Jul 21, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Happy Tuesday! President Trump, belatedly touting masks as "patriotic," resumes his coronavirus briefings today at 5 p.m. ET.

  • 💻 Please join Caitlin Owens and me tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET for an Axios Virtual Event about medical innovation in the time of virus. Register here.
1 big thing: Wall Street winners in "Biden blue" wave

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street analysts see a rising probability of a "blue wave" Democratic sweep of the House, Senate and presidency, Dion Rabouin writes in his daily newsletter, Axios Markets.

  • Investors have been pricing in a Biden win for weeks. Now analysts at many top firms are preparing for a like-minded Congress.

Why it matters: With a blue wave, Joe Biden could realistically enact major policy shifts that include higher taxes, climate reform and health care spending.

That's got investors designing what Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, calls a “Biden Blue portfolio.”

  • "Winners in a blue wave," Yardeni writes to clients, "likely would be domestic energy-efficient technologies (e.g., wind and solar), railroads, homebuilders, building contractors, and engineers, manufacturers and material suppliers, broadband network providers, utilities, autos, medical suppliers, and innovative technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence)."

The risks: Influential Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have advocated for wealth redistribution, wealth taxes and breaking up Big Tech companies.

Markets "will eventually react positively to the increase in government spending," argues Lee Ferridge, head of global macro strategy at State Street.

Go deeper: Alexi McCammond unpacks this morning's Biden plan for caregivers.

  • 💰 Sign up for Dion Rabouin's weekday newsletter, Axios Markets, and get his "Don't sleep" warning about a blue wave.
2. Based on source of news, virus denial is growing
Data: Axios/Ipsos polls. May 1-4 (1,012 U.S. adults) and July 17-20 (1,037 U.S. adults). Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A rising number of Americans — nearly one in three — thinks the official death count is too high, despite surging infections and hospitalizations, White House editor Margaret Talev writes from the new Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • Republicans, Fox News watchers and people who say they have no main source of news are driving this trend.

Why it matters: This shows President Trump's enduring influence on his base.

Reality check: A study published this month by the American Medical Association network found a likely "undercount" of COVID-related deaths in many states from March to May, due to test shortages and other issues.

By the numbers: In polling that ended yesterday (1,037 adults; margin of error: ±3.3 percentage points), 31% of adults said the number dying is lower than the number reported — up sizably from 23% when we asked the same question in May.

  • Republicans who say the death count is inflated rose from 40% to 59%.
  • Among independents, that share rose from 24% to 32%.
  • The small share of Democrats with that view was effectively flat at 9%.
  • Most Americans still believe the actual number of deaths is either higher than (37%), or on par with (31%), the official count.

P.S. This week's survey finds the highest overall use of face masks since the pandemic began — with 99% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans now saying they're wearing a mask sometimes or all of the time when they go out.

3. Space's big year is blunted

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Ambitious plans for space companies and agencies are threatened by the pandemic and its economic fallout, exacerbating the growing pains of a promising industry, Miriam Kramer writes.

  • Why it matters: The U.S. has historically dominated the global space industry, which some have projected could be worth up to $1 trillion by 2040. Delays and setbacks come at a huge cost — both financially and symbolically — in the global space race.

Between the lines: The industry has put up some solid wins this year — like SpaceX's first crewed launch to the International Space Station and this weekend's UAE's launch of it first Mars mission — despite the pandemic.

  • The work of many rocket companies and government contractors has also been ruled essential due to national security concerns, keeping many in the industry in business through shutdowns caused by the pandemic.

Share this story.

🚀 Sign up for Miriam Kramer's weekly newsletter, Axios Space.

4. Pics du jour: Freedom finds a way
Photo: Vincent Yu/AP

Hong Kong protesters are adapting their signs and slogans to skirt the repressive new security law, AP reports.

Above, a Hong Kong café, known as a "yellow shop" because owners sympathize with pro-democracy protesters, has a wall decorated with blank sticky notes to show solidarity.

  • Earlier, stores supporting the movement put up artwork and notes filled with encouragement. Those have been taken down out of fear of authorities.
Photo: Vincent Yu/AP

Up close, this poster looks like circles. From afar, you see eight Chinese characters for "Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our times."

5. Vaccine race still in early stage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New clinical trial data from two experimental virus vaccines — one from Oxford University and AstraZeneca in the UK, and the other from CanSino Biologics in China — are fueling optimism in the race for a cure, Bob Herman reports.

  • Why it matters: Science has never moved this fast to develop a vaccine. Researchers are still several months away from a clearer idea of whether the leading candidates help people generate robust immune responses.

What to watch: 23 coronavirus vaccines are in clinical testing right now, according to the World Health Organization.

  • We now have data on the first four.

Go deeper: Axios World Editor Dave Lawler, "State of the global race for a coronavirus vaccine."

6. Cover of the day
Photo: Steve Schapiro via Getty Images

TIME, out Friday, shows John Lewis at age 23, in May 1963, as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), in Clarksdale, Miss.

7. "A very dark feeling": Oklahoma jobless lines look like 1930s
In Tulsa, people crowd around an Oklahoma unemployment commission employee to get a number. Photo: Nick Oxford for The Washington Post via Getty Images

"In Oklahoma, one of the poorest states, unemployment — which reached a record 14.7 percent in April — has pushed many to the point of desperation, with savings depleted, cars repossessed and homes sold for cash," the WashPost's Annie Gowen reports.

  • John Jolley, a 58-year-old single father, "arrived in the parking lot of the River Spirit Expo center in Tulsa around 9 p.m. on a sultry night" for one of the state's "mega-processing events."
  • "Dozens more sat in the parking lot overnight with Jolley, unable to get their questions answered through the unemployment agency’s overloaded phone system."
8. Fall TV season looks doomed

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

With so much production paused during the pandemic, TV won't be getting its traditional fall lineup of new series, Sara Fischer writes.

  • Instead, look for more news, animation, reality TV, live performances and documentaries.

Why it matters: Analysts expect more consumers to cut the cord, ditching expensive cable and satellite TV subscriptions.

  • Netflix said last week that it doesn't foresee American programming production to return until 2021.
  • New episodes of "Survivor" won't appear on CBS this fall for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Flashback: The concept of a fall TV season is as old as color TV. Beginning in the 1960's, networks began to align programming slates with new automobile models that debuted in the fall.

9. What students want from post-COVID colleges

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans want a post-virus overhaul of higher ed, with lower costs and better job placement, Rashaan Ayesh writes from a report by the think tank Populace.

  • Why it matters: The coronavirus is upending how four-year universities operate. Parents and students no longer think they can justify huge price tags for a mostly online learning environment, regardless of the prestige.

The study finds that Americans want universities and colleges to prioritize affordability, helping students to graduate debt-free and finding employment within nine months.

  • A majority of respondents said they didn't care as much about a university being considered "elite," having a competitive sports program or an active social scene.

Keep reading.

10. ⚾ Baseball's plan for crowd noise
Major League Baseball's new replay operations center in Manhattan, across the street from Radio City Music Hall. Photo: MLB via AP

Ahead of Opening Day on Thursday (with Anthony Fauci throwing out the first pitch at Nats Park), Major League Baseball is working with clubs and Sony to create simulated fan noise for games to be played in empty ballparks.

  • Each team got an iPad with more than 75 sound samples, ranging from murmurs to cheers to organ music, AP's Ronald Blum reports.

Chris Marinak, MLB EVP of strategy, technology and innovation, said: "What we've basically told the clubs is that they need to produce sound that mimics sounds that would otherwise have been in the ballpark if there had been fans."

Mike Allen

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