Inside Politics: 6 months to the midterm elections

Republican candidates embrace Trump 6 months out from the midterms, the battle heats up over Trump's nominee for CIA director, Paul Ryan faces scrutiny over his decision to fire the House chaplain, and teacher strikes continue--it's all on Inside Politics.

Posted: Apr 30, 2018 4:15 PM
Updated: Apr 30, 2018 4:20 PM

Here are the stories our D.C. insiders are talking about in this week's "Inside Politics" forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today.

1. Who can hug Trump tightest in Indiana?

A nasty Senate primary is just 10 days away in Indiana: Two Republican congressmen and a wealthy businessman are competing to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, one of the most endangered incumbents in the country.

The Republican nomination fight may hinge on which candidate can tie themselves closest to President Trump, CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports. "The three Republican candidates are in a fight to see who can out-Trump themselves, who likes him more, who can support his policies more," Zeleny says.

So far, the President has not weighed in publicly. But, Zeleny says, "If he is drawn into this by television coverage, that could be fascinating."

2. Lawmakers want answers on House chaplain's firing

There was bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill this week over the forced departure of the House chaplain, Catholic priest Patrick Conroy. Conroy says House Speaker Paul Ryan asked for his resignation.

Democrats are demanding an investigation, but even Republicans want to know why Ryan, who is a practicing Catholic, did what he did.

"Basically, Ryan had been hearing a lot of complaints from a small faction of the Republican conference that was more evangelical," Politico's Rachael Bade reports. "They wanted a chaplain to minister to them who was married and who had kids and who can sort of speak to that walk of life."

3. Day 3 of Arizona teachers strike

Teachers in Arizona will stay on strike tomorrow, demanding higher pay and more funding for education. It's yet another example of teachers in red states demanding more resources for education. "This is a broader issue we are seeing all over the country now," reports FiveThirtyEight's Perry Bacon.

"The fight is really about a lot of states have cut taxes a lot in these last five or six years, and teachers are now saying it's cut too much, there needs to be more money invested in public education, more in teacher pay."

4. Battle lines drawn over CIA nominee

Now that the Senate has confirmed Mike Pompeo as secretary of state, attention will turn to another controversial nominee: Gina Haspel, President Trump's pick to run the CIA. And The Washington Post's Karoun Demirjian reports she may have a tough road to confirmation.

"The numbers right now, if Democrats don't back her, are not in her favor. She can't necessarily get through, and so it's going to be a very tight, touch-and-go game," Demirjian says. "You've got a lot of tension brewing right now between senators and the administration."

Haspel's confirmation hearing is scheduled for May 9.

5. T-minus six months 'til Election Day

The 2018 midterms are six months from Tuesday, and some primaries coming in the days ahead will begin to set the battle lines in a few more key races. The President's big rally Saturday night was a reminder that his midterm role is somewhat unresolved, too; some Republicans will be thrilled to have a presidential visit while others worry he is toxic with some key voting blocs.

There is no dispute that both the GOP's House and Senate majorities are at risk. But six months out, CNN's John King reports there are widely different assessments within the GOP ranks about how difficult the environment will be, and about how certain it is that the losses will run deep.

The biggest factor in midterm years is the President's approval rating. President Trump's in the the 40% range, and most Republicans believe it is unrealistic to expect it to get much better. The "generic ballot" test has been more of a moving target. Voters consistently prefer Democrats to control Congress, but the margin has gyrated over the past few months.

King says some Republicans tell him they are already resigned to losing the House. Asked to offer his assessment of the climate, one seasoned Republican replied that "30-plus" was his current estimate of House losses. That would be more than enough to hand Democrats the majority. Another veteran GOP strategist, however, says he believes it possible the losses could be kept in the mid to high teens, a result that would narrowly leave the GOP in control.

The Senate math is also the subject of considerable debate.

Republicans entered the year hoping to defy history and gain seats, based on a 2018 map that has far more Democratic incumbents on defense. Indiana's May primary is one of the key dates ahead in Senate calculations. Republicans also feel more upbeat about North Dakota in recent days, in part because of encouraging GOP polling numbers, and there is a better mood about Florida now that Gov. Rick Scott is officially in the race and is beginning to get more active on the trail.

On the flip side, some Republicans are increasingly worried about GOP-held seats in Tennessee and Arizona where Democrats have strong candidates.

Six months seems like a long time, but the May primaries will kick things into a higher gear.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1389892

Reported Deaths: 25606
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook55655610470
DuPage924461322
Will769851035
Lake683971019
Kane59475808
Winnebago34146508
Madison30990526
McHenry29197295
St. Clair28377519
Peoria23461343
Champaign21118155
Sangamon19112240
McLean18559188
Tazewell17234305
Rock Island15248329
Kankakee14574216
Kendall1329099
LaSalle12791250
Macon11000211
DeKalb10132121
Vermilion10039143
Adams8727127
Williamson7619134
Whiteside7199174
Boone683778
Ogle621983
Grundy598878
Clinton578991
Coles5774100
Knox5649155
Jackson510265
Henry508170
Livingston490291
Woodford484682
Stephenson482985
Macoupin478388
Effingham476972
Franklin454378
Marion4516117
Jefferson4425122
Monroe439094
Lee419354
Randolph416587
Fulton405459
Logan398864
Morgan393782
Christian383975
Montgomery379674
Bureau378484
Fayette322855
Perry320360
Iroquois314668
McDonough291651
Jersey271752
Douglas260836
Saline260657
Lawrence241027
Shelby232838
Union228341
Crawford214525
Bond208724
Cass203727
Ford189050
Warren184749
Clark184033
Jo Daviess182624
Pike182153
Wayne181253
Hancock180931
Carroll178537
Edgar177240
Richland176940
White170626
Washington164925
Moultrie163128
De Witt157229
Mason154245
Piatt152414
Clay149943
Mercer149534
Johnson148116
Greene145234
Massac136040
Wabash135712
Cumberland130319
Menard125012
Jasper116718
Marshall108119
Hamilton84216
Schuyler7827
Brown7326
Pulaski7007
Stark64824
Edwards57712
Calhoun5312
Henderson52914
Scott4901
Putnam4863
Alexander47411
Gallatin4704
Hardin39112
Pope3304
Unassigned502433
Out of IL360

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 752108

Reported Deaths: 13816
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033831790
Lake558431013
Allen41736693
St. Joseph37007565
Hamilton36617417
Elkhart29425461
Tippecanoe22938228
Vanderburgh22565400
Porter19369327
Johnson18486389
Hendricks17696317
Clark13233195
Madison13176344
Vigo12631253
LaPorte12429221
Monroe12226176
Delaware10970198
Howard10349224
Kosciusko9643121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8174157
Warrick7864156
Floyd7815180
Grant7248179
Wayne7164201
Boone6979103
Morgan6768141
Dubois6224118
Marshall6214116
Cass6024110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502396
Lawrence4753122
Gibson445595
Clinton443555
Harrison441775
DeKalb440385
Montgomery439890
Whitley406744
Huntington403381
Steuben400859
Miami395769
Jasper389155
Knox377691
Putnam373461
Wabash362383
Ripley347370
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332753
Daviess3035100
Wells295481
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey274335
LaGrange273272
Scott270356
Clay267148
Washington246336
Randolph245183
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228159
Fountain222048
Sullivan214843
Owen212358
Fulton204043
Jay201032
Carroll193820
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion175344
Franklin170435
Tipton166646
Parke149616
Pike138334
Blackford136232
Pulaski120847
Newton114936
Brown104443
Benton102614
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84115
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424