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The Daily 202: Democrats are going to win House seats today that will be difficult to defend in 2020

Democratic congressional candidate Xochitl Torres Small speaks to supporters Saturday night after a get-out-the-vote rally at the Southwest Environmental Center in Las Cruces, N.M. (James Hohmann/The Washington Post)

with Joanie Greve

With Joanie Greve


LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Xochitl Torres Small is the “it” candidate for Democrats in 2018: She’s young, female, Latino and running for the first time.

President Trump carried New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District by 10 points two years ago, but public and private polling shows Torres Small is neck-and-neck with GOP state Rep. Yvette Herrell going into Election Day.

The 33-year-old water rights lawyer, a former field representative for Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), avoids the Democratic label. Torres Small — who everyone calls “Xochi” — promises to work with both sides to “build bridges,” and she’s running commercials that feature her hunting with a shotgun. “There have been Republicans who have come up to me and said, 'I feel like I'm a person without a party right now,’” she says in her stump speech.

-- Trump carried 70 percent of the 111 districts where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee invested resources this year. “This is one of those districts,” said DCCC chairman Ben Ray Luján, who represents one of New Mexico’s two other House districts and campaigned with Torres Small here this weekend.

During an interview Saturday evening over Turkish coffees at Santorini, a Mediterranean restaurant across the street from New Mexico State University, Luján explained that the Democratic path to power doesn’t simply go through districts Hillary Clinton won that are represented by GOP incumbents.

“Moderate Republicans are voting for our Democratic candidates,” he said. “As a matter of fact, it's the only way that many of our candidates are going to win. … But are they aligning with us for one cycle? Has the president pushed them away? … Will they come back while he's in office? I think those are all important questions that we'll see election after election. We'll see now in these midterms. We'll see again in 2019 with [special elections] and then again in 2020.”

Turnout has already exceeded the 2014 midterms thanks to an activated progressive base, and Luján predicts more New Mexico Democrats will vote in 2018 than did in 2016. “We have not seen this many people show up and knock on doors in a decade,” he said. “I ran for Congress with President Obama in 2008. … I don't want to go that far, but I'm feeling the same kind of energy that I felt then.”

-- In 2008, thanks to that energy, Democrats picked up this enormous district that covers a vast expanse of southern New Mexico. But they lost it just two years later. Other than that single term, Republicans have held this rural seat since Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980.

“If she wins, it would be hard for her to hold it because of the nature of the district and also because the president will be running again next time,” said Harry Teague, the Democrat who held the seat from 2009 to 2011. “On the other hand, if Xochi wins, she’ll have two years to enhance her position by traveling around the district.”

Teague, now 69, returned to the oil and gas repair business after his short stint in the Capitol. He said one major takeaway from his time in Washington was how much is totally beyond the control of any rank-and-file member. The political atmosphere created a strong enough tide that washed him out, regardless of how hard he seemed to work. “There’s a lot of things that you really don’t have any control over,” he said.

-- Teague lost to Rep. Steve Pearce (R) in 2010, who is now giving up the seat to run for governor. Pearce, 71, said he beat Teague because the Democrat voted for cap-and-trade, and energy production is the district’s biggest industry. “He allowed himself to swing into the national Democratic mind-set,” Pearce said in an interview. “That was the signature issue. People felt like he had compromised, and so they replaced him.”

Teague thinks he lost more because of backlash to Obama than any particular vote. “I think this district was having a little bit of buyer’s remorse with Obama being president,” he said. “Xochi wouldn’t have to deal with Obama.”

Regardless of the exact reason, Teague’s defeat in 2010 underscores the challenges that many Democrats who might win in 2018 will face in 2020.

-- I’ve reported from 12 states over the past three weeks. In several of the places I’ve traveled, there have been Democratic challengers who might win today in districts Trump carried but undoubtedly face spirited and expensive fights to survive next time when the president’s name will again appear on the ballot. Think about Anthony Brindisi in Upstate New York, Abigail Spanberger in central Virginia, Elissa Slotkin in the Detroit suburbs, Linda Coleman in the Research Triangle and George Scott in Harrisburg, Pa. There’s also a second scenario in which these folks win a second term but get knocked out in 2022 if Trump loses reelection, and there’s inevitable backlash to whoever replaces him. (That said, boundaries will be redrawn after 2020 as part of reapportionment, so some state legislatures could draw them into slightly easier districts.)

-- During Obama’s first midterms in 2010, Republicans netted 63 seats. This more than wiped out the Democratic gains from 2006 and 2008 combined. That year, 52 incumbent Democrats lost reelection. Of those, 33 had either been elected in 2008 or 2006. Besides Teague, other one-term wonders from Obama’s first Congress (elected in 2008, defeated in 2010) include now-forgotten names like Betsy Markey in Colorado, Suzanne Kosmas in Florida, Walt Minnick in Idaho, Frank Kratovil in Maryland, Mark Schauer in Michigan, John Boccieri in Ohio, Kathy Dahlkemper in Pennsylvania and Glenn Nye in Virginia.

