The Note: Do-over race in North Carolina comes at tenuous time for Trump

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House, Sept. 9, 2019. PlayErin Scott/Reuters
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Will a do-over election point to what might be done again?

Those are the stakes Tuesday in a red swath of North Carolina, in a district President Donald Trump won by nearly 12 points, but that now qualifies as genuine battleground territory. The last bit of unfinished business from 2018 is speaking to Democratic hopes -- and Republican fears -- about 2020.

Speaking of fear, concerns about the prospects for the economy are driving Trump's approval rating downward, from a high of 44% in July to 38% in the new ABC News/Washington Post poll out Tuesday morning.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House, Sept. 9, 2019. Erin Scott/Reuters
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House, Sept. 9, 2019.

Leaned Republicans who are worried about a trade war with China provide just 58% approval for Trump -- nowhere close to the 90% approval in his party overall. It points to a potential weak spot for the GOP, as well as potentially fertile ground for Democrats.

In the run-up to Thursday's Democratic debate on ABC, the candidates are positioning themselves as foils to a deeply polarizing president.

Their party, meanwhile, needs to position itself to win. Whether or not that happens Tuesday, districts like this, in states like North Carolina, are where the presidential race can be won -- or not.

PHOTO: Dan Bishop talks with supporters at Robins On Main diner in Hope Mills, N.C., August 10, 2019.|Dan McCready talks with voters at his campaign office during his education tour in Elizabethtown, N.C., August 10, 2019. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images, FILE
Dan Bishop talks with supporters at Robin's On Main diner in Hope Mills, N.C., August 10, 2019.|Dan McCready talks with voters at his campaign office during his education tour in Elizabethtown, N.C., August 10, 2019.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Ahead of any actual recession, Trump could already be feeling political fallout over the threat of one.

According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, Trump has slipped on his handling of the economy, from a 51% approval earlier this summer to 46% now. Plus, 60% of respondents are concerned that the trade dispute will raise consumer prices.

A majority of Americans see a recession on the horizon, according to the poll, and by a 3-1 margin they say the president's trade and economic policies have increased those chances. Expect the Trump campaign to look closely at those numbers from those who identify as independent or lean-Republican.

On the Democratic side, interesting that this weekend one candidate telegraphed plans to raise issues of the economy and deficits, specifically during the debate on Thursday.

PHOTO: Pete Buttigieg holds a fundraiser in Los Angeles, Aug. 27, 2019. Etienne Laurent/EPA via Shutterstock
Pete Buttigieg holds a fundraiser in Los Angeles, Aug. 27, 2019.

"Republicans have made it abundantly clear that when they actually take office, they do nothing about debts and deficits. But for my generation, this is an issue that actually matters. And if Democrats don't lead on it, nobody will. It's not always been a fashionable subject on our side of the aisle, but I think it's time to talk about it and I wouldn't be surprised if it comes up on debate night," South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said on Sunday.

Could the Indiana Democrat be starting a new play for those independents?

The TIP with Jeffrey Cook

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., spent much of August on the campaign trail asking for the Senate recess to end early in light of two mass shootings that reignited the nation's fight over gun violence.

"When I come back here and I think of the courage of all those people and all those survivors and I think about those mass shootings and how one by one, if we had made and passed these sensible bills, we could have prevented some of this from happening," Klobuchar said Monday on the Senate floor, her voice trembling at times with emotion. "I don't know what our excuse is anymore."

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.

She, like many of her Democratic colleagues have, thrown verbal punches at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for refusing to bring multiple bills designed to tackle universal background checks and violence against women, already passed by the House, to the floor for a vote without the green light from Trump.

Six in ten Americans are worried about a mass shooting in their own community, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. Several Democratic candidates, including Klobuchar, appeared in a video produced by the advocacy group behind former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz, calling for a "#GunSafetyPresident." And on Thursday, Klobuchar's expected to drill into the issue on Houston's debate stage.

ONE MORE THING Democrats are mounting a major push across battleground states to court suburban voters -- a key voting demographic that was once the bedrock of the GOP but has been shifting away from the party in the era of President Donald Trump.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features ABC News' Katherine Faulders, who gives us the latest on Congress as they get back to work in Washington -- will they take action on guns or impeachment? Then, ABC News' Stephanie Ebbs explains how the federal government is responding to the rash of teen deaths allegedly caused by e-cigarette use. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

FiveThirtyEight's "Politics Podcast." In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast, the crew devotes the entire episode to discussing what each candidate's debate strategy might -- or should -- be, ahead of Thursday night when 10 Democrats share one stage for the first time. https://apple.co/23r5y7w

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • "Around the Table with Beto O'Rourke" The Democratic presidential candidate invited three Texas voters into his home for ABC's' premiere episode of "Around the Table," a series bringing together presidential candidates and voters. You can read more about the dinner at 10:30 a.m. and watch the "Nightline" broadcast Wednesday at 12:35 a.m.
  • President Donald Trump has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House at 12:30 p.m. He then delivers remarks to the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Conference at the Renaissance Washington Hotel at 2:15 p.m. At 4 p.m., he meets with congressional Republican leadership. Later, he participates in a swearing-in ceremony for U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft at 5:30 p.m.
  • North Carolina's 3rd and 9th congressional districts each hold special elections from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. to fill vacancies in the U.S. House of Representatives for the remainder of the 116th U.S. Congress.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speak at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Presidential Candidate Forum in Washington starting at 3:45 p.m.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., holds a town hall at Lady Bird Lake Metro Park in Austin, Texas, at 6:15 p.m.
  • Former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., holds back-to-back meetings with Democrats in Dover, Concord, Lyndeborogh and Loudon, New Hampshire, starting at 6:30 p.m.
  • Tom Steyer makes several campaign stops in South Carolina. In the morning, he tours a community health center in Spartanburg and then works a shift at a Krispy Kreme. He has a meet-and-greet event with "Tell Them Tuesday" protesters outside of Sen. Lindsey Graham's office in Greenville at noon. He also has a town hall in Rock Hill at 7 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

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