Oct 31, 2018

Axios AM

🎃👻 Happy haunting!

1 big thing: The split decision

Illustration: Axios Visuals 

With less than a week until Election Day, top operators in both parties tell me the events of the past week have helped lock in the split decision they have long seen coming:

  • The House flips to Dems (probably decisively), and Republicans hold the Senate (and perhaps gain two seats).

Democrats who had grown skittish about taking the House say they're resting easier.

  • "The panic has abated," said a well-known Democrat on a secret mission in one of the key states.

Some top Republicans tell me they worry that their candidates will pay a price following the anti-Semitic murders in Pittsburgh and the arrest of a rabid Trump supporter for the mail bombs.

  • "World looks crazy and we are in charge of it," said an official closely involved in the House fight.
  • "Hard to imagine a worse week at a worse time. What it means is hard to know exactly, but certainly not helping us win close races."
  • And why might the news have a split effect for Senate and House? "I think red state voters see the president leading the nation in a crisis, where the suburban voters blame him for the tone," a veteran GOP adviser said.

The one thing worrying Democrats ... A longtime Democratic operative said this is what to watch for on Tuesday:

  • "Super low turnout: Democrats win. Our core voters are going to vote. They hate Trump. They are dying to vote. Look at the Upshot/Siena polls. In every race where they do a turnout model, when they do voters 'certain to vote,' our candidates win. By a lot."
  • "Super high turnout: Democrats win. In addition to owning the most intense voters, we also own the least intense voters. Largely young people."
  • "But medium turnout: That scares me. The GOP owns the voters who aren’t quite as intense as our voters, but who are show-up-often voters."

Be smart ... One reason the cake may already be baked: As many as 40% of votes have been cast in early voting.

  • Disclaimer: This represents the consensus view of the top Democrats and Republicans most involved in the 2018 campaigns — all of whom were involved in 2016. This is the age of disruption: New shocks await, I guarantee.
2. Pittsburgh, and the nation, mourn
A mourner hugs a Pittsburgh police officer outside Rodef Shalom Temple in Pittsburgh, following the funeral of brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

"Mourners found long lines at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill and at Congregation Rodef Shalom in Shadyside where services are being held for Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood, and brothers Cecil, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill, respectively," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

More than 1,000 showed up at the Pittsburgh Jewish Community Center to honor Dr. Rabinowitz, known for his early compassion for HIV patients, shunned by many at the time, per the Post-Gazette:

  • "The grief literally overflowed from the brick building and stretched more than a block down Darlington Road, and then onto Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill. People were queued up outside more than half an hour before the 11 a.m. service was to start."

P.S. ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) joined the big moves against Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), and sent a letter last evening to Speaker Ryan asking that King be disciplined by the House.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump place stones and flowers on a memorial as they pay respects at the Tree of Life Synagogue. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
3. A human lens on the immigration debate

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Michael Fix, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group, on President Trump’s vow to target birthright citizenship:

  • "People don’t come here to have a baby. People tend to come here, all the studies indicate, for a better life and economic progress. Babies are more or less a byproduct."
4. Pic du jour
Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images

India unveiled the world's tallest statue, a 600-foot, bronze-clad tribute to independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, per BBC.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the "statue of unity" is "a symbol of India's integrity and resolve."
  • "It is nearly twice as tall as New York's Statue of Liberty [305 feet]. And it has surpassed the height of the Spring Temple Buddha in China which ... was previously the tallest in the world."
5. Google CEO promises "much harder line"

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in an email obtained by Axios that the company's contrition for handling of past sexual harassment didn't go far enough, and promised to take a "much harder line."

  • "[L]et me say that I am deeply sorry for the past actions and the pain they have caused employees. Larry mentioned this on stage last week, but it bears repeating: if even one person experiences Google the way the New York Times article described, we are not the company we aspire to be."

Rich DeVaul, a director at X, the moonshot unit of Alphabet, Google's parent company, left the company following reports of sexual harassment, Axios' Ina Fried scooped yesterday.

