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Good morning. The University of California is dropping the SAT. China is cracking down on Hong Kong. And Joe Biden is considering Elizabeth Warren for V.P. despite their differences.
There is a long history of bad feelings between Joe Biden’s inner circle and Elizabeth Warren.
She accused Biden of protecting banks rather than ordinary families during debates over bankruptcy legislation in the 1990s. Later, Obama administration officials regularly bad-mouthed Warren for criticizing their response to the financial crisis.
To understand why, I think it helps to look at political history. As strange a pair as Biden and Warren might seem, they also might be the ticket that most closely matches successful previous tickets.
When pundits talk about the selection process, they often imagine that a vice-presidential nominee can excite voters from the same state or demographic group. But there is little evidence that’s true.
In 2016, Tim Kaine didn’t seem to help Hillary Clinton win more white men. In 2012, Paul Ryan didn’t help Mitt Romney win Wisconsin, and John Edwards didn’t win North Carolina in 2004 for John Kerry.
Only one strategy has a long track record of success: ticket balancing. Winning presidential candidates have often chosen running mates with obviously different political personas — who shore up weaknesses at the top of a ticket.
Consider: Donald Trump, a divorced reality-television star, chose a religious conservative. Barack Obama and George W. Bush, both worried about seeming inexperienced, chose party elders. Ronald Reagan, who was labeled a radical conservative, chose an establishment figure: George H.W. Bush. (Bush’s harsh earlier criticism of Reagan — for “voodoo economics” — is reminiscent of the Biden-Warren history, Adam Nagourney told me.)
Biden’s biggest weakness among the Democratic coalition is young, progressive voters. And many of them are Warren fans. Stan Greenberg, a top Democratic pollster who has pushed for Warren, recently told the Biden campaign that such voters were “dangerously not” united behind Biden.
Biden has multiple options for vice president (and in future newsletters, I’ll focus on others, like Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar). If anything, though, the candidate who seems most different from him may be the one who’s historically most typical.
FIVE MORE BIG STORIES
1. China tightens its grip on Hong Kong
China moved to assert more authority over Hong Kong, partly to crack down on the pro-democracy movement there. Details of the new legislation are expected to be released today. A similar 2003 proposal, ultimately abandoned, would have allowed China to close newspapers and conduct searches without warrants.
“This legislation is what Hong Kong residents have feared for many years and now seems to be happening,” Keith Bradsher, The Times’s Shanghai bureau chief, told us.
2. A major blow to college entrance exams
The University of California system plans to eliminate the SAT and ACT as requirements for applying to its 10 schools. The decision could accelerate the decline of standardized testing, which critics say put poor, black and Latino students at a disadvantage.
But it’s not clear who will benefit from the change: A task force commissioned by the University of California found that the tests often gave a leg up to low-income and minority applicants who might have been rejected based on grades alone.
3. New questions about Biden’s accuser
Antioch University has disputed that Tara Reade, the woman who has accused Biden of sexual assault, received the degree that she claims to have received. Lawyers in California are now reviewing whether that undercuts Reade’s prior testimony as an expert witness in court cases there, The Times reports.
Stories in several publications — CNN, PBS, Vox and Politico — have recently raised questions about the consistency of Reade’s statements, in the Biden allegation and other matters.
4. Bad news on jobs, momentum on stimulus
The federal government released another grim report on job loss yesterday, and there were new signs of momentum behind another stimulus bill. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged a “strong likelihood” that another bill would be needed.
Virus prevention as stimulus: In Business Insider, Henry Blodget and David Plotz point out that airline travel remains at only about 10 percent of normal levels, despite few restrictions on flying. “Even when everything is open, our economy won’t recover until people feel safe resuming their normal lives,” they write.
5. A model for local contact tracing
Paterson, N.J., has pioneered a successful model of tracking coronavirus patients, a challenge many other communities will soon face. The tracers have successfully tracked about 90 percent of the city’s roughly 6,000 coronavirus cases — and the people who came in contact with those cases — and Paterson’s death rate has been lower than the state’s.
Julia Rothman, an artist, and Shaina Feinberg, a writer and filmmaker, are the team behind Scratch, an illustrated column in The Times’s Business section that explores overlooked parts of the economy. (The name is a reference to both money and the sound of sketching on paper.)
“I love being around my students: witnessing their learning, seeing their light bulbs go off,” a high school health teacher in California told them. “All of that happens less frequently now. I feel like I’m teaching into a vacuum.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, BAKE
The Great Corona Bake-Off
It’s been busy in Carbohydrate Camelot — the nickname of King Arthur Flour’s 14-acre Vermont headquarters. In early March, as the country descended into a pandemic-induced baking frenzy, King Arthur’s grocery-store sales rose 600 percent almost overnight. Marker, Medium’s business publication, takes an inside look at how the company’s been faring.
This weekend, watch … a hip-hop history lesson
This week, The Times’s Culture editor, Gilbert Cruz, recommends the docuseries “Hip-Hop Evolution”:
Somehow, we’re only a few years away from the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop, the musical genre that has long dominated the entire globe, and this 16-episode documentary series on Netflix offers a lively history of it all.
Each installment focuses on a specific city or a scene: the South Bronx DJs who started everything in the early to mid-70s, gangsta rap on the West Coast, free-speech-pushing groups out of Miami. It both feels like a collection of superspecific stories and a sweeping look at the arc of an entire art form.
At home in New York with Spike Lee
The director Spike Lee has spent nearly four decades and more than 30 films “reckoning with the jagged and brutal course of history,” Reggie Ugwu, a pop culture reporter, writes. Now that Lee is isolating at home in New York, and his only regular contact outside is during daily rides on his orange-and-blue bike (painted in honor of his beloved Knicks), he reflected on his new movie, the pandemic, and speaking truth to power.
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you next week. — David
P.S. This newsletter will be off Monday, for Memorial Day. If you’re looking for some good weekend reads, I recommend my colleague David Segal’s ode to logistics.
You can see today’s print front page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the most powerful earthquake to ever strike North America, in Alaska in 1964.
Lauren Leatherby, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Sanam Yar and Lara Takenaga contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at email@example.com.