Jul 24, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Happy Friday! Today's PM, edited by Shane Savitsky, is 472 words — a 2-minute read, or roughly half the time needed to listen to the best song on Taylor Swift's new album.

1 big thing: The blue wave keeps growing

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With 102 days until Election Day, the blue wave threatening to swamp President Trump's re-election chances keeps getting bigger and bigger.

  • Why it matters: We all know that anything can happen. But right now, every measurable trend is going against Trump — and with each day that passes, it gets increasingly harder for him to claw his way back.

🚨 The Cook Political Report today flipped Florida from "toss-up" to "leans Democratic," citing the state's spiraling coronavirus outbreak.

  • That follows a Quinnipiac poll yesterday that showed Joe Biden leading by 13 points in the Sunshine State. For context, Trump led Hillary Clinton by 3 points in the same poll in mid-July 2016.

Our thought bubble, from Axios White House editor Margaret Talev: Trump's re-election path has to go through Florida.

  • Without it, he's done.
Courtesy Cook Political Report

The tsunami flows down-ballot: Charlie Cook and his team now like Democrats' chances to reclaim the Senate, shifting races in Arizona, Georgia and Iowa in their favor this week.

  • Cook also moved 20 House races toward Democrats.
  • Dave Wasserman, its House editor, said he couldn't recall a similarly sized shift for one party.

The big picture: Trump's net approval rating (-15) has remained remarkably consistent throughout his presidency, highlighting the difficulty he faces in trying to quickly turn around public opinion.

  • 538's Harry Enten noted on CNN this morning that, since 1940, incumbent presidents who were re-elected had an average net approval rating of +23.
  • Those who lost had an average net approval rating of -14.

The bottom line: The pandemic isn't going anywhere. And no matter what the president wants, it's going to define everything from here on out.

  • 102 days ago, the U.S. had 860,000 confirmed coronavirus cases (now 4 million), and Trump claimed "total" authority over ordering states to reopen.
  • Think of everything that's happened since.
2. Pic du jour
Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Families walk past the lion enclosure during today's reopening of the Smithsonian National Zoo.

  • 🛬 D.C. issued a self-quarantine order this afternoon for travelers from high-risk areas — another blow to a ravaged tourist season.
3. Catch up quick
  1. ICE revised its controversial guidance on international students, and will now bar all new students this fall if their classes are entirely online. Details.
  2. The country's top counterintelligence official singled out China, Russia and Iran as threats to election security ahead of November. What he said.
  3. The FBI charged a Singaporean national in D.C. with acting as an illegal Chinese agent. Go deeper.
  4. Former CDC Director Tom Frieden told the Axios Re:Cap podcast that there are "a lot of hurdles" before humanity has a coronavirus vaccine. Listen.
4. 1 sweet thing
Photo: Dandelion Chocolate

As a side project, a senior industrial designer at Tesla has re-engineered the chocolate chip because "the 80-year-old teardrop shape is ill-suited to its function," Bloomberg's Larissa Zimberoff writes.

  • "The chip isn't a designed shape," says the engineer, Remy Labesque. "It's a product of an industrial manufacturing process."

His redesign for Dandelion Chocolate, an artisanal supplier in S.F., is "a square, faceted pyramid, kind of like a flattened diamond. Two edges are thick, and two exceedingly thin, for even more textural pleasure," per Bloomberg.

Mike Allen