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Expand chart
Notes: The Cook Partisan Voter Index is a measure of how liberal or conservative a district leans based on the two most recent elections. Pennsylvania PVI and vote margins reflect the 2016 district map prior to being redrawn. Data: Census Bureau 2012-16 American Community Survey, Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

This graphic shows why voters in this year's midterm elections are likely to hear such different stories about the economy: blue districts are more likely to have serious income inequality than red districts. That's why Democrats and Republicans have two conflicting narratives: What's true for one party's constituents often isn't true for the other's.

Why it matters: Each party has pushed a narrative that reflects the truth of their side while angering and scaring those on the other side. Until someone comes up with an agenda that encompasses both sides, politicians will be speaking to only half of the country at a time.

The trends:

  • Blue districts tend to have more households with incomes above $200,000 than red districts do.
  • But blue districts also tend to have more households with incomes below $10,000 than red districts do.
  • Blue districts are more likely to have high levels of income variation than red districts. Red districts have more people with similar incomes.

Between the lines: There's inequality within districts and inequality between districts. Yet neither party has successfully leveled the playing field while in control.

  • Democrats speak about policies that redistribute wealth and reduce income inequality because they live in unequal places.
  • Republicans resent the lecturing of "liberal elites" and embrace policies that promote opportunity, because they live in places where people are generally in similar economic situations.

What they're saying: There's political opportunity in deepening this divide. "Political messaging has always been a driver for people’s partisan affiliations…but what’s more interesting today is that we’re in an age of fear and loss," said Brookings' Nicol Turner-Lee.

  • "The moral of the story is that everyone plays off their base … the base is being driven by the fears of their own lived realities in the economy," Turner-Lee continued.
  • When there are big disparities in communities, "that is top of your mind in your speeches and the issues that you care about. But if you’re [seeing] it’s not that big of a problem … then your focus shifts away," said the American Enterprise Institute's Aparna Mathur.

Yes, but: There's huge political opportunity in bridging the divide, too. “Whoever can deconstruct these messages would be highly successful in winning the national election," Turner-Lee said.

Go deeper:

Blue districts have higher uninsured rates and more poverty

Wave watch: How the special elections could predict the midterms

Go deeper

CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions

CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned states on Monday that "now is not the time" to lift public health restrictions, as the recent dramatic declines in coronavirus cases and deaths "appear to be stalling."

Why it matters: While the average of 70,000 new infections and 2,000 daily deaths is nowhere near the extremely high levels recorded at the start of 2021, the figures are still a poor baseline to "stop a potential fourth surge" — especially with the threat posed by more contagious new variants, Walensky warned.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduces "ultra-millionaire" wealth tax bill

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday introduced a bill in the Senate that would impose a new tax on the assets of America's wealthiest individuals.

Why it matters: The plan, which Warren introduced along with Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) is similar to a proposal that was the centerpiece of Warren's campaign for the presidency in 2020.

3 hours ago - World

Former French President Sarkozy sentenced to jail for corruption

Nicolas Sarkozy, 2011. Photo: XINHUA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

A court in Paris on Monday sentenced former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence after he was found guilty of trying to bribe a magistrate, AP reports.

Driving the news: Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, is the first president in France’s modern history to have gone on trial for corruption, per AP. He was charged with corruption and influence-peddling.

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