With Joanie Greve


COLUMBIA, Mo. — The ghost of Harry Truman haunts the Missouri Senate race.

Addressing 125 volunteers eating free pizza at Shakespeare’s across the street from the University of Missouri, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) invoked one of her Democratic predecessors. “We know where our voters are, but some of them only vote in presidentials, and what we have to do is nudge them to make sure that they understand that this election is as important to Missouri as any presidential,” she said. “Because you know what this election is about? It's about whether or not we hold onto Harry Truman's Senate seat!”

Later that night in the rural town of Boonville, on the banks of the Missouri River, her Republican challenger Josh Hawley brought up Truman unprompted during an interview. “My own view is that we're in the middle of a political realignment,” he said. “It's comparable to a century ago when you had a complete change in political coalitions, and I think President Trump is driving much of that. We're seeing that happen. We're right in the midst of it.”

Hawley sought to contextualize his own campaign, and the midterms, in the broader sweep of history. “Missouri’s changed a lot politically since I was growing up,” the 38-year-old Missouri attorney general said at a diner on Main Street. “The place I grew up is a good example. A place like Boonville would be a good example, too. Places that used to be home to what I call Harry Truman Democrats, now they're Donald Trump Republicans. Donald Trump speaks to those folks, and I think if the Republican Party is going to have a future as a party they're going to have to do the same.

“Meanwhile,” he added, “you see a sorting out where you have folks who have advanced degrees and so forth, who live in suburbs, who once tended to vote Republican now shifting more toward Democrats. I think that there's a real worldview shifting, or sifting, that's going on.”

I told Hawley that McCaskill proudly considers herself a Harry Truman Democrat. “She wishes,” he said. “But she’s not, and that’s her big problem in this race. … She’s a party-line voter on a party line that this state does not want.”

I asked McCaskill why she uses Truman to rally her troops. “I guarantee you he would have some bad language about Josh Hawley if he were here,” she said. “He did a lot of things that took a lot of courage, and he didn't suffer fools.”

-- On the eve of the midterms, Missouri might be the tightest Senate battleground. Strategists inside both campaigns describe the race as a true toss-up. Hawley had opened a slight lead after the Brett Kavanaugh donnybrook, but that bump has subsided somewhat. McCaskill has struggled with persistently high negatives, and President Trump’s approval rating has remained above 50 percent. Unlike most states, Missouri does not allow early voting. That means it all comes down to who turns out tomorrow.

Trump won this state by 19 points in 2016. So McCaskill could outperform Hillary Clinton by almost 10 points — and still lose. If the 65-year-old prevails, it will be because there is a blue wave that crests high enough. If Hawley beats her, it will be because tectonic shifts are more powerful than the political head winds of any given cycle.

This state voted for the winner of all but one presidential election during the 20th century. George W. Bush carried the Show-Me State by three points in 2000, then seven points in 2004. John McCain barely won it over Barack Obama, but Mitt Romney won handily by 12 points.

Hawley, who has not any daylight between himself and the president, said Trump did better than all those previous Republicans because he tapped viscerally into the fear among these voters that their way of life is profoundly at risk. “It's at risk from folks who are taking jobs and taking them overseas,” he said. “It's at risk from falling wages. It's at risk from an immigration system that does not work well for workers in this country. The president said a lot of things that folks have thought for a long time but nobody else had been willing to say. He faced 16 Republicans or whatever it was. The other 15 sounded a lot like each other … but he was the one who sounded completely different. I think that's why he's redrawing political coalitions.”

-- McCaskill has lurched to the right in the home stretch, distancing herself from who she’s taken to calling “crazy Democrats” — a phrase she first trotted out during an appearance on Fox News to criticize protesters who “walk in restaurants and scream” in the faces of elected officials. “Claire’s not one of those crazy Democrats,” a narrator says in a radio spot I heard several times while driving through rural Missouri. “She works right in the middle.” Asked about the caravan, she said that she’ll back Trump up “100 percent” on whatever he does to “stop it at the border.”

-- She was at Mizzou last Friday, where she went for undergrad and law school, after Trump held a rally at the city’s airport the night before. Former attorney general John Ashcroft, whose son is now Missouri’s secretary of state, sang the national anthem for the crowd of thousands who had gathered. Then Trump invited Hawley on stage to say a few words. When he compared his opponent to Clinton, the crowd began chanting “lock her up.” Then the president said McCaskill isn’t telling the truth about supporting him, emphasizing her vote against Kavanaugh. “They have gone crazy, folks,” Trump said of Democrats. “They have gone totally loco.”

Asked by local reporters to respond the next day, McCaskill said: “He has a tortured relationship with the truth. I've voted with the president about half the time since he's been in office. But I haven't had a chance to review everything he said last night. I've been really busy.”

Away from the glare of the cameras, McCaskill asked her brother — who lives in Columbia — what Trump’s rally was like. “How was the deal last night?” she said. “I hid,” he replied. They laughed.

-- Trump will return to Missouri tonight for the second time in five days. It’s his seventh visit this election cycle and will be his final rally before the midterms. The president’s 2020 reelection campaign announced that “conservative media legends” Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity will appear alongside Trump and Hawley in Cape Girardeau, which is on the other side of the state from here. It feels more like the South than the Midwest. In fact, Memphis is the closest major airport.

-- McCaskill has a different read than Hawley about why Truman appealed to the kinds of Missourians who now support Trump. “It's embarrassing how much I know about Harry Truman,” she told me. “The thing about Harry Truman was that he wasn't afraid to say what he thought. He didn't feel the need to use fancy words. He stayed really grounded to his roots in Missouri. He never took on airs. He was about as authentic as you could possibly get. Before everybody started saying, 'Oh, a candidate has to be authentic,' he just was. You think of the courage he had integrating the armed services. If there were polling being done then, it would have polled very badly.”

