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Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios - Note: Hover over the weekly rank on desktop to see articles and interactions for each candidate and issue.

Elizabeth Warren, who rose to the top with big liberal bets, is banking a big slice of her presidential run on full-throated support for Medicare for All. 

Why it matters: Warren is taking a beating on social media after claiming middle class Americans won’t pay higher taxes to fund health care coverage fully paid for by taxpayers, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios. At the same time, her poll numbers nationally are slipping. 

The bigger picture: Numerous prominent Democrats have told us Trump will feast on Warren’s plan to eliminate private insurance to force everyone onto Medicare. They worry she has no wiggle room to backtrack if she wins the nomination because her entire reputation is wrapped around not buckling on big debates like health care. 

By the numbers: Of the 50 biggest stories over the last two weeks about Elizabeth Warren's plan to pay for Medicare for All, 70% were negative, according to NewsWhip data.

  • Criticism around how to pay for the plan has been accompanied by a rapid descent in the polls. After briefly overtaking Joe Biden atop the 2020 Democratic polling average on Oct. 8, Warren has tumbled and now trails Biden by 7.2 points.

Between the lines: The blowback against Warren is a natural consequence of her emergence as a top threat in the race, illustrated by the incoming she faced in the October debate.

  • It is a reversal of a trend we saw in the summer, in which Warren was the beneficiary of glowing stories and subsequently climbed in polling.
  • The criticism picked up following the debate after she danced around questions of whether the plan would require a middle-class tax hike.

Between the lines: While not explicitly about Warren, a Yahoo Finance article from late October that calculates the taxes necessary to pay for Medicare for All was the biggest article associated with Warren in 2019 on social media with 820k interactions (likes, comments, shares).

  • According to NewsWhip data, the criticism picked up steam in the wake of her announcement of how to pay for the plan, which requires an additional $20.5 trillion of federal spending.

The top negative stories in the last two weeks:

  1. The Democratic plan for a 42% national sales tax (Yahoo) — 820k interactions
  2. Warren agrees Medicare-for-All could result in two million jobs lost: 'This is part of the cost issue' (Fox News) — 43k
  3. Warren says health insurance workers laid off under 'Medicare-for-all' can work in auto, life insurance (Fox News) — 42k
  4. Elizabeth Warren Says Massive Job Loss Is Part of the Cost of Medicare-For-All (IJR) — 40k
  5. Elizabeth Warren Wants To Pay for Medicare for All With a $9 Trillion Tax That Will Hit the Middle Class (Reason) — 40k

Our 2020 attention tracker is based on data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios as part of a project that will regularly update throughout the 2020 campaign.

Go deeper: See all past editions of the tracker here.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

3 hours ago - World

Olaf Scholz sworn in as German chancellor, succeeding Merkel

Incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn in by Bundestag President Bärbel Bas in Berlin today. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Social Democrat Olaf Scholz was sworn in as chancellor of Germany on Wednesday, succeeding Angela Merkel after 16 years and launching a new era of German and European politics.

Why it matters: Scholz, a center-left pragmatist who served as finance minister and vice chancellor in Merkel's last government, will lead Europe's largest economy in a coalition with the environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats.