Jul 18, 2019

Axios AM

Mike Allen

'Morning! If you're in D.C. today, join Axios' Sam Baker at 8 a.m. for a breakfast event on the future of pain management, with a sneak peek at fascinating new research:

  • Our guests: Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.); Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.); Admiral Brett Giroir, HHS assistant secretary and senior adviser for opioid policy; and Dr. Marian Sherman of George Washington University's Acute Pain Service Faculty.
  • RSVP here.
1 big thing: The GOP’s demographic decay
Expand chart
Data: Census Bureau. Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The single biggest threat to Republicans' long-term viability is demographics, Axios' Jim VandeHei and I write in a piece popping this morning:

  • The numbers simply do not lie: America, as a whole, and swing states, in particular, are growing more diverse, more quickly. There is no way Republicans can change birth rates or curb this trend. 
  • Another way to say it: There's not a single demographic megatrend that favors Republicans.
  • Why it matters: President Trump’s short-term calculation to stir up white voters with race-baiting rhetoric might very well echo for a generation.

About last night: Trump paused while speaking at a "Make America Great Again" campaign rally in Greenville, N.C., to savor supporters' new roar: "Send her back!"

  • "I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down," Trump said. "They never have anything good to say. That's why I say, 'Hey if you don't like it, let 'em leave, let 'em leave.'"
  • The context, from AP: "Not since George Wallace's campaign in 1968 has a presidential candidate — and certainly not an incumbent president — put racial polarization at the center of his call to voters."

For any Republican thinking past 2020, here are numbers to fear, reported by Axios' Stef Kight:

  • The Hispanic share of the population has grown in every state since 2000, according to Census data.
  • Hispanic people now make up a quarter of the population in Florida, almost a third of the population in Arizona and 39% of Texas — all Trump states in 2016 that are becoming more winnable by Democrats.
  • Florida and Texas, two of the big electoral giants that voted for Trump, are witnessing the fastest non-white population growth. 

This wave is only accelerating, as Stef reported in "America's majority minority future":

  • Next year, the entire under-18 population will be majority non-white, according to Brookings demographer William Frey.
  • In less than a decade, the under-30 population will be majority non-white.

Between the lines: Trump clearly thinks this is good short-term politics.

  • Truth is: It's unknowable, though highly debatable.
  • Long-term, it seems unambiguous: If you need more African American and Hispanic voters, maligning and marginalizing them strikes even some inside this White House as stupid politics.
2. A historic day in two pics
Speaker Nancy Pelosi answers questions during her weekly press conference at the Capitol. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The House easily killed, 332 to 95, a maverick Democrat's resolution to impeach President Trump for his insults against lawmakers of color.

  • Dems opposed the resolution by Rep. Al Green of Texas, 137 to 95.

Why it matters, from AP: The roll call underscored that the number of liberal Democrats open to impeachment remains substantial and may be growing.

  • About two dozen more conversions would split the party's 235-member caucus in half over an issue that could dominate next year's elections.
  • Until now, just over 80 Democrats had publicly said they were open to starting an inquiry into removing Trump.
President Trump arrives at his rally in Greenville, N.C.. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Time capsule:

3. 🎧 Peak podcast?

What's new: "There are now upward of 700,000 podcasts, according to the podcast production and hosting service Blubrry, with between 2,000 and 3,000 new shows launching each month," Jennifer Miller writes in the N.Y. Times.

  • Why it matters: "[T]he frequency with which podcasts start (and then end, or 'podfade,' as it’s coming to be known in the trade) has produced a degree of cultural exhaustion."
  • "We're not necessarily sick of listening to interesting programs; but we’re definitely tired of hearing from every friend, relative and co-worker who thinks they’re just an iPhone recording away from creating the next 'Serial.'"

AM readers: What's your favorite pod I haven't heard of? ("The Daily": Check!)

  • Just reply to this email or drop me a line at mike@axios.com. I'll share the best answers.

🐦 Take a second to follow this ... Dan Primack just created a Twitter handle for the Axios Pro Rata Podcast: @ProRataPod.

