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Beto O'Rourke defended his 2% total in a new Iowa Democratic caucus poll on ABC's "This Week," arguing that if he relied on polls in any race he had run, he never would have served in Congress or taken on Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018.

"I don't know that this many months out from the caucuses in Iowa that these polls really indicate what our prospects are. If I relied on polls in any race that I've run, I never would have been able to serve in the United States Congress, we would never tried to take on Ted Cruz. ... These polls, this far out, I really don't think describe the full picture. We got a lot of time, a lot of work, but thankfully, we have a number of extraordinary volunteers who are going to make this possible."

Why it matters: The former Texas representative has been trending downward ever since he announced his candidacy for president, from 11% in December to 5% in March to 2% in Saturday night's poll. Last week, a Quinnipiac University poll found 60% of Texas Democrats would rather see O'Rourke challenge Republican John Cornyn for his Senate seat in 2020 than continue to run for president.

Go deeper: Beto O'Rourke on the issues, in under 500 words

Go deeper

Inside Trump's hunt for "disloyal" Republicans

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Donald Trump and his associates are systematically reshaping the Republican Party, working to install hand-picked loyalists across federal and state governments and destroy those he feels have been disloyal, sources close to the former president tell Axios.

Why it matters: If most or all of Trump’s candidates win, he will go into the 2024 election cycle with far more people willing to do his bidding who run the elections in key states.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

CPI: The new jobs number

Grocery shoppers in Washington, D.C., last month. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

The Consumer Price Index has replaced the jobs report as the most anticipated data drop by the U.S. government.

Why it matters: Rising prices tend to lower political fortunes. Washington and Wall Street are now waiting for the CPI number to flash at 8:30am ET around the 10th day of each month. This month's report — due Friday morning — will give a reading of how hot inflation ran in November.

COVID cases and deaths are on the rise

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

COVID-19 cases and deaths are rising all across the U.S. even before the Omicron variant takes hold.

Why it matters: The holidays — and the inevitable spread of Omicron — will only heighten the risks that unvaccinated Americans face from COVID, in all its forms.

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