As President Donald Trump begins a final six day, eight state campaign swing before the 2018 mid-term elections, a review of his schedule shows a series of stops which are focused more on maintaining control of the U.S. Senate, and preserving states with Republican Governors in Ohio, Georgia, and Florida - with GOP efforts to save the U.S. House taking a back seat.
The President begins his work with a Halloween evening rally in Fort Myers, Florida, wrapping up next Monday with a final three state blitz in Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri.
Here's what to look for over the next six days:
1. The Trump schedule tells a story. After doing rallies to help individual members of the House earlier this month, this final rally blitz is clearly focused on other GOP election priorities. There are key Senate races in Florida, Missouri, West Virginia, Indiana, and Tennessee on the President's schedule. There are important races for Governor which are close in Florida, Georgia, and Ohio. The President will make a pair of stops in Florida, two in Indiana, and also two in Missouri - Democrats hold Senate seats in all three of those states, and they have been high on the GOP target list for months. We'll know in a week whether the Trump trek did the trick for Republicans or not.
2. Outside events interrupt GOP momentum. Late last week when the FBI was turning up more and more suspected explosive devices, the President complained on Twitter that the 'bomb' scare had drained away GOP election momentum, by changing the focus of the news. That happened again when the synagogue shooting occurred on Saturday in Pittsburgh, as those two events have dominated the news for a week, and introduced controversy over some of the President's own statements and reactions. There may be some truth to the President's fear, as one regular poll on the job approval/disapproval of the President shows last week was not a good week for Mr. Trump. We'll have to see if that was a blip, or if that number goes more in the wrong direction.
3. Early voting continues at record levels. Eleven states have already had more early votes come in than in all of 2014, as the evidence continues to show that many more people are getting out to vote early than in the last mid-term election in 2014, and that there are a lot of people voting early this time who did not vote at all four years ago. One of the best examples is in Georgia, where just over one-third of the early vote is coming from people who did not vote in 2014 - and about half of that 33 percent are non-white voters. Again, we won't know which party that benefits until after the election, but it raises all sorts of interesting possibilities as both sides try to divine where this election is going.
4. The battle for the House. While Republicans generally feel confident about keeping the Senate, there are danger signs all over the map for the GOP when it comes to the House. Democrats need to pick up a net gain of 23 seats to take control, and they seem to have a lot of options right now - it's not just concentrated in one area of the country. Many of these districts involve suburban areas which voted for President Trump in 2016, but now seem to have had a change of heart. Obviously, political experts can be wrong, but polling experts seem to converging on the thought that Democrats have a very good chance to take over the House.
5. The Senate still seems to be Advantage Republicans. As with any election, there are range of possibilities in the fight for the Senate, but the GOP still remains favored to keep control - and maybe even add a seat or two next week. While it might seem impossible, the Senate battlegrounds are taking place on much different turf than the close races in the House, where it's almost all GOP seats that are in play - in the Senate, it's Democrats on the defensive in states like Florida, Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia. Democrats can still pull an inside straight and win control, but Senate GOP elections officials are probably sleeping better than their House counterparts right now.