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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a news conference. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was more recognizable to a focus group of Wisconsin swing voters than every Democratic presidential prospect except Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren.

Why it matters: AOC has only been in Congress for a few months, yet she's breaking through even in rural areas of the Midwest. It's not a great start for the 2020 Democrats who aren't recognizable at all in Wisconsin, a key battleground state, despite all the national attention they’re getting.

  • This was another takeaway from the Engagious/FPG focus group of swing voters I watched last week, which included eight Obama/Trump voters and four Mitt Romney/Hillary Clinton voters.

Between the lines: They even knew some of the issues she stands for (though not the Green New Deal). That's more than they knew about the senators.

  • "Her latest slogan was: 'I'm here to serve; I'm not here to gain power," one woman said of Ocasio-Cortez. Another mentioned her focus on environmental issues and tackling inequality.
  • Beto O'Rourke didn't resonate with them. "I think I've heard the name on the radio," said Adam K., a 47-year-old Obama/Trump voter.
  • Only three people knew Kamala Harris is a senator, and one man, George E., said "I saw her on The Colbert Show."

How it worked: We showed the focus group participants photos of each candidate without their name and asked them to score on a scale of 1 to 10 how confident they were in recognizing that person.

  • Sanders was by far the most recognizable, followed closely by Biden and Warren.
  • Sens. Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Harris scored at or around 2.5 out of 10.
  • Everyone else was virtually unrecognizable among these Wisconsin swing voters.
  • Jay Inslee and O'Rourke earned a score of 1 out of 10, and the rest — Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, and John Hickenlooper — fell below that.
  • Somewhat surprisingly, these voters recognized Tulsi Gabbard even more than Inslee and O'Rourke.

Go deeper: Wisconsin swing voters are tired of Trump

Go deeper

Biden gets mixed grades on revolving door

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden is getting mixed marks for his reliance on industry insiders to staff his administration during its first 100 days.

Why it matters: Progressives have leaned on the new president to limit the revolving door between industry and government. A new report from the Revolving Door Project praises him on that front but highlights key hires it deems ethically questionable.

Exclusive: Sen. Coons sees new era of bipartisanship on China

Sen. Chris Coons. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 insurrection was a "shock to the system," propelling members of Congress toward the goal of shoring up America's ability to compete with China, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told Axios during an interview Thursday.

Why it matters: Competition between China's authoritarian model and the West's liberal democratic one is likely to define the 21st century. A bipartisan response would help the U.S. present a united front.

By the numbers: States weighing voting changes

Data: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law; Cartogram: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Georgia is not alone in passing a law adding voting restrictions, but other states are seeing a surge in provisions and proposals that would expand access to the polls, according to data from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Driving the news: Just Wednesday, the New York State Assembly passed a bill to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have been released from prison.