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Inside 2020

Inside 2020 (Nov 8th, 2019)

1. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is preparing for a possible last-minute bid for the presidency — a surprising move that could upend the Democratic race. The billionaire is expected to formally file for the Alabama primary by the state's deadline on Friday, fueling speculation he's seriously mulling a run that could jeopardize the trajectory of fellow moderate Joe Biden. Although the former vice president continues to lead in most national primary polls, his cash struggles and hardships galvanizing voter enthusiasm have reportedly lured Bloomberg closer to a White House run. -- REUTERS

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2. Democratic voters in battleground states want a more moderate nominee, a new poll found. A New York Times/Siena College survey released Friday shows Democratic voters in Arizona, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin would prefer a candidate that promises to "find common ground with Republicans" rather than "fight for a bold, progressive agenda." The poll showed former Vice President Joe Biden with leads over other top-tier candidates in every battleground state except Wisconsin, where Sen. Elizabeth Warren had the preference of 25 percent of Democratic voters to Biden's 23 percent.  -- NEW YORK TIMES

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3. A top aide to presidential candidate Tom Steyer privately offered campaign cash to local Iowa politicians if they endorsed the billionaire businessman. The offer "left a bad taste in my mouth," said former Iowa state senator Tom Courtney — one of several political figures across the Hawkeye state who'd been propositioned by Steyer campaign aide Pat Murphy. The development may further perceptions that Steyer — whose net worth stands at $1.6 billion, according to estimates by Forbes — is trying to buy his way to the top of the primary. -- ASSOCIATED PRESS

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4. President Trump said he doesn't believe the House impeachment inquiry should hold public hearings. Speaking to reporters outside the White House Friday, the president claimed public hearings would only add more validity to what he considers an unethical investigation. "They shouldn't be having public hearings," he said. "This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt." Although polling shows a plurality of Americans supports the inquiry, the threat of impeachment hasn't had a significant impact on the president's approval rating heading into the 2020 election cycle. -- CNN

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5. The New York Times Editorial Board fact-checked claims from Bill Gates that Democrats' tax plans would hinder growth. The billionaire businessman and philanthropist said Wednesday, "I do think if you tax too much you do risk the capital formation, innovation, U.S. as the desirable place to do innovative companies." Yet there's little data supporting a clear connection between tax rates and business innovation, the New York Times found. Gates' remarks were perceived by some as a veiled criticism of progressive candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who are both proposing significant tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans. -- NEW YORK TIMES   

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6. President Trump's immigration plans helped propel him into office, but may be his Achilles heel in 2020, according to Politico. Three of Trump's major immigration promises — pulling federal funds from "sanctuary cities," revoking birthright citizenship, and, most notably, building a wall along the southern border with Mexico — have failed to materialize with a year left to go before the 2020 election. Those hardline immigration proposals helped the president stand out from his 2016 primary rivals and create enthusiasm among his base, but his failings to fulfill those promises may come back to haunt him next November. -- POLITICO

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7. In the wake of increased scrutiny, both Facebook and Google are considering limitations on micro-targeting political ads ahead of 2020. Critics have been increasingly averse toward giant tech companies for enabling political groups, such as presidential campaigns, to target small subgroups of voters with tailored messages and little oversight, worried that disinformation could sway the electorate in harmful ways. The blowback may be spurring Facebook and Google to ban micro-targeting for such groups, which could mean significant changes in how presidential campaigns approach digital advertising. In October, Twitter announced the platform is banning all political advertising heading into 2020. -- THE GUARDIAN    

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8. As Democratic frontrunners emerge, so does a historically old selection of presidential contenders, The Washington Post reported. At age 70, Donald Trump became the oldest person to be sworn into their first term as president in 2017. That record may be broken again in 2021, as Joe Biden, 76, Elizabeth Warren, 70, and Bernie Sanders, 78, have carved out the top-tier of the Democratic primary. Age could very well play a role in how voters perceive their choices, polling has suggested. -- WASHINGTON POST  

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9. Steve Bannon voiced fresh concerns over President Trump's reelection chances this week. Diminishing support in key demos and increased enthusiasm among Democrats on impeachment could make Trump a one-term president, the former White House strategist warned in his podcast, "War Room: Impeachment." “We got smoked in the suburbs and have to face the reality of [the Democratic] mobilization efforts," he said. Bannon added that, whether the GOP likes it or not, the 2020 election has become a referendum on the president: “Trump has nationalized politics. He’s now popular culture. These are votes on Trump, you have to face that fact.” -- THE HILL

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10. Two House Democrats penned a joint essay warning of 2020 election interference from foreign actors. Rep. Nita Lowey of New York and Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois argued on Thursday that foreign interference from Russia, China, and Iran in the 2020 elections is all but certain. The Senate, they wrote, must follow the House in pushing through protective legislation. "Time is running short to ensure that we are better prepared to withstand these attacks. That is why Congress must quickly enact election security funding; it may be our last opportunity to shore up our defenses before the polls open." -- CNN

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Robbie Couch is a writer and reporter whose work has been published on HuffPost, GOOD magazine, Upworthy, and more. In previous roles, Robbie has written about politics, pop culture news, and social issues.

Editor: Kim Lyons, Inside Managing Editor and Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist.

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