Sep 17, 2021 - Podcasts

What California’s recall election and the Texas abortion law have in common

California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom survived a Republican-led effort to recall him from office this week. Axios' Margaret Talev says new polling points to some GOP voters pushing back on the party.

  • Plus, research into kids and long COVID.
  • And, crab cakes are the latest supply-chain headache.

Guests: Axios' Margaret Talev, Tina Reed, and Michael Graff.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Alex Sugiura, and Michael Hanf. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today! It’s Friday, September 17th. I’m Niala Boodhoo. Here’s how we’re making you smarter today: research into kids and long COVID. Plus, crabcakes are the latest supply chain headache. But first, today’s One Big Thing: what California’s recall election and the Texas abortion law have in common.

Earlier this week, California's governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, survived a Republican led effort to recall him from office. What does that say, if anything, about Republican political chances in other key Congressional races next year? Axios’ White House and politics managing editor, Margaret Talev joins us, as she does, on Fridays to answer that question. Hey Margaret.

MARGARET TALEV: Hi Niala, it's great to be with you.

NIALA: Earlier in the week, the big story was this recall race. So what's your analysis of what this says?

MARGARET: Well, one thing it says is just that California's a firmly solidly, liberal-leaning Democratic state and that if Democrats have a reason to turn out, they will. This also showed us that it is harder than Republicans hoped it would be to run on a Trump message when Trump himself is not on the ballot. And I think a third thing that it showed us is that if you overreach in your efforts, there could be a backlash and Republicans now may have had the unintended consequences of saving Gavin Newsom his political career.

NIALA: Now, as you mentioned, California is a solidly blue state. Does that overreach extend to other parts of the country or is this just a California specific thing?

MARGARET: I think that's a really important question. I mean, there is an essential message here about understanding your audience and about understanding how voters really feel about the pandemic. The pandemic is what has been driving a wave of recall efforts around the country, not just in California, but governors in other states. But how many of these are actually going to be successful? It comes down to two questions: how do voters really feel about how that elected official has handled the pandemic and who is turning out to vote? Turnout is essential. And that's one thing this election showed us.

NIALA: What about other issues that traditionally have brought voters out like abortion? Is that still true?

MARGARET: I think in midterm elections or any election, we think about the economy as being like an essential question, right? But abortion can be a galvanizing issue. And one thing that I see in common between the California recall and the Texas law, that's getting so much attention now, again is this fundamental political question of overreach. This is a law that gives incentives to people to sue like the Uber driver or you know, the pastor who counsels a woman and helps her to get an abortion after those six weeks. Axios does these focus groups with voters in swing states who had voted for President Trump in 2016 and President Biden in 2020. This was a panel of 10 swing voters. Many of them didn't really even know the details of the law, but when those details were described, there was universal opposition to the law and it's not because they all supported abortion. But they were very concerned about what they saw as overreach, as an invasion of privacy, and as concerns that this was sort of a frivolous law that was going to jam up the courts.

NIALA: White House and politics managing editor at Margaret Talev. Have a great weekend, Margaret.

MARGARET: Thanks Niala.

NIALA: We’ll be back in 15 seconds with what we know about long COVID in children.


NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today! I’m Niala Boodhoo. Researchers and doctors have been scrambling since last year to understand why some people who contract COVID-19 experienced long-term symptoms, and increasingly research into long COVID is looking at how it's affecting kids.

DR ALEXANDRA YONTS: Studies that have been done suggest 10 to 20% of kids have some sort of persistent symptom after COVID. And that has been repeated a couple of different times with decent reliability.

NIALA: That's Dr. Alexandra Yonts. She's with the Post-COVID Program at Children's National Hospital in D.C. She spoke with Axios’ own Tina Reed for a reality check on what we do and don't know yet about kids and long COVID. Hi, Tina.

TINA REED: Hi Niala.

NIALA: Tina, can you first remind us what actually constitutes a long COVID diagnosis when it comes to kids?

