May 27, 2018

Axios AM

Good Sunday morning.

Thank you for the overwhelming reaction to our special report yesterday on China trends. Axios tries to raise your sights above the daily churn, capturing the ways the world is changing across business, tech, media and global affairs. In response to your thoughtful comments and helpful suggestions, we'll have more deep dives ahead.

1 big thing: Women ruling new Democratic politics

Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The biggest trend in midterm Democratic politics is women kicking ass, a sign of energy and momentum for women presidential candidates in 2020:

  • Cook Political Report's David Wasserman writes that one-third of the way into midterm primaries, "Dem House primaries are coming to be defined by women trouncing men."
  • Incredible stat, via Wasserman: In the 65 Democratic primaries so far with at least one man and one woman, and no incumbent, women defeated men in 45 races; men defeated women in 18.
  • Cecile Richards, who stepped down April 30 after 12 years as president of Planned Parenthood, tells me: "Women are the most powerful political force in the country — as voters and activists and now candidates. We saw that in Virginia and Alabama just this past year."
  • Richards, who hasn't ruled out running for office, adds: "In 2016 the Democratic Party rang a bell that can't be unrung when it nominated a woman. I expect there will be not just one but many women candidates in 2020, and that 2016 will likely be the last time an open Democratic presidential primary only has one woman running."

For 2020, those trends should benefit potential Democratic presidential candidates, including four senators: Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)

  • Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, told me: "Historically, women have voted for both male and female candidates and have not voted as a bloc for women. If that is changing it will mean a lot for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020."
  • Tanden said the potential 2020 female candidates "all may benefit from women voting more for women, and then their messages on behalf of women will matter as well."

Amy Walter, national editor of Cook Political Report, says that a key reason for women's success in this cycle is the desire for a fresh face and a break from the traditional political candidate mold: "It's not just being a female."

  • Walter emails: "While ... the election of Trump and the #MeToo movement have mobilized women voters and made women candidates more appealing, ... their 'outsider' appeal is just as important."
  • "Many of the women who have won primaries are first-time candidates, many of whom were motivated to run in the wake of the 2016 election."
  • "[L]ots of voters ... relate to their stories and respect their passion to turn anger/fear/frustration into action."

Axios' Alexi McCammond quotes a Democratic strategist as saying: "Democratic primary voters are looking for the opposite of Trump. A progressive woman is a good vessel for that."

Be smart: Remember that women are better voters than men. In the past 10 presidential elections, the proportion of eligible women who voted exceeded the proportion of eligible men.

  • Our thought bubble: These primary results make Nancy Pelosi a better bet to be speaker if Democrats win the House. It’s hard to see a new class of women lawmakers, powered by the uprising of women voters, allowing a woman to get the boot.
2. Second time in 17 days: Trump welcomes home freed American
President Trump, Josh Holt and his mother, Laurie Holt (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

At 8:42 last night, President Trump made a live Oval Office appearance with Josh Holt, a 26-year-old Mormon from Utah who had been held by Venezuela without trial since 2016, after the socialist government freed him.

  • Holt was accompanied home by U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who met on Friday with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, per Reuters.
  • "Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who was ... at the Oval Office meeting, said earlier on Saturday in a statement that Holt’s release followed two years of intense lobbying, working with two presidential administrations, countless diplomatic contacts around the world, and Maduro himself."

Be smart, from Axios' Jonathan Swan: Trump has made freeing Americans held overseas a priority of his administration. Foreign dictators realize this and know that freeing a hostage is a gesture of goodwill that Trump can claim credit for domestically.

  • At the level below POTUS, it’s unthinkable that this will cause a breakthrough in U.S.-Venezuelan relations, at least as long as anti-American Maduro remains in power.
  • But it could have more of an effect on Trump, who perhaps more than any President in recent memory regards foreign affairs as mano-a-mano relationships. 
Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) talks to President Trump and Josh Holt. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)
3. Ireland takes another secular step
Dublin celebrates. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

"Irish voters — young and old, male and female, farming types and city-bred folk — endorsed expunging an abortion ban from their largely Catholic country's constitution by a two-to-one margin," AP reports from Dublin:

  • "The decisive outcome of the landmark referendum held Friday exceeded expectations and was cast as a historic victory for women's rights. Polls had given the pro-repeal 'yes' side a small lead, but suggested the contest would be close."
  • The background: "Since 1983, the now-repealed Eighth Amendment had forced women seeking to terminate pregnancies to go abroad for abortions, bear children conceived through rape or incest or take illegal measures at home."
Bonus: Pic du jour
South Korean Presidential Blue House via Getty Images

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (right) hugs North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) before a surprise summit Saturday on the North Korean side of the "truce village" of Panmunjom.


  • President Trump said last night in the Oval Office, at the end of his appearance with Josh Holt: "I just want to mention, we're doing very well in terms of the summit with North Korea. ... So we're looking at June 12th in Singapore. That hasn’t changed. And it's moving along pretty well."

Be smart ... Axios' Jonathan Swan emails: "This is South Korea working overdrive to save the summit. They are the conduits, they desperately want this to happen, and it’s quite likely they are overstating or sugar-coating what Kim is saying."

4. Freeze frame: Day 492

What we learned on Saturday, May 26, 2018 — Day 492 of President Trump (969½ days left in this term):

  • N.Y. Times' Mike Shear: "Trump falsely accused The New York Times ... of making up a source in an article about North Korea, even though the source was in fact a senior White House official speaking to a large group of reporters in the White House briefing room. ... The source ... held a briefing on Thursday afternoon ... that was attended by about 50 reporters, with about 200 or so more on a conference call."
  • WashPost's Josh Dawsey and Nick Miroff: "The night before Trump delivered his first speech to Congress in February 2017, he huddled with senior adviser Jared Kushner and [Stephen] Miller in the Oval Office to talk immigration. The president reluctantly agreed with suggestions that he strike a gentler tone on immigration ... Acting as if he were at a rally, he recited a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, such as rape or murder."
5. Corporate America feeling bullish

The bullish bottom line from Barron's:

  • "Corporate America’s bottom line is growing fatter, fast."
  • "Big-company earnings per share swelled nearly 25% during the first quarter, the biggest gain since 2010."
  • "Global economic growth looks strong, too."

Barron's lists top global CEOs, including ...

Visionary founders:

Turnaround experts:

Read the story.

6. 1 fun thing: In sickness and inbox zero

"Those Red Alert Bubbles on Your Phone Are Driving Your Loved One Crazy" — Wall Street Journal A-hed by Katherine Bindley:

  • "In an era of nonstop notifications — reminders, app updates, endless text chains — electronic-alert management is starting to become a dividing line in American relationships."
  • "On one side are the compulsive clearers, who can’t abide the banners and bubbles designed to prod us into maximum smartphone hygiene. The clutter and the sense of tasks unfinished drives them to distraction."
  • "On the other side are spouses and partners who are affected differently — which is to say not at all. Messages collect. Unread emails accumulate. Software upgrades are ignored. Apps requesting updates sit in a digital purgatory."