Mar 17, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

☘️ 🏀 Good Sunday morning. Happy St. Patrick's Day and Selection Sunday.

💰 Stat du jour: Median compensation for 132 top CEOs reached $1 million a month in 2018, The Wall Street Journal finds — $12.4 million a year, up from $11.7 million in 2017.

  • Median raise: 6.4%.
1 big thing: Trump's 2020 map from hell
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Recent polling in a slew of states that carried President Trump to his thin win in 2016 show him starting 2020 in a deep hole.

  • What's new: Based on demographic changes, Republicans for the first time have authentic worries about Arizona, Georgia, Texas and other states they once took for granted.

Why it matters: Trump's margin for error this time is much smaller, because he's being squeezed from the north and the south.

  • From the north: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are harder this time because Hillary Clinton, a turnoff for many working-class voters, won't be on the ballot.
  • From the south: Demographics are making North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Arizona more competitive, and realistically in play.
  • That's part of the reason for the fascination with more centrist Democrats like Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Beto O'Rourke and Joe Biden: The states that Trump won, but could easily lose, are swingy — not super-liberal.

Among the holes in his 2016 map:

  • In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote after a statewide poll in January that Trump "has a precarious path to victory," based on the facts that his job approval was just 44%, opposition was more intense than support, and Democrats were more unified than Republicans.
  • In Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reports that Trump faces "serious headwinds": "Less than half of likely voters believe he’s doing a good job, according to some recent polls, and many, if not most, plan to vote for someone else."
  • "Pennsylvania meltdown triggers Republican alarms," Politico wrote after the midterms. "A GOP collapse threatens to torpedo Donald Trump’s re-election prospects."
  • In last weekend's Iowa Poll, 67% of Republicans said they would definitely vote to re-elect Trump, while 27% said they would consider someone else or definitely vote for someone else. 40% want a GOP challenger.

But Trump allies tell me their 2016 upsets reduce their current worry:

  • "He’s basically where he was and, depending on the poll, possibly better than where he was going into the 2016 general election," a current adviser said. "I wouldn’t say this is a bad place to be."
  • "Democrats will go through exactly what Republicans did in 2016," added an alumnus of Trump's campaign and White House. "The question is where they can coalesce around a single candidate — not sure that’s possible with all the differing factions."

Be smart: "I’d sooner be the Dems than Trump," David Axelrod, Obama's campaign architect, told me. "He drew an inside straight in 2016 with narrow wins in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He is vulnerable today in each, with no obvious prospect of adding a state to his column in 2020."

  • But Axelrod added: "[P]residents often run better against an opponent than they do in the abstract, and Trump does have a kind of feral genius for caricaturing his foes and dominating the media."
2. Churches as soft targets
A police officer guards Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, one of the shooting sites. (Vincent Yu/AP)

Attacks on an African-American church in Charleston, a synagogue in Pittsburgh and now mosques in New Zealand have worshippers and their leaders rethinking how protected religious sanctuaries really are, AP reports:

  • What's new: "A rabbi who packs a gun. A church installing security cameras."
  • Why it matters: The recent attacks raise doubts about whether "houses of worship have turned into soft targets, losing some of their sense of sacredness."

Context: History shows sanctuaries aren't immune from violence. Remember the bombings at African-American churches during the civil rights era.

Kristen Gelineau/AP

Above, notes and flowers are placed in Hagley Park near the Al Noor mosque.

Below, a vigil on Takapuna Beach in Auckland, New Zealand.

Cam McLaren/Getty Images
3. 2020 vision
In Waterloo, Iowa, Beto O'Rourke addresses a canvassing kickoff event yesterday for state senate candidate Eric Giddens. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Beto O'Rourke said last night "that he very likely would choose a female running mate if he manages to nab the Democratic presidential nomination next year," The Dallas Morning News' Todd Gillman reports from Dubuque, Iowa.

  • "It would be very difficult not to select a woman with so many extraordinary women who are running right now," O'Rourke said. "But first I would have to win and there's — you know, this is as open as it has ever been."

O'Rourke also said that being a white man in the field won't be a hindrance:

  • "I would never begin by saying that it's a disadvantage at all," O'Rourke told reporters in a parking lot in Waterloo, per AP.
  • "As a white man who has had privileges that others could not depend on or take for granted, I've clearly had advantages over the course of my life."

🤦 Quote du jour: In Delaware last night, Joe Biden said he has the "most progressive record of anybody running." He then quickly backtracked and clarified, "anybody who would run." (Wilmington News Journal)

4. Pic du jour: 4 months of French protests
A protester throws a device at the Louis Vuitton luxury shop on the Champs-Élysées. (Christophe Ena/AP)

What's new: French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a skiing trip in the Pyrenees to return to Paris for a crisis meeting, after hooded protesters went on the rampage for the 18th weekend of French "yellow vest" protests, AFP reports.

  • Why it matters: Yesterday's protests marked "a sharp increase in violence after weeks of dwindling turnout."
5. Autocrats' new high-tech tools for repression

"The next generation of repressive technology will make past efforts to spread propaganda and quash dissent look primitive," Richard Fontaine, CEO of the Center for a New American Security, and Kara Frederick, of the center’s technology and security program, write in The Wall Street Journal (subscription):

  • Automated microtargeting: "AI-driven applications will soon allow authoritarians to analyze patterns in a population’s online activity, identify those most susceptible to a particular message and target them more precisely with propaganda."
  • "[B]ots will soon be indistinguishable from humans online — capable of denouncing antiregime activists, attacking rivals and amplifying state messaging in alarmingly lifelike ways."

Why it matters: "Dictators from Caracas to Pyongyang will seek to exploit the enormous potential for political misuse inherent in the emerging technologies, just as they have over the decades with radio, television and the internet itself."

6. 1 fun thing
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Chicago River is dyed green for St. Patrick's Day, a city tradition since 1962.

Below ... How it happens, per the Chicago Tribune: "Three men [on a boat] use flour sifters to dump about 40 pounds of an environmentally friendly orange powder into the river."

  • "[T]he powder ... turns the water bright green when it hits."
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Mike Allen