Updated Aug 10, 2018

2018's midterm messaging mess

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Both parties are making on-the-fly changes to their messages in the heat of midterm campaigning, because their go-to issues turn out to have problems.

Between the lines: Some Democrats salivated about running on impeachment, until their leaders convinced them that would backfire and the "Abolish ICE" boomlet was co-opted by Republicans. Meanwhile, the GOP planned to make the Trump tax cut the centerpiece of the fall. But that didn't even last through March, since the tax cuts don't have the broad popularity the party expected.

After reading Axios AM yesterday, where we revealed that Rudy Giuliani's constant TV appearances are using the Mueller investigation to fuel the Republican base's rage, Matt Bennett of the center-left Third Way emailed:

"I can’t think of a recent election cycle in which both parties thought (or still think) they had killer issues to run on and both are totally wrong. Democrats can’t run on Russia/Mueller (because it just doesn’t motivate most voters, despite how serious and important it is), and Republicans can’t run on the tax cuts because, among other things, Trump used his outside voice to say they’re for the rich."

In an AP story with the memorable headline "Republicans promote fear, not tax cuts, in key elections," GOP ad maker Will Ritter says of tax cuts: "We wish it got the pitch forks out and it doesn’t."

One other game change you should be aware of ... "Democrats running for Congress in 2018 are pushing a muscular gun-control agenda that represents a wholesale repositioning on the hot-button issue," The Wall Street Journal's Reid Epstein writes (subscription).

  • Why it matters: "[G]un control has become a [Democratic] litmus test from which few dissent, alongside abortion rights and support for same-sex marriage."
  • "For a generation after the 1994 assault-weapons ban cost scores of Democrats their jobs, party members avoided pushing gun restrictions."

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The big picture: The U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

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Italy on Friday reported 969 COVID-19 deaths over a 24-hour period, marking the deadliest single-day for the country since the global outbreak began, according to data from the Health Ministry.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 595,800 — Total deaths: 27,324 — Total recoveries: 131,006.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 103,942 — Total deaths: 1,689 — Total recoveries: 870.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump signed the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to provide businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: Nearly 92% of cities do not have adequate medical supplies — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day.
  6. Business latest: President Trump authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to direct General Motors to build ventilators for those affected by COVID-19. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been appointed to enforce the act.
  7. 🏰 1 Disney thing: Both Disney World and Disneyland theme parks in the U.S. are closed until further notice.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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