-- Assuming they win the House, the number of Democrats from red districts will create a governing challenge for Democrats. The progressive base and donor community have very different expectations of what a Democratic House will do than many voters who are casting ballots for Democratic candidates as you read this. Many activists want to impeach Trump, but party leaders will want to protect their new members from polarizing votes. Instead, they’re looking to find some areas of common group with the administration. This will lead to tension because some liberals will be alarmed that giving Trump any legislative victories improves his odds of reelection.

-- The DCCC chair said he’s very mindful of this dynamic. He said the new House must pass bills that these Democrats from red districts can tout back home that are related to the issues they’ve run on, such as protecting preexisting conditions, lowering prescription drug prices, a major infrastructure package, campaign finance restructuring, restoring the Voting Rights Act and improving transparency in government.

“It's critically important that, when the American people entrust us with the majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, that we're able to deliver,” said Luján. “Once we pass these packages, we have to get back into these districts and make sure that the people are aware of what we did. … You have to do that with initiative after initiative. I think that's what's going to best position our new members going into 2020.”

-- In that vein, Torres Small says she’s “excited” to work with Republicans, especially those who represent other rural districts. If she wins, she says she would seek to partner with her GOP colleagues to expand access to health care in sparsely populated areas and to make sure that any infrastructure bill does not include cost-sharing requirements that would leave poorer areas behind.

-- Herrell, her Republican opponent, has embraced Trump and says that Torres Small would bring all the progress he’s made to “a screeching halt.” Both Vice President Pence and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway have flown out here to headline rallies for her in recent weeks. In an interview on Sunday afternoon after attending church in Alamogordo, the 54-year-old touted endorsements from the National Rifle Association, the Border Patrol union and antiabortion groups.

She said voters took “a leap of faith” in 2016 when they supported Trump, but that he’s delivered on his promises by negotiating new trade deals, cutting taxes and scaling back regulations. She says most voters in the district think the country is moving the right direction and that the economy is strong, which works to her advantage.

Herrell, whose background is in real estate, tells GOP voters that they cannot count on winning back this seat in two years if she loses the way they did in 2010. “It’s kind of apples and oranges because Trump has had results and Obama didn’t,” she said. “It’s a very important race because this is our only conservative seat in the whole congressional delegation. My fear is, if we lose this seat, we may not get it back.”

-- The race spotlights two other particular difficulties for Democrats in Trump districts:

-- The first is Nancy Pelosi. Herrell said she she’s seen an “awakening” among some Republicans who had been ambivalent about voting as they’ve come to understand this seat could make the difference between whether Pelosi gets her gavel back. “I tell people the only campaign promise I can make with certainty is that I will not vote for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker,” she said. “A vote for Nancy Pelosi is a giant step backwards.” This message, she explained, fires people up as much as any other.

Torres Small is noncommittal about whether she’ll vote for Pelosi as leader. “So,” she said, “I am focused on being a voice for New Mexico and that's why no one — no one! — should take my vote for leadership for granted.”

Turquoise is the Land of Enchantment’s favorite color. As she sat down for an interview over at her campaign headquarters, which used to be an acupuncture center by day and a contra dancing hall by night, Torres Small draped her turquoise sports coat over a turquoise couch.

She said Pelosi mainly comes up in commercials. “Because of the onslaught of ads, every once in a while someone brings it up,” she said. “There was this oil field worker in Carlsbad who is supporting me. He said his brother is a little more conservative than he is, and they've been talking about the race. He said, 'My brother was worried because the ads say you’re a Pelosi liberal.' And he goes, 'I told my brother, 'You're smarter than that. You don't have to fall for those stupid ads.’ I met her. I know that she's a good person.' It's about those personal interactions.”

-- The second challenge is immigration. This border district is 63 percent white, 27 percent Hispanic and 6 percent Native American.

Torres Small carefully threads the needle on the issue, which Trump will ensure stays front and center for at least the next two years. “We need a border that's both strong and vibrant,” she said. “We need border security. We need to keep drug traffickers and human traffickers as well as violent criminals out, and we need to invest in our ports of entry because we depend on a vibrant trade economy with Mexico. And we have to make sure that we're keeping illicit drugs and other things from coming across. A fundamental piece of security is also a clear and moral immigration system. … We are a country of laws. We have to enforce our laws. We also have to honor our New Mexican values. And you can do both.”

Meanwhile, Herrell supports building Trump’s wall. She said people in this district didn’t need the caravan from Honduras to understand the problems that already exist at the southern border, including a shortage of Border Patrol agents and a lack of room in detention centers to hold people seeking asylum. “In some areas here, it’s just a barbed wire fence at the border,” she said. “We have a constitutional responsibility to secure our borders. This isn’t about being humanitarian or not. It’s a question about sovereignty. It’s a matter of national security. … If we lose the House, I fear the border will stay porous.”

The Republican said many of her fellow Hispanics support her because they immigrated to this country legally and “are not excited about people leapfrogging” those who waited their turn and followed the law. Asked if she supports the president’s move to end birthright citizenship, she said she appreciates that Trump has started a dialogue about whether it’s actually protected by the 14th Amendment. “We’ll have to wait and see,” she said. “I’m seeing some people on the fence. … I appreciate the fact that he’s speaking about it publicly.”

