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Nov 5, 2018

Axios AM

🇺🇸 Good Monday morning. It's Election Eve.

1 big thing ... Exclusive poll: Trump's biggest 2020 worry
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Data: SurveyMonkey online poll. Poll methodology. (Net favorability is the difference between the share who approve and disapprove.) Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump would lose the 2020 election against every woman mentioned as a possible Democratic opponent, according to an Axios poll by SurveyMonkey, first air last night on "Axios on HBO," Kim Hart and Alexi McCammond report.

  • Why it matters: Trump is underwater with women voters (64% of women view him unfavorably), and particularly among white suburban women — a group that will be critical in 2020.
  • Look for Democrats to turn to their top 2020 female candidates after tomorrow: A record number of women are running and a record number of women are expected to vote and win.

Trump vs the superstars: Even though they're unlikely to run, both Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey would crush Trump if the election were held today, according to the SurveyMonkey poll.

  • Both women lead by double digits in favorability. Trump's favorability is just 40% among registered voters, per the poll, compared to 62% for Obama and 55% for Winfrey.

Trump vs. the rising stars: More probable but lesser-known candidates — Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) — could all beat Trump, too, based on this poll.

  • But a near-majority of registered voters said they didn't know enough about Harris, Klobuchar or Gillibrand to be able to rate them as favorable or unfavorable.
  • Of these three women, Harris would beat Trump most handily — by a 10-point margin — if the election were held today. She polls well with African American and white suburban women.
  • Klobuchar polls best with white suburban women, and would beat Trump by 9 points.

Trump vs. the establishment: The two women who barely edge out Trump are Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is in a virtual tie.

  • The rematch: The 2016 election results would remain. If they went head-t0-head again today, Clinton would still beat Trump in the popular vote by a similar same gap as 2016 (50% to 45% of the electorate).
  • 65% of Democrats still feel favorable towards Clinton.
  • Of all the women in matchups with Trump, Warren was least popular with white suburban women, but she polled well with millennials.

A huge caveat: Only 40% of registered voters approve of Trump, per the poll, so most Democrats do well in head-to-head matchups with him, especially before the president has begun to pick them apart publicly.

  • The two groups who the poll shows would overwhelmingly opt for anyone but Trump — African American women and millennials — are also two groups that tend to be less reliable in going to the polls.

Be smart: Many of Trump's controversial moves — from child-separation policy at the Mexico border to the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh — have eroded his support among women voters.

2. Meddling "false flags"

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Top tech companies are seeing evidence that the same bad actors looking to interfere in the U.S. elections are now looking to spread false claims of meddling, sources tell Axios chief tech writer Ina Fried.

  • Why it matters: With just one day left before voting ends, experts are worried about anything that undermines confidence in the election. And false claims can be just as effective as real ones.

How it works: The environment of distrust has most of America ready to believe that someone has stolen the election, and that makes it possible for meddlers to take credit for manipulation even when it hasn't happened.

  • And the tech companies are sounding the alarm, because they know they'll get the blame.
  • Details: Former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos cautioned against putting too much stock in anything said by an admitted troll. "You have to be super careful with anything said by an admitted member of a 'disinformation factory,' " he said. "That includes things that would seem like admissions of guilt."
  • The companies expect new incidents.

The bottom line: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned last week that even if foreign governments and hackers aren't able to disrupt voting on Election Day, they might look "to sow confusion, discord and mistrust by placing stories in social media or state sponsored media that something was wrong."

3. Trump threatens Silicon Valley

President Trump told "Axios on HBO" his administration is looking seriously at antitrust investigations of Google, Facebook and Amazon.

  • In the next breath, he argued they are great companies that he wants to help, Axios' Kim Hart and Sara Fischer report.

Why it matters: Trump's inconsistent approach toward Silicon Valley has had the world's most powerful technology companies on edge — and that's exactly where he wants them.

  • But his wavering stance makes it difficult to set national priorities around serious tech issues, such as consumer privacy, data security and competition.

Here are excerpts from Trump's interview with "Axios on HBO":

  • Monopoly power of Google, Facebook and Amazon: "I leave it to others, but I do have a lot of people talking about monopoly when they mention those three in particular."
  • "We are looking at [antitrust] very seriously ... Look, that doesn't mean we're doing it, but we're certainly looking and I think most people surmise that, I would imagine."
  • "As far as antitrust is concerned, we'll have to take a look at that but I want them to do well. I want Amazon to do well. I want Google to do well. I want Facebook — I want all of 'em to do [well] — these are great companies."

Fact check: Several of Trump's statements during the interview underscore some misunderstandings regarding existing tech policy on Amazon, on EU taxes and on the Obama era. Go deeper.

4. Pics du jour
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Above: Texas Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who's enjoying tightening polls in his challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz, leaves a campaign rally yesterday at the Alamo City Music Hall in San Antonio.

Below: In Chattanooga yesterday, a woman shouts to President Trump as he steps off the stage during a rally for Senate candidate Rep. Marsha Blackburn, in a tight open-seat race against Democrat Phil Bredesen, a former governor.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
5. Exclusive poll: Only 1/2 of Americans have faith in democracy
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Data: SurveyMonkey online poll. Poll methodology. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios 

Just 51% of Americans said they have faith in democracy, and 37% say they have lost faith in democracy, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

  • Why it matters, from Axios managing editor Kim Hart: It's worrisome how many people doubt the very foundation of American society.
  • The big picture: Since October 2016, SurveyMonkey has tracked Americans' views toward democracy. Despite the political turbulence of the past two years, Americans' faith in democracy has been relatively stable.
6. On climate change, Trump disavows his own scientists, government
Screenshot: "Axios on HBO"

When “Axios on HBO” interviewed President Trump last week, one goal was to get him to reckon with his own government’s scientific findings, which unequivocally state that global warming is nearly entirely caused by humans.

