Nov 3, 2018

Axios AM

Have a great Saturday. Your phone will "fall back" overnight.

📺 "Axios on HBO" debuts tomorrow at 6:30 pm. ET/PT. See the new promo.

⚡Bulletin: "Amazon has held advanced discussions about the possibility of opening its highly sought-after second headquarters in Crystal City," just outside D.C. in Arlington, Va., the WashPost scoops. "The discussions were more detailed than those the company has had regarding other locations in Northern Virginia and some other cities nationally."

1 big thing: A tale of three presidents

Left: Trump in Charlotte Sean Rayford/Getty Images). Right: Obama in Vegas (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

President Trump and President Obama have gleefully turned Tuesday's midterms into a proxy fight over their legacies, while President Clinton is sidelined during a season when he had dreamed of being back in the spotlight.

Trump and Obama, each a human turnout machine for their parties, have poured on the multi-stop days, and clearly relish trolling each other across the battlegrounds:

  • Trump: "I heard President Obama speak today. I had to listen. I was in the plane. I had nothing else to do."
  • Obama: "Everything I say, you can look up on the internet. ... Here's your chance to vote for people who actually know what the internet is."
  • Trump: "I listened to President Obama today. He had a very small crowd, I have to be honest. They don’t tell you that. Y'know, they don't tell you that."
  • Obama: "Right now, Republicans are all: 'Look, the economy is so good.' Where do you think that started? When did that start?”

The N.Y. Times' Peter Baker writes that Obama looks energized as he violates the tradition of his predecessors, who have rarely directly attacked their successors:

  • "Obama’s voice has a way of lifting into a high-pitched tone of astonishment when he talks about his successor, almost as if he still cannot believe that the Executive Mansion he occupied for eight years is now the home of President Trump."

Trump has stuck to the friendly contours of Trump country, mostly traveling to "counties that are whiter, less educated and have lower incomes than the rest of the United States, according to Census Bureau data," per AP's Josh Boak:

  • "[H]e’s primarily been jet-setting to smaller places such as Elko, Nevada (population 20,078). Or, Mosinee, Wisconsin (population 4,023). Or, Belgrade, Montana (population 7,874)."
  • "Since March, Trump has crisscrossed the country like a salesman with a set territory. The majority of his trips have been to just nine states. They are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Indiana, West Virginia and Nevada. Trump won eight of those states in 2016, but not Nevada."

Both presidents are on sprints:

  • Trump is hitting 11 rallies in eight states in six days.
  • Obama will hit Illinois and Indiana tomorrow, after stops yesterday in Florida and Georgia.

And then there's President Clinton. "No One Wants to Campaign With Bill Clinton Anymore," the N.Y. Times' Lisa Lerer writes under a nostalgic Little Rock dateline:

  • "There are no plans for him ... appear publicly with any Democrat running in the midterm elections."
  • "Younger and more liberal voters find little appeal in Mr. Clinton’s reputation for ideological centrism on issues like financial regulation and crime."

Be smart: Guess who's enjoying the show. Rhymes with George W. Bush.

2. Early votes signal record midterm

Illustration: Axios Visuals

According to data from secretaries of state nationwide, compiled by early voting expert Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, and cited by ABC News:

  • 30 million ballots had been cast through yesterday, up from 17 million on the same date in the last midterm, 2014, when Election Day was two days sooner.
  • "27 states plus the District of Columbia have [already] surpassed their 2014 early vote totals."
  • Be smart: "While these numbers represent a huge uptick in the early vote ... it also is a result of many states expanding early voting."
3. Why Tuesday matters

David Brooks on "PBS NewsHour" last night (hat tip: Pete Wehner):

"The key word ... in this election is 'unraveling.' I think there's a sense, both on the Republican side and the Democratic side, that something is unraveling."
"From the Republican side, it's immigration is causing a social unraveling. Media elites are causing a cultural unraveling. There's an unraveling between men and women on gender roles."
"[O]n the Democratic side, there's a sense that our norms are unraveling, our sense of unity and tolerance is unraveling."
"[I]t's not a normal election, because it's about existential angst and a sense of fear that something fundamental is happening in our society. And so, yes, it is about health care. Yes, it is about immigration. But there's that much deeper sense of anxiety that I think is really what this election is about."
4. Images from Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gene J. Puskar/AP

A memorial to Irv Younger, 69, killed by the gunman at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

5. Nigerian army uses Trump words to justify shooting rock-throwers

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... John Agim, a spokesman for the Nigerian Army, on using the words of President Trump to justify the army’s fatal shootings of rock-throwing protesters, an act condemned by Amnesty International:

  • "We released that video to say if President Trump can say that rocks are as good as a rifle, who is Amnesty International?"
6. Tweet of the day
Trump's twitter feed

HBO responds to Trump's "Game of Thrones" tweet:

  • "We were not aware of this messaging and would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes."
7. Stat du jour

The N.Y. Times' Neil Irwin, on the cover of tomorrow's Sunday Business section, "How the Economic Lives of the Middle Class Have Changed Since 2016":

  • "If you take the benefits of higher wages and the lower taxes, subtracting higher costs for consumer goods and higher interest rates on credit card debt — it works out to a gain of $122 a month."
8. Why Jeff Zucker is smiling

"Inside the Gold Rush at CNN," by Joe Pompeo, in the December issue of Vanity Fair:

According to someone with direct knowledge of the numbers, CNN is projected to turn a $1.2 billion profit on $2.5 billion in revenue this year, making 2018 its most profitable year ever.
9. "It’s not your imagination: Phone battery life is getting worse"

"I’ve been performing the same battery test over and over again on 13 phones," WashPost tech columnist Gene Fowler writes on the cover of tomorrow's Business section:

  • "With a few notable exceptions, this year’s top models underperformed last year’s. The new iPhone XS died 21 minutes earlier than last year’s iPhone X. Google’s Pixel 3 lasted nearly an hour and a half less than its Pixel 2."
  • "Phone makers tout all sorts of tricks to boost battery life, including more-efficient processors, low-power modes and artificial intelligence to manage app drain. Yet my results, and tests by other reviewers I spoke with, reveal an open secret in the industry: the lithium-ion batteries in smartphones are hitting an inflection point where they simply can’t keep up."

Why it's happening: "Blame it on the demands of high-resolution screens, more complicated apps and, most of all, our seeming inability to put the darn phone down."

10. 1 fun thing

"Swipe Left, Swipe Right: Political Campaigning Invades Dating Apps," The Wall Street Journal's Kristina Peterson and Natalie Andrews report in this A-hed:

  • "With younger people harder to reach through the traditional methods of landline phones and mail, political strategists are trying to reach the next generation where they are: online and looking for love. Dating apps typically don’t take much time or money, always a boon for campaigns and less-official volunteers."

"In Colorado, which has tight elections this year as well as a particularly long and complex ballot, one civic education group created a 'speed dating' event where bumper stickers were exchanged in lieu of phone numbers."

  • "Impressed by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s 'no' vote on Justice Kavanaugh," Ben Luke, an assistant producer in London, "used Tinder to seek out matches in Ms. Heitkamp’s home state of North Dakota."