Oct 18, 2020

Axios AM

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  • Breaking: Speaker Nancy Pelosi has given the White House a 48-hour deadline to reconcile stimulus differences in order to reach a deal before the election.
1 big thing: The green tsunami

Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison of South Carolina (at a drive-in rally in North Charleston yesterday) is the Senate cash champ. Photo: Cameron Pollack/Getty Images

The most shocking pre-election result neither side can dispute is in: Democrats are destroying Republicans in truly historic ways in fundraising. 

  • Why it matters: Money can’t buy elections, but it sure helps. And Joe Biden and a half dozen Senate Democratic candidates are bathing in cash, often with 2x or 3x advantages over their opponents. 
  • A top Republican insider told me: "Fundraising is a barometer of voter support and intensity. Pretty clear from these numbers who has more support and enthusiasm."

Let’s go to the tape: 

  • On the air, President Trump is being "vastly outspent" by Biden, who has maintained a nearly 2-to-1 advantage for months, the N.Y. Times reports on today's front page.
  • Joe Biden and the DNC raised $383 million in September, compared to $248 million for Trump and the RNC. Biden's campaign had $432 million in cash on hand, to $251 million for Trump's campaign and joint committees.
  • In the top 14 Senate races, Democrats more than doubled Republicans' fundraising haul, according to a Politico tally — $363 million to $143 million, for the quarter ending Sept. 30.
  • Democratic challengers are raking in so much money that seven of the 10 most expensive Senate races ever are happening now, CNN reported from Advertising Analytics data.

Some marquee destinations for Senate cash:

  • In South Carolina, Democrat Jaime Harrison, challenging Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, shattered Senate fundraising records with a $57 million haul for Q3. Graham raised half that — $28 million, which itself was a record for Senate Republicans.
  • Also doubling up his opponent is Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who set a record for the most ever raised in a quarter for a Montana U.S. Senate race ($27 million to GOP Sen. Steve Daines' $12 million) — beating his own record for the previous quarter, Lee Newspapers reported.
  • In Iowa, Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield raised more money in Q3 than any previous Iowa Senate candidate in an entire election cycle, according to Iowa Starting Line. She out-raised Sen. Joni Ernst 4-to-1, according to the Center for Responsive Politics ($29 million to $7 million).
  • Democratic challengers also raised eye-popping amounts for longshot Senate races in Kentucky, Texas and Mississippi.

Money is also trickling down to once unthinkable Senate races — including Kansas and Alaska — forcing Republican outside groups to spend money playing defense, AP reports from Kantar/CMAG data.

2. Struggling retailers hope for Christmas miracle

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retailers on the brink are counting on what's possibly the most uncertain holiday season ever for a last shot at survival, Courtenay Brown writes.

  • Why it matters: Giants — including Amazon and Walmart, plus businesses benefiting from work-from-home needs— are thriving. For others, Christmas is approaching against the industry's bleakest backdrop in years.

The backstory: The pandemic intensified a long, slow industry decline that’s been underway for the past decade.

  • The sector is on pace to top the worst year for retail bankruptcies on record — 2010, when the industry saw a post-financial crisis shakeout.

This holiday season is struggling retailers' "last effort to be relevant for the consumer and to prove their reason for existence," Sarah Wyeth, a retail analyst at credit rating agency S&P Global, tells Axios.

  • Struggling chains may not be able to buy up inventory or buff up e-commerce systems to offer things like home delivery or curbside pickup that have become even more popular since the pandemic hit, Wyeth says.

A glimmer of hope: Online and in-store spending has already eclipsed the pre-pandemic level — an actual "V-shaped" recovery.

  • But that measure includes spending at restaurants and auto shops.

Share this story.

3. Hong Kong paper sees "possible invasion of Taiwan"

A Hong Kong paper reports China equipped coastal rocket bases with DF-17 ballistic missiles, shown at a Beijing parade in 2019. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

The South China Morning Post, the top English-language paper in Hong Kong, reports that China is stepping up militarization "of its southeast coast as it prepares for a possible invasion of Taiwan, military observers and sources have said."

