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AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

We spoke to a well-wired Democratic operative this afternoon to get insight into how party leaders are viewing the coming fight against President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Our source, who has close ties to Senate Democrats, makes three key points:

  1. "Yes we are catering to the base," our source says. But that's a good thing. "We've been trying to get them riled up for years." Our source says many Democrats — and this includes establishment types — are thrilled to see an "organic uprising" from progressives who are furious at Trump and finally demonstrating like the Tea Party did in the early days of the Obama presidency.
  2. Democrats have learnt a key lesson from Republicans: you can be obstructionist with the highest court and get away with it electorally. The idea that voters will punish Democrats for being obstructionist is "a Washington D.C. argument" that doesn't bear out in reality. Many Democrats thought voters would punish Republicans for obstructing Obama's SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland. That didn't happen.
  3. "The idea that we're going to save the fight for the next guy is ludicrous," our source says. "Why not have the fight twice?" Our source points out that Gorsuch is 49 years old and "could be on the court for 40 years." He could ultimately tip the court on issues ranging from campaign finance to abortion rights and gay rights. The upshot: This is a fight worth having.

Our thought bubble: Democrats are going to lose this battle. With their activist base supporting them, they can force Republicans to get 60 votes on Gorsuch ("That's a high but fair bar," one leadership source said), but they'll either lose 8 vulnerable Senators to the GOP side or force McConnell to nuke the Senate and push Gorsuch ahead with just a majority. So in that case, there are many Democrats, — and not just on the Bernie flank — who think they've got little to lose politically by picking a fight.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Netanyahu and Israel reluctantly adjust to a post-Trump Washington

Netanyahu (R) and Biden in 2010. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides are very nervous about the transition to a new U.S. administration after a four-year honeymoon with Donald Trump. One Israeli official told me it felt like going through detox.

What he's saying: Netanyahu congratulated Biden minutes after he was sworn in, saying in a statement that he looked forward to working together to "continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. State of play: New coronavirus cases down, but more bad news ahead.
  2. Politics: Biden set to immediately ramp up federal pandemic response with 10 executive actions — Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. World: Biden will order U.S. to rejoin World Health OrganizationBiden to bring U.S. into global COVAX initiative for equitable vaccine access.
  4. Vaccine: Amazon offers to help Biden administration with COVID vaccine efforts.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.