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On The Hill

PINK POWER: Something interesting happened on the campaign trail the night before Election Day.  President Trump seemed to recognize he had a problem with female voters.

Ivanka Trump, who has maintained a low profile this campaign season, appeared alongside her dad at an Indiana rally along with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and press secretary Sarah Sanders. Sanders opened her remarks with a joke that she “wasn't used to addressing friendly crowds,” a line she's been employing in her stump for candidates around the country. 

Real talk: The appearance by the trio of female Trump advisers suggests the White House knows that women could cost Republicans the House when voters go to the polls today — although the GOP is still expected to hold on to and perhaps gain a few seats in the Senate.

  • Most wanted: A White House official told us that Ivanka, Conway and Sanders are the three most requested White House surrogates by Republicans. Conway and Sanders have headlined dozens of fundraisers and events this fall, while Ivanka has campaigned with a handful of candidates with whom she's developed close relationships. 
  • Different tune: The trio has struck a dramatically different tone from their boss. They've remained focused on singing personalized praises and honed in on economic security. At a rally for Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) last week, Ivanka applauded him for supporting the GOP tax bill and the $2,000 child tax credit. Headlining an event for Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), Sanders spoke of Tenney's commitment to small businesses and praised her for being a mother: "She's a mom. I can assure you that there's nobody better to run government than a mom," she said. 

Real numbers: Polls tell the story of a huge gender gap that could be the GOP's undoing.

  • A new CNN/SSRS poll released Monday showed Democrats leading a generic ballot test by 13 points. But women favored the Democratic candidate by 27 points. 
  • The latest Post/ABC poll showed Democrats with a 7-point edge on the generic ballot. Women back Democratic candidates by 14 points, and college-educated white woman support Democrats by 16 points.
  • Non-college educated white women favor Republicans by 12 points.
  • Hmmm: The White House political shop dismissed concerns over the gender gap to Power Up earlier in October: “If Republican women are more energized to support Trump's policies than Democratic women are to oppose them, then that's a good thing,” the White House official told us.

Tone deaf?: Trump conceded in an interview yesterday with a Sinclair Broadcasting affiliate that his tone during his first two years in office was harsh.

  • “I would like to have a much softer tone. I feel to a certain extent I have no choice, but maybe I do,” Trump said.
  • From a source close to the White House: “The White House has a female validation issue now. No one speaks to independent women — that's a big problem,"the source said. “The White House has no messaging wizard, Absent of someone offering a message, Trump will turn to a gut feeling. The president is about to learn that his game needs to evolve or risk being a one-term president.” 
  • Bottom line: “Your game needs to change if you have the best economy in a generation and you couldn't close the gap with women or minorities,” the source added. 

 

 

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The People

Lowering expectations: Republican political operatives we talked to yesterday weren't very optimistic in their hopes of retaining the House majority. 

  • “This thing is cooked,” a senior GOP operative working on House races told Power Up. “The last minute deluge of Democratic spending from outside groups broke our back. I think these GOP incumbents in the mid-40s are in real trouble. New Jersey and Pennsylvania will be bloodbaths for us.”
  • “Sounds like the sky is falling for most Republicans,” another GOP operative working on House and Senate races said. 

They're nervously watching: Rep. Garland “Andy” Barr’s (R) race against Amy McGrath (D) in Kentucky's 6th district that Trump won handily by 15 points. And then in Virginia, voters will decide whether to keep three endangered GOP incumbents and swing a GOP open seat to Democrats. 

  • GOP operative: “We’ll know at 7 p.m. Eastern time — if [Barr] wins, we get to play on to the next round of the NCAA tournament, but if he loses, we’re out.”
  • Per a GOP Virginia native: The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Patrick Wilson covered Stephen K. Bannon on Saturday, who campaigned for Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) in the 7th district, “I will guarantee you, if we lose this district we’re going to lose the House,” Bannon said of Brat's seat. “There’s no doubt. This is an absolute bellwether of the entire country. Plus if you lose this and you lose it early, it’s going to be used as a club beating on people all night."
  • Dispatch from a Dem canvasser in Va.: “The people in [Brat challenger Abigail Spanberger's] Culpeper office said they've had so many volunteers they've been able to knock on doors they hadn't been able to get to in 10 years. They had 250 people volunteering yesterday while only 32 people showed up  to an event with [Bannon] right across the street.” 

