I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Wednesday, September 12, 2018. 55 days until Election Day 2018. 783 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com.
Generic ballot: There are three new generic congressional ballot polls that were released this morning: a Politico/Morning Consult poll shows Democrats with a 10-point advantage (45% of voters said they are more likely to vote for a Democrat for Congress, to 35% who said they are likely to vote for a Republican); a NPR/Marist poll show Democrats with a 12-point advantage (50% to 38%); and a Quinnipiac poll shows Democrats with a 14-point advantage (52% to 38%).
--- For context: per FiveThirtyEight, if Democrats win the House popular vote by 14%, they would likely gain 65 seats in the House and also win a majority in the Senate.
Race to 51: According to the Washington Post, "Republicans have grown increasingly worried about losing control of the Senate," as Democratic incumbents once thought to be deeply vulnerable are seeming more secure and the party also seems to be gaining ground against Republican incumbents, especially in Texas (where Rep. Beto O'Rourke is challenging GOP Sen. Ted Cruz). Per Politico, the GOP is now unexpectedly pouring resources into the Lone Star State to protect Cruz.
--- "This is going to be a very challenging election," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Tuesday of the 2018 midterms, per The Post. Listing the races he's watching, McConnell added: "All of them too close to call, and every one of them like a knife fight in an alley; I mean just a brawl in every one of those places."
Primary Update: In New Hampshire's 1st District, Democrats nominated Executive Councillor Chris Pappas on Tuesday, while Republicans elevated former police chief Eddie Edwards. The seat, which is being vacated by Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, is seen as a top Republican pick-up opportunity (President Trump won the district by less than 2% in 2016). Pappas, who beat a number of Democratic rivals including Bernie Sanders' son Levi, would be New Hampshire's first openly gay member of Congress; Edwards would be the state's first African-American member of Congress.
--- Also on Tuesday: Former state Sen. Molly Kelly (D-NH) became the 15th woman to win a gubernatorial nomination this primary season, a record. Kelly will face Republican Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH), who is very popular in the state, this November.
--- And today: Voters head to the polls in Rhode Island, in one of the last primary contests of the cycle. Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-RI) faces a progressive challenge from former Secretary of State Matt Brown. Her likely GOP opponent, who is expected to offer a tough challenge in the fall, is Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, the 2014 Republican nominee. Fung is running against state Rep. Patricia Morgan in the primary.
Hurricane watch: Hurricane Florence, which has been classified as a Category 4 storm, is barreling towards the Carolinas and Virginia, but President Trump said Tuesday that the government is "totally prepared," even while predicting that the storm would be "tremendously big and tremendously wet." Trump tweeted this morning that "we are ready for the big one that is coming," adding that the recovery to recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida received "A Pluses," while also applauding the government's "underappreciated great job" in Puerto Rico, where nearly 3,000 people died after Hurricane Maria.
The Administration: President Trump plans to sign an executive order "that will slap sanctions on any foreign companies or people who interfere in U.S. elections, based on intelligence agency findings," per Reuters... Attorney General Jeff Sessions is exploring a potential investigation of social media companies, according to Bloomberg... the Education Department is changing how allegations of discrimination against Jewish students are investigated in schools, backing a definition of anti-Semitism that includes examples of "demonizing or delegitimizing Israel," according to Politico.
Inside the White House: President Trump is leaning toward appointing Emmet Flood, who is currently coordinating the White House response to special counsel Robert Mueller, as the next White House counsel, the Wall Street Journal reports... Donald Trump Jr. tells ABC News that the president can only trust a "much smaller group [of administration officials] than I would like."
Russia probe: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort "is in talks with the special counsel's office about a possible plea deal" ahead of his second trial, according to the Washington Post. Manafort was already convicted of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in a Virginia trial last month; jury selection is set to start Monday for his trial in D.C. on seven counts of conspiring against the United States, money laundering, failure to register as a lobbyist, making false statements, and witness tampering.
White House schedule
POTUS: At 11:30am, President Trump receives his intelligence briefing. At 12:30pm, Trump has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. At 5:30pm, he speaks at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Reception.
At 6:45pm, he participates in a roundtable with supporters in Washington, D.C. At 7:50pm, he speaks at a dinner with supporters. According to the Washington Post, tickets for the dinner range from $35,000 to $100,000.
Senate: The upper chamber is scheduled to hold a cloture vote advancing the nomination of Charles Rettig to be Commissioner of the IRS today. Rettig is currently a partner at a prominent Beverly Hills tax law firm. His nomination was advanced by the Senate Finance Committee by a party-line vote in July.
House: The lower chamber is set to consider 24 pieces of legislation today, including the 9/11 Memorial Act (which would provide grants to memorials honoring victims of the 9/11 attacks) and the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act (which would prohibit the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption), among others.
*All times Eastern