Wednesday’s top stories

What the 2020 election means for science

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 presidential election presents two stark paths for the direction of future-focused scientific research.

Why it matters: Science is a long game, with today's breakthroughs often stemming from research carried out decades ago, often with government help. That means the person who occupies the White House over the next four years will help shape the state of technology for decades into the future.

Axios Hard Truths
Read our new series of deep dives that explain how race and inequality hold us back.
Oct 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court won't expedite Pennsylvania GOP's request to block mail-in ballot extension

Amy Coney Barrett being sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts. Photo: Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images

The Supreme Court voted 5-3 on Wednesday to deny a bid from Pennsylvania Republicans to expedite their request to shorten the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots. Newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate in the decision.

Why it matters: A lower court ruling allowing ballots to be counted until 5pm on Nov. 6, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, will remain in place for now.

Oct 28, 2020 - World

Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" coronavirus wave

Paris under curfew. Photo: Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

The coronavirus is still winning: Now even Germany is entering another national lockdown, joined by France.

Why it matters: France has been "overpowered by a second wave,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a nationally televised address today. Macron said the "new wave will be stronger and deadlier" than the first.

Stocks close down more than 3%

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld via Getty Images

Stocks took a hit on Wednesday, with the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrials Average and Nasdaq dropping more than 3% across the board.

Why it matters: The volatility is a break from the stock market grinding higher in the face of spiking coronavirus cases, a stalling economy and gridlocked negotiations over an additional stimulus package.

"Anonymous" senior Trump official revealed as ex-DHS chief of staff Miles Taylor

Miles Taylor in a Republican Voters Against Trump ad. Screenshot via YouTube

Former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor on Wednesday publicly claimed to be the author of the anonymous New York Times op-ed that described a "resistance" within the Trump administration working to thwart President Trump's agenda.

Why it matters: Taylor already publicly endorsed Joe Biden in a video funded by Republican Voters Against Trump in August, accusing the president of wanting to "exploit the Department of Homeland Security for his own political purposes and to fuel his own agenda."

Parties trade election influence accusations at Big Tech hearing

Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

A Senate hearing Wednesday with Big Tech CEOs became the backdrop for Democrats and Republicans to swap accusations of inappropriate electioneering.

Why it matters: Once staid tech policy debates are quickly becoming a major focal point of American culture and political wars, as both parties fret about the impact of massive social networks being the new public square.

How overhyping became an election meddling tool

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As online platforms and intelligence officials get more sophisticated about detecting and stamping out election meddling campaigns, bad actors are increasingly seeing the appeal of instead exaggerating their own interference capabilities to shake Americans' confidence in democracy.

Why it matters: It doesn't take a sophisticated operation to sow seeds of doubt in an already fractious and factionalized U.S. Russia proved that in 2016, and fresh schemes aimed at the 2020 election may already be proving it anew.

Oct 28, 2020 - Podcasts

Pete Buttigieg talks Joe Biden's economic plans

Joe Biden has a very different prescription for America's economy than does President Trump. Not just in terms of how to tax and spend, but also in how to approach trading partners like China.

Axios Re:Cap digs into Biden's economic policies and philosophies with former presidential candidate and current Biden campaign surrogate Pete Buttigieg.

Oct 28, 2020 - Technology

Jack Dorsey: Twitter has no influence over elections

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Twitter does not have the ability to influence elections because there are ample additional sources of information, in response to questioning from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz during a hearing Wednesday.

Between the lines: The claim is sure to stir irritation on both the right and left. Conservatives argue Twitter and Facebook's moderation decisions help Democrats, while liberals contend the platforms shy from effectively cracking down on misinformation to appease Republicans.

Oct 28, 2020 - World

Scoop: Secret Israel-Sudan contacts enabled deal sealed by Trump

Trump on the phone with the leaders of Sudan and Israel. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty

While the U.S. officially brokered the Israel-Sudan normalization deal, it was Israel that facilitated talks between the U.S. and Sudan on the broader deal that included Sudan’s removal from America’s state sponsors of terrorism list.

Why it matters: Israel’s secret contacts with Sudanese officials paved the way for a deal that was nearly a year in the making.

Oct 28, 2020 - Health

Trump's testing czar: COVID surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests

Assistant Secretary of Health Adm. Brett Giroir, who leads the federal government's coronavirus testing response, pushed back on Wednesday against President Trump's continued claims that rising coronavirus cases are a product of increased testing.