-- A final thought: Retirements have put many seats in play this year that would not otherwise have been competitive, including this one. If Democrats win the House, GOP retirements are a huge reason. There are 38 Republican seats where the incumbent opted not to seek reelection. And it’s much easier to pick up an open seat than to defeat a sitting lawmaker.

For example, Pearce got reelected two years ago by 26 points. Torres Small says she wouldn’t have considered running if he was seeking another term. “When the seat came open … I was literally writing a list of people who I thought might be good,” she said. “And there just came this moment where I thought, 'What if that person is me?' And that's a scary conclusion to come to, but I realized that I wouldn't forgive myself if I didn't try.”

A few years ago, Torres Small planned to work on international development in a country like Swaziland. Then she took a class at Georgetown University that changed her life. “The first half was on international development, and the second half was about poverty in the United States,” she remembered. “What I took from the first half was the best progress happens when community leaders work and get things done … And when I got to the second half, it was a reminder of how much work there still is to do at home. That sent me back home to do the work.”

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  1. Amazon intends to split its second headquarters between two cities. The decision to send about 25,000 employees to each city — rather than 50,000 to one city — is expected to ease potential housing and transit issues. (Wall Street Journal)

  2. Turkey said that it has “certain evidence” related to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi that it has not yet released. Turkey’s foreign minister said the evidence would be made public once the investigation is finalized. (Loveday Morris)

  3. The U.S. Olympic Committee moved to revoke USA Gymnastics’s affiliation with Olympic sports. The decision comes amid widespread criticism of how USA Gymnastics handled allegations of rampant sexual abuse against former sports physician Larry Nassar. (Will Hobson and Liz Clarke)

  4. Despite banning the Infowars page, Facebook has allowed another page that sprang up in its place to remain active. Facebook removed four of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s pages over alleged hate speech, but his followers have flocked to NewsWars. Jones claimed he doesn’t run the page, but it is associated with the website, which he said his company operates. (Craig Timberg)

  5. Lawyers for a company that wants to extract uranium in Virginia urged the Supreme Court to consider the motive behind a state ban on uranium mining. The lawyers argue the ban may interfere with federal regulation, depending on why it was passed. But the judges seemed hesitant to parse lawmakers' intentions for passing the ban in the 1980s. (Robert Barnes)

  6. A white woman who called 911 on two black women as they waited for AAA received a misdemeanor warrant for misusing emergency services. Susan Westwood quickly went viral after her racist rant against Mary and Leisa Garris was captured on video. (Alex Horton and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)

  7. An 11-year-old in Arizona allegedly shot and killed his grandmother and then turned the gun on himself after being instructed to clean his room. The boy’s grandfather said he approached his grandmother from behind and shot her in the back of the head as the couple was sitting down to watch television. (Michael Brice-Saddler)

  8. A film of a famous concert Aretha Franklin gave in 1972 will finally see the light of day. The movie, “Amazing Grace,” was held up first because of technical issues and later due to financial problems. (Steven Zeitchik)

President Trump tried to sway voters Nov. 5 during his final rally on the eve of the midterm elections in Cape Girardeau, Mo. (Video: Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)


-- Appearing at three campaign rallies to make his final pitch before Election Day, Trump repeated his claims that Democrats would allow undocumented immigrants to “overwhelm” the country. Elise Viebeck, William Wan and John Wagner report: “Speaking at a rally in Fort Wayne, Ind., Trump criticized Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and, without offering evidence, said Democrats would allow immigrants to ‘overwhelm your schools, your hospitals and your communities’ if the party took control of Congress. At his final stop in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Trump showcased his close ties to Fox News personalities, giving Sean Hannity a live interview before the event, praising Laura Ingraham as she began her 10 p.m. show and calling Hannity and Jeanine Pirro to the stage to praise him. He said Democrats want to make the United States a ‘giant sanctuary for gang members and MS-13 killers[.]’”

-- Trump’s three rallies were all held in states he won in 2016 and where Republicans hope to unseat Democratic senators. Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim report: “White House aides have all but given up on keeping control of the House, and the president’s speeches were meant to shore up challenging Senate races in states where he won overwhelmingly. ... The rallies, loud, raucous affairs, evoked the final days of his 2016 campaign — packed houses, though no snaking lines outside as Trump claimed. Early in the day, the president said that people once didn’t care about the ‘boring’ midterm elections. ‘Now it’s like the hottest thing,’ he said.”

-- If Republicans sustain losses, it may put a dent in Trump’s reputation for being able to defy political gravity. From John F. Harris and Eliana Johnson in Politico Magazine: “This is the essence of the Trump Mystique — a three-year record in which he regularly demonstrated that many of the normal precedents, patterns and truisms of American politics simply do not apply to him. This mystique — Is it real or illusion? Is his patented sorcery still working? — is among the big questions being tested in Tuesday’s elections.”

-- Warnings from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions about potential voter fraud set off alarm bells among voting-rights advocates. Amy Gardner reports: “In a tweet early Monday, Trump said that law enforcement has been ‘strongly notified’ to watch for ‘ILLEGAL VOTING.’ He promised that anyone caught voting improperly would be subjected to ‘Maximum Criminal Penalties.’ Sessions, in a statement laying out the Justice Department’s plans to monitor ballot access on Election Day, said ‘fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.’ … There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States. … Voting rights advocates denounced Trump’s remarks as a blatant attempt to intimidate voters on the eve of Election Day — and part of a pattern among Republicans, they said, to curtail voting access with strict rules that disproportionately affect voters of color who tend to vote Democratic.”

