AOC, Beto: The 7 letters disrupting politics
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
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 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 (R-Texas). But one Democratic operative tells the New York 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.