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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, The Cook Political Report; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Several states that are likely to decide which party controls Washington next year have exceptionally large coronavirus outbreaks or are seeing cases spike.

Why it matters: Most voters have already made up their minds. But for those few holdouts, the state of the pandemic could ultimately help them make a decision as they head to the polls — and that's not likely to help President Trump.

The big picture: The U.S. is seeing a third wave of coronavirus cases, setting us up for a brutal winter. On Friday, a record 83,757 cases were recorded across the country.

  • Joe Biden has consistently polled ahead of Trump when voters are asked who they trust more to handle the coronavirus.
  • Worsening outbreaks could also impact key Senate races, which will ultimately help decide how much power the president has.

Details: Wisconsin and Montana have the largest outbreaks of all states with close Senate races or that are competitive in the presidential election.

  • Maine — where Sen. Susan Collins is fighting to keep her seat — is the best off by far, with a low per capita case count that isn't growing very quickly.
  • Florida, which has the most Electoral College seats up for grabs of all tossup states, has a smaller-than-average outbreak, which could mean less headwinds for Trump.

The bottom line: The virus isn't under control almost anywhere in the U.S., and even states like Florida have a relatively large and growing outbreak. Whether it's at the top of voters' minds or not, the winner of the election will be dealing with the pandemic and its fallout for a long time.

  • And given the current state of things, that person could