-- Both Trump’s supporters and his opponents express a connection between their political beliefs and patriotism. From the New York Times’s Trip Gabriel: “For Republicans and Mr. Trump, who was joined for his final rallies by the singer Lee Greenwood, who performed his anthem ‘God Bless the USA,’ patriotism in politics often means conspicuous displays of respect for the traditional expressions of America — the flag, the military, the Pledge of Allegiance. … But, particularly in this election season, many Democrats described their vote as a different form of patriotism, an urgent effort to protect and reclaim American democracy. That view tries to redefine a subject Democrats in the past have often ceded, politically, to Republicans.”

-- NBC News, Fox News and Facebook announced they would not air the Trump campaign ad connecting Democrats to a convicted murderer who illegally entered the country. CNN’s Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy report: “NBC was first to announce the change, doing so after a backlash over its decision to show the 30-second spot during ‘Sunday Night Football,’ one of the highest-rated programs on television. ‘After further review,’ NBC said, ‘we recognize the insensitive nature of the ad and have decided to cease airing it across our properties as soon as possible.’ Fox soon followed suit. … Facebook also came under scrutiny for letting the Trump campaign run the ad on its platform. On Monday afternoon the company said ‘this ad violates Facebook's advertising policy against sensational content so we are rejecting it. While the video is allowed to be posted on Facebook, it cannot receive paid distribution.’”

-- Facebook said it has deleted 115 accounts it believes engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Meagan Flynn reports: “Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said the social media giant has so far identified 115 total accounts on Facebook and Instagram that ‘may be linked to foreign entities.’ They include 30 Facebook accounts, mostly in Russian and French, and 85 Instagram accounts, mostly in English. The accounts focused on everything from political debate to celebrities, though it remains unclear the extent to which the users were attempting to influence voters or distribute propaganda, if at all.”

Two years after Donald Trump’s 2016 upset victory, political reporters and pundits are increasingly hedging their predictions about the 2018 midterms. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)


-- Democrats are confident they will regain control of the House, but politicians and pundits are hesitant to make definitive predictions after Trump’s huge 2016 upset. Matt Viser reports: “[D]ozens of key races across the country were toss-ups or close to it. … ‘There’s not the certainty that there normally is,’ said Dave Carney, a longtime Republican consultant. ‘No one knows what the Trump effect is. What the negativity and the yelling and screaming online are going to do.’ … Democrats also cast the impact of the election as existential as they pleaded with voters to deliver a resounding rejection to Trump and his brash brand of politics.”

-- Nancy Pelosi is poised to make a historic comeback as House speaker if Democrats can flip 23 seats. Mike DeBonis reports: “But to do so, Pelosi won’t only have to overcome Republicans. She’ll also have to outmaneuver Democrats like Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.) and House candidate Amy McGrath, who talked about change in a hall full of rural Kentucky Democrats. … As dozens of Democratic candidates have distanced themselves from Pelosi, adding uncertainty to any leadership bid next year, Pelosi has had one response: ‘Just win, baby.’ … [Pelosi said,] ‘I do think that I am best qualified to take us into the future, protect the Affordable Care Act, to do our infrastructure bill and the rest. Stepping down this path, I know the ropes.’”

-- Paul Ryan predicted the GOP would narrowly maintain control of the House. DeBonis reports: “But Ryan, speaking in a Fox News Channel interview, also acknowledged that his party could well lose their 23-seat majority and suggested, if so, historical forces would be to blame. ‘History is not our friend,’ he told host Bret Baier, noting that a first-term president’s party on average loses 32 seats. ‘A couple of our seats are already gone because of recent redistricting that was done in, say, Pennsylvania. So we already are standing against the historical trend that cuts against us.’”

-- If Democrats take the House and Republicans keep the Senate, as many expect, divided government could be unable to produce any major legislation. From Paul Kane: “If Democrats seize the House majority, it will mark the third time in 12 years that the chamber switched control, a level of voter volatility not seen since just after World War II. ... Each House and Senate leader starts off a new Congress believing he or she can retain — or win over — the majority in their chamber and charts a course to do so. In modern politics that means, first things first, driving up the energy of liberal or conservative base voters, which by definition makes bipartisan compromise more difficult.”

-- Politico’s Charlie Mahtesian lists 10 places that could help determine control of the House (and play outsize roles in some gubernatorial and Senate races): Upstate New York, downstate Illinois, the Delaware Valley region, Orange County, Calif., metro Atlanta, Las Vegas, Maricopa County, Ariz., North Jersey, Oakland County, Mich., and greater Houston.

-- Control of the House may be determined by those who choose not to vote, particularly in critical suburban districts. Marc Fisher and Kristine Phillips report: “For Democrats to take control of either chamber of Congress, they must activate masses of voters — particularly young people and minorities — who in the past have not bothered to show up. … And since Republicans, too, need support from people who usually don’t vote — or vote only in presidential years — to maintain their majorities, both parties are spending millions to try to move the uninvolved into the fray, if only just this once.”