  • Why it matters: "Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province which it has vowed to take back, by force if necessary," the SCMP writes.

Just yesterday, the SCMP reported a development that U.S. officials see as extremely ominous: "Hong Kong has blocked Taiwan from flying to the Pratas Islands in the [contested] South China Sea ... 'until further notice.''

  • "While they are administered by Taiwan, they are claimed by Beijing."
4. Pic du jour: Third peak

Photo: Wisconsin Department of Administration via Reuters

This is how bad the COVID spike is in Wisconsin: This field hospital ("Alternate Care Facility") has been set up at the state fairgrounds near Milwaukee.

  • "The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in the state has tripled in the last month," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
5. COVID lockdowns are getting more targeted

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As a new wave of coronavirus cases hits the U.S. and Europe, governments are shifting away from total shutdowns toward more geographically targeted lockdowns to stifle the virus' spread, Bryan Walsh reports in Axios Future.

  • Why it matters: Precision shutdowns can slow emerging outbreaks while lessening the overall economic impact of the response. But they risk a backlash from those who are targeted, and may not be strong enough to keep a highly contagious virus under control.

New York City tried to control a flare-up of new coronavirus cases by instituting partial shutdowns on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson instituted a similar response for the U.K., with a three-tier system of lockdowns by cities or regions.

The bottom line: Early research indicates more-targeted lockdowns can effectively smother outbreaks while leaving broader economies mostly intact.

6. Time capsule: "This is not normal"
Graphic: The Washington Post. Used by permission

To visualize the events rushing past us, today's Washington Post Outlook section devotes a full page to a fine-print diary of the first 202 weeks since President Trump's election. It's by Amy Siskind, president and co-founder of The New Agenda, and author of the book "The List," about Trump's first year.

  • "Each week," Siskind writes, "I chronicle the ways Donald Trump has changed our country."
  • The Post's selection of 340 items is "adapted from more than 34,000 entries — or about 1 percent of the total."

Explore the list.

7. College sports cuts cloud U.S. future in Olympics
Illustration: Sports Illustrated

More than 1,500 Division I student-athletes will soon no longer compete at the varsity level because of COVID cuts, with wide ramifications for athletic development for the next Olympic cycles, NBC News reports:

  • 26 universities have cut more than 90 sports programs.
  • "The college sports hit the hardest include rowing, swimming, diving, tennis, track and field and volleyball. Over the past two Summer Olympics in 2012 and 2016, across these six sports, Team USA medaled 147 times out of the 216 total events."

Keep reading.

8. Women march throughout U.S.
Andrea Towson took part in a Women's March in Philadelphia yesterday. Photo: Rosem Morton/Reuters

Thousands of mostly young women rallied yesterday in the nation's capital and other U.S. cities, AP's Anita Snow reports.

  • The rallies were the latest in a series that began with a massive Women's March the day after President Trump's inauguration.

Rachel O'Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women's March, opened the event by asking people to keep their distance from one another.

9. Lingo: "Behold the Sanity Shed"
Photo: Hillbrook Collections

The garden is the new home office, the Wall Street Journal's Kathryn O'Shea-Evans writes (subscription):

  • "As we settle into working and learning from home, repurposed backyard garden sheds and prefab outbuildings offer a pleasant soft divide between family and work life."
  • "Even humble lawn-mower huts are becoming remote offices."

And you can't beat the commute: "Even a quick stroll through dewy grass offers an energy reset, injecting fresh air in a workday with every coffee refill or bathroom run."

10. 1 fun thing: Dueling Town Halls
Photo: Will Heath/NBC

Here are Maya Rudolph as Sen. Kamala Harris, Alec Baldwin as President Trump, Jim Carrey as Joe Biden and Kate McKinnon as Savannah Guthrie during the cold open of "Saturday Night Live."

  • McKinnon introduced herself as "Surprise Badass Savannah Guthrie."
  • YouTube.

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