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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.

Expand chart
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

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden: "Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been"

President Biden speaks during the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service at the U.S Capitolon Oct. 16. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden speaking at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday honored members of law enforcement who died in the line of duty in 2019 and 2021 and saluted those who are currently serving.

Driving the news: "We expect everything of you, and it's beyond the capacity of anyone to meet the total expectations. Being a cop today is one hell of a lot harder than it's ever been," Biden said.

Updated 5 hours ago - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

New wave of strikes will test worker power

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thousands of John Deere workers hit the picket line this week after the union smacked down a new worker contract from the farm and equipment maker.

Why it matters: There’s a wave of worker angst spreading across the country. They wield new power that’s come with a historic worker shortage.

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