-- She dates Missouri’s transformation back to 1960, when Democrats nominated the Catholic John F. Kennedy for president. “Dad was a Democratic committeeman, and somebody threw a rock through the window of the county Democratic headquarters. It was bigotry,” McCaskill told the New Yorker recently. “There was a cataclysmic shifting when we decided that civil rights was the cause of our party. Missouri, along with the traditional Democratic Southern states, began to shift.”

McCaskill said a lot of rural whites believed through the 1980s that Democrats cared about their economic condition more than Republicans. “No more,” she told the magazine. “A lot of people gave up on me. They gave up on us. … There used to be a way to work your way up from the mailroom. Now there’s no more mailroom. Donald Trump gave voters a place to put their anger.” 

-- She’s really not kidding when she describes herself a Truman “fangirl.” A replica of “The Buck Stops Here” placard that Truman kept in the Oval Office sits on McCaskill’s desk in the Hart Senate Office Building. Each state gets to display two statues in the U.S. Capitol; McCaskill recently championed an effort to replace Francis Blair with Truman in Statuary Hall. She also sponsored legislation this Congress, which went nowhere, to rename Union Station in Washington for Truman because that’s where he launched his whistle-stop train tour during his come-from-behind 1948 victory.

After defeating Republican Sen. Jim Talent in 2006, McCaskill launched an investigation into waste and abuse by military contractors that was closely modeled on Truman’s own investigation into war profiteering during World War II. The publicity from that effort elevated Truman and positioned him to replace Henry Wallace as Franklin Roosevelt’s running mate during the rollicking 1944 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. McCaskill is now the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and, like Truman, sits on Armed Services.

-- Several Hawley supporters I talked with said they haven’t changed, but the Democratic Party has.

The candidate’s bus arrived in Boonville an hour behind schedule. He was apologetic when he arrived after dark to greet a few dozen locals. Vice President Pence had stumped for him earlier in Kansas City, and Air Force Two’s late arrival made Hawley late for all the stops that followed.

“Truman was more of a conservative Democrat, and now you have the Democrats declaring publicly that they’re a socialist party,” said GOP state Rep. Dave Muntzel, 68, who has represented Boonville for three terms, as he waited for Hawley. “A lot of conservative Democrats shifted because they’re not in favor of the liberal attitude.”

Asked whether he thinks Missouri or Democrats have changed more, Hawley says “it’s a lot of the latter.”

-- Hawley sees Trump as much the product of the ongoing realignment as the cause of it. “This concern about what I call the heartland way of life … has become more acute. In the last 10 to 15 years, it's really come to a head. People have said we just can't go on like this,” he said. “If you want to know were Claire's positions are … just ask yourself: How would an East Coast donor vote on this? That's where she'll be.”

He cited her vote against the tax cuts and opposition to the trade war as examples. “She thinks that Donald Trump started this trade war,” he said. “People here realize he didn't start it. We've been in it. We just haven't been fighting. It's a very different world view.”

-- The truth is that Truman, who would be 134 if he had not died in 1972, almost certainly could not get reelected if he was on the ballot in Missouri tomorrow. In fact, Truman barely won his second Senate term in 1940, garnering just 51 percent of the vote. The favorite son did carry Missouri with 58 percent when he was at the top of the ticket in 1948, just one point better than Trump’s 2016 performance.

Truman was the first president to propose a national program to provide health insurance, which he believed was a human right. The American Medical Association ran a national campaign attacking him for advocating “socialized medicine.” When Lyndon Johnson signed the bill creating Medicare in 1965, he did so at the Truman Library and said it “all started with the man from Independence.” The next year, he issued the first two Medicare cards to Harry and Bess Truman.

On foreign policy, Truman was the anti-Trump. He ushered in the era of internationalism, built NATO and embraced the United Nations. He upset Southerners by integrating the military. And he took a huge political hit for firing Douglas MacArthur, one of the most proto-Trumpian figures in U.S. history, as the commander of allied forces in Korea.

-- As an aside, here’s a fun parlor game: Which presidents since Truman would be able to carry their home states if they were able to run again? Some are debatable, but there’s no doubt Bill Clinton couldn’t win Arkansas, Jimmy Carter couldn’t win Georgia and LBJ couldn’t win Texas. Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan would both lose in California. It’s an illustration of how much the political map has really shifted since the end of World War II. Dwight Eisenhower might struggle in a Kansas GOP primary, but he’d probably make it through with establishment support. Ditto for both Bushes in Texas. Obama would handily win Illinois.

-- McCaskill has worked hard to stay competitive in rural areas. She knows she’ll lose them, but her goal is to avoid getting wiped out. She has won 22 campaigns since Hawley was born. The only race she ever lost was a 2004 bid for governor to Matt Blunt, the son of the state’s junior senator. She defeated an incumbent Democrat in the primary but went down that fall after John Kerry, in triage mode against Bush, diverted national resources from Missouri and left her out to dry. Another lesson of that campaign McCaskill has internalized is that she didn’t spend enough time in small towns because she was too overconfident she could run up her margins in and around St. Louis and Kansas City.

That’s shaped her approach to 2018, which included holding 50 town halls last year. And it has paid dividends with endorsements from several conservative newspapers in rural areas, including the Joplin Globe and the Washington Missourian. Both editorial boards backed GOP Sen. Roy Blunt’s reelection in 2016, and Trump carried each of the counties they’re located in with more than 70 percent of the vote.

“As Josh Hawley tells you every 10 minutes, I’m old,” McCaskill joked in Columbia, before arguing that she’s out-hustling him on the trail. “By the way, eat my dust, Josh. I’m running circles around you!”

