Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, who recently rocketed to the top of polls in Iowa, released a $500 billion college affordability plan today, which would make public college tuition free for households earning under $100,000 and inject $120 billion into federal Pell Grants.

The big picture: It contrasts with more expansive proposals from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who want to wipe out all college tuition and debt — though nearly every 2020 contender has their own ideas.

  • The WashPost's editorial board called Buttigieg's plan "the most progressive" among 2020 Democrats "because it is more affordable and better targeted."

Why it matters: College affordability is set to be a key issue in 2020 as the American electorate undergoes a distinct shift — with millennials and Generation Zers making up 37% of eligible voters.

  • Gen Z is set to surpass the Silent Generation in voter share for the first time, a significant milestone as those new voters skew heavily liberal and are almost half non-white.
  • College students turned out to vote at double the rate in the 2018 midterms than in the 2014 cycle — a trend that seems likely to continue in 2020.

By the numbers: The class of 2018 graduated with a record average of $29,200 in loans for a bachelor's degree, but the issue of college debt affects a wider swath of the country than just current students and recent graduates.

The bottom line: Buttigieg, as a moderate millennial Midwestern mayor, seems uniquely suited to speak to the issue of college affordability, and that opportunity is arriving just as he peaks in the polls.

Go deeper: Buttigieg to face frontrunner scrutiny after surprise Iowa poll

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Why it matters: "Whether we're closer to 200,000 or closer to 300,000 depends on what we do now and how it evolves," Gottlieb warned on Sunday as the U.S. surpassed five million confirmed coronavirus cases.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 19,680,042 — Total deaths: 727,777 — Total recoveries — 11,962,565Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,002,523 — Total deaths: 162,455 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Nancy Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on employment — Trump adviser Larry Kudlow says he regrets suggesting the benefits could only be extended by Congress.
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — Poll: 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Schools: Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral — How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.