The big picture: Every available piece of data shows that the pandemic is getting worse again across the country. Hospitalizations are on the rise — and some hospitals are warning that they could soon be overwhelmed — while 13 states set new highs last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day.

Cook Political Report moves Texas to "toss up" in presidential race

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Cook Political Report moved Texas from "lean Republican" to "toss up" for the 2020 presidential race on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Texas, which has 38 electoral votes, hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976. A win for Biden in the historically red state would likely be a knockout blow against Trump.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Oct 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

Joe Biden's private equity plan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're less than one week away from the election, and hopefully less than one month away from knowing who won the election. In the interim, private equity investors are beginning to contemplate life under a President Biden.

The big picture: Biden would be worse for private equity than President Trump, at least from a structural tax perspective.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 28, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Why the pandemic's carbon cuts still won't head off a climate emergency

Expand chart
Data: BloombergNEF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global carbon emissions from energy, which are the lion's share, will never fully come back from pre-pandemic levels — recovering from a pandemic-fueled decline but sinking again around 2027 with renewable energy on the rise — according to a BloombergNEF analysis.

But, but, but: It still won't prevent the planet from cooking, as the firm still sees enough emissions to lead to over 3.3°C of warming above preindustrial levels by century's end.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

Coronavirus surge is sinking consumer confidence

Data: Hamilton Place Strategies, CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

The rise in coronavirus cases in certain parts of the U.S. is stunting confidence across the country, a crop of new reports show.

Driving the news: After stalling during the previous two-week period, overall economic sentiment declined for the first time in two months, according to the Economic Sentiment Index, a biweekly survey from data firm CivicScience and Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS).

The GOP's monstrous math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans, win or lose next week, face a big — and growing — math problem.

The state of play: They're relying almost exclusively on a shrinking demographic (white men), living in shrinking areas (small, rural towns), creating a reliance on people with shrinking incomes (white workers without college degrees) to survive.

Oct 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Right-wing misinformation could gain steam post-election

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With less than a week until the 2020 election, researchers have expressed concern that the information ecosystem today is ripe for an unprecedented level of exploitation by bad actors, particularly hyper-partisan media and personalities on the right.

Why it matters: The misinformation-powered right-wing media machine that fueled Donald Trump's 2016 victory grew stronger after that win, and it's set to increase its reach as a result of the upcoming election, whether Trump wins or loses.

Oct 28, 2020 - World

U.S. election result will shake up Israeli politics

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's biggest domestic political asset is on the ballot on Nov. 3 — his relationship with President Trump.

Why it matters: The outcome of America's election could help determine whether Israel soon faces yet another election of its own.

Oct 28, 2020 - Health

Mask mandates help control the rise in coronavirus hospitalizations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Coronavirus hospitalizations are rising much more dramatically in places that don’t require people to wear a face mask, according to a new Vanderbilt University analysis.

The big picture: The findings reinforce what experts have been saying for months: Masks — and mask mandates — work. They will not vanquish the coronavirus on their own, but they help. A lot.

Updated Oct 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Unrest in Philadelphia after fatal police shooting of Black man

Demonstrators rally on Tuesday near the location where Walter Wallace was killed by two police officers in Philadelphia. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Pennsylvania National Guard was mobilized Tuesday during a tense second night of protests in Philadelphia over the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man.

Driving the news: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a joint statement a "full investigation" would be launched to answer questions that arose from video that captured part of Monday's incident.

Oct 28, 2020 - Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers win World Series

Mookie Betts slides home safely to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers won their seventh World Series in franchise history with a 3-1 Game 6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. Shortstop Corey Seager was named the series MVP.

The big picture: It's the Dodgers' first championship since 1988, though they've won the NL West division in eight straight seasons and reached the World Series three times in the last four years.

Oct 28, 2020 - Technology

Trump's campaign website hacked

A screenshot of the Trump campaign website after it was hacked.

The Trump campaign website briefly went down and its "About" page was modified after hackers attacked the site Tuesday evening — just seven days before the election.

The big picture: The hackers emulated the FBI and declared on the "About" page that "this was seized. the world has had enough of the fake-news spreaded [sic] daily by president donald j trump. it is time to allow the world to know truth." Two addresses linked to the cryptocurrency Monero appeared on the site. Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh in a statement said no sensitive data had been exposed in the attack.

Go deeper: Twitter hack raises fears of an unstable election