Capping a tumultuous campaign, President Donald Trump makes one final swing through three states on Monday, as both parties rush to the finish line in the 2018 mid-term elections, with control of both the House and Senate hanging in the balance, amid dramatic interest from voters, exemplified by long lines in early voting across the country this weekend.
"This is one of the most important elections of our lifetime," the President told a Sunday airport rally in Macon, Georgia, as he tried to boost a GOP candidate for Governor in Georgia, and then later looked to boost a Republican running for Senate in Tennessee.
Before leaving the White House on Sunday, the President again expressed confidence in GOP election fortunes this week.
"I think we're going to do well in the House. I think we're going to do really well in the Senate," the President told reporters.
We will find out that answer on Tuesday night.
1. Trump makes final push for GOP Senate. While Republicans are favored to keep control of the Senate, the President has spent most his last week on the campaign trail trying to make sure that does happen, as he will finish his travel on Monday by making another stop in Indiana, where Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) is in a close race, and in Missouri, where Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO) is trying to stave off a strong GOP challenge. In recent days, the President also targeted Sen. Jon Tester in Montana, Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida, and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Democrats have to not only hold on to all of those very close seats, but then win at least two of four GOP seats in Texas, Tennessee, Nevada and Arizona. Some say it's like drawing an inside straight.
2. Long lines for early voting everywhere. You don't have to look very hard to find the evidence of voters who want to make sure they get to the polls, as early voting has surged in a number of states, with big increases in the number of younger voters, and a lot of people who did not vote at all in the 2014 mid-term election. Both parties make the case that their people are turning out in large numbers - but you never know what's going to happen on Election Day, and how well the two parties will do with their remaining voters. But it's obvious, the electorate is energized in an election which is often characterized as a referendum on the President of the United States.
3. What issues are the candidates talking about? This is a fascinating graphic put together for a report by Bloomberg on ads being run on television. Health care remains the biggest issue by far, as Democrats have embraced that issue much more than in the 2010 or 2014 mid-terms, when there was a tendency to avoid the Obama health law. The health issue - especially on pre-existing conditions - has put some Republicans in a bit of a bind, as Democrats correctly point out that the GOP has tried to repeal Obamacare repeatedly, which included protections on pre-existing conditions. Democrats have not only been hammering on health care, but they've had the edge on the airwaves as well overall - the ads being broadcast by one major media group in 2018 have been running about two-to-one in favor of the Democrats, as they have poured millions more into the campaign.
4. What about the House? On the sidelines of my kids' games this weekend, some of the other parents weren't talking about the score, but wanted to know what I thought about the fight for control of the Congress. Everyone agrees that Democrats will pick up seats in the House. The only question is do they get to 23 seats - which is their magic number to take control - or do they fall short, and leave the GOP in power. The seats to watch the most are held by Republicans in suburban areas, many of which voted for Trump, but now are seeing an avalanche of Democratic money and interest. The list of seats considered to be 'toss-ups' is almost all Republican seats. Go back to 2010 when Republicans won, and it was almost all Democratic seats. The only question is how many the Democrats win on Tuesday night.
5. Democrats also look to win in races for Governor. Not talked about as much nationally - but still very important politically - are a number of races for Governor which look to be trending to Democrats, along with a lot of state legislative races. Back in 2010, Republicans had big gains across the board like that in the big Tea Party election, and many Democrats are hoping for their own example on Tuesday. It's possible that Democrats could win the race for Governor in a series of states where President Trump won in 2016, like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, as well as two big races in Florida and Georgia. Tuesday is a big day for more than just President Trump and the GOP Congress.
6. Watching where the undecided voters go. Whether you 'believe' the polls or not, you can certainly look at polls of all types, and get a feel for what's going on with independent voters, and undecideds. In many recent polls, it was obvious that among undecideds, there was definitely a lean toward the Democrats in terms of what they would in Congress. Women voters are a big key in the 2018 elections, because many have been turned off by President Trump's actions and rhetoric. Here's one example of how a series of polls showed how independent women voters went from the sidelines to the Democrats.
7. It's also a big week for women candidates. As you go through the ballot choices in Congress and other major races, it doesn't take long to be struck by something very obvious - a lot of women are running for office this year. A lot of them have raised buckets of money. And a lot of them are poised to win on Tuesday. The other thing which is obvious is - the vast majority of them are Democrats. Of the 435 House races, Democrats have 187 women running, compared to just 52 for the GOP. That's a stunning number.
8. Democrats are hopeful - but not optimistic. Saturday Night Live nailed the feelings of many Democrats with a hilarious peek at voters who are worried they may see the same results in 2018 that haunt them from President Trump's win in 2016.
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.