-- Hawley’s strategists have marveled at a consistent pattern in their private polling: The Republican is doing worse among likely voters over 65 than any other age group, including those under 35. This is very unusual for any GOP nominee. But it’s because many seniors still identify with the party they grew up with. African Americans who vote in Missouri also tend to be older. And this is not a very transient state. Few new people move here. That means younger voters tend to be natives and thus more inclined to vote for the conservative candidates their parents support than transplants from elsewhere.

-- McCaskill said the Show-Me State has “an independent streak” that Hawley doesn’t understand because, in her telling, he’s a puppet of out-of-state consultants. She argued that his fealty to the president during the campaign proves he will always vote however Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tells him to. And she criticized him for waging a mean-spirited campaign against her, which she says is not The Missouri Way.

“We are a friendly people … and we are kind to strangers,” said McCaskill. “I remember when I was a prosecutor in Kansas City, and we had a big meth problem. I went to a national meeting and I was talking to the DAs from the boroughs of Manhattan. ... We were comparing notes about the problems we had. And I said, 'Well, you know we have a lot of meth cooks.’ … And they were saying, ‘Well, we don’t really have a meth problem.’ And I explained to them, ‘Well, that's because in the Midwest, we share our recipes!’ They don't do that so much in Manhattan.”

-- McCaskill bets that the health-care issue will prove especially potent with these ancestral Democrats. She’s hammered Hawley for being a plaintiff in a lawsuit that seeks to completely overturn Obamacare now that the individual mandate has been overturned by Congress. She notes that getting rid of the Affordable Care Act would eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions, something Hawley has run ads denying. She also calls out the lawyers in the case for asking a judge to postpone a final decision until after Nov. 6.

“For me, it’s not about fighting the president every day,” McCaskill says in her stump speech. “It’s about fighting for you every day.”

She says her goal is to “turn down the temperature” in Washington and restore civility. If it weren’t an election year and you injected GOP senators with truth serum, McCaskill insists, she’d be on almost every one of their lists of the four Democrats they’d like to work with. She puts special emphasis on her work for veterans.

-- Hawley has run a self-disciplined campaign. He studied history at Stanford University before attending Yale Law School. He clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts and then married Erin Morrow, one of the chief justice’s other clerks. They have two children. Elijah, the oldest, turned 6 on Saturday. There was birthday cake on the campaign bus to celebrate.

He’s certainly no Todd Akin, who McCaskill ran ads in 2012 to help win the GOP primary. It was a brilliant move. Akin imploded after saying that women only get pregnant after “legitimate” rapes. McCaskill is desperately trying to woo a swath of those voters who supported her and Mitt Romney six years ago. She will certainly get some back, but it may not be enough.

-- No one disputes, however, that McCaskill is very talented at retail campaigning. She quickly greeted almost everyone who came to see her at the pizza place, posing for more than a dozen selfies and keeping each interaction short. People who didn’t know her called her by her first name, not her honorific. “In Missouri, elections have a tendency to be close, so it's no surprise to me that this one is this close this near to the end,” she told one of the well-wishers. Then a female law student asked if she could get a hug. “Of course, it’s my specialty,” said McCaskill. “I’m a hugger!”

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  1. The Supreme Court will address this week whether U.S. veterans  injured during the al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole 18 years ago are entitled to nearly $315 million they were awarded in their lawsuit against Sudan. Sudan has argued that notices of the lawsuit were invalid because they were not delivered to the foreign minister at his official address in Khartoum — an interpretation of federal law the Trump administration has surprisingly agreed with. (Robert Barnes)

  2. Brent Taylor, a Utah mayor and father of seven, was killed in Afghanistan. Taylor, who was serving as a member of the Army National Guard, died in an apparent insider attack at a Kabul base. (Amy B Wang)

  3. Nearly one-third of U.S. Catholic bishops still living have been accused at some point in their careers of failing to adequately respond to sexual misconduct within their diocese, according to an examination by the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe.

  4. Police said the suspect in the shooting at a Tallahassee yoga studio was previously arrested over multiple groping allegations and had posted YouTube videos about his hatred of women. Scott Paul Beierle is accused of killing Maura Binkley and Nancy Van Vessem and injuring four others. (Avi Selk)

  5. A representative for George Soros said Fox News has refused to allow the billionaire philanthropist to come on one of its shows and rebut allegations made against him. Patrick Gaspard, president of Soros's Open Society Foundations, said producers at the network “refuse to have us on.” (CNN)

  6. Three Girl Scouts and a chaperone were killed in a hit-and-run after a car drove off the road in Chippewa Falls, Wis. The girls were picking up litter along a road they had adopted. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)

  7. Kitty O’Neil, who became a record-setting daredevil after losing her hearing at 5 months old, died at 72. She set herself on fire, dove off hotel rooftops and stood in for famous actresses as their stunt double. (Harrison Smith)


-- Republicans’ success or failure tomorrow could determine whether their down-ballot candidates continue to lean on the racial attacks that defined Trump’s campaign and have so far dominated his presidency. Matt Viser reports: “By running so overtly on racially tinged messages, the GOP is putting that explosive form of politics on the ballot. If Republicans maintain control of the House, the notion of running a campaign built on blunt, race-based attacks on immigrants and minorities will have been validated. A loss, on the other hand, might prompt a number of Republicans to call for a rethinking of the party’s direction — but that would collide with a sitting president who, if anything, relishes over-the-edge rhetoric.”