-- Bad weather is expected across the East Coast, which could hurt turnout and potentially aid Republicans. The New York Times’s Maggie Astor reports: “A strong cold front could cause rain and wind anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard, from the Florida Panhandle all the way up to Maine, said Tim Loftus, a data scientist and meteorologist at AccuWeather. There will most likely be severe thunderstorms from North Carolina up to South Jersey. … Multiple studies have shown that bad weather on Election Day can decrease turnout, which in turn tends to help Republicans, because the groups most likely to be deterred from voting are those that tend to vote Democratic.”

-- The Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman described the House battleground map as “wider and more lopsided than at any time since 2010.” He writes: “We rate 75 races as competitive, including 70 GOP-held seats and just five held by Democrats. A ‘Red Exodus’ is contributing to the potential ‘Blue Wave:’ of Republicans' 41 open seats, 15 are rated as Toss Ups or worse, and another five are only in Lean Republican. Just by winning all of the races at least ‘leaning’ their way, Democrats would net 16 of the 23 seats they need for a majority.”

-- Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) attracted even more controversy after he said he hopes Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor “will elope to Cuba.” Felicia Sonmez reports: “At an appearance in Hampton, Iowa, King was discussing the Supreme Court and said that he was optimistic that ‘we’ll have a 7-2 court’ after Tuesday’s midterms, according to [The] Weekly Standard ... King added that perhaps ‘Kagan and Sotomayor will elope to Cuba,’ referring to President Barack Obama’s two Supreme Court appointments.” But many Republicans continue to support King — including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who shot a video endorsement for the congressman.

-- A county in King’s district that has a large immigrant community will be monitored for compliance with federal voting laws. The Des Moines Register’s William Petroski and Barbara Rodriguez report: “Federal personnel will be sent to northwest Iowa's Buena Vista County, which has a large population of immigrants employed in agriculture and the meat packing industry in the Storm Lake area. … There are about 20,000 people in Buena Vista County. About 26 percent are identified as Hispanic or Latino, 9 percent Asian, 3 percent black or African-American, more than 1 percent native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and more than 1 percent two or more races, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many of the immigrants are not native English speakers.”

-- Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has tried to win reelection despite his recent indictment by running “one of the most brazenly anti-Muslim smear campaigns in recent history,” the Atlantic’s McKay Coppins writes. “In the final weeks of the election, Hunter has aired ominous ads warning that his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, is ‘working to infiltrate Congress’ with the support of the Muslim Brotherhood. He has circulated campaign literature claiming the Democrat is a ‘national security threat’ who might reveal secret U.S. troop movements to enemies abroad if elected. While Hunter himself floats conspiracy theories from the stump about a wave of ‘radical Muslims’ running for office in America, his campaign is working overtime to cast Campa-Najjar as a nefarious figure reared and raised by terrorists. As multiple fact-checkers in the press have noted, these smears have no basis in reality.”

-- The next class of House Democrats is projected to become “younger, more female [and] more racially diverse,” Elise Viebeck reports. “The story might not be the same for Republicans. While female and minority lawmakers prepare to expand their influence within the opposition party, the House GOP is projected to become more white, male and conservative after its female and minority members face strong challengers at the ballot box on Tuesday. The result could be two parties whose image and ideology diverge in powerful ways ahead of the 2020 presidential race, when the increasingly white GOP could face an increasing demographic disadvantage even as the center and far left battle for control among far more multiethnic Democrats.”

-- House Democrats’ campaign arm has used a generous interpretation of campaign finance law to pay the rent for dozens of 2018 candidates’ campaign offices. Politico’s Scott Bland reports: “The spending on 52 offices around the country, known internally as DCCC ‘Battlestations,’ comes from a special fund established under a 2014 law that the DCCC can use only to maintain party headquarters buildings — not for other conventional campaign activities. … The move came with the blessing of the committee’s lead attorney, Marc Elias, who helped congressional leaders write the law that established the party building funds.”


-- Democrats believe they have the slimmest of chances at retaking the Senate by sweeping races in Texas, Nevada and Arizona. The New York Times’s Lisa Lerer and Jose A. Del Real report: “Nevada polls recently have shown (Dean) Heller and the Democratic nominee, Representative Jacky Rosen, trading off in the lead; Arizona polls have shown a neck-and-neck race between the Democrat, Representative Kyrsten Sinema, and the Republican, Representative Martha McSally. The mere fact that the Republican Senate candidates haven’t put away the race in those two states has been enough to lead some Democrats to think that Tuesday's election could lead to a very late night, with the East Coast waiting for the results out West to see who controls the Senate.”

-- The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer writes that Texas’s strict voting laws have suppressed Latino turnout in the state. “Republican dominance of Texas, which traces back at least as far as 1994, the last time a Democrat held statewide office, predates the party’s recent push to restrict the franchise. But if the party believed that dominance would continue unchallenged indefinitely, those restrictions wouldn’t have been necessary. Demographics aren’t destiny, but the Republican Party has approached its counter-majoritarian social engineering under the assumption that they are.”

