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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

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

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U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.