-- Chief correspondent Dan Balz, who joined The Post 40 years ago and is famously allergic to hyperbole, calls these midterms “a once-in-a-generation event.” He writes: “This is an election that is being fought in individual districts and states, with traditional tools … But it is the larger question about the values of the nation that has produced what we’ve seen over weeks and months. It is that unsettling, and unsettled, issue that has generated the record amounts of money raised and spent, and the remarkable outpouring of volunteers never before active who are walking precincts and making calls in these final hours — as they have been for months. It is what has motivated record numbers of people in many states to cast ballots ahead of Election Day. Together, those indicators have stamped this campaign as a once-in-a-generation event.”

-- In his closing pitch, Trump has ratcheted up the false attacks on Democrats to an unprecedented level. Philip Rucker reports: “Trump is claiming that Democrats want to erase the nation’s borders and provide sanctuary to drug dealers, human traffickers and MS-13 killers. He is warning that they would destroy the economy, obliterate Medicare and unleash a wave of violent crime that endangers families everywhere. And he is alleging that they would transform the United States into Venezuela with socialism run amok. Trump has never been hemmed in by fact, fairness or even logic. … But at one mega-rally after another in the run-up to Tuesday’s midterm elections, Trump has taken his no-boundaries political ethos to a new level — demagoguing the Democrats in a whirl of distortion and using the power of the federal government to amplify his fantastical arguments.”

-- Trump’s baseless allegations against Democrats of aiding murderous illegal immigrants have been celebrated on far-right online forums. The New York Times’s Kevin Roose and Ali Winston report: “These activists cheered when Mr. Trump suggested that the Jewish billionaire George Soros could be secretly funding a caravan of Latin American migrants — a dog-whistle reference to an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that has been advanced by neo-Nazis and white nationalists for years. They roared their approval when Mr. Trump began stirring up fears of angry, violent left-wing mobs, another far-right boogeyman. And they have found traces of their ideas in Mr. Trump’s rhetoric, including his concern for an obscure land rights conflict involving white farmers in South Africa and his references to asylum-seeking migrants as ‘invaders.’”

-- Trump’s decision to emphasize immigration reflects the priorities of one of his top advisers, Stephen Miller. The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman reports: “Mr. Miller, 33, has become known in that orbit for amassing frightening news articles and isolated statistics about immigration that he is aware might fuel a presidential declaration on Twitter. He has helped install a group of like-minded aides across the government … The result is that Mr. Trump and Mr. Miller have thrust immigration — long an issue that conservatives felt was ignored by establishment Republicans — into the spotlight again and again.”

-- Trump has used Air Force One as a backdrop for his political rallies far more frequently than his recent predecessors. Rucker reports: “The presidential aircraft is both a raw illustration of the power of incumbency and a reminder of Trump’s dominant campaign theme: strength. … It was a staging element for rallies Saturday in Pensacola and Belgrade, Mont.; Friday in Huntington, W.Va.; and Thursday in Columbia, Mo.”


-- Trump and Barack Obama held dueling rallies where they hammered each other on health care and the economy. Felicia Sonmez and Anne Gearan report: “In Macon, Ga., Trump declared that Obama ‘did not tell the truth’ when he told Americans ‘You can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan’ under his signature health-care legislation. ‘He said it 28 times, and it wasn’t true,’ Trump told the crowd. Obama delivered his own blistering critique of Trump, accusing the president and Republicans of ‘just making stuff up’ and mocking them for claiming ownership of economic gains that began on his watch. ‘The economy created more jobs in my last 21 months than it has in the 21 months since I left office,’ Obama said in Gary, Ind. ‘So, when you hear these Republicans bragging about, ‘Look how good the economy is,’ where do you think that started? Somebody had to clean it up. That’s what a progressive agenda did.’”

-- The focus on Obamacare and the economic recovery is echoed in the cycle's final campaign ads. Mike DeBonis reports: “In [the suburban districts that will likely determine control of the House], the question is whether swing voters go with their wallets — the months of positive economic news of job and wage growth — or concerns about their health care. ‘A booming economy or the radical policies of the liberal mob — that’s our choice,’ says one GOP ad running on behalf of Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), who represents the Cincinnati area. Meanwhile, in the Chicago area, Democrats are blasting Rep. Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.) with an ad showing a child in a hospital bed: ‘Imagine watching him going without lifesaving treatment because it’s been denied by your insurance. That’s what Peter Roskam voted for.’”

-- Michael Bloomberg launched a $5 million ad effort to promote Democratic candidates — and himself. Robert Costa reports: “Bloomberg’s two-minute television ad, which features him speaking directly to the camera and standing before an American flag, first aired Sunday during CBS’s ‘60 Minutes.’ It will air again Monday during the evening news programs on broadcast networks and on MSNBC and CNN. Bloomberg, 76, portrays himself in the spot as a steady and seasoned Washington outsider (hint: presidential) who is appalled by Trump’s conduct and agenda and alarmed by episodes of political violence and Trump’s mounting attacks on the caravan of Central American migrants.”

-- Despite some positive polling, Democrats fear they will see a repeat of 2016. The AP’s Julie Pace reports: “Their memories from 2016, when they watched in disbelief as [Trump] defied polls, expectations and political norms, are still fresh. And as Trump travels the country armed with a divisive and racially charged closing campaign message, the test for Democrats now feels at once similar and more urgent than it did two years ago: They failed to stop Trump then, what if they fall short again?”


-- As Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly fights for reelection in Indiana, he has avoided mentioning his party affiliation. Gabriel Pogrund reports: “Donnelly — like Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, who tried to separate herself from parts of her party by saying she’s not one of those ‘crazy Democrats’ — has worked to distance himself from the far left of his party and embraced some of Trump’s policies. During a recent debate, [Donnelly] said he was open to changing birthright citizenship, saying, ‘We have to take a look at that legislation.’ He has also been a steadfast supporter of a border wall with Mexico, voting in favor of funding it three times and criticizing the upper chamber for failing to deliver the money for Trump’s signature proposal.”