-- Texas's ACLU criticized the timing of a Border Patrol “crowd control exercise” today near a Hispanic neighborhood in El Paso. An agency spokesman said there was “no link” to Election Day, but the executive director of the ACLU in Texas said, “The location, next to a totally Hispanic neighborhood, is suspicious. The timing of this — Election Day — is suspicious. This administration, and by extension the Abbott administration, have done quite enough to intimidate voters without staging military rehearsals on the day our nation exercises our most important democratic obligation: voting.” (Robert Moore)

-- Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who is widely expected to lose her reelection bid in North Dakota, said she has felt a “surge” of support in the campaign’s final days. The Grand Forks Herald’s John Hageman reports: “Heitkamp rallied a couple hundred supporters in a Bismarck union hall and Kevin Cramer cast his ballot less than a mile away Monday morning, Nov. 5, as the race for U.S. Senate hurtled toward the finish line. Heitkamp, a Democratic senator seeking a second term in a reliably red state, was on the final leg of her 25-stop statewide bus tour ahead of Tuesday's midterm election.”

-- No matter who wins the Florida Senate race, the result could end the career of one of the state’s political heavyweights. The AP’s Gary Fineout reports: “Florida voters are choosing whether to keep three-term incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson or replace him with Republican Gov. Rick Scott. … Nelson has withstood years of GOP dominance to remain the only statewide Democrat, while Scott is a two-term governor who was urged by [Trump] to take on Nelson. A loss by the 76-year-old Nelson would likely end his political career and make it nearly impossible for Democrats to retake the Senate. If Scott loses, it could be a blow to his future political ambitions.”


-- Georgia officials rushed to fix security problems with the state’s voting system hours after the office of Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican gubernatorial nominee, insisted they did not exist. Jack Gillum, Jessica Huseman, Mike Tigas, Jeff Kao and Stephen Fowler report for ProPublica: “ProPublica found the website was returning information in such a way that it revealed hidden locations on the file system. Computer security experts had said that revelation could give an intruder access to a range of information, including personal data about other voters and sensitive operating system details. ProPublica’s attempt to take the next step — to poke around the concealed files and the innards of the operating system — was blocked by software fixes made that evening. According to [a] tipster’s recipe, it was also possible to view a voter’s driver’s license, partial Social Security number and address.”

-- Georgia insiders increasingly believe the gubernatorial race will head to a December runoff. The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer report: “The race is that close in [Republicans’] private polling and, while Mr. Kemp enjoys a slight advantage in the G.O.P. surveys, the libertarian on the ballot, Ted Metz, could take about 2 percent of the vote. (In Georgia’s 2014 gubernatorial race, the Libertarian nominee earned 2.36 percent of the vote.) That could keep either major candidate from reaching 50 percent on Election Day if the race remains neck-and-neck.”

-- Kemp tried to tie Democrat Stacey Abrams to the New Black Panther Party. Amy B Wang and Vanessa Williams report: “‘Abrams is TOO EXTREME for Georgia!’ Kemp tweeted Monday night, linking to an article that showed armed New Black Panther Party members posing with an Abrams campaign sign.In a Facebook post, the Atlanta chapter of the New Black Panther Party said it did not work for either campaign when it planned its ‘Armed Rally Against Voter Suppression.’ … The Southern Poverty Law Center has described the New Black Panther Party as ‘a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization,’ and members of the original Black Panther Party have rejected the new group.”

-- Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics predict that Democrats will pick up 10 governorships. They write: “For all the focus on the House and the Senate, the real story of the night may be in the gubernatorial races, where we see the Democrats poised to make big gains. … More than half of the Democratic pickups could come in the Midwest. … Besides the national environment, there may just be a fatigue with eight years of conservative GOP rule in places like Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, particularly in a time of conservative governance in Washington.”

-- Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum got some celebrity assistance in Florida as a Quinnipiac poll showed him leading Republican Ron DeSantis by seven points. Amy B Wang reports: “On Monday evening, DJ Khaled tweeted a photo of himself and the rapper Fat Joe arriving in Florida’s capital, where he was scheduled to appear at a ‘Bring It Home Midnight Rally’ for Gillum, headlined by Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. Other guests include Tiffany Haddish, Will Packer and Monica. … The star-studded rally, scheduled to last until the early hours of Election Day, will come a day after Gillum received the endorsement of pop megastar Rihanna, who urged Florida voters to ‘make history this election.’” 

-- The Iowa governor’s race has become the most expensive in state history. The Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel reports: “After millions of dollars were raised, hours of television ads run and myriad candidate stops across the state, voters are deciding whether Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds should continue to control the state's highest office or whether it should be turned over to Democrat Fred Hubbell. Hubbell has waged a campaign focused on reversing many of the same policies Reynolds champions. The outcome has broad implications for a range of high-profile issues, including the state's privatization of its Medicaid program, funding levels for public education and state tax policy.”


-- Newly released emails show Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke violated an ethics pledge he signed. Juliet Eilperin reports: “At issue is an August 2017 email exchange with David Taylor, the city planner for Whitefish, Mont. Zinke authorized him to access the property and explained that he was engaged in negotiations with a real estate developer over building a parking lot on his foundation’s land. But under an ethics pledge he signed Jan. 10, 2017, Zinke vowed to step down from his position as president of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation after winning confirmation and refrain from participating in any matters concerning the group for one year. … Zinke’s involvement in a land development deal involving the park, backed by David J. Lesar, chairman of the oil services firm Halliburton, is under scrutiny from the Justice Department and the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General.”

