak’ Parties gear up for battle over Texas state House MORE (D-Texas) by a 6-point margin in the race for the Senate in Texas. And in Tennessee, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) carries an 8-point lead over Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R).

While the Senate races in both those states are competitive, they’re considered longer shots for Democrats to flip than in states like Nevada and Arizona.


Speaking of Arizona, the CBS News/YouGov poll shows Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) ahead of Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police No evidence of unauthorized data transfers by top Chinese drone manufacturer: study Senate Democratic campaign arm launches online hub ahead of November MORE (R) in the state’s hotly contested Senate race. According to the survey, Sinema leads McSally 47 percent to 44 percent. But that’s still within the poll’s 3.9 percent margin of error, meaning the race remains highly competitive.


And in deep-blue New Jersey, Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezGOP’s Obama-era probes fuel Senate angst Government watchdog: ‘No evidence’ Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips No time to be selling arms to the Philippines MORE (D) has a solid lead over his Republican challenger Bob Hugin, according to the poll. He’s leading Hugin 49 percent to 39 percent. Those results are a bit of good news for Democrats, coming amid reports that Menendez’s re-election might not be as much of a shoo-in as once thought.


Paper chase

We keep seeing some massive House fundraising hauls and Democratic Senate candidates are also announcing some eye-popping numbers. Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees ‘strong likelihood’ of another relief package; Warner says some businesses ‘may not come back’ at The Hill’s Advancing America’s Economy summit The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: CDC Director Redfield responds to Navarro criticism; Mnuchin and Powell brief Senate panel Hillicon Valley: Experts raise security concerns about online voting | Musk finds supporter in Trump | Officials warn that Chinese hackers targeting COVID-19 research groups MORE (D-Nev.), who’s running against Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) said she raised nearly $7.1 million in the third fundraising quarter, which runs from July to September. She ended September with $2.6 million in the bank.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), who’s been one of the top Senate fundraisers this cycle, raised more than $6 million in the third quarter, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She ended September with more than $5 million cash on hand. Baldwin faces Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir in November.


Liberal groups are withholding support from Democrats who either voted or supported Kavanaugh’s nomination. Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump administration seeks to use global aid for nuclear projects Shelley Moore Capito wins Senate primary West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice wins GOP gubernatorial primary MORE (D-W.Va.), who’s running for reelection in a state that Trump won by 40 points, is the only Democrat to vote for Kavanaugh. And former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), who’s running for an open seat against Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said that he supported his confirmation.

MoveOn, a progressive outside group, said Friday it cancelled a planned six-figure digital ad for Bredesen and is pulling “all planned campaigning” for Manchin. The decision comes after Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action, said it won’t spend resources on either Democrat, though it hadn’t yet spent money on Bredesen. Senate Majority PAC, however, told the Washington Examiner that it’s still standing by both Democrats.


What we’re watching for

Senate Debate schedule:

–Monday night debates in Indiana (7 p.m. ET) and Wisconsin (7 p.m. ET)

–Friday night debate in Wisconsin

–Sunday night debates in West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan


Trump rally schedule:

–Tuesday rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa at 7:30 p.m. ET

–Wednesday rally in Erie, Pa. at 7 p.m. ET

–Friday rally in Lebanon, Ohio at 7 p.m. ET

–Saturday rally in Richmond, Ky. at 7 p.m. ET


Coming to a TV near you

Abortion-rights advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America is launching a $1 million ad campaign seizing on Democratic outrage over Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The TV and digital ads will go after top-targeted GOP districts, including those held by Reps. David YoungDavid Edmund YoungFormer Rep. David Young wins GOP primary in bid for old House seat Trump lends support to swing district Republicans Former ‘Apprentice’ contestant ranks Trump next to Mother Teresa on women’s issues MORE (Iowa), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamLobbying world House votes to temporarily repeal Trump SALT deduction cap Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs MORE (Ill.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderSharice Davids to vote for Trump impeachment articles: ‘The facts are uncontested’ Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers MORE (Kan.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonBottom line Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm Bottom line MORE (Texas), Jason LewisJason Mark LewisTwo swing-district Democrats raise impeachment calls after whistleblower reports GOP Senate candidate said Republicans have ‘dual loyalties’ to Israel The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (Minn.) and Dave Brat (Va.).


The National Republican Congressional Committee launched a new digital ad mocking Democrat Donna Shalala, who’s running for retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenTechNet hires Hispanic communications director Bottom line Women are refusing to take the backseat in politics, especially Latinas MORE‘s (R-Fla.) seat, arguing that she lacks the same energy of her Republican opponent Maria Elvira Salazar.


Wave watch

While Democrats face a tough battle in the Senate, they’re feeling much more confident about flipping the House–particularly in the wake of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight.

Republicans are claiming heightened enthusiasm, but it’s unclear if it’ll last throughout the next 30 days. And when it comes to the battle of the House, the confirmation battle appears likely to hurt Republicans with suburban female voters in toss-up races that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE won in 2016.

“This is going to mean that we win more Dem seats than we would have without this. This is absolutely going to help us in the House,” Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalBiden’s right, we need policing reform now – the House should quickly take up his call to action Defense bill turns into proxy battle over Floyd protests Top progressive lawmaker unveils bill requiring national police training standards MORE (D-Wash.), vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill’s Melanie Zanona.

“These independent women who are so critical will sit it out and just not vote, which will help Democrats, or they will come out and vote for a Democrat.”

The Hill’s Reid Wilson breaks down the types of suburban districts that are critical parts of the House battlefield. Of the 64 competitive GOP-held seats on the Cook Political Report, 42 are classified as suburban by the researchers David Montgomery and Richard Florida at CityLab.