Oct 24, 2018

Axios AM

☕️ Good Wednesday morning. South Carolina officials say that a winning ticket for the $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot was sold in the state.

D.C. readers: You're invited! At an 8 a.m. breakfast downtown tomorrow, I'll lead a conversation about differing Republican and Democratic approaches to combating cyber-tampering in the midterms, from our social feeds to the final count. RSVP here.

1 big thing ... America, 2018: Gender gaps, gender wars

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With more women running than ever, the 2018 midterms have the largest voting gender gap on record, with Democrats overwhelmingly winning women's support, Axios' Stef Kight and Alexi McCammond write.

  • There have been powerful moments and signs of progress for women this year, but wide gaps persist in pay, positions of power and politics.
  • Men are notably less concerned about these issues than women, pointing to renewed gender wars in President Trump's 2020 re-election race.
  • "The partisan asymmetry is more glaring than it’s ever been," said Jennifer Lawless, a politics professor at the University of Virginia.

The great divide: Democrats are winning over women voters 58% to 33%, while Republicans have men's support 50% to 42%, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

  • If those numbers hold, the 2018 midterms could have the largest gender gap since 1958, according to CNN.

And that record field of women candidates is mostly made up of Democrats.

  • 387 women are running as Democrats for Congress, compared with 142 running as Republicans, according to data from Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics.
  • But about half of Democratic women House nominees are running as challengers.
  • Debbie Walsh, the center's director, said: "There’s been a tremendous amount of hype about the numbers [of women running]. ... [W]e’ll see an increase in the number of women in office. But ... people have been calling this a tsunami. I don’t think we're going to see a tsunami of women in office." 

Despite the #MeToo movement, more than half of the men ousted for sexual misconduct have been replaced by other men, the N.Y. Times reports in a powerful graphic.

  • Following the Brett Kavanaugh fight, minority women, college-educated women and women under 50 said victims will be more empowered to come forward with stories of abuse, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

On policy issues, men and women still have very different views:

  • The vast majority of women support stricter gun control laws as opposed to less than half of men, according to a Quinnipiac poll from last year. 
  • And most women say that it's more important for people to feel safe and welcome online, while a majority of men say it's more important to be able to speak freely.

Women who work still make only 82% of what their male counterparts make, according to a Pew Research analysis of census data. 

  • While women have made slow progress, the median income for men has been relatively flat for decades.
  • And men without college degrees have seen their wages fall over the past several years. 

Be smart: Women’s voices are being listened to in a way that they haven’t been before. And it's not just women candidates: It's women voters and women activists at all levels. 

2. 🌊 Dems fear 2016-style shock

"In the closing stretch of the 2018 campaign, the question is no longer the size of the Democratic wave. It's whether there will be a wave at all," AP's Steve Peoples, Tom Beaumont and Lisa Mascaro write.

  • "Top operatives in both political parties concede that Democrats' narrow path to the Senate majority has essentially disappeared, a casualty of surging Republican enthusiasm across GOP strongholds."
  • "[L]eading Democrats now fear the battle for the House majority will be decided by just a handful of seats."

"Democrats say they never assumed it would be easy."

  • Mixed signals on the House: "There are signs that the Democrats' position in the expanding House battlefield may actually be improving. Yet Republican candidates locked in tight races from New York to Nevada find themselves in stronger-than-expected positions because of a bump in ... Trump's popularity, the aftermath of a divisive Supreme Court fight and the sudden focus on a caravan of Latin American immigrants seeking asylum at the U.S. border."

Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC's "Morning Joe":

  • "This is hard to say. People don't want to hear it, but the party badly misplayed the Kavanaugh hearings. Like Hillary, they lack a message and their leaders lack heart and unless trends change, ... Democrats are going to wake up to the same kind of political reckoning they did two years ago."
3. Tim Cook urges regulators to rein in "Data Industrial Complex"

Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking in Brussels this morning to the International Conference of Data Protection & Privacy Commissioners, vividly sketches the dark side of what he calls a "data industrial complex":

"Every day, billions of dollars change hands, and countless decisions are made, on the basis of our 'likes' and dislikes. ... These scraps of data — each one harmless enough on its own — are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded, and sold."
"Taken to its extreme, this process creates an enduring digital profile that lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is then run through algorithms that can serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into hardened convictions."

Be smart, from Axios' Ina Fried: Supporters of meaningful privacy regulations can count on Apple's backing, as the company continues to try to stand apart from other tech giants, particularly Google and Facebook.

  • Cook is the first tech CEO to keynote the conference.
4. 🇨🇳 World's longest sea crossing
Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping officially opened the world's longest sea crossing bridge, nine years after construction first began, the BBC reports.

