Sep 17, 2018

Behind the scenes: Republican fears and opportunities

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A source who has seen recent polling, conducted by the Republican National Committee, told me the data show that a majority of Trump voters don't believe the mountain of evidence that Democrats will win back the House in November.

By the numbers: 57% of strong Trump supporters believe it's unlikely Democrats win the House, according to the source, who wasn't authorized to share findings from the RNC poll with the media. (The survey of 800 registered voters — 480 via landline calls and 320 via cellphone calls — was conducted from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 and has a margin of error of 3.5%.)

  • By contrast, election forecaster Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website gives Democrats an 83.1% chance of winning control over the House.

Why this matters: A month ago, we reported in "Sneak Peek" that Republican strategists were detecting something interesting — and from their POV, concerning — in focus groups of Trump voters. These voters — who have been listening to the president predicting a "red wave" in November — didn't believe polls showing Democrats would win the House.

  • This disbelief freaked out Republican strategists who want their voters to be panicked enough to vote in November.

But, but, but: Several Republican officials who have reviewed the latest polling tell me they see an opportunity amidst the gloomy data. They think they can energize seniors, suburban women and Republicans less likely to vote by attacking the high costs and potential implications of Democrats' "Medicare for All" single payer health care plans.

  • For these Republican constituencies, an anti-Medicare for All message "is the best performing message of persuading and motivating these groups in this November’s election," said a source familiar with the president's political thinking.
  • "If you're giving something to everyone, that means less for seniors," the White House's political director, Bill Stepien, told me.
  • Trump has been briefed on this new polling and has been hammering these messages in recent rallies.

Democrats plan to fight back against this messaging. Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson told me: "For years, Republicans have been trying to make Medicare wither on the vine, so voters aren't going to believe they're now trying to save it. Even if Lex Luther put on a cape, people wouldn't start believing he's Superman." 

  • Ferguson pointed out that an August NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll found Democrats had an 18 point advantage over Republicans in dealing with health care.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 857,957 — Total deaths: 42,139 — Total recoveries: 178,091.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 188,547 — Total deaths: 3,899 — Total recoveries: 7,068.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

World coronavirus updates: UN warns of recession with "no parallel" to recent past

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus pandemic is the "greatest test" the world has faced together since the formation of the United Nations just after the Second World War ended in 1945, UN chief António Guterres said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 856,000 and the death toll exceeded 42,000 Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 12,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

White House projects 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths

President Trump said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the next two weeks in the U.S. will be "very painful" and that he wants "every American to be prepared for the days that lie ahead," before giving way to Deborah Birx to explain the models informing the White House's new guidance on the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's a somber new tone from the president that comes after his medical advisers showed him data projecting that the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health