  • Why it matters: Google has come under fire for paying large severance packages or continuing to employ those found to have engaged in improper conduct, as laid out in a blockbuster New York Times story last week.
6. iPads, Macs get new screens as Apple pushes creativity
iPad Pro unveiled in Brooklyn yesterday. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

"Apple showed off a slate of new computers with better screens, faster processors and higher price tags, ... including an iPad Pro that the company is trying to position as a primary work computer," writes the New York Times' Jack Nicas.

  • The tech giant "tried to make its new iPad Pro the star of the show. … [It] has much smaller borders around its screen, eliminating space for a home button. Instead, owners will unlock the device just by looking at it, and control it with a series of swipes on the screen."
  • "Apple executives repeatedly compared the iPad Pro with laptops and stressed that it could be a primary computer — an idea Apple is trying to push after years of sluggish iPad sales."
  • "Positioning the iPad Pro as a primary computer means Apple has also priced it like one, with the device costing more than many laptops."

All the new products come out Nov. 7. (AP)

7. Facebook sees slower growth

Facebook "recorded lower third-quarter revenue than expected and warned that it is in the early stages of a transformation in its core businesses that will lead to slower growth and higher costs in the short term," writes The Wall Street Journal's Deepa Seetharaman (subscription):

  • "The results, in tandem with the guidance from the company, were largely well received by investors, many of whom feared even worse."
  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg "said the main Facebook service has thus far made an unsteady transition from the news-feed format to increasingly popular but less lucrative products like Stories."
  • Zuckerberg "added that he believes the company is at least a year away from upgrading its internal systems to the point that it can prevent misinformation and abuse 'at the level we want.'"
8. Trump hosts CEOs today

President Trump will appear at the White House today with seven CEOs, and representatives of 20+ other companies and organizations, who are signing his Pledge to America’s Workers.

Trump and the private-sector leaders, plus several state and local officials, will hold a discussion on the nation’s economy and the administration’s workforce development efforts, says Lindsay Walters, deputy White House press secretary:

  • "During the [workforce] executive order signing, over 20 companies and organizations pledged to create enhanced career opportunities for over 3,800,000 Americans through increased apprenticeships and work-based learning programs, continuing education, on-the-job training, and re-skilling."
  • " [S]ince the establishment of the Pledge to America’s Workers, over 160 companies and organizations have pledged to create 6.39 million new enhanced career opportunities for America’s workers."
9. Final, brutal chapter
Courtesy N.Y. Post

"Within hours of his arrival at a federal prison in West Virginia, gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger was beaten to death by inmates ... in an attack that marks the final, brutal chapter in the life of one of Boston’s most notorious villains," report Shelley Murphy and Kevin Cullen of the Boston Globe:

  • "Two inmates were under investigation in the attack, including … a West Springfield Mafia hit man serving a life sentence for the 2003 slaying of the leader of the Genovese crime family in Springfield, according to several people briefed on the attack."
  • "Bulger had a long history as an FBI informant who provided information about his Mafia rivals to help protect his own violent criminal enterprise. To many, the circumstances of his death raised suspicions."
10. 1 last âš¾ thing

World Series ratings were down sharply from last year, AP's David Bauder reports:

  • "The Red Sox' five-game victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers averaged 14.1 million viewers, the Nielsen company said. That's sharply down from the 2017 Fall Classic, which averaged 18.9 million viewers for the Houston Astros' seven-game triumph over the Dodgers."
  • "The most-watched game this year was the clinching fifth game on Sunday night, which was seen by 17.6 million people and was the most-watched program on television last week. It had the lowest viewership since the 2014 World Series between Kansas City and San Francisco."

Be smart: "The ratings drop likely had more to do with the length of the series than the matchup. World Series games tend to draw in more viewers as the series goes longer, and the broadcasting network usually hits the jackpot if it goes a full seven games — like last year's series."