Oct 21, 2022 - Podcasts

Early voter turnout off to a strong start

Voters in Georgia are already casting their ballots in higher numbers than they did for the 2018 midterms elections. As of Thursday, the fourth day of early voting in the state, over 430,000 people had voted, which is more than 60% increase from 2018. That’s according to the Georgia Secretary of State.

  • Plus, the exit of British Prime Minister Liz Truss reminds us why government deficits actually matter.

Guests: Axios’ Margaret Talev, Hans Nichols, and Neil Irwin.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Alexandra Botti, Robin Linn, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Fonda Mwangi, and Alex Sugiura. 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: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Friday, October 21st.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what we’re covering today: the exit of British Prime Minister Liz Truss reminds us why government deficits actually matter.

But first: early voter turnout is off to a strong start… Our Friday politics State of Play… is today’s One Big Thing.

State of Play: Early voting turnout and election security

NIALA: Democrats and Republicans are gearing up for their final weeks before the midterm elections. Voters in Georgia are already casting ballots in higher numbers than they did for the 2018 midterm elections. As of yesterday, the fourth day of early voting in the state, over 430,000 people had voted, which is more than a 60% increase from 2018. That's according to the Georgia Secretary of State. Axios’ Managing Editor for Politics Margaret Talev and Axios White House Correspondent Hans Nichols are here for our Friday state of play. Hans, Margaret, welcome.

HANS NICHOLS: Glad to be here.


NIALA: Margaret Georgia's breaking early voting records. Is that something we may continue to see across the country as early voting polls are open?

MARGARET: It is Niala. We are seeing some early signs that nationally, early voting also is surpassing the thresholds from the 2018 midterms.There are some states where we would expect this to be more acute. Georgia's one of them. Arizona may be one of them. Why is that? Is that because more women have registered to vote as first time voters because they're inspired to turn out because they support reproductive rights. Is it because of concerns as there certainly are in Georgia, that more restrictive laws passed by legislatures are signed by the governor that make it harder to vote early, harder to use drop boxes, harder to stand in line, make it easier to challenge ballots. Are there concerns that are pushing voters who would've voted anyway to vote early to avoid those pitfalls? Those are the real questions. In other words, is this a sign that people are more motivated than ever and we're gonna see huge turnout? Or is it a sign that people who were going to vote anyway are just saying, I should just do this early this year?

HANS: I talk to Republican, Democratic strategists all day long, they're, everyone's trying to look for a glimmer of hope or some reason for optimism for either party. No one really reads too much into these early numbers. All that said, you'd rather have votes in the bank on your side than try to drive out election day turnout. We're used to voting this way. Early voting muscle memory is now in its second round. And so people just like the machine is more well oiled, like especially on the Democratic side they know how to get their voters out early.

NIALA: Hans, Democrats are growing more concerned about losing support for Black and Latino men. We talked about the Latino vote yesterday on the podcast. What are some of the warning signs Democrats are seeing with Black voters?

HANS: Well, there are two really fascinating dynamics happening with Black voters. One, you have the traditional gender gap, right? And this is according to Black Track, which is a you know, a poll that comes out from a minority owned firm that's really digging into the numbers here. And what Black Track shows you is that there's a seven point gender gap between what Black male voters are thinking and what Black females are thinking in terms of the generic ballot for Congress. But where you get the bigger, much bigger, bigger difference is in between voters under 50 and over 50. And that tells you that the generational gap among Black voters on how likely they are to support Republicans versus Democrats is much bigger than the traditional gender gap, and that is concerning to Democratic strategists for a couple reasons.

One, you know, there's an immigrant question here about, especially in Florida, where you have such a diverse Black population with, you know, African Americans, Caribbeans, Africans from the diaspora. So there's a whole fascinating set of conversations taking place on this. The bottom line is that Democrats need to really run up their numbers with Black voters if they wanna hold the Senate and have a chance of holding the house.

NIALA: In a moment, we're back with more of our Friday State of Play.


NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo. I'm here with Axios’ Hans Nichols and Margaret Talev talking about the week in politics.

This week in Arizona, the Secretary of State's office reported an incident of voter intimidation to the Department of Justice. Do we have a sense of how concerned folks are or what the Department of Justice is seeing in terms of reports of voter intimidation around the country right now as people are headed to the polls?

