Jan 22, 2019

3. 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 (D-Texas) 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. But one Democratic operative tells the N.Y. Times that some chafe at his "Beto-first politics."

Neera Tanden, president of the progressive Center for American Progress, told me: "Both of them understand that people are tired of traditional politics and looking for authenticity."

  • "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.

Data: Democrats and those who lean Democratic from a SurveyMonkey poll of 2,277 U.S. adults conducted January 16–18 with a margin of error of ±3.5 percent. Poll methodology; Chart: Axios Visuals

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Situational awareness

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren supporters form super PAC
  2. We may be on "the brink" of coronavirus pandemic
  3. Pentagon policy chief resigns
  4. National polls show Bernie in control ahead of Nevada
  5. How a Chinese think tank rates all 50 U.S. governors
  6. Sanders and Bloomberg battle over heart health

Trump has declared war on sanctuary cities

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Armed with subpoenas, lawsuits and immigration SWAT teams, the Trump administration has declared war on sanctuary cities.

The big picture: President Trump and his administration have used every available tool to try to crack down on local governments that refuse to hold immigrants in criminal custody, block immigration agents from working in county jails or deny federal authorities access to immigrants' records.

Peter Thiel's Founders Fund isn't really Peter Thiel's Founders Fund

Illustration: Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Charles Eshelman, Steve Jennings, and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Founders Fund has raised $3 billion for a pair of new funds, so expect a slew of headlines about how "Peter Thiel's venture capital firm" is now flush with cash.

Behind the scenes: Thiel is essential to Founders Fund, but he's not autocratic. Instead, Axios has learned that he's one of three people with veto power over most FF investments, and is unable to do a deal without approval of the other two.