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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez testified Friday about living conditions for people detained at the border. Rep. Rashida Tlaib was at her side. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Top Democrats are circulating a poll showing that one of the House's most progressive members — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — has become a definitional face for the party with a crucial group of swing voters.

Why it matters: These Democrats are sounding the alarm that swing voters know and dislike socialism, warning it could cost them the House and the presidency. The poll is making the rounds of some of the most influential Democrats in America. 

  • "If all voters hear about is AOC, it could put the [House] majority at risk," said a top Democrat who is involved in 2020 congressional races. "[S]he's getting all the news and defining everyone else’s races."

The poll — taken in May, before Speaker Pelosi's latest run-in with AOC and the three other liberal House freshmen known as "The Squad" — included 1,003 likely general-election voters who are white and have two years or less of college education.

  • These are the "white, non-college voters" who embraced Donald Trump in 2016 but are needed by Democrats in swing House districts.
  • The group that took the poll shared the results with Axios on the condition that it not be named, because the group has to work with all parts of the party.

The findings:

  • Ocasio-Cortez was recognized by 74% of voters in the poll; 22% had a favorable view.
  • Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — another member of The Squad — was recognized by 53% of the voters; 9% (not a typo) had a favorable view. 

Socialism was viewed favorably by 18% of the voters and unfavorably by 69%.

  • Capitalism was 56% favorable; 32% unfavorable.
  • "Socialism is toxic to these voters," said the top Democrat.

Between the lines: Dems are performing better with these voters than in 2016 (although still not as well as in 2018). So party leaders will continue to try to define themselves around more mainstream members.

The other side: Three members of The Squad — Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — defended their approach while appearing in Philadelphia yesterday on a panel at the annual Netroots Nation conference, AP's Juana Summers reports:

  • "We never need to ask for permission or wait for an invitation to lead," Omar said, adding later that there's a "constant struggle oftentimes with people who have power about sharing that power."

Go deeper:

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Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

7 hours ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.