-- Trump said he was “going to look at any reports” that emerge about Zinke’s alleged ethical misconduct. Politico’s Zack Colman, Eliana Johnson and Ben Lefebvre report: “‘I'm going to look at any reports, I'll take a look,’ Trump told reporters when asked if he was troubled by recent news reports about Zinke … ‘Certainly, I would not be happy with that at all. But I will take a look. But he has done a very good job as secretary.’ Trump’s words fell short of the glowing tributes he offered last spring to a similarly troubled Cabinet member — Scott Pruitt … And they come amid growing signs that Zinke’s hold on his job may be as tenuous as it was for Pruitt[.]”

-- Trump allies fear Donald Trump Jr. and Roger Stone could be exposed to more legal danger if Bob Mueller releases a report on his investigation and Democrats win the House. Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reports: “‘I’m very worried about Don Jr.,’ said another former West Wing official who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The possible exposure would be that Mueller would demonstrate that Don Jr. perjured himself to investigators when he said he didn’t tell his father beforehand about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting to gather ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. One potential sign of how seriously Trumpworld is treating the Mueller threat has been the near total silence of Rudy Giuliani. A constant presence on cable news over the summer, Giuliani hasn’t been on television in weeks.”

-- Wilbur Ross has taken on a more prominent role in trade policy than any other commerce secretary in recent memory. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Devin Leonard and Jenny Leonard report: “He’s become the most high-profile Commerce secretary in decades. … When he tapped Ross in late 2016 for the position, the president-elect called him ‘a killer’ and promised Ross would be a key adviser in the crusade to throw over the chessboard when it comes to America’s trade relationships. ‘Wilbur’s at all the meetings,’ says Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council. ‘All the meetings. He’s been a big player in the Trump administration.’”

General Terrence John O'Shaughnessy said Oct. 29 the Trump administration is preparing to send thousands of additional troops to the Mexico border. (Video: The Washington Post)


-- The Pentagon pushed back against the Trump administration’s proposal to use the U.S. military to build detention facilities at the southern border. Reuters’s Phil Stewart reports: “The U.S. military declined a draft proposal from the Department of Homeland Security last month to build housing for detained migrants during early discussions in the Trump administration about the military’s role on the border ... By voicing its opposition, the Pentagon helped ensure that its mission was tailored to only providing support to U.S. government personnel on the border ... After initial discussions about the issue, there was no mention of troops building migrant housing facilities when the DHS later made a formal request to the Pentagon for help on the border.”

-- Photos taken of Customs and Border Protection agents at the southern border show them carrying weaponry more commonly seen during combat missions. Alex Horton reports: “There are no indications that [members of the migrant caravan] pose a threat that would necessitate long- and short-range tactical engagements. But CBP agents have drilled with armored vehicles, riot gear, helicopters and more, photos from the border have shown.”

-- A North Carolina federal judge issued a scathing decision over Interior's management of the American red wolf after the agency gave landowners permission to shoot the critically endangered animal. Darryl Fears reports: “Chief Judge Terrence W. Boyle reminded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which gave the authorization, of its own statement in 1999. ‘Wildlife are not the property of landowners but belong to the public and are managed by state and federal governments for the public good,’ he wrote. Boyle ruled that a temporary injunction issued against Fish and Wildlife’s shoot-to-kill authorization in 2016 is permanent. The agency must prove that a wolf is a threat to humans or livestock before it can make a decision to take its life.”

-- At the trial over the planned addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, a statistical data expert blasted Wilbur Ross’s claim that including the question would not harm the count. Edith Honan and Tara Bahrampour report: “D. Sunshine Hillygus, a professor at Duke University who studies survey methodology, repeatedly pointed to the Census Bureau’s own research to demonstrate that asking about an individual’s citizenship status would discourage participation among noncitizens and Latinos. Hillygus cited the bureau’s research predicting that between about 5 and 12 percent of noncitizen households would decline to participate, based on the bureau’s analysis of the 2010 Census and long-form survey. She said the estimate was ‘conservative.’”


Sean Hannity appeared alongside Trump at his rally last night in Missouri:

But a CNN reporter noted this:

Trump's campaign manager slammed Facebook, CNN and NBC News for refusing to air an ad linking Democrats to a convicted murdered who entered the country illegally:

But a Time reporter highlighted a network that Parscale left off his list:

An LA Times editor challenged Trump's comment on his rally crowd size:

Trump had to interrupt one of his rallies, per a CBS News reporter:

A CNBC reporter corrected Trump's statements on voter fraud:

A former chief of staff to Al Gore and Joe Biden pushed back against Trump's tweet on “ILLEGAL VOTING”:

The Daily Show drew attention to this 2011 Trump tweet:

A CNN anchor provided this cheat sheet of critical House races:

Minnesota's secretary of state expressed astonishment at early voting numbers:

Beto O'Rourke got some celebrity assistance for his last day of campaigning:

Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood whose mother was a Democratic governor of Texas, offered some words of encouragement to O'Rourke:

The president's daughter and senior adviser joined him on the campaign trail:

And his sons rallied people to go to the polls and vote Republican:

Actress Olivia Wilde campaigned for her mother, Democratic congressional candidate Leslie Cockburn, in Virginia:

The son of Alabama's Democratic gubernatorial nominee, like many of us, appears ready for this election cycle to end:

And in his final Facebook post before he was killed in Afghanistan, Brent Taylor encouraged all Americans to exercise their “precious” right to vote:


-- “Laws and disorder,” by Paul Kane and Derek Willis: “For more than 200 years, Congress operated largely as the country’s founders envisioned — forging compromises on the biggest issues of the day while asserting its authority to declare war, spend taxpayer money and keep the presidency in check. Today, on the eve of a closely fought election that will determine who runs Capitol Hill, that model is effectively dead.”

