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July 30, 2019

🌡️ 🇬🇧 Happy Tuesday! Britain had its official hottest day on record: 38.7°C (101.7°F) at Cambridge University Botanic Garden, during last week's heat wave. (AP)

  • Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,169 words ... 4½ minutes.
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1 big thing ... 2020 attention tracker: The idea from Dems with the most online traction

Credit: Data: NewsWhip. Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios
Credit: Data: NewsWhip. Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Plans by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to cancel student-loan debt have generated by far the most online attention among policies proposed by 2020 Dems, Axios' Neal Rothschild writes, using exclusive NewsWhip data.

  • Warren and Sanders will be at center stage in Detroit at 8 tonight on CNN for the 2020 Dems' Debate 2, which continues tomorrow night. [Corrected]

Between the lines: Our short attention spans mean that for a proposal to catch like wildfire, it must be concrete and easy to grasp — without requiring much grounding in policy, which is often necessary for health care and climate plans.

  • The simplicity of canceling student debt is a key driver behind its reach.
  • The same could be said for President Trump's border wall in 2016.

Dominant storyline for each candidate: This list shows the policy stance or storyline with the most combined online interactions (reactions, shares, comments), for the 50 biggest stories since March 1 on each of the top eight.

  • Candidates are ranked by polling; links go to the top story on that topic.
  1. Joe Biden: Strong polling numbers vs. Trump (993,000 interactions)
  2. Sen. Elizabeth Warren: Student debt cancellation and tuition-free college plan (2 million)
  3. Sen. Bernie Sanders: Student debt cancellation (1.7 million)
  4. Sen. Kamala Harris: Black homeownership plan (522,000)
  5. Mayor Pete Buttigieg: Attacks on the religious right (1.1 million)
  6. Andrew Yang: Universal basic income (140,000)
  7. Beto O'Rourke: Abortion rights stance, largely used as an attack by conservative media (404,000)
  8. Cory Booker: Gun control plan, attacks on NRA (1.1 million)

🍦 Scoop ... Pete Buttigieg hires Michael Halle — a close adviser to Terry McAuliffe — as a senior strategist, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

2. What's changed since Debate 1

Adapted from a Hamilton Place Strategies chart. Chart: Axios Visuals
Adapted from a Hamilton Place Strategies chart. Chart: Axios Visuals

First look ... Issues that got the most heat in the first debate made a dent in the social-media conversation since then, per data harvested by Hamilton Place Strategies, an analytical public affairs consulting firm:

  • "Some of the most notable moments in the debate were around health care and immigration, and both of those topics gained in share of voice after the debate," partner Matt McDonald tells me.
  • HPS found that the biggest gainers in Twitter followers since the Miami debates are Sen. Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Julián Castro, who got good buzz from the debate, also had a nice bump. 
  • 😱 "The candidate with the smallest percentage growth in followers was Beto (0%) (not literally 0 new followers, but the percentage growth rounds to 0)."

Go deeper: Hamilton Place's pre-debate analysis.

3. New rules for Debate 2

CNN pledges not to ask questions that require a show of hands by the politicians or that confine all the contenders to a one-word "yes" or "no" answer, AP media writer David Bauder reports:

  • "Invariably a question can be open for interpretation," said Sam Feist, CNN's Washington bureau chief.
  • Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper moderate the two-hour debates.

The new narrative? Snapchat's Peter Hamby writes for Vanity Fair: "Warren is cutting through the noise with a consistent message and a clear rationale for running. Halfway through the race, she might just be winning."

Photo: Paul Sancya/AP

First look ... This week's debates will be heavily watched in the states where the candidates hope/need to break out, a Firehouse/0ptimus Early Primary Poll finds.

  • 80% of likely Democratic voters polled in Iowa, and 70% in New Hampshire and South Carolina, said they plan to watch. (1,771 polled across the three states; margin of error in each state: about ± 3.5%; methodology).