  • "Including its access roads, the bridge spans ... 34 miles ... and connects Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai."
  • "In the past, travelling between Zhuhai and Hong Kong would take up to four hours — the new bridge cuts this down to 30 minutes."
  • "The bridge cost about $20bn ... and should have opened in 2016."

Why it matters: "It is part of China's plan to create a Greater Bay Area, including Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in southern China."

5. Exclusive poll: Most Americans think Trump too soft on Saudis
Expand chart
Data: Survey Monkey online poll Oct. 17-23, 2018 among 3,919 U.S. adults. Total margin of error: ±2.5 percentage points. Modeled error estimates: African-American women ±7.5, age 18 to 34 ±5.0, suburban white women ±5.0, “Never Hillary” Independent voters ±8.0, Rural voters ±4.5. Poll methodology. Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

A new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll shows President Trump's approval rating on foreign policy is 45%, statistically tied with his 46% overall approval.

  • But on Jamal Khashoggi, 37% of Republicans believe he has been too soft on the Saudis, along with 55% of independents and 78% of Democrats.
  • Share the results.

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who got a standing ovation at the investor conference that many executives shunned, pronounced the event a success as $50 billion in deals were announced:

  • "More people, more money."
6. Why we're flooded with political text messages

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The most popular way for political campaigns to reach voters ahead of this year's midterm elections isn't placing ads on social media or TV — it's flooding cellphones with personalized political text messages, Axios' Kim Hart writes:

  • Instead of using automated bulk text messages, many campaigns are manually sending text messages to individual voters, one at a time. That means the so-called "peer-to-peer" texts aren't subject to federal limits on autodialers (like robocalls) to mobile phones.
  • The texts may be annoying, but they don't violate any rules.

The big picture: TV and email ads are still used, but are less effective in an era of new media consumption habits. Text messages, though, are hard for voters to avoid, and have high "open" rates: 90% of text messages are read within five minutes, according to Opn Sesame, a messaging provider.

  • So political campaigns across the country are using peer-to-peer (P2P) text messaging to drive supporters to rallies, tout ballot initiatives, fundraise and encourage early voting.
  • They were used by Barack Obama's campaign in 2008, then by Bernie Sanders' campaign in 2016. Now they've gone mainstream and are being used for local races, too.

Campaigns usually get phone numbers from voter records or firms that buy and sell voter data.

  • "An individual employee could easily send 30,000 messages per hour (conservatively at 10 messages/second), far outpacing the capability of users to report and block or opt-out of these unwanted messages," Matt Tucker of Orlando, Fla., wrote in a comment to the FCC.
7. Fun new online tool

Facebook opened a database of political ad buys as part of the company's response to the 2016 abuses of its platform, CNN's Donie O'Sullivan reports:

  • Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic Senate candidate in Texas, "has spent more on Facebook ads than any other candidate this campaign cycle ... $5.3 million since May."
  • "The campaign of his opponent, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, has spent just over $400,000 ... in the same period — less than 10% of O'Rourke's expenditure."
  • "In one week, between October 14 and October 20, O'Rourke's campaign spent more than $500,000 on the platform."

"[A]lmost $5 million has been spent running ... more than 100,000 ads ... on President Donald Trump's main Facebook page."

  • "Since May, more than a quarter of a billion dollars has been spent on ads relating to 'politics and issues of national importance' on Facebook."
8. Scoop: Mike Bloomberg plans more spending

Mayor Mike Bloomberg is likely to juice his last-minute spending on the midterms, taking him past the $100 million mark.

  • A Democratic source told me that Bloomberg is eyeing additional GOP-held House seats: "We see more opportunity to make a difference/impact."
  • Bloomberg has spent $20 million on the Senate and a total of $80 million on House and governors' races, with the vast bulk of that going to the House.

Why it matters: Bloomberg, with friends believing he'll make a White House run, is determined to make his mark as Democrats' biggest outside spender.

9. Data du jour
10. 1 novel thing
Harper Lee in Montgomery, Ala. in 2007 (AP)

"To Kill a Mockingbird," the coming-of-age story about racism and injustice, overpowered wizards and time travelers to be voted America's best-loved novel by readers nationwide, AP's Lynn Elber writes.

  • The 1960 book by Harper Lee emerged as No. 1 in PBS' "The Great American Read" survey, whose results were announced yesterday on the show's finale.
  • More than 4 million votes were cast in the six-month-long contest that put 100 titles to the test.
  • "To Kill a Mockingbird" has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and remains a fixture on school reading lists.

Books that were published as a series counted as a single entry.

  • The other top-five finishers, in order of votes, were Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series about a time-spanning love; J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" boy wizard tales; Jane Austen's romance "Pride and Prejudice"; and J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" fantasy saga.