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Mayoral candidate Eric Adams greets NYPD officers in Manhattan on Wednesday. Photo: John Minchillo/AP

A growing number of Democrats are ringing the alarm that their party sounds — and acts — too judgmental, too sensitive, too "woke" to large swaths of America. 

Why it matters: These Democrats warn that by jamming politically correct terms or new norms down the throats of voters, they risk exacerbating the cultural wars — and inadvertently helping Trumpian candidates. 

Top Democrats confide that they're very aware of the danger. Already, we've seen a widespread pullback in the "defund the police" rhetoric.

  • Former NYPD captain Eric Adams, who this week won New York City's Democratic mayoral primary, showed his party the power of a message that supports police while including justice and reform.
  • "If we are for SAFETY — we NEED the NYPD!" Adams says on his campaign site. "At the same time," he acknowledges, "we face a crisis of confidence in our police."

Democratic strategist James Carville has been warning his party about this for months, telling Vox in an April interview:

  • "You ever get the sense that people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges use a different language than ordinary people? ... This is not how voters talk."

Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan wrote this week in the Wall Street Journal that she believes the left is misreading its position and "overplaying its hand."

  • She cited a new essay by Kevin Drum, formerly of Washington Monthly and Mother Jones, who wrote: "[T]he truth is that the Democratic Party has been pulled far enough left that even lots of non-crazy people find us just plain scary — something that Fox News takes vigorous advantage of."

On the flip side, "How to Be an Antiracist" author Ibram X. Kendi, who directs Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research, wrote in The Atlantic on Friday that Republican operatives "have conjured an imagined monster to scare the American people and project themselves as the nation’s defenders from that fictional monster."

What we're hearing: Moderate and swing-district lawmakers and aides tell Axios' Margaret Talev and Alayna Treene that the party could suffer massive losses in next year's midterms if Democrats run like Sen. Elizabeth Warren is president.

  • One former Senate aide said it's "bye-bye majority" if Democrats run on "extreme wokeness."

Between the lines: The big question is how different the midterms will be from 2020. People voted for Democrats in November when the same talking points and ideas were being discussed. The presidency was at stake, but the other cultural or social issues were the same.

What to watch: This tension is a huge test for President Biden. He knows that the rising left in his party, while great for fundraising and media coverage, could be electorally disastrous.

Axios' Kim Hart and Alayna Treene contributed reporting.

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Go deeper

Dems trying Facebook - to boost candidates

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One new strategy Democrats are trying ahead of the 2022 midterms: flooding voters' Facebook feeds with factual, positive news articles about President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.

Why it matters: While the 2016 and 2020 elections — and this week's congressional testimony — were all about Facebook and other social media being used for nefarious purposes, this tack tries to harness the Social Network for positive political gain.

27 mins ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.

Retail stock traders power stunning comeback after deep selloff

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Stocks staged a Patrick Mahomes-esque comeback Monday, after plunging for the first few hours of trading.

Why it matters: The remarkable recovery suggests that retail traders who upended markets over the last year — most notably during the GameStop bonanza that occurred almost exactly a year ago — continue to be powerful influence in the markets.

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