Your US mid-term elections daily digest
There are just under four weeks until the US elections that will help define the rest of Donald Trump’s presidency.
The mid-term elections will see people vote for members of both houses of Congress, as well as for governors in 36 out of 50 states.
Between now and then, we’ll bring you updates and all the best analysis every weekday in this round-up.
One race to watch
One Senate seat Republicans hope to flip is in North Dakota, where the Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp won by just under 3,000 votes in 2012.
Flipping North Dakota would give Republicans a huge advantage in keeping control of the Senate (given that there are only nine Republican seats in contention this year, Democrats have no margin for error if they want to claim the Senate).
With this in mind, a US Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday could have profound implications.
Justices backed a lower court ruling that required voters in North Dakota to show forms of identification and proof of residential address if they wanted to vote in the mid-terms.
The appeal that came before the court said that up to 70,000 people in the state did not have ID and therefore would not be able to vote (up to 20% of the electorate).
Why does this matter?
Well, in 2012, North Dakota’s Native Americans voted heavily in favour of Heitkamp (in Sioux County, for example, 84% of voters backed her over her Republican counterpart).
Because Native Americans often lack a street system, they commonly use PO Box addresses, and so often don’t have proof of residential address.
In an interview with the West Fargo Pioneer last week, Heitkamp said the ID requirements “clearly target” Native Americans and college students.
Right now, she needs all the support she can get – two weeks ago, she changed her mind on approving Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and voted No, provoking a backlash from Republicans. And polls suggest she is slipping further and further behind Republican Senate contender Kevin Cramer.
(By the way, Justice Kavanaugh did not take part in the Supreme Court decision on Tuesday).
On the subject of Justice Kavanaugh, it’s pretty clear by now that his name is being used as a rallying cry by Republicans ahead of the mid-terms.
His confirmation process, in which he denied sexual assault in the face of testimony by accuser Christine Blasey Ford, saw Democrats voice support for her and demand a more detailed investigation.
As we noted on Monday, that confirmation process has actually helped the GOP reverse (or at least slow) momentum the Democrats had in key races all summer.
And now, in a speech on Tuesday night in Iowa, the president has made a direct link: for Republicans, these mid-terms are a referendum on the way Democrats acted around Kavanaugh.
One video to watch
This clip posted on Twitter by MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff has been widely shared over the past few hours.
It was filmed in Orange County, California, which has four Republican-held seats in the House of Representatives.
Democrats hope to flip those seats, and would need a strong youth vote to do so. There’s just one problem, as Soboroff’s interviews show…
We’ll talk more about the role of the youth vote in a later digest.
One feud to follow
There’s a risk of turning this round-up into a daily Taylor Swift digest but her statement of support for Democratic candidates this week has mixed things up in an interesting way.
Swift’s shout-out for people to register to vote (which she repeated at the American Music Awards on Tuesday night) has led to a significant uptick in registration.
Her comments have also threatened to reignite one of music’s least likely on-again-off-again feuds, between Swift and avowed Trump supporter Kanye West, who will meet the president later this week.
Here’s our brief history of their beef, that is now being taken into the political arena.
Pop stars calling on people to register is clearly now a thing, by the way – Rihanna has followed suit.