-- NBC News, “In secret chats, trolls struggle to get Twitter disinformation campaigns off the ground,” by Ben Collins: “In a private ‘strategy chat’ with more than 40 far-right trolls, one user who tried to create a new Twitter account to spread disinformation ahead of Tuesday’s midterms elections described how he had hit an immediate roadblock: Twitter banned him for deliberately giving out the wrong election date. … The remark … suggested that the changes that Twitter has undertaken in the past two years to avoid a repeat of the 2016 U.S. election may be working.”


“LePage says he’s ‘done with politics’ and headed to Florida for retirement — and maybe teaching,” from the Portland Press Herald: “Gov. Paul LePage [R-Maine] said Monday that he plans to move to Florida for tax reasons and teach at a university there, regardless of who Mainers elect to succeed him. ‘I’ll be a resident of Florida if Janet Mills wins, I can promise you that,’ LePage, referring to the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, said with a smile one day before Maine voters head to the polls. ‘I’ll also be in Florida if Shawn Moody wins because I am going to retire and go to Florida,’ he said. ‘I am done with politics. I have done my eight years. It’s time for somebody else.’ … ‘I’ll tell you very, very simply: I have a house in Florida. I will pay no income tax and the house in Florida’s property taxes are $2,000 less than we were paying in Boothbay,’ said LePage, 70. ‘At my age, why wouldn’t you conserve your resources and spend it on your family instead of on taxes?’”



“‘Certain Readers may have a Nervous Reaction’: The New York Times Election Needle is Back, with a Few New Safety Features,” from Vanity Fair: “The needle, which debuted with Trump vs. Clinton, is a symbol of the speed with which political hopes can be upended, as well as the maddening uncertainty of polling — and liberals are still deeply haunted by it. On November 8, 2016, the Times’s pre-election data initially showed Hillary Clinton with an 85 percent chance of victory. … What did it mean that the needle, mathematically sound as it was, had ended up so far away from that original 85 percent? … The needle also appeared to signify a gap between a set of newer, next-generation Times employees who were visibly distressed over Trump’s win, and the journalistic stoicism of the paper’s old guard. ‘When the needle started twitching toward Trump, you could tell who was watching, because they were the ones who started getting distraught,’ one editor recalled. ‘There were people crying in the newsroom that night.’”



For Election Day, Trump has no events on his public schedule.


“I would like to have a much softer tone. I feel to a certain extent I have no choice, but maybe I do and maybe I could have been softer from that standpoint.” — Trump on what he regrets from his first two years in office. (Reuters)



-- Washingtonians should prepare for showers and even storms this afternoon, but skies should clear in the evening. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Drizzle and light showers in the early to middle morning, along with scattered patchy fog. Temperatures warm up from the 40s and 50s to the upper 60s later this afternoon while winds strengthen. As a cold front approaches, we need to watch for thunderstorms between noon and 3 p.m. A few isolated storms could be strong, with damaging winds and heavy downpours, especially southeast of the metro area. Look for clearing in the late afternoon and early evening.”

-- The Capitals beat the Oilers 4-2. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

-- A major University of Maryland donor urged state leaders to keep Wallace D. Loh as university president. Susan Svrluga reports: “Brendan Iribe, whose $31 million donation in 2014 was the largest gift in the university’s history until last year, brought a letter to Maryland leaders urging Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and others to keep Loh in his post. … The regents overstepped their authority, Iribe wrote. ‘Because of the improper handling, the credibility and reputation of the university have been jeopardized and we may have lost a great president,’ he said.”

-- An Amtrak train’s collision with a truck caused a diesel fuel leak and rail delays during yesterday’s evening rush hour. Passengers on the train were transferred to a nearby center as the fire department investigated the leak. (Justin Wm. Moyer and Clarence Williams)


Late-night hosts expressed excitement and anxiety about reaching Election Day:

Trump said before introducing his daughter that people aren't “allowed” to describe women as beautiful anymore:

President Trump joked about not calling his daughter Ivanka beautiful before introducing her at a Nov. 5 rally in Cleveland. (Video: The Washington Post)

Barack Obama visited a Democratic field office in Virginia:

Former president Barack Obama visited a Democratic field office in Fairfax, Va. on Nov. 5 to thank staff for the effort shown throughout the election season. (Video: Reuters)

And scientists successfully performed an underwater ultrasound on a whale shark:

Scientists have successfully completed ultrasounds on free-swimming whale sharks in the Galápagos Islands. (Video: Galapagos Whale Shark Project)