MARGARET: Niala, this is crunch time and in every battleground state in the country, in every state in the country, because of what happened in the 2020 election and the aftermath there is a real concern about not just protecting voter safety at the polls, but making sure the voters aren't intimidated from going to the polls.

HANS: Yeah, look, I hesitate to make a prediction in October, but I'll go ahead and do it. This is going to get much uglier because one person's voter intimidation is another person's voter integrity.

NIALA: Given the focus that so many election deniers have put on ballot box security, What do we know about ballot box security as it stands across the country?

MARGARET: Niala, if you go online and you look at CISA, that's the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s guidance on the infrastructure of elections. You will see a description that says a ballot drop box provides a secure and convenient means for voters to return their mail ballot. Period. A drop box is a secure locked structure operated by election officials. And all of the drama around 2020 and all of the conspiracy theories have not changed that, whether ballot drop boxes become targets for any kind of election mishegoss is a different story but voters in places who have access to ballot drop boxes should feel absolutely safe and secure using them, and they have been safe and secure in elections past. One of the challenges is that in some states, there are fewer ballot drop boxes as a result of the quote on quote reforms after the massive turnout of the last elections.

NIALA: Axios’ Managing Editor for Politics Margaret Talev and Axios Politics Reporter Hans Nichols who covers the White House for us. Thanks for joining us.

MARGARET: Thanks Niala.

HANS: You bet.

The exit of British Prime Minister Liz Truss reminds us why government deficits actually matter

NIALA: UK's Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned yesterday after just 45 days in office, making her the shortest-serving British Prime Minister ever. She's also the fourth Prime Minister to resign since the 2016 Brexit vote. Her departure comes after her economic plan to cut taxes, which would've created a higher budget deficit caused turbulence in the UK's financial markets. Axios’ Chief Economic Correspondent, Neil Irwin says this is a sign that deficits still matter and he's here to explain more. Hey Neil.


NIALA: I think first, people are always talking about deficits, but can we just establish what a deficit is before we talk about it?

NEIL: Sure. When the government spends more money than it brings in, it runs a deficit. It borrows money to fill the gap, and that money over time, builds up and becomes the national debt. And you know, the United States and Britain run significant deficits every year. This plan that the British government was trying to implement would've made that deficit in the UK a lot wider by as you said, cutting taxes, also subsidizing energy for people dealing with high gas bills.

NIALA: So how much wider? Because we should be clear this economic plan is now effectively defunct, but it completely spooked financial markets.

NEIL: That's right numbers, by the US standards, the numbers did not look that huge. You know, 35 billion pounds I think. But that's a smaller economy and so that amounted to about 1.5% of GDP. That's, you know, it's not a massive, massive number but it was enough to make global investors say, holy moly I'm not sure if I want to own UK government debt right now. I think interest rates are gonna go higher in the future because the Bank of England's gonna have to raise interest rates because these deficits are gonna be harder to sustain. And therefore you had this massive selloff in British government bonds. And that's what created this volatility that led to the departure of the Prime Minister.

NIALA: So what does, what happened in the UK say to you about what we should be thinking about in terms of governments and deficits?

NEIL: I think the key idea is that there's no free lunch. And I think for a long time through the 2010s, going back to the financial crisis, it did seem like there was a free lunch. Interest rates were very low. Inflation was very low. You didn't have to really engage in trade offs, and if the government wanted to spend money, they could borrow money and spend it, without many constraints. And that does not seem to be the world we're in right now, in this world of high inflation, higher interest rates. So I think what it means is if you're a public official, if you're a president, if you're a member of Congress and you want to spend money, you want to cut taxes, you have to think about those trade-offs in ways that for a long time we just didn’t.

NIALA: Axios’ Chief Economic Correspondent Neil Irwin. Thanks, Neil.

NEIL: Thanks Niala.

NIALA: That’s all for this week. Axios Today is produced by Fonda Mwangi, Lydia McMullen-Laird, and Robin Linn. Our sound engineer is Alex Sugiura. Alexandra Botti is our supervising producer. Sara Kehaulani Goo is Axios’ editor in chief. And special thanks as always to Axios co-founder Mike Allen.

I’m Niala Boodhoo. Stay safe, enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

NIALA: Kai Wright grew up in the Black church. And his favorite part was the hugs, the winks, the check-ins with people. Join him to gather, process, and figure out where this country is going, together. Find Notes From America wherever you get podcasts.

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