-- Has Chuck Schumer proved himself to be the right Senate leader for Democrats during the Trump era? Ben Terris reports: “[W]here Trump breaks all the rules of politics, Schumer seems to be guided by them. His mind is filled with poll numbers and focus group responses, more consultant than combatant. Schumer’s supporters say this is what makes him the right man for the job: It will take a strategist to keep the Senate from slipping even further from Democratic control. His critics say this is exactly what makes him a man out of time: If the president is willing to break all the rules, Democrats should not be using the same, tired playbook.”

-- Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and Beto O’Rourke (D) are crisscrossing Texas as polls show their race narrowing. The Dallas Morning News’s Todd J. Gillman and Rebekah Allen report: “O'Rourke, after a Saturday of knocking on doors in Dallas and Tarrant counties and an evening rally in Lower Greenville that brought 500 campaign volunteers and other supporters spilling onto a side street, moved on to Austin and San Antonio on Sunday. … O'Rourke also expressed skepticism of polls — most of which give Cruz an edge — but did cite a recent poll from Change Research, a Democratic pollster that used online polling and found the race tied. … Cruz will campaign in suburban Houston on Monday, reminding tea party members and others why they picked him six years ago and making the case why they should return him to the Senate.”

-- Early voting turnout in Texas far exceeds 2014 levels, but observers differ on whether that burst of energy will aid O’Rourke or Cruz. The Austin American-Stateman’s Mary Huber reports: “Matt Angle, a Democratic strategist and director of the Lone Star Project political action committee, said that, at least for the state’s urban areas, the strong turnout bodes well for Democrats, including in Travis County. … James Henson, a University of Texas lecturer and director of the Texas Politics Project, said it’s too soon to tell what early voting numbers might mean about the outcome of the election. ‘I think there are a lot of indications we are going to see more Democratic voters,’ Henson said Saturday. ‘But there is no indication that the bottom has dropped out in Republican turnout either.’”

-- The early voting numbers in Arizona have Democrats hopeful that Kyrsten Sinema can win. Politico’s Elana Schor reports: “[Republicans have] been coming for the third-term House Democrat ever since she sailed to victory in her late-August primary to replace the retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Sinema’s opponent, GOP Rep. Martha McSally, has tarred her as a liberal in centrist’s clothing, running ads contrasting the Republican’s Air Force service with the Democrat’s past as an antiwar activist clad in a pink tutu. But the hits … don't seem to be sticking.”

-- Jon Ralston, the dean of the Nevada press corps, predicts Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) will probably lose, based on early voting numbers. He writes for the Nevada Independent: “Heller, who has never lost a race, is almost as much of a political survivor as Harry Reid, the man who built the machine that failed to defeat Nevada’s senior senator six years ago but should succeed on Tuesday. Heller has done everything he can to lose the race — most notably, his multifarious positions on repealing Obamacare leading to the devastating ‘Senator Spineless’ meme. Yet he has a chance to hold on. Even though the Democratic machine has not built as big of a firewall as in 2012 — 47,000 in Clark County and 23,000 statewide — this is a midterm, and it will be enough. I think.”

-- National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar predicts the Montana Senate race between incumbent Jon Tester (D) and Matt Rosendale (R) could be one of the night’s biggest surprises: “This is one of the few Senate races where there hasn’t been much quality public polling, leaving analysts to rely on shoe-leather reporting and red-state political fundamentals. … Political operatives on both sides agree that Tester is narrowly ahead, but with enough undecided voters to make it uncomfortably close. In his two successful Senate races, Tester won just 49 percent of the vote. With so much partisan polarization — and many red-state Democratic senators losing ground in the final weeks — it’s not hard to see how Tester could fall short.”


-- Small-dollar donations to Democratic campaigns have helped expand the battleground to conservative strongholds. Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports: “Democratic candidates raised more money than Republicans in the 2018 midterms, particularly in small sums under $200. Strategists across the political spectrum point to their breakneck fundraising pace as a sign that the party could be well positioned to take control of the House this year.”

-- Some House Republicans fear Trump’s singular focus on immigration could cost them more seats. Politico’s Rachael Bade, Carla Marinucci and Elana Schor report: “Many of these same Republicans welcomed Trump’s initial talk about the migrant caravan and border security two weeks ago, hoping it would gin up the GOP base in some at-risk, Republican-held districts. But they now fear Trump went overboard — and that it could cost them dearly in key suburban districts, from Illinois to Texas.”

-- Nancy Pelosi is brushing off attacks from Republicans and even fellow Democrats as she prepares a potential return to the House speakership. The New York Times’s Kate Zernike reports: “[A]s the only woman at the table for so long, she has become the proxy for all the complicated feelings around women in power. … But there is something different this year. With more women than ever running for the House — most of them Democrats — Ms. Pelosi does not just know her power, to use the slogan she repeats to female candidates, she is declaring it. … And the surging numbers of women turning out in politics this year are speaking up for her, defending her against what they see as Republican-stoked misogyny and ageism.”

-- The new cover of the New Yorker recounts the “demise of the moderate Republican,” specifically focusing on departing Pennsylvania Rep. Ryan Costello. George Packer reports on Costello's time in the House after Trump's victory: “Now that Costello was on the Energy and Commerce Committee, he wanted to work on helping government policy catch up with advances in renewable energy, technology, and health-care delivery. Instead, he found himself swamped with questions about Stormy Daniels and ‘very fine people on both sides.’ He didn’t know how to navigate the Trump era, in which rage constantly emanated from both the left and the right. Being a moderate Republican put him squarely in everyone’s sights.”

