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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump made it clear at the debate that he’ll continue to call the results fraudulent — and contest the outcome in key states — no matter how wide the margin. That’ll be amplified by a massive amount of disinformation, even though the platforms are trying to curtail it.

Why it matters: Back in 2000, we didn’t know Bush v. Gore was going to happen. We know this is going to happen.

  • Trump is telegraphing with clarity that even if he gets blown out, he’ll claim the election was rigged and votes were stolen.

Election officials, especially in areas with significant minority voting populations, need to prepare for an increased danger of "rogue Trump supporters taking matters into their own hands," said Rick Hasen, a national election law expert at UC Irvine.

Pennsylvania, with a GOP legislature that could try to bolster Trump in the case of contested results, is a major focus of both parties' post-election planning.

  • Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told Axios: "The president’s statements, in combination with real activity on the ground in Philadelphia, has us sounding an alarm today and escalating our efforts to understand what’s happening."

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon told Axios: "What is distressing about the president’s remarks is I fear his supporters will take it upon themselves to mobilize large numbers to go to the polls" as poll watchers.

  • Simon said they'll be denied access: Minnesota allows only one poll watcher (called a challenger) per political party at each polling station.
  • Simon added: "I fear, to be fair, that folks on the other side will feel the need to counter mobilize."

Margaret Talev and Alayna Treene contributed reporting.

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Go deeper

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Data: Ipsos/Axios Survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

Eight in 10 Republicans oppose removing President Trump from office for inciting his supporters to storm Congress in an effort to overturn his election loss, according to a new Ipsos poll for Axios.

Why it matters: The stark finding underscores the degree to which the Republican Party has become the party of Trump.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.