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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

Go deeper

Supreme Court rejects second GOP effort to cut absentee ballot deadline in N.C.

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

The Supreme Court, for the second time in two days, rejected a GOP request to shorten the deadline mail-in ballots must be received by North Carolina officials to be counted.

The state of play: The state's deadline had been extended from 3 days to 9 days post-Election Day.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

The vaccine race turns toward nationalism

The coronavirus pandemic is worsening, both in the U.S. and abroad, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths all rising.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of global vaccine development — including why the U.S. and China seem to going at it alone — with medicinal chemist and biotech blogger Derek Lowe.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases — Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.

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