-- Trump’s support for delivering more water to farms in California’s Central Valley could help Republican House candidates like Jeff Denham. Dino Grandoni reports: “For decades, farmers in the Central Valley have found themselves knotted in a tug-of-war with coastal residents over how much of California’s finite water supply should be divided among sating city dwellers, supplying habitat for river critters and cultivating crops. … With Republicans holding about a half-dozen vulnerable seats in California ... Democrats believe their path to recapturing the House runs, like San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers that have made the Central Valley into an agricultural powerhouse, right through the Golden State.”

-- SNL got slammed after a cast member mocked a Republican congressional candidate who lost an eye in Afghanistan. Pete Davidson said of Texas candidate Dan Crenshaw, “This guy is kinda cool, Dan Crenshaw. You may be surprised to hear he's a congressional candidate from Texas, and not a hitman in a porno movie,” Davidson said with a laugh. “I'm sorry. I know he lost his eye in war or whatever ... Whatever.” (CBS News)


-- Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican gubernatorial nominee, announced an investigation into the state Democratic Party for an alleged “hacking” attempt into the voter registration system. Avi Selk, Vanessa Williams and Amy Gardner report: “But neither Kemp’s campaign nor his secretary of state’s office provided evidence that Democrats had tried to hack into Georgia’s voter registration system. Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, said in an interview that Democrats were in possession of an email with script attached to it that, if launched, could have been used to extract personal voter registration data. ‘Our position is that these were failed attempts to hack the system,’ Broce said. ‘All the evidence indicates that, and we’re still looking into it.’

Democratic officials, in turn, accused Kemp of ‘defamatory accusations’ and released the email in question, showing that it had been forwarded to a Democratic volunteer by someone not affiliated with the party who was flagging a potential data vulnerability. The volunteer forwarded the email to the party’s voter protection director, who shared it with cybersecurity experts, who in turn alerted Kemp’s office, they said. … By late Sunday, Kemp’s opponent, Stacey Abrams, was trying to reframe the investigation as an example of how she says the Republican has abused his government power as he seeks a higher office.”

-- The hacking allegation was the latest in a string of accusations from both parties that their opponents are not committed to holding fair elections. Gardner reports: “[C]andidates in both parties have traded accusations about threats to ballot integrity amid multiple reports about voting irregularities. The issue has started to affect voter confidence, according to new polling, which shows that a majority of voters in both parties are deeply suspicious about the opposing party’s commitment to fair elections.”

-- Stacey Abrams was also the target of a racist robo-call featuring someone impersonating Oprah Winfrey. Cleve R. Wootson Jr. reports: “‘This is the magical Negro Oprah Winfrey asking you to make my fellow Negress Stacey Abrams the governor of Georgia,’ the robo-call begins, before spewing nearly 60 seconds of racism coupled with a dash of anti-Semitism. Georgians began hearing the call last week, according to the Hill. The video is made by TheRoadToPower.com, an anti-Semitic video podcasting website that the Anti-Defamation League says ‘has zeroed in on divisive political campaigns across the country,’ including two of the three races that feature a black candidate for governor.”

-- Citing no evidence, Trump claimed Abrams would turn Georgia “into a giant sanctuary city for criminal aliens.” Anne Gearan and Felicia Sonmez report: “[A]nd he accused Democrats nationally of inviting illegal immigrants ‘to destroy our country, basically.’ Democrats want to ‘impose socialism and totally erase America’s borders,’ Trump said as he campaigned for [Kemp] … Trump also said that Abrams would oversee a government seizure of firearms, repeating a claim that some of Kemp’s supporters have made. … Abrams favors stricter gun control but told a town hall gathering that ‘I am not planning to confiscate and ban guns.’”

-- Abrams dismissed Republicans’ escalating criticisms of her as evidence they are “getting scared.” Responding to Trump’s assessment of her as “unqualified,” Abrams said, “I am the most qualified candidate. I am a business owner. I am a tax attorney who was trained at Yale Law School. I am a civic leader who helped register more than 200,000 Georgians.” She added, “I think they’re getting scared, and I think desperation tends to lead to comments that aren’t necessarily grounded in reality.” (Felicia Sonmez)

-- Democratic dreams of flipping as many as six Republican governorships are starting to dwindle as several races go down to the wire. Tim Craig reports: “Democrats are especially confident they will defeat Illinois Republican Bruce Rauner, one of the nation’s least-popular governors, and take over the chief executive’s offices in Michigan and New Mexico, which are held by retiring Republicans. But whether Democrats can make dramatic gains — perhaps even reaching parity with Republicans for governorships — will probably come down to a half-dozen races in states that formed the backbone of Trump’s surprise 2016 victory.”

-- GOP strategists say the gubernatorial race has tightened in Florida, where elections have been shaped by “a year of natural and man-made Florida-based disasters,” Joel Achenbach reports. “In the panhandle, where Trump held a rally Saturday, residents are still recovering from Hurricane Michael, which ravaged coastal communities and a military base. The center of the state has seen an influx of thousands of Puerto Ricans — new voters, potentially — since Hurricane Maria devastated their island last year. On both coasts, the noxious and toxic red tide algae has bloomed, while green algae has choked inland waters. What voters decide on this stew of issues and events will have significant consequences on Tuesday, as well as for the 2020 presidential election.”

-- Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue sparked intense blowback after describing the stakes of the Florida gubernatorial race, where Democrat Andrew Gillum hopes to be the state’s first black leader, as “cotton-pickin' important.” “Public policy matters. Leadership matters. And that is why this election is so cotton-pickin' important to the state of Florida," Perdue said at a campaign event for Republican Ron DeSantis. “I hope you all don't mess it up.” (CNN)

-- Trump will campaign today for Ohio gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine, who is trying to walk a fine line between the endorsements of the president and one of his adversaries: current Gov. John Kasich (R). The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jessie Balmert reports: “DeWine hasn't campaigned as a ‘Trump candidate,’ unlike U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci who is trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. DeWine has skipped several Trump rallies during the campaign, often sending GOP lieutenant governor candidate Jon Husted in his stead. Contrast that with [Democrat Rich] Cordray, who stood hand-in-hand with [Obama] at an East Cleveland rally just two months ago.”

