House and Senate Latest, Cruz Rally, Florida Debate: 15 Days to Go

Can Republicans keep the House? Will Democrats swipe the Senate? Which state is being Made Great Again with the next presidential visit? It’s Monday, Oct. 22, Trump and Cruz are friends again, and there are 15 days until the midterm elections.

• Democrats hope for a mega-wave on Election Day. They may still get one. But at present, strategists in both parties tell us they see a Democratic gain of 20 to 35 House seats as the likeliest outcome. Democrats need 23 to flip the chamber.

• In the Senate, Republican officials say they increasingly believe the party will net one seat — and possibly several more — adding to their 51-to-49 majority. Why? Two reasons.

They think the four G.O.P. Senate seats with serious races (Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas) are now either tilting their way — including, at long last, Arizona — or are, at worst, tossups. The New York Times Upshot-Siena College polls on those four races indicate the same.

And there’s a sense among Republicans that, among Democratic-held Senate seats, they are virtually certain to pick up North Dakota and Missouri; Florida leans slightly their way; and Indiana and Montana are very much on the table.

• Democratic officials concede their odds of winning North Dakota are long. And their optimism from September about taking over the Senate? Faded. But they are not ready to write off Missouri and they dispute the Republican thinking about Florida. And Arizona and Nevada are still in reach; Democrats took heart in the strong first day of early voting in Nevada.

• There is one state on which both sides agree: Tennessee, despite some polls that showed Republicans enjoying a post-Kavanaugh bounce, remains a real race for the open Senate seat.

• President Trump is in Houston on Monday for a rally at 7:30 p.m. Eastern with Senator Ted Cruz, who once called him a “pathological liar” and “serial philanderer.” In the senator’s defense, Mr. Trump implicated Mr. Cruz’s father in the Kennedy assassination without evidence. Politics is fun.

• Mr. Trump sounds lately like a man who thinks he has a winning hand. He is attacking the migrant “caravan” relentlessly as Republicans search for an issue to counter the Democratic focus on protecting pre-existing conditions coverage.


“Failed mayor.”

Let no one accuse the next Florida governor — whoever it is — of a sass deficiency.

The debate Sunday night between Andrew Gillum, the progressive Democratic mayor of Tallahassee, and Ron DeSantis, a Trump-loving former Republican congressman, had a little bit of everything: discussions of race and toxic algae, Israel and health care.


• There was no knockout moment.

• Mr. DeSantis, who has been behind in some polls, tried to cut Mr. Gillum down to size: He kept calling him “Andrew” and accusing him of letting crime run rampant in the capital.

• Mr. Gillum, who mostly called his rival “Mr. DeSantis” or “the congressman,” mocked his opponent’s fealty to the president and made pointed allusions to racially charged comments by Mr. DeSantis.

“I’m a hard-working person. I know that may not fit your description of what you think people like me do, but I work hard for everything that I’ve gotten in my life.” — ANDREW GILLUM

It was a strong flourish for Mr. Gillum on a night when he was under near-constant attack from Mr. DeSantis, who came across as — well, not desperate, but very driven to paint Mr. Gillum as The Worst Mayor Ever. (Even though Mr. DeSantis was caught on a live mic afterward telling Mr. Gillum, “you’re a good guy.”)

• Our new poll of the Florida Senate race is expected to begin this week. A recent CNN poll had Senator Bill Nelson, the Democrat, slightly ahead, while other polls show a very close contest between Mr. Nelson and the Republican, Gov. Rick Scott.

The Times Upshot and Siena College are polling competitive House races. Two polls now underway: the Illinois’s 12th Congressional District contest between Mike Bost, the Republican incumbent, and Brendan Kelly, the Democrat, and Virginia’s Second Congressional District, where the first-term Republican Scott Taylor, is facing a fellow Navy veteran, Elaine Luria. Check the links for live results.

Thanks for reading. The Tip Sheet is a daily political analysis of the midterms, based on interviews with Republican and Democratic officials, pollsters, strategists and others.

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