Aug 31, 2020

Axios AM

Mike Allen

🚨Tonight on "Axios on HBO": Hawkfish — the data firm funded by Michael Bloomberg — reveals 2020's "red mirage" to Margaret Talev. (See a clip.)

  • In an emotional interview, Jaime Harrison, Sen. Lindsey Graham's Democratic challenger, opens up to Alexi McCammond about his vision for a "New South."
  • Tune in tonight at 11 p.m. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.

✈️ Breaking ... ABOARD EL AL FLIGHT TO THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) — A Star of David-adorned El Al plane took off today from Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, carrying a high-ranking American and Israeli delegation to Abu Dhabi in the first-ever direct commercial passenger flight to the United Arab Emirates.

1 big thing: What we've learned for the next pandemic

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photos: Bettmann and Noam Galai

At some point, this will happen again. Here are nine lessons the U.S. can apply in the next pandemic, Axios health care editor Sam Baker writes:

  1. Move fast: This is one of the sharpest dividing lines between the countries that handled the coronavirus well and the ones that handled it poorly.
  2. Diversify the preparation: The global public health community had been preparing for a pandemic, but was too narrowly focused on flu.
  3. Have a backup plan for diagnostics: Be nimble — even a flawed test is better than no testing.
  4. Build up contact tracing: The basic playbook is testing, contact tracing and isolation, in that order. If testing is better in a future pandemic, we’ll want to be able to do the second step, too.
  5. Accept risk on vaccines: Governments, drug companies and philanthropies are accepting an unprecedented financial risk in the race for a vaccine, and it seems very likely to pay off.
  6. Walk the public through the things you’re asking of them: As scientists learned that masks were even more effective than they thought, a very reasonable evolution toward pro-mask guidance felt like confusion and whiplash.
  7. International cooperation is key.
  8. Build a more equitable health care system: We can’t know now what will cause the next pandemic. But we know that the status quo of the U.S. health care system will put poor people and people of color at a disadvantage.
  9. The economic response and the health response go together: Some European economies had more successful lockdowns in part because they had stimulus plans that allowed people to lock down without sacrificing their livelihoods.

The bottom line: The constant here is preparation and upfront investments — in big-picture systems, long-term planning and swift, early action once a crisis hits.

2. Why the polls could fool us — again

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Brendan Smialowski/AFP and Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Four years after Donald Trump defied expectations set by pollsters and news organizations, the public should have even less confidence that public opinion data can accurately point to the winner, Axios executive editor Sara Kehaulani Goo and managing editor David Nather write.

  • Why it matters: This election could be déjà vu all over again but worse, with polls setting false expectations amid voting complicated by the pandemic, and a president who has warned of a "rigged" process, the outcome of which he won't accept.

There are three big reasons for this year’s hand-wringing:

1. The problems with state polling in 2016 remain. There aren’t enough large sample, quality polls that account for key demographics of voters who tended to vote for Trump, like people without college educations.

  • Many polls this year in swing states like Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin are "alarmingly" not improved, said Courtney Kennedy, director of survey research at Pew Research Center, who served on an industry panel that published a post-mortem after Trump’s election.

2. The pandemic will make actual voting more volatile.

  • The nightmare matrix includes an unprecedented surge in mail-in ballots; the Postal Service’s lack of experience in delivering them on time; states' ability to process them; and access to in-person voting on Election Day.

3. We’re still in early innings. Conventions are wrapped up and the campaigns seem like they’ve been going on for years, but there’s a long way to go.

  • "If ever there has been a year where unforeseeable things can happen, it’s 2020," said Ann Selzer, an Iowa pollster who works with the Des Moines Register.

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3. Portland mayor warns against "retribution"

A Black Lives Matter protester yells at a Trump supporter during a Trump car parade through Portland on Saturday. Photo: Paula Bronstein/AP

With Joe Biden heading to Pittsburgh today to talk about "whether voters feel safe in Donald Trump's America" — and President Trump off to Kenosha tomorrow — racial justice, and violence in American cities, is suddenly the 2020 centerpiece.

  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) urged Trump to stay away.

In Portland, a 48-year-old man who calls himself an anti-fascist "is under investigation in the fatal shooting Saturday night of a right-wing demonstrator after a pro-Trump rally," The Oregonian reports.

  • The man "has posted videos and photos of demonstrations he attended since late June, accompanied by the hashtags #blacklivesmatter, #anewnation and #breonnataylor."

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler warned at an afternoon news conference: "[T]here are people who, on social media, say they're going to come to Portland and seek retribution."

  • "First of all, I would say they don't know what they're seeking retribution for," Wheeler continued. "The investigation is still underway."
  • "[W]e're aware of the fact that this could be a potential flashpoint. And so ... I'm asking people, if you're from out of town and you're reading something on social media, please understand: If you're reading any facts on social media, they're probably wrong, because we don't have all the facts, yet."
Trump caravan on Saturday. Photo: Mark Graves/The Oregonian via AP
4. New airline ploy to get you back

O'Hare amid pandemic. Photo: Teresa Crawford/AP

United Airlines is dropping an unpopular $200 fee for most people who change a ticket for travel within the U.S., AP reports.