-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who has consistently polled ahead despite being a Republican in a deeply blue state, argued Maryland is headed in a positive direction that would continue after he is reelected. Erin Cox and Ovetta Wiggins report: “Comedian Dave Chappelle, who grew up in Silver Spring and has known [Democratic candidate Ben] Jealous since they were children, joined him for a rally in Baltimore County and for door-to-door canvassing in Prince George’s County, a Democratic stronghold. … [Hogan] told supporters on the Eastern Shore on Saturday that most people like the direction of the state under his leadership. ‘It’s really pretty simple. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ he bellowed hoarsely to a crowd of hundreds gathered in Grasonville[.]”


-- The Trump White House is anticipating massive turnover after the elections. Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker report: “Some embattled officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are expected to be fired or actively pushed out by Trump after months of bitter recriminations. Others, like Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, may leave amid a mutual recognition that their relationship with the president has become too strained. And more still plan to take top roles on Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign or seek lucrative jobs in the private sector after nearly two years in government. … Many in Trump’s orbit worry that the administration will face challenges filling the vacancies — especially if Democrats win the House majority and use their oversight powers to investigate the administration and issue subpoenas to top officials. …

“Among those most vulnerable to being dismissed are Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who is overseeing [Bob Mueller’s investigation] … Allies of Sessions and some in the Justice Department believe the attorney general could be fired in humiliating fashion in the days immediately following Tuesday’s elections. The White House has already begun considering replacements, while Trump aides and confidants have cautioned the president he would face a backlash if he fired either of the top two Justice officials, particularly before the midterms. Other Cabinet officials — including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Nielsen — also face uncertain futures.”

-- Republicans’ selections of leaders for the House Judiciary and Oversight committees could illuminate how they intend to handle the Russia investigation moving forward. Karoun Demirjian reports: “[A]ll of the 10 Republican and Democratic congressional officials The Washington Post spoke to for this report … believed the Judiciary and Oversight committees would continue to devote attention to Russia-related matters next year regardless of which party holds the House majority. That means the GOP’s eventual choice of committee leaders will reveal whether House Republicans intend to keep hammering those who challenge the president, and how much sway Trump’s allies will wield over congressional oversight of the administration during the second half of his first term.”


-- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has intensified the kingdom’s efforts to silence critics in a campaign that stretches back decades. Kareem Fahim and Loveday Morris report: “To repatriate its critics, the Saudi government has tried to lure them back or enlisted friendly regional governments to arrest them or even carried out brazen kidnappings in Europe. Saudi nationals have vanished from hotel rooms, been snatched from cars or had planes they were flying on diverted. One Saudi dissident prince said in a court filing that he was injected in the neck and spirited away on a private jet from Geneva to Saudi Arabia. Years later, after he managed to leave the kingdom, he disappeared again and has not been heard from since.”

-- U.S. and Israeli officials fear that fallout from the killing of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi has jeopardized Saudi Arabia’s ability to broker peace in the region. Anne Gearan and Souad Mekhennet report: “The fate of the crown prince ... has implications for the Arab-Israeli peace package developed by the Trump administration and for cooperation among opponents of Iran. … Trump has called Saudi Arabia a key to regional stability and a valuable purchaser of American arms but has said little publicly about what a diminished role for the kingdom or Mohammed might mean for Israel or Arab-Israeli peace. Trump’s chief Mideast envoy, son-in-law Jared Kushner, however, has discussed with diplomats and others how the crown prince’s position might affect U.S. plans, people familiar with the discussions said.”

-- Khashoggi’s sons pleaded for the return of his remains. CNN’s Nic Robertson reports: “Salah and Abdullah Khashoggi, who called their father ‘courageous, generous and very brave,’ said they have endured weeks of anguish and uncertainty following his disappearance and death. ‘I really hope that whatever happened wasn't painful for him, or it was quick. Or he had a peaceful death,’ Abdullah Khashoggi, 33, [said] … Without their father's body, the brothers say their family is unable to grieve or find closure. ‘All what we want right now is to bury him in Al-Baqi (cemetery) in Medina (Saudi Arabia) with the rest of his family,’ Salah said. ‘I talked about that with the Saudi authorities and I just hope that it happens soon.’”

-- Touching on trade in a Shanghai speech, Chinese President Xi Jinping indicated he would not be open to making concessions when he sits down with Trump later this month. Gerry Shih reports: “He made promises to cut tariffs, open up sectors such as health care and education to foreign investment, and import $45 trillion in goods and services over the next 15 years. Then he threw veiled jabs at Trump’s leadership style. … But beyond the promises of boosting Chinese consumption, which has been a long-standing priority for Beijing, Xi stopped short of tackling the politically thorny complaints voiced by major trading partners.”

-- Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska is using his vast influence network to try to avoid the Trump administration’s latest sanctions. The New York Times’s Andrew Higgins and Kenneth P. Vogel report: “Deripaska has been a subsidiary character in [Mueller’s probe], not as a target but because he at one point employed Paul Manafort … But the current lobbying effort on behalf of Mr. Deripaska’s companies still appears to have made substantial headway. In recent months, Mr. Deripaska’s firms have notched initial victories by winning multiple postponements from the Treasury Department of the sanctions on the oligarch’s holding company, EN , and the giant aluminum company it controls, Rusal. Now, with the administration closing in on its latest self-imposed deadline to make a final decision by Dec. 12, there are signs that Mr. Deripaska’s companies could escape the sanctions entirely.”

