Jul 18, 2022 - Podcasts

Historic heat in Europe

France and the U.K. are facing record-high temperatures this week, in what’s shaping up to be one of the worst heat waves on record in western Europe. And a wildfire crisis has caused thousands to evacuate parts of Spain, Portugal and France.

  • Plus: watching a political realignment in real time.
  • And: how swing state voters feel about Trump’s role in the January 6th riot.

Guests: Axios' Andrew Freedman and Josh Kraushaar.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Alex Sugiura, and Ben O'Brien. 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 Monday, July 18th. I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Today: watching a political realignment in real time. Plus, how swing state voters feel about Trump’s role in the January 6th riot.

But first, historic heat in Europe is today’s one big thing.

NIALA: France and the UK are facing record high temperatures this week in what's shaping up to be one of the worst heat waves on record in Western Europe. And a wildfire crisis has caused thousands to evacuate Spain, Portugal and France. Here to provide some context on all of this is Axios climate reporter, Andrew Freedman. Hi, Andrew.

ANDREW FREEDMAN: Hi there. Thanks for having me.

NIALA: Andrew, it seems like Europe has these kinds of heat waves every summer, but I was checking the forecast for London this week and it's mind boggling to me. It's supposed to be 101 degrees Fahrenheit there tomorrow?

ANDREW: Yeah the forecast for the UK is actually unprecedented. Everything that I'm seeing in these computer models, showing in the weather forecast for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in parts of Europe, they're printing out something that just hasn't happened before and we have to be more ready for these types of situations. And one of those responses is what the UK did on Friday, which was making that decision to raise the alert level to a national emergency.

NIALA: And Andrew of course, the big difference between here and Europe is air conditioning, which is not very common. So given that, what is the public health threat with this extreme level of heat?

ANDREW: So the public health threat in Europe is really acute. I would say that judging from past heat waves, as recently as the Pacific Northwest heat wave of last year, we're looking at the likelihood of several thousand deaths as a result of this event, both in the UK, France, as well as several other countries.

NIALA: What about these wildfires? I mentioned at the beginning that thousands of people have been evacuated. Are people also in danger of losing their homes?

ANDREW: There are homes that are in danger. Some of these fires are in the vicinity of popular tourist areas, in, uh, Malaga, Spain, the Bordeaux region of France. Some other areas of Portugal. These are being seen by people. These are being felt by people in terms of the evacuation requirements. There's a drought going on at the same time as the heat. So they expected a a harsh wildfire season. They didn't expect this.

NIALA: Travel has already been a nightmare in Europe this summer. How will all of this make this worse?

ANDREW: So the heat will, uh, disrupt the rail travel networks, especially in Spain, France, the UK, uh, because railroad tracks and heat don't mix well. They can be weakened. They can be warped, and trains have to slow down. There is also a problem, which actually happened to the vice president's plane, in Chicago a couple weeks ago where aircraft can sink into hot pavement. So there could be air travel delays. There could be rail delays and bus networks maybe disrupted a little bit too by this.

NIALA: Andrew, one recent study says that European heat waves have been more common than in other parts of the world. Why is that?

ANDREW: So that particular study, that came out earlier this month, looked at configurations of the jet stream. And sometimes when the jet stream splits into two of these streams downwind of Europe. you can get stuck weather patterns, which lead to, uh, high pressure systems, also known as heat domes, and when they sit over an area for a long period of time, they can build up that heat degree by degree by degree. As the air sinks in the atmosphere, it discourages any precipitation. And then if you look at what's driving those jet stream ties, you start to come to the suspect of climate change.

NIALA: Andrew Friedman is a climate and energy reporter for Axios. Thanks Andrew.

ANDREW: Thanks for having me.

NIALA: In a moment: a seismic shift for Democrats.

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NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo. The Democratic electorate is changing. Democrats now have a bigger advantage with white college graduates than with non-white voters according to recent New York Times-Siena College poll. And as Axios senior politics reporter Josh Kraushaar reports, the identities of both parties are shifting in real time. Hey Josh, welcome to the podcast and to Axios.

JOSH KRAUSHAAR: Thanks Niala. It's really exciting to, to be here on, on my first episode.

NIALA: So in your reporting, you say we're watching in real time one of the biggest political stories of all time and that's a political realignment. How so?

JOSH: Yeah, well, the diversity and the changing makeup of both parties has been happening slowly but surely over the last five or six years. I think the larger point that we're seeing in some of the new polling is that the democratic party has alienated a lot of their core voters. These are voters, by the way, that were making up a critical part of their their constituency. They were winning overwhelming shares, certainly of Black voters, Hispanic voters, Asian-Americans in, in the last few elections. But what we've seen in 2020, and what we've seen in polling since then, is that non-white working class voters have been alienated from the democratic party and in some cases have moved towards the Republican party. In fact, just an election this past month in Texas on, on the, Mexico border, a district that overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, it voted a Republican, uh, Mayra Flores, to the Congress in a district that's still voted for Joe Biden in the last election. Um, so that, that's an example of just how significant, how seismic these shifts have taken place in parts of the country in the last six or so years.

NIALA: So we are talking about alienation because of politics, but how much is the economy and inflation and the current economic situation going to play a role in this calculus as well.

JOSH: Undeniably that is, the economy inflation, that is the number one issue for all voters, but particularly voters, you know, more middle class, more, more working class backgrounds. The New York Time-Siena poll actually had an interesting finding in that wealthier whiter voters had the luxury of, of, of focusing on other issues like gun control, abortion rights, and so on very important issues, but they, they disproportionately ranked those issues more than everyone else. Whereas the economy was far and away, the inflation was far and away that the top issue among most Americans and look, like when you have people struggling to make ends meet, when you know, inflation is really cut into the gas prices, grocery prices cut into people's paychecks, that is ultimately gonna be the driving force. I think a lot of working class Americans are, are feeling the pinch and they're blaming the party and power for it and that's driving the Republican momentum among non-white groups.

NIALA: So this is all polling. How are we likely to see this play out in November and the midterms?

JOSH: One thing I'm, I'm keeping a close eye on is the number of non-white candidates running on the Republican side. Hispanic candidates in particular. Republicans have earned this reputation of just being the candidate of, of white men, that they don't have a very diverse lineup of candidates. And, and frankly that that's a big, big political handicap. In 2022, like they've learned their lesson and they've internalized it. And you see, you know, they're at least, I think like half dozen Latinas running in swing districts, three in Texas, one in Virginia. They have a much more diverse recruiting class than I've seen in quite some time. They also are running in districts that are more diverse than before. So some of the more affluent suburban districts that used to be the big battlegrounds in the house are out of reach are not quite as competitive, but a lot of the more diverse districts that may be a little bit more middle class, those are the types of districts that are growing more competitive and growing very winnable for the Republican party.

NIALA: Josh Kraushaar is a senior politics reporter with Axios. Thanks Josh.

JOSH: Thanks.

NIALA: Before we go, one more political story that caught our eye this weekend:

In the latest focus group from our partners at Engagious/Schlesinger, 10 out of 14 swing voters in Wisconsin said former President Trump should be prosecuted for trying to overturn the 2020 election, and for his role in the attack on the Capitol. Last month, a similar focus group found 10 of 13 Arizona swing voters said the same. As Axios’ Alexi McCammond writes, this suggests the January 6 hearings are resonating with some voters who once backed the former president. We’ll put a link to Alexi’s story in our show notes - and – another primetime hearing is scheduled for this Thursday.

That’s all we’ve got for you today!

I’m Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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