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Harris and Castro. Photos: Cliff Hawkins/Win McNamee/Getty Images

Lots of voters decided to "swipe right" on Kamala Harris and Julián Castro after the first Democratic debates — signaling in polling and donations that they're interested to learn more about these candidates.

Why it matters: Now the pressure is on to make a lasting impression and keep up this post-debate momentum as much as they can before the next debates on July 30 & 31.

Harris' strategy, per her campaign, is to keep her in front of new voters and spend money. "We are foot on the gas," texted Ian Sams, national press secretary for her campaign. 

  • She just finished another Iowa tour and a few stints in Houston, New Orleans, and South Carolina — all in one week.
  • They're also investing heavily in Iowa, which is counter to her early strategy of spending more time in places like California and Texas.
  • They now have 65 staffers on the ground in Iowa "to harness energy into organizing capacity coming off the debate," Sams said, adding that they believe it might be the largest Iowa team of any 2020 candidate right now.

Castro's campaign says he's not changing a thing. "Secretary Castro isn't changing the way he campaigns ... [just] because he has a bigger spotlight," said Sawyer Hackett, the campaign's national press secretary.

  • The aggressiveness of his debate-night battle with Beto O'Rourke may have surprised voters and the media, but Castro maintains that's who he really is — especially passionate when it comes to immigration.
  • Castro plans to unveil at least two new policy proposals before the end of the month, including on climate change and gun violence prevention, his team said. He's also adding stops in Florida and Texas.
  • And now the campaign has press embeds traveling with them everywhere they go — a stark departure from just a few weeks ago when they'd have to beg for that kind of media attention. 

The momentum for these two candidates was clear immediately after the debates.

  • Every post-debate poll has Harris firmly in third place, polling as high as 20% in some and within striking distance of Biden in others. Just days before the debates, she was polling in single digits.
  • FiveThirtyEight found roughly 25% of Harris' "new" supporters — those who said she's their first choice after the debate — previously said they were on Team Biden.
  • In one HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 people, 29% of voters said their opinion of Castro improved after the debate. That includes 24% of independents and 11% of Republicans.
  • The buzz is seen in events, too. Castro's campaign planned "an intimate meet-and-greet" for 100 people at a mall in Texas this week, and 350 people showed up.

The bottom line: Presidential debates this early in the cycle matter because they drive media coverage, which leads to shifts in polling and surges in fundraising. But the next debates could reward someone else entirely.

Go deeper: What you need to know about the 2020 presidential candidates, in under 500 words

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
31 mins ago - Economy & Business

Stock buybacks are kicking back into high gear

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It was expected that with the economy improving and company balance sheets already loaded with cash, U.S. firms would slow down their debt issuance in 2021 after setting records in 2020. But just the opposite has happened.

Why it matters: Companies generally issue bonds for one of two reasons — because they're worried about not having enough cash to cover their expenses or because they want to lever up and make risky bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Japan vows deeper emissions cuts ahead of White House summit

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan on Thursday said it will seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 46% below 2013 levels by 2030, per the AP and other outlets.

Why it matters: The country is the world's fifth-largest largest carbon dioxide emitter and a major consumer of coal, oil and natural gas.

2 hours ago - Technology

The global race to regulate AI

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Regulators in Europe and Washington are racing to figure out how to govern business' use of artificial intelligence while companies push to deploy the technology.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, the EU revealed a detailed proposal on how AI should be regulated, banning some uses outright and defining which uses of AI are deemed "high-risk."

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