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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

Axios-Ipsos poll: Republicans oppose removing Trump over Capitol siege

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.

13 mins ago - World

COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming

Recreated from Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

South Africa alerted the world to the Omicron variant. Now data out of South Africa may serve as a warning of what we're facing.

Driving the news: South Africa recorded 11,535 new cases Thursday with 22.4% of tests coming back positive — up from an average of about 300 new cases, with a 2% test positivity rate 10 days earlier. The country's top public health officials expect that exponential rise to continue as Omicron rapidly becomes the dominant variant.

BuzzFeed to go public, after shareholders approve SPAC deal

Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is set to become publicly traded on Monday, after shareholders of a SPAC called 890 Fifth Avenue Partners voted to approve a previously-announced merger.

Yes, but: The vast majority of the money the SPAC raised in January was yanked, a signal that investors aren't very optimistic about BuzzFeed's future prospects.