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Illustration: Axios Visuals

With less than a week until Election Day, top operators in both parties tell me the events of the past week have helped lock in the split decision they have long seen coming: The House flips to Dems (probably decisively), and Republicans hold the Senate (and perhaps gain two seats).

What they're saying: Democrats who had grown skittish about taking the House say they're resting easier. "The panic has abated," said a well-known Democrat on a secret mission in one of the key states.

Some top Republicans tell me they worry that their candidates will pay a price following the anti-Semitic murders in Pittsburgh and the arrest of a rabid Trump supporter for the mail bombs.

  • "World looks crazy and we are in charge of it," said an official closely involved in the House fight.
  • "Hard to imagine a worse week at a worse time. What it means is hard to know exactly, but certainly not helping us win close races."
  • And why might the news have a split effect for Senate and House? "I think red state voters see the president leading the nation in a crisis, where the suburban voters blame him for the tone," a veteran GOP adviser said.

The one thing worrying Democrats ... A longtime Democratic operative said this is what to watch for on Tuesday:

  • "Super low turnout: Democrats win. Our core voters are going to vote. They hate Trump. They are dying to vote. Look at the Upshot/Siena polls. In every race where they do a turnout model, when they do voters 'certain to vote,' our candidates win. By a lot."
  • "Super high turnout: Democrats win. In addition to owning the most intense voters, we also own the least intense voters. Largely young people."
  • "But medium turnout: That scares me. The GOP owns the voters who aren’t quite as intense as our voters, but who are show-up-often voters."

Be smart ... One reason the cake may already be baked: As many as 40% of votes have been cast in early voting.

  • Disclaimer: This represents the consensus view of the top Democrats and Republicans most involved in the 2018 campaigns — all of whom were involved in 2016. This is the age of disruption: New shocks await, I guarantee.

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Go deeper

8 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.