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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The signs of a "blue wave" are adding up, and barring some dramatic shift in the next five weeks, it's likely to be more than enough to wipe out the Republican majority in the House — and the Senate may not be out of reach either.

Why it matters: Democrats only need 23 seats to win the House.

  • More Democratic challengers have out-raised Republican incumbents and candidates than ever before — including in at least 73 House races for open seats, which are traditionally easier to flip.
  • More Democrats turned out in House primaries than Republicans this cycle — the first time that has happened since 2008.
  • Democrats have had a double-digit lead over Republicans in the generic congressional ballot in the last month.
  • Cook Political Report now rates 42 GOP-held seats as toss-up or worse. In 2010, there were 36 Democratic-held seats rated this way.
  • Republicans are pulling TV ads for vulnerable GOP incumbents in places like Kansas, Pennsylvania and Colorado.

The other side: "There's a big fundamental advantage for Republicans that is often overlooked," said Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens. "Democrats simply do not have the infrastructure and ground game to get people to the polls. The entire Democratic machine was focused on 9 House special elections and they still went 1-8."

  • There's also the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight — which Republicans think they can use to target red-state Senate Democrats who might be damaged by their opposition to him.

The bottom line: Here's where a Republican strategist — who's worked on midterm campaigns for multiple cycles — pegged the 2018 midterm elections:

  • The strategist told me that in 2010, the magic polling number to determine Dem losses was just under 50%. "If you're not a Republican who is comfortably over 47% you are going to lose."
  • Based on that formula, 22 House Republicans would lose their seats to Democrats, according to NYT/Siena College polls.
  • Four more Republicans are above 47% but at or under 50%, suggesting even more GOP losses.
  • The strategist added: "In a wave year, once you're tied there isn't a way to turn that tide." Eleven of the 22 races polled by NYT are tied or within one percentage point.

Go deeper: Red-state Democrats face GOP wrath over Kavanaugh

Go deeper

U.S. ambassador to Russia will return home briefly: State Department

John Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, during a briefing in Moscow in 2015. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

The State Department said Monday that the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, will now be returning to the United States this week before returning to Moscow "in the coming weeks."

Why this matters: The statement, from a State Department spokesperson, comes just hours after Axios reported that Sullivan had indicated he intended to stand his ground and stay in Russia after the Kremlin “advised” him to return home to talk with his team.

Scoop: Leaked Ukraine memo reveals scope of Russia's aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, in Jan. 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine's economy, according to an internal document from Ukraine's ministry of defense reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: With the eyes of the world on the massive buildup of troops in eastern Ukraine, the leaked memo shows Russian forces escalating their presence on all sides of the Ukrainian border.

Read: Former Vice President Walter Mondale's last message

Photo courtesy of Mondale.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale wrote a farewell letter to his staff, sent upon his death on Monday, thanking them for years working together.

Dear Team,

Well my time has come. I am eager to rejoin Joan and Eleanor. Before I Go I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side!

Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight.

Joe in the White House certainly helps.

I always knew it would be okay if I arrived some place and was greeted by one of you!

My best to all of you!

Fritz