Outside the Beltway

OFF THE BEATEN PATH: Some candidates and issues failed to garner much national attention as Trump, former president Barack Obama and some star candidates sucked up the oxygen. Here are a few:

  • A Democrat in Trump Country: Richard Ojeda is a Democrat running an improbably competitive race in West Virginia's 3rd, a district that went for Trump by 49 points. Even more bizarre: Ojeda, a veteran who reportedly campaigns in Army fatigues, voted for Trump himself in 2016. He's hoping his populist, pro-coal platform will propel him to an upset. 
  • The first Muslim-American congresswomen: Democrats Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are poised to become the country's first Muslim-American women in Congress. The Midwestern candidates have campaigned together and are both heavily favored tonight.
  • The first Korean American congresswoman: Republican Young Kim, who could be the first Korean-American congresswoman, is a California House contender has distanced herself from Trump and has stated support for DACA
  • Don't sleep on the rest of the ballot: Voters in 37 states will consider 155 ballot questions, The Post's Kate Rabinowitz reported, covering everything from the Ten Commandments to bingo and abortion rights to redistricting. Ballot measures, which sometimes amend state constitutions, can be just as — or more — consequential.

In the Media

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING: We asked some of The Post's political reporters and editors about the races they'll be watching on Election Day. Here's what they said: 

  • Dan Balz, chief correspondent: “The biggest change Tuesday could be in the states, with Democrats poised to gain governorships and possibly quite a few. That could have an impact on 2020 but it would certainly have an impact on the post-2020 redistricting battles, which Republicans won handily after 2010."
  • Paul Kane, senior congressional correspondent: “I’m watching three Republican incumbents who should give us early insight into the House majority. First, I want to see how Rep. Scott Taylor is faring in his southeastern Virginia district. And then a pair of South Florida districts Republicans had long thought were already put away: Reps. Brian Mast and Mario Diaz-Balart.  All three of these Republicans have their own unique brands, but if they’re losing, it suggests that isn’t enough in these turbulent times."
  • Dave Weigel, national political correspondent: “I'm selfishly curious about a few of the final races I checked in on [personally] in Michigan and New Jersey. In both states, we'll get a very good look at whether the suburbs have broken away from Republicans, or whether, contrary to last weekend's polling, the partisans came home."
  • Mike DeBonis, congressional reporter: “Three House races I'm going to watch early in the night. VA-10: If Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) pulls ahead, or is losing only in the low single digits, it will be an immediate sign the 'blue wave' will not be materializing. KY-06: [McGrath's] challenge to [Barr] will show the impact of viral videos and small-dollar fundraising ...  IN-02: If Democrat Mel Hall can win this seat from Rep. Jackie Walorski — or even keep it close — the tsunami could be coming in.”
  • Ovetta Wiggins, Maryland politics reporter: “In Maryland, history will be made. Voters will either return Gov. Larry Hogan to the governor's mansion, making him the first Republican in 60 years to win reelection or they will elect Democrat Ben Jealous — a former NAACP president who is making his first run for public office — as the state's first African American governor."
  • Lyndsey Layton,  D.C. and Virginia politics editor: “Virginia has four closely contested House races we're covering, the most in decades. Because polls close relatively early — 7 p.m. on the East Coast — if there is a blue wave, we'll see it first in Virginia.”

Here's some Election Day reading from The Post: 

Viral

RETURN OF THE NEEDLE:  The notorious New York Times forecast needle — which inspired hashtags, Twitter accounts, Halloween costumes and rollercoasters of emotion — is back.