☕️ Happy Friday!
Situational awareness: Midterm voting begins! Election Day is Nov. 6, 46 days from now. But AP reports that in-person voting begins today in Minnesota, "making it the first battleground state to begin casting actual votes in the ... fight for control of Congress."
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The Republican Party is suffering an identity crisis that poses acute short- and long-term risks: President Trump, with 38% approval in Gallup, is giving the party a constricted appeal, with the danger of continuing high-profile defections.
Why it matters: In a 50-50 nation, marginal defections can incapacitate a party, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei points out.
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, 46, a rising star in the party, continues to flirt with leaving the party — a small sign of a talent crisis that could lie ahead for the GOP.
Gallup's most recent gauge of party identity has 28% of Americans considering themselves Republicans, 27% calling themselves Democrats and 43% identifying as independents.
A former White House official told me: "Shifting demographics have been a problem for Republicans for a long time. Paradoxically, while Trump likely exacerbated that problem in the long term, he also postponed its consequences because he carved out a new path to 270, in large part thanks to his trade rhetoric."
Be smart: High profile defections like the ones above won't change the electoral math of the heartland, where GOP presidencies are won. The danger is Trump's alienation of quiet conservatives: They won't make big announcements. They just won't show up.
Spotted over Palo Alto yesterday (Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images)
A source who has been talking to President Trump throughout the Kavanaugh crisis told Jonathan Swan that “you have no idea” how hard it has been to keep him from attacking his Supreme Court nominee's accuser.
Be smart: Kavanaugh's Republican strategists are holding it together, but are still nervous about the unknowns — and nervous about additional stories.
Testimony in limbo: Lawyers for Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that it's “not possible” to appear Monday ("and the Committee's insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event"), but that she could testify later in the week, CNN reports.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Around a century ago, amid a massive surge of immigrants, Americans — themselves virtually all of foreign blood — pushed back in what turned into a more than four-decade-long uprising against newcomers, Axios future editor Steve LeVine writes.
If history holds, the U.S. is entering a new, prolonged era of anti-immigrant fever.
"Reefer Madness has gripped Wall Street," reports AP's Marley Jay:
P.S. Dow and S&P 500 closed at records yesterday, beating all-time highs set in January.
Ivanka Trump high-fives a space suit yesterday during a tour of the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"Days after the Trump administration instituted a controversial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed [in internal emails] ways they might be able to tweak the company’s search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations," The Wall Street Journal's John D. McKinnon and Douglas MacMillan report (subscription).
Ideas from the internal Google emails:
"Eric Schmidt, who has been the CEO of Google and executive chairman of its parent company, Alphabet, predicts that within the next decade there will be two distinct internets: one led by the U.S. and the other by China," CNBC's Lora Kolodny reports.
Asked the chances that the internet fragments, Schmidt said:
"I think the most likely scenario now is not a splintering, but rather a bifurcation into a Chinese-led internet and a non-Chinese internet led by America.
"If you look at China, and I was just there, the scale of the companies that are being built, the services being built, the wealth that is being created is phenomenal. ...
"I think you're going to see fantastic leadership in products and services from China. There's a real danger that along with those products and services comes a different leadership regime from government, with censorship, controls, etc.
"Look at the way BRI works — their Belt and Road Initiative, which involves 60ish countries — it's perfectly possible those countries will begin to take on the infrastructure that China has, with some loss of freedom."
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Today, we'll hit "go" on the launch edition of our weekly Axios Autonomous Vehicles newsletter, which will be written by Joann Muller, former Detroit bureau chief for Forbes.
Sneak peek ... "A car that's better without a driver," by Alison Snyder and Kaveh Waddell:
Axios Video: Five ways 5G could change your commute.
The New York Times visited more than 150 homes in Punta Santiago, a small town in southeast Puerto Rico near where Hurricane Maria made landfall a year ago this week, to document the damage that remains.
Photo illustration: Axios Visuals
Airbnb has sent a letter to the SEC asking to be allowed to give equity to its hosts, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.