General Motors is bracing for attacks from Democrats at the Detroit debates, which are near its headquarters, Reuters' David Shepardson writes:

  • "The largest U.S. automaker preemptively released two fact sheets on its U.S. operations and details about its 2009 U.S. government bailout ahead of the debates," where Dems could use GM's high-profile job cuts to attack Trump.

4. Capital One breach affects 100 million

Photo: Elise Amendola/AP

Capital One "said data from about 100 million people in the U.S. was illegally accessed after prosecutors accused a Seattle woman identified by Inc. as one of its former cloud service employees of breaking into the bank’s server," Bloomberg reports.

  • "The largest category of data stolen was supplied by consumers and small businesses when they applied for credit cards from 2005 through early 2019."
  • "About 140,000 Social Security numbers were accessed, as well as 80,000 bank account numbers."

5. How the Trump White House runs

"Several White House officials expressed agreement during a senior staff meeting on Monday morning that the president’s attacks [on critics of color, now including Al Sharpton] were a bad move," the N.Y. Times' Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman report.

  • Why it matters: "[T]hey were uncertain who could intervene with [Trump] — or if anyone would even dare try."
  • "They privately scoffed at the idea that it was strategy rather than impulse."

6. "Least-qualified"?

President Trump’s announcement "that he will nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) as the next director of national intelligence drew immediate opposition from Senate Democrats and tepid support from key Republicans, an early indication that the junior congressman might not sail smoothly to confirmation," the WashPost's Shane Harris writes on A1.

  • Why it matters: "Current and former intelligence officials ... said Ratcliffe is the least-qualified person ever nominated to oversee the country’s intelligence agencies."

7. Local media falls victim to partisan politics

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Political groups on both sides of the aisle are throwing money and resources at propping up local, partisan websites that are often designed to appear as straight news, Axios media trends expert Sara Fischer writes.

  • Why it matters: What's often missing from these sites are adequate disclosures about funding and authorship.

The context: The right has traditionally been ahead of the digital curve, experimenting with similar "local news websites," memes and advertising tricks before their Democratic rivals — and most consumers — catch on.

What's new: Now, publishers on the left have been ramping up their investments in local media this year, launching websites in swing states that will focus on the stories they think are being ignored by the mainstream news.

  • Priorities USA, one of the biggest Democratic super PACs, plans to spend millions of dollars on social media ads that will pump news from independent outlets, Vice News reports.

What's next: Local communities that have been losing access to nonpartisan news sources are starting to experience small bits of relief, as tech companies, donors, regulators and advocacy groups fund new ventures to replace them.

8. 🎸 Rock stars form lobby

"Music stars Dave Matthews, Anderson .Paak and Maren Morris have teamed with some of the industry’s top power brokers to form a new lobbying group," the Music Artists Coalition, "that will represent artists in Washington and state capitals." (Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw)

9. 🎬 Netflix blockbusters

Netflix "is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to produce big-budget films as it tries to shore up its subscriber base and push further into territory once controlled by major Hollywood studios," The Wall Street Journal's R.T. Watson and Ben Fritz report (subscription):

Earlier this month, Netflix agreed to spend nearly $200 million to make the Dwayne Johnson action movie "Red Notice," which will be filmed next year at exotic locations and also stars Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot ...
Netflix plans to release later this year "6 Underground," a Michael Bay-directed action film that is costing about $150 million, and Martin Scorsese’s "The Irishman."

10. 1 song thing

Photo: Scott Roth/Invision/AP

Lil Nas X's viral "Old Town Road" broke the Billboard record set by Mariah Carey's "One Sweet Day" for most weeks at No. 1, AP music writer Mesfin Fekadu reports:

  • The breakthrough rapper's country-trap song hit its 17th week atop the Hot 100 chart.
  • "YEEE TF HAWWW," Lil Nas X tweeted.

The Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men duet set the record in 1996.

  • The only song to come close to breaking it was the ubiquitous international hit "Despacito," which tied the 16-week record in 2017.

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