4. Emojis change with the 🌍
Photo: Apple via AP

New icons in the next versions of iOS and Android will allow couples of all races and genders to better represent themselves, with dozens of new skin tone and gender combinations, Axios chief tech correspondent Ina Fried reports:

  • Other new emoji offer more options to represent various people with disabilities and their lives, including prosthetic limbs, service dogs and electric wheelchairs.

Also new to the standard emoji palette: garlic, waffles and otters.

5. Beating robots by becoming one

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Elon Musk says he has charted the long path to merging man and machine, Axios emerging tech reporter Kaveh Waddell writes:

  • In an elaborate presentation, Musk said his company, Neuralink, has installed brain–computer links in rats and monkeys, and aims to put them inside human skulls next year.

The big picture: Around the world, top research labs are building brain–computer interfaces (BCIs), devices that can both read brain activity directly from neurons and write information straight into the brain.

  • At this early stage, BCIs are being used to treat injuries to the brain or nervous system, including Parkinson's disease or paralysis, allowing people to control, and even feel, prosthetic limbs with their minds.

The bottom line: BCI, Musk says, is the best defense against a future in which AI suddenly surpasses human intelligence and leaves our species behind.

6. 50 years ago this week
Photo: Orlando Sentinel via AP

The Orlando Sentinel this week reprinted this front page from 1969, when NASA astronauts were preparing to blast into space for humanity's first moonwalk.

7. Pete meets "Veep"
Pete Buttigieg speaks in Dover, N.H., last week. Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Mark Leibovich checked in periodically with Mayor Pete Buttigieg through the spring, for this N.Y. Times Magazine story:

Buttigieg has a knack for reducing the intractable issues of American life to some academic-sounding "project," as if racial inequality were just another puzzle for the smart kids at McKinsey — where Buttigieg worked as a consultant after college — to solve. ...
Buttigieg told me that if he was not a politician, he might have been a writer. "If I was more creative, I would have been a novelist," he told me. "I can do the prose, but I just don’t have the imagination that it takes."
He seems to very much enjoy the narrative journey of campaign life, with its cinematic pace and stranger-than-fiction turns. Best of all is that he gets to be the central player in his story. ...
"If nothing else, being in the middle of this has allowed me to shed a lot of the illusions of how it all works. ... I’ve discovered that a show like 'Veep' is more realistic than most Americans would care to imagine."

Keep reading.

8. 📉 Netflix's big miss

Netflix stock dipped more than 10% yesterday following the company's announcement that it lost over 100,000 U.S. subscribers last quarter instead of an expected gain of 300,000, writes Axios' Sara Fischer.

  • The streaming service is struggling to convince investors that subscriber growth won't be impacted by the loss of "The Office," which is moving to NBC, and "Friends," which will be available on HBO Max.

Looking ahead, it's estimating higher third-quarter subscriber growth in light of new popular content additions, like the third season of "Stranger Things," as well as new seasons of "The Crown" and "Orange is the New Black."

9. A relief for local news deserts

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

What's new: McClatchy is creating a local news outlet to serve Youngstown, Ohio, just weeks after the city's daily newspaper, The Vindicator, announced it would be closing, writes Axios' Sara Fischer.

  • Its efforts are a byproduct of the nearly $1 billion invested by tech companies, philanthropists and lawmakers to ensure that local news is revived in news deserts.

Why it matters: Newspaper closures that started in rural America are creeping towards small and medium-sized cities. Often, the closing of local papers leaves communities without the watchdogs that can keep municipal governments accountable and productive.

10. 1 fun thing
Photo: Scott Audette/AP

Paul McCartney, 77, has already written about seven songs for his first stage musical, an adaptation of "It's a Wonderful Life," AP reports from London:

  • The ex-Beatle is collaborating with "Billy Elliot" playwright Lee Hall and West End producer Bill Kenwright.
  • "'It’s A Wonderful Life' is a universal story we can all relate to," McCartney said, per Reuters.

Producers are aiming for a late 2020 launch.

Jimmy Stewart plays small-town banker George Bailey in director Frank Capra's 1946 movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Mike Allen

📱 Thanks for reading Axios AM. Invite your friends, relatives, co-workers to sign up here.