-- Iran pledged to resist American “psychological war” as economic sanctions against the country once again went into effect. Erin Cunningham reports: “The sanctions reintroduce some of the most crippling restrictions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors and seek to penalize even non-U. S. entities that do business with Iran. ‘We have to make Americans understand that they cannot talk to the great Iranian nation with the language of pressure and sanctions,’ Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at a meeting … ‘They have to be punished,’ Rouhani said, according to a transcript of the remarks posted to the president's website. ‘What the Americans are doing today is putting pressure merely on the people.’”


A Post reporter noted this of Trump's rallies:

Rucker also highlighted the song choice at a Trump rally:

And Rihanna was not pleased:

Trump plans to campaign with Rush Limbaugh. From a CNN reporter:

The president's son will appear at a House Republicans' final rally before Election Day:

A New York Times reporter predicted a late night tomorrow:

A Democratic lawyer who previously represented Hillary Clinton's campaign said legal challenges would likely follow close results:

In Indiana, many early voters did not cast a ballot in 2014 — a good sign for Democrats. This is Joe Donnelly's campaign manager:

The executive director of the Florida Democratic Party expressed confidence about early voting numbers:

The Republican congressional candidate who lost an eye in Afghanistan reacted to SNL mocking his injury:

A McClatchy reporter highlighted this from  Crenshaw's bio:

From a co-host of “The View”:

But a writer for the National Review offered a different take on the SNL controversy:

An Arizona Senate candidate found some time away from the campaign trail:

A Politico reporter tweeted a photo of a very relevant license plate:

Local news is (finally) dominated by the midterms. From a Post reporter:

Novelist Stephen King made a personal argument for voting out a House Republican:

Mexican officials expressed concern for members of the migrant caravan, per a Post reporter:

A Getty Images photographer shared this photo montage from the southern border:

From a Post reporter:


-- “Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto leads his city through its darkest days,” by Gabriel Pogrund: “Before the true toll of that evil was known, before bomb squads had secured the building, before the heart-wrenching condolence calls, before the crying, before the string of funerals, before his city was forced into a near-constant state of mourning, Peduto’s phone rang again. It was [Trump]. … After offering thoughts and prayers — and pledging anything Peduto needed, including a direct line to the White House — Trump veered directly into policy, Peduto recalled. The president, Peduto said, insisted on discussing harsher death penalty legislation as a way to prevent such atrocities. Peduto was stunned into silence.”


“Trump touts dubious African-American support in midterm homestretch,” from Politico: “Trump on Sunday boasted of his support among African-Americans by citing questionable polling data … ‘New Fox Poll shows a ‘40% Approval Rating by African Americans for President Trump, a record for Republicans.’ Thank you, a great honor!’ the president wrote on Twitter. Trump’s post is an apparent reference not to a survey by Fox News, but instead to a recent poll by Rasmussen Reports featured in a Fox News segment on Sunday morning. That Rasmussen survey, a daily tracking poll from Oct. 29, showed that 40 percent of black respondents approved of the president’s performance. A Fox News poll from Oct. 17 found that 29 percent of all nonwhite registered voters approve of Trump’s job performance. Rasmussen's methodology is frequently questioned by mainstream pollsters, and its work has been accused of harboring a pro-Republican bias.”



“Trump Jr. griped that CNN didn’t run his dad’s commercial. ‘This ad is racist,’ the network replied,” from Amy B Wang: “Donald Trump Jr. had a grievance to air Saturday morning. CNN had refused to run an election ad released by [the president] earlier this week, a video that featured Luis Bracamontes — an undocumented immigrant who was convicted in the murder of two California sheriff’s deputies — in an apparent attempt to drum up fears about immigration. ‘I guess they only run fake news and won’t talk about real threats that don’t suit their agenda,’ Trump Jr. tweeted … CNN’s public relations department promptly fired back at the president’s eldest child … ‘CNN has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist,’ CNN PR tweeted. ‘When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined. Those are the facts.’”



Trump will appear at campaign rallies today in Cleveland; Fort Wayne, Ind., and Cape Girardeau, Mo.


“They all say, ‘Speak about the economy. Speak about the economy. Well, we have the greatest economy in the history of our country, but sometimes it’s not as exciting to talk about the economy, right?” — Trump at his West Virginia rally. (Felicia Sonmez and Anne Gearan)



-- Washingtonians should expect morning showers and temperatures in the 50s. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Allow extra time for the commute this morning, as soaking rain lifts through the region — putting down a quick 0.5 to 0.75 inches. The bulk of the rain is likely to have pushed through by noon with just an outside chance of a couple of lingering showers in the afternoon. Highs are mostly in the upper 50s.”

-- The Redskins lost to the Falcons 38-14. (Thomas Boswell)

-- The Wizards lost to the Knicks 108-95. (Candace Buckner)

-- D.C. police arrested a suspect in the 2004 shooting of Kendra Smith. Peter Hermann reports: “Tony Aiken, 47, who had a relationship with Smith that ended a month before she was killed, has been charged with second-degree murder while armed. … Police said in an arrest affidavit filed in court Friday that a detective assigned to review unsolved cases found new leads. The detective also reinterpreted crime scene photos, leading the department to change its initial conclusion that Smith had been fatally shot from outside the vehicle.”

-- A woman was struck by a train after her motorized wheelchair rolled onto the tracks at the Friendship Heights Metro station. The woman was taken to the hospital, where she remains in critical condition. (Faiz Siddiqui)


SNL parodied Democrats' “confidence” about tomorrow's results:

SNL also mocked Fox News's coverage of the caravan:

Democratic congressional candidate MJ Hegar, a veteran, slammed her opponent's comment that he was “at war” with her:

And London began to mark 100 years since the end of World War I: