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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Midterms are theoretically local and state elections, but Tuesday's contests add up to a remarkable snapshot of a quickly changing America: more women running than ever ... more Muslim Americans ... more Native Americans ... more veterans ... more teachers ... more millennials ... and more LGBTQ Americans.

With turnout expected to hit record levels, the results will tell us a lot about the type of candidate who matches up best against Trump in 2020.

Here are 6 things we're watching:

  1. Will either party find a way to arrest what The Wall Street Journal calls "The Yawning Divide"? White women with college degrees are turning rapidly Democratic, and white men are moving drastically the other way, "making both essentially unreachable by the opposing candidate."
  2. Will pollsters make a comeback after being stunned in 2016? The WashPost's Philip Bump reminds us that based on polling science, "If we held the election 20 times, in three of those elections, the Republicans would hold their [House] majority. Next Tuesday might be one of those three."
  3. Will young people vote more than in the past, after all the pleas, from the Parkland survivors to "Pod Save America"? The #MarchForOurLives and #RoadToChange activists traveled the country to try to counteract apathy among vote-eligible teens. It'd be a game-changer if they do, but Democratic strategists have their doubts.
  4. How big a swath of that record number of women candidates for House, Senate and governor — spurred by record number of women donors — turn into lawmakers? Many are challengers — always a daunting route. Christina Reynolds of EMILY's List told AP: "[R]egardless of what happens, women have shown that they are no longer happy with other people representing them and speaking for them."
  5. How blue is the wave? Republicans are favored to pick up several Dem open seats in western Pennsylvania and the Iron Range of Minnesota. But will a single Democratic House incumbent lose? Probably not. The Cook Political Report's David Wasserman tells me the nation's most vulnerable House Dem is Rep. Tom O´Halleran in Arizona. But he's still favored to hold his Trump-won seat.
  6. And from Jonathan Swan: If Democrats win control over the House by a slim margin (e.g., 5 to 10 seats), how tight will Nancy Pelosi’s grip be on power? There’ll be a ton of pressure for generational change, and much restlessness beyond those candidates who’ve already publicly said they won’t vote for Pelosi as Speaker. On her side: Pelosi is the perfect person to keep a rowdy House on track to investigate the heck out of the Trump administration. 

Be smart ... On Wednesday morning, we'll wake up with the next two to six years foretold:

  • Trump: triumphant or cornered?
  • Democrats: ascendant or humiliated?

Either way, we face a 2020 political season that will make this one seem civil.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.