Amy Harder, in her "Harder Line" energy column, and Axios science editor Andrew Freedman unpack what happened when we showed him his own administration's most comprehensive report.

  • Trump was shown a copy of the National Climate Assessment, a federally mandated report the Trump administration released without fanfare, or interference, last November. He dismissed it and said he didn't read it.
  • “Is there climate change? Yeah. Will it go back like this, I mean will it change back? Probably,” Trump said, making an ocean wave motion with his hand.
  • Reality check: The report is the most comprehensive and up-to-date assessment published by the entire federal government, from NASA to the Environmental Protection Agency. It concludes that "there is no convincing alternative explanation" for the global warming we've observed, other than human causes.

Why it matters: These comments, the first on this report, are among the most extreme he’s made dismissing a scientific issue nearly all other world leaders take seriously.

Go deeper: A point-by-point reality check on Trump's comments

7. Quotes du jour

Illustration: Axios Visuals

President Trump, castigating Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams at a rally in Georgia yesterday:

  • "You put Stacey in there, and you're going to have Georgia turn into Venezuela."
  • Fact check: One professor estimates that Venezuela's inflation rate over the last 12 months was 52,000%.

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, on how she responds to Dem candidates saying they wouldn't support her for speaker:

  • "Hey, we’re in politics. What did people think they were going to, a tea party?"
  • N.Y. Times' Kate Zernike: "There are roughly two dozen votes against [Pelosi] for speakership, not enough to sink her; some of the Democratic candidates saying they won’t vote for her are in Republican districts where they’re unlikely to win."
8. World War I centenary to be marked in London and Paris, not Berlin
On June 28, 1919, Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending its involvement in World War I, during a meeting with Allied Powers at the Palace of Versailles, France.

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel will mark [Sunday's] 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on French soil, and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be in London for a ceremony in Westminster Abbey with Queen Elizabeth II," AP's David Rising reports from Berlin:

  • "But while Germany's leaders visit the capitals of its wartime enemies, at home there are no national commemorations planned for the centenary of the Nov. 11 armistice that ended the four-year war that left 17 million dead, including more than 2 million German troops."
  • "[T]he German parliament is holding a combined commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the declaration of the first German republic, the 80th anniversary of the brutal Nazi-era pogrom against Jews known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), and the 29th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Almost as an afterthought, parliament notes there's also art exhibition in the lobby called '1914/1918 - Not Then, Not Now, Not Ever.'"

Why it's happening: For Germany, on the losing side, "the Nov. 11 armistice did not mean peace like it did in France and Britain. The war's end gave rise to revolution and street fighting between far-left and far-right factions."

  • "It also brought an end to the monarchy, years of hyperinflation, widespread poverty and hunger, and helped create the conditions that brought the Nazis to power in 1933."
9. How Fox News' Bret Baier preps for Election Day
Bret Baier interviews DNC Chair Tom Perez. (Fox News)

Since tomorrow is political journalism's Game Day, we talked with three of the cable stars of election night about how they prep. Today, we interview Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier, who'll co-anchor "America’s Election HQ: 2018 Midterms" with Martha MacCallum, from 6 p.m. until the wee hours:

  • Some of the prep is "kind of osmosis, as we're covering all these races ... But we have this massive briefing book ... and all kinds of stats in there. So there'll be a little studying over the weekend."
  • "But on game day, on Election Day, it's about staying calm and moving things around. People are in our ears throughout, because we're bouncing from state to state, or different calls. And I consider myself, and Martha is the same way, as kind of a conductor: I'm getting people to where they need to go. Hopefully we're first. But we want to be right, and do it in a way that's watchable."

Bret's Game Day tradition: "I go for a run in the morning ... I just go down to Central Park and do a couple miles. I make a swing by St. Patrick's Cathedral — that has been my ritual for the last four Election Days."

  • "I just go in, light a candle, say a couple prayers and have a little quiet time. I think that that's key on those big nights. I did that in every city that I had a debate or a big night. It's more meditation than it is anything else."

"Then have a good lunch and then get ready to bear down for what could be a long night."

  • In 2016, Baier was in the chair 5 p.m. to 4 a.m.  Tomorrow's coverage is scheduled to go through at least 1 a.m., "but we'll kind of play it by ear."
  • "There's a chance that some of these races are not going to be wrapped up that night, and we expect to be on the set for a long time."

What we'll know Wednesday morning: "If some of these key races — and I'm talking governors' races — go to Democrats, we will know whether it's easier or harder for Donald Trump to run the same kind of map in 2020."

  • "If Florida goes Democrat, so does that machine. And, as you know, Florida is central in a lot of places, in a lot of elections."

Yesterday: CNN's Dana Bash ... Tomorrow: MSNBC's Steve Kornacki.

10. 1 fun thing
"Axios on HBO"

From "Axios on HBO" ... "Casting Team Trump": A visit to Trump's Land of Misfit Toys, as the White House merges with television.

P.S. In stores Nov. 27 ... A second book from Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie: "Trump's Enemies: How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency."

"Axios on HBO"