TINA: So speaking with Dr. Yonts, she said that the kids that are coming into her clinic are under 21. They've had persistent symptoms for at least 30 days, and they had a positive COVID test. What's interesting about kids and COVID compared to adults and long COVID is that they haven't always had symptoms. Dr. Yonts said some of them are asymptomatic, but they've simply had a positive COVID test. And then they found that they had persistent symptoms after.

NIALA: And what are those persistent symptoms?

TINA: So Dr. Yonts gave me a huge range of what she's been seeing in her clinic. Here's a little bit about what she said she's been seeing recently:

YONTS: We had children that literally just had loss of taste and smell, and it was impacting their ability to eat. And they were eating junk food, because that's all that, you know, they could tolerate. Ranging up to one of our older adolescent patients, wasn't able to stay awake for more than 30 minutes at a time.

NIALA: We heard Dr. Yonts cite some data that this might affect 10 to 20% of children. How certain are we about those studies?

TINA: We're not, there's still a lot of studies and the studies so far have been quite small. They're not always certain in kids, as well as adults, whether or not this is a truly long COVID symptoms, symptoms associated with the ongoing pandemic, or a little bit of both.

NIALA: And what did you learn in reporting this out about treatment for long COVID?

TINA: So in the case of the kids that had a loss of taste and smell, they actually were being sent home with different things to smell multiple times per day. And then other people were being treated with different respiratory treatments that are already on the market. But they're really still trying to figure out what the protocol should be. They don't necessarily have all the answers yet.

NIALA: What do you think parents should take away from all of this, Tina?

TINA: This is really just another reminder of why parents should really be trying to get their kids vaccinated as soon as possible. We're not really sure, um, the impact of vaccines have on kids and long COVID. Or on adults and long COVID. In the absence of vaccines for those kids who are 12 and younger, they should be making careful choices when it comes to socially distancing, um, wearing masks and, um, just trying to be overall careful.

NIALA: Tina Reed is a healthcare editor for Axios.

TINA: Thank you, Niala.

NIALA: We talked a lot about kids and COVID on the show this week, and we will keep bringing you new stories as we get them -- in the meantime a big thanks to those of you who sent us your struggles and victories with your kids’ learning and development during the pandemic. If you haven't yet, text a voice memo with your name and location to (202) 918-4893, and we will share some of your stories on the podcast next week.

NIALA: Crab cakes are one of my very favorite foods, which is why I know that the price at my local grocery store has gone up. It's almost $2 more a crab cake! And in Charlotte, North Carolina, you can expect to wait in line for hours for an equally expensive crab cake. Axios’ Charlotte editor, Michael Graff has the story. Hey Michael.

MICHAEL GRAFF: Hey, how are you?

NIALA: Hey, Michael, we've been talking in the past about supply chain disruptions on the podcast. Why is this happening with crab meat?

MICHAEL: It starts basically in the water, like everything with crabs. Uh, and this winter, they did have in the Chesapeake, especially they had a population drop of juvenile crabs, we had some issues with supply chain. Some-some places didn't have enough pickers this year to pick crabs. Crab meat last year at this time was probably $20 to $30, and some places now you're getting it for $50 to $60. And it sort of has just led to this incredible crush at, at restaurants for folks.

NIALA: Michael, you have some family connections to this business, you know, a lot about crabs.

MICHAEL: Yeah, my dad was a fisherman on the-on the Chesapeake. And so my first memories are catching crabs with chicken necks on the, on the water. And we sort of lived by the mantra that if this year is bad, or this year could be bad, next year al-always has the possibility of being better. There's one guy out on the coast of North Carolina, he’s been doing it for 50 years. And he said, if they were all good years, everybody would be doing this.

NIALA: Axios’ Charlotte editor, Michael Graff. Thanks for joining us, Michael.

MICHAEL: Thank you.

NIALA: Well that’s all for this week. Axios Today is brought to you by Axios and Pushkin Industries. We’re produced by Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, and Lydia McMullen-Laird. Our sound engineers are Alex Sugiura and Michael Hanf. Dan Bobkoff is our Executive Producer. Sara Kehaulani Goo is our Executive Editor. And special thanks to Axios co-founder Mike Allen. I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and have the best weekend.

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