3. AOC, Beto: The 7 letters disrupting politics
The biggest political story since the election of Donald Trump is the sudden, stark, sustained rise of the political artists also known as AOC and Beto.
The big picture: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) are political and cultural phenomena — one known by her initials, one by his first name, like Drake or JFK or RG3. Both arose from nowhere seven months ago, during the midterms, and today are everywhere.
- Both are hotter than establishment Democrats on social platforms and among staffer-wannabes, the press, donors and activists.
Exclusive: A new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll finds that 74% of Democrats (and people who lean Dem) would consider voting for Ocasio-Cortez if she were old enough to run for president. (She's 29; you have to be at least 35.)
- That includes the 17% who would "definitely" vote for her.
- Jon Cohen, SurveyMonkey's chief research officer, tells me: "These data show the phenomenon is real — she tops Sen. Schumer in favorability among Democrats, and overall nearly rivals Speaker Pelosi."
Both AOC and Beto continue to break through news cycles clogged by Mueller and the shutdown:
- Ocasio-Cortez, described by Bloomberg Businessweek as "the Darling of the Left, Nightmare of the Right," is driving an actual policy debate on taxes, Medicare and free tuition. Last week, she taught a social media class to older House Dems.
- O'Rourke, 46, gets coverage for hitting the road on a solo road trip to fuel 2020 buzz and shake off what he called a "funk" after losing to Sen. Ted Cruz. But one Democratic operative tells the N.Y. Times that some chafe at his "Beto-first politics."
- "They both say what they believe — unvarnished — and connect directly with the public."
Be smart: That sounds a lot like President Trump — a sign of our times.