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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

Swing voters oppose Texas abortion law

Protesters at a rally at the Texas State Capitol. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

All 10 swing voters in Axios’ latest focus groups — including those who described themselves as "pro-life" — said they oppose Texas' new anti-abortion law.

Why it matters: If their responses reflect larger patterns in U.S. society, this could hurt Republicans with women and independents in next year's midterm elections. The swing voters cited overreach, invasion of privacy and concerns about frivolous lawsuits jamming up the courts.

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Florida on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

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