Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help Joe Biden win Florida in November's election, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Taking Florida would be close to a knockout blow by Biden, who could then win the election outright by retaining all the states that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and defeating President Trump in one of the following swing states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina or Arizona.

The big picture: Cook Political Report on Thursday shifted its prediction for Florida from "leans Democratic" to "toss up," after a number of polls showed the race tightening. Some Biden advisers have expressed concern about his soft support among Hispanic voters, who make up more than 20% of the electorate in Florida.

Between the lines: Bloomberg's aim is to encourage enough early voting to "give lie to what we expect to be Trump’s election night messaging that Democrats are stealing the election, because unlike other battleground states, Florida counts its absentee ballots on or by Election Day,” said Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson.

  • Hawkfish, a data and analytics firm funded by Bloomberg, told "Axios on HBO" that it's highly likely that Trump will appear to have won — potentially in a landslide — on election night, even if he ultimately loses when all the votes are counted. 
  • The group is trying to educate the public about the possibility of this so-called "red mirage" and sensitize state and county elections officials, news organizations, and the courts to the perils of premature results.

What they're saying: "Voting starts on Sept. 24 in Florida so the need to inject real capital in that state quickly is an urgent need,” Bloomberg adviser Kevin Sheekey told the Post. "Mike believes that by investing in Florida it will allow campaign resources and other Democratic resources to be used in other states, in particular the state of Pennsylvania."

Go deeper: Bloomberg pledges $60 million in bid to help Democrats retain House

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that Biden must win one swing state in addition to winning Florida and retaining the states Hillary Clinton won in order to reach 270 Electoral College votes.

Go deeper

Florida attorney general pursues probe into Bloomberg paying felons' fines

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) on Wednesday said she asked the FBI and state law enforcement to investigate Mike Bloomberg after he raised over $16 million to help felons pay outstanding fees to regain their voting rights, AP reports.

The state of play: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) asked Moody to look into Bloomberg's effort in Florida, suggesting that the former mayor of New York City and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition violated election law by offering incentives for voting.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pennsylvania's "naked ballots" are 2020's hanging chads

A stack of mail-in ballot applications in Pennsylvania. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ordered state officials last week to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner "secrecy" envelope in November's election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state of play: The decision went under the radar alongside the simultaneous decision to extend the time that mail-in ballots could be counted, but Philadelphia's top elections official warned state legislators this week that throwing out so-called "naked ballots" could bring "electoral chaos" to the state and cause "tens of thousands of votes" to be thrown out — potentially tipping the presidential election.

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.