Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

House Speaker Paul Ryan casts his shadow on a glass door. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In mid May, senior House Republican officials huddled at the Hyatt on the Chesapeake Bay to discuss their messaging plan to save the House majority.

One of their guest speakers was the well-respected election forecaster Charlie Cook, who founded the non-partisan "Cook Political Report." According to sources in the room, Cook gave the Republican staffers a bleak view of the midterms. He said he was deeply skeptical that simply touting the economic wonders of tax reform would be enough to save the House.

  • Cook confirmed this to me via email: "I told the group that the tax cut did help among Republican voters, but helped only a little and temporarily among independents and did nothing with Democratic voters.”
  • "The essence of what I said was that if they were going to rely primarily on the tax cuts to hang onto their majority, they were unlikely to succeed.”
  • "Even with the uptick in President Trump’s numbers and in the generic ballot test, I still think it is pretty uphill for them to hang onto their House majority. I use the metaphor of a Democratic tidal wave up against a Republican sea wall. In the House, the wave looks taller and stronger than the wall, in the Senate, the wall looks taller than the wave."

Sources in the room walked away with different impressions of Cook's presentation. A non-leadership source told me it should be a wake up call to leadership, who are fixated on using tax reform as a selling point to voters. But leadership sources disputed that to me, saying tax reform is just one message in their toolkit, though an important one.

  • Some were unimpressed by Cook's presentation and felt that other pollsters who presented to the group — including Kristen Soltis Anderson and David Winston — gave compelling reasons to think messages of tax reform and economic growth would help them this year.
  • One House source pointed out that just a week after Cook's presentation, his colleague Amy Walter wrote: "Part of the reason for the increase in enthusiasm is the fact that Republicans now have something around which to rally — specifically an improved economy and tax cut law."

The bottom line: Republicans have a heck of a hard job saving the House this year, as the president's party almost always loses seats in his first midterm. Trump's approval rating remains under water. Democrats are more energized than ever, and there are serious questions about whether Republicans will be motivated enough to show up and vote in the numbers required to save the House.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.