Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer at the State of the Union. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Democrats have more midterm anxiety than you might think, given most pundits are confidently predicting Republicans will lose the House.

Two sources with direct knowledge tell me that at the recent Democratic Senate retreat at Mount Vernon, they invited a focus group of voters to discuss the issues they care about and the political landscape.

What the voters kept saying: "Republicans have the wrong agenda; Democrats have no agenda."

A Senate aide told me leadership is acutely aware of this problem, and hopes immigration will fill their agenda gap. Another top Senate aide, however, told me their messaging will highlight a broader set of issues, including pensions, opioid funding, child care, and student loans. They will boast that they moved the ball forward on these issues with the budget deal.

Their toughest challenge: keeping this message from being totally drowned out by coverage of the President’s alleged affairs, the Russia probe, the Robert Porter domestic violence cover-up, and other wild stories. Democrats are aware that cable news producers would much rather air segments on Stormy Daniels than pension reform.

By the way: Hillary Clinton had this problem too. Her campaign staff always bemoaned the fact that the national media showed infinitely more interest in Trump’s JFK conspiracy theories than her white papers on Alzheimer’s.

On top of that: Several top Hill Democrats told me they worry too many of their colleagues think they can flip the House just by bashing Trump and talking about Russia. If the focus groups at the retreat showed them anything, it’s that that won’t be enough.

Go deeper

31 mins ago - World

"I stood up for that": Pope Francis voices support for same-sex civil unions

Pope Francis at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Photo: Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Pope Francis voiced his support for same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope in the documentary “Francesco,” which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival, per the Catholic News Agency.

Why it matters: The pope’s remarks represent a break from the position of the Roman Catholic Church, which has long taught that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered" and contrary to natural law.

2 hours ago - World

Countries waiting to see if Trump wins before moving on Israel normalization

The delegation lands at Israel's Ben Gurion airport. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty

The White House is attempting to leverage momentum from Israel's normalization deals with Bahrain and the UAE to get more Arab countries on board before the U.S. election.

Driving the news: President Trump wants Sudan's removal from the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list to be accompanied by a pre-election announcement on Israel.

Poll: 92% of battleground state voters are "extremely motivated to vote"

Voters stand in line at the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center in Houston, Texas, on Oct. 13. Photo: Mark Felix for The Washington Post via Getty Images

91% of likely voters nationally say they are "extremely motivated to vote," including 92% in battleground states Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to a Change Research/CNBC Poll.

Why it matters: The 2020 election could see record-breaking levels of voter turnout. Voters last week cast ballots at nearly five times the rate they did at this point in the 2016 election, per the U.S. Elections Project. Over 39 million ballots have been cast in early voting states as of Wednesday.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!