  • "When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request," United CEO Scott Kirby said in a video posted Sunday.
  • "And that's why we're taking this moment to become the first U.S. legacy airline to get rid of this fee forever."

Why it matters: United's move will put pressure on American and Delta to drop their change fees, also $200 on domestic travel.

5. How climate change feeds off itself

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Climate change is like a snowball effect, except, well, hot, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column.

  • Why it matters: As a snowball begins small and gets bigger by building on itself, numerous feedback loops embedded in our atmosphere and society are exacerbating climate change.

Scientists are well acquainted with feedback loops, but the wonky topic doesn’t break through into the mainstream, despite its importance to how much the world warms.

6. Inside Biden's edge

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter shows, in a piece that's well worth your time, that President Trump is trailing "not because he's losing his 2016 base, but because he has never expanded beyond it."

Walter dug into the most recent national poll from Pew Research Center (ending Aug. 2) and compared it with Pew's post-election poll from 2016, which uses official voting records.

  • Trump has roughly held his share of the vote across all segments of the electorate.
  • 🥊 But Joe Biden is performing significantly better than Hillary Clinton with nearly every demographic group.

Between the lines: The article has a nifty tool you can play around with to compare Biden's performance against Trump across key demographic groups to Clinton's performance against Trump in 2016.

  • Walter's analysis shows that Biden performs better than Clinton among older voters, younger voters, white voters, college and non-college educated voters, men, women, Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Clinton, meanwhile, was slightly stronger with Black and Hispanic voters.

What Trump can do: Cook's David Wasserman earlier this year found "a huge number of non-voting, non-college whites in the Upper Midwest."

  • "In other words, there's a large pool of potential voters for Trump to mine in key swing states."

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7. Michael Schmidt revelation: Trump mulled "settling" with Mueller

Cover: Random House

One of the crazy nuggets in a deeply reported book by the N.Y. Times' Michael Schmidt — "Donald Trump v. the United States," out tomorrow — is that President Trump mulled the idea of "settling" with special counsel Robert Mueller.

  • "At one point, as the investigation seemed to be intensifying," Schmidt writes, Trump told White House counsel Don McGahn "that there was nothing to worry about because if it was zeroing in on him, he would simply settle with Mueller. He would settle the case, as if he were negotiating terms in a lawsuit."

👀 Schmidt's thought bubble: "Mueller apparently knew a great deal about what had gone on inside the White House as Trump had tried to control, frustrate, and end the Russia investigation. I thought — but was not entirely sure — that one of the main reasons Mueller knew so much was McGahn."

Go deeper: Jonathan Swan's Sneak Peek newsletter had two Schmidt sneaks.

  • An adaption from the N.Y. Times (subscription), "Justice Dept. Never Fully Examined Trump’s Ties to Russia, Ex-Officials Say."
8. 🎧 What we're listening to: Meacham on MLK

Courtesy C13Originals

"It Was Said" — Jon Meacham’s new C13Originals 10-part documentary podcast series, focused on 10 of the most important, impactful, relevant and timeless speeches in history — launches Wednesday with two episodes:

  • Episode 1 explores the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I’ve Been to the Mountaintop," in Memphis on April 3, 1968. King creates a mosaic of the ongoing civil rights struggle, culminating with a defiant premonition.   
  • Episode 2 — the next day: Robert Kennedy learns of MLK's assassination while en route to a campaign event in inner city Indianapolis. He breaks the news to the crowd, delivering an unscripted eulogy for the apostle of nonviolence.

Hear a 4-min. trailer.

9. Coming attractions: Cillizza fixes eye on presidential sports

CNN's Chris Cillizza has inked a book deal with Twelve to write a book — aimed for Father's Day 2022 or sooner —about how the sports presidents played, and watched, help us understand the men who have run our country.

  • Cillizza tells me the book, tentatively titled "It’s Way More Than a Game," aims to explain how each post-World War II president (and the society they governed) is best understood through sports — Ike and golf, Nixon and bowling, Obama and basketball.
  • Cillizza has the same editor, Sean Desmond, as his first book, "The Gospel According to The Fix."

Hatched on Zoom: Mike Tollin — executive producer of ESPN's "The Last Dance," on Michael Jordan — and Jon Weinbach, both of Mandalay Sports Media, have signed to produce a documentary series based on Cillizza’s book.

10. ⚾ Welcome to Twitter: 92-year-old Vin Scully

Scully in the booth in 2016. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Vin Scully, the retired 92-year-old Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasting legend, is jumping headlong into social media with new Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, the L.A. Times' Eduardo Gonzalez reports.

  • Why it matters: He "has never used social media, so, it will be the first time he will use the digital space to give his takes on the Dodgers, baseball in general, and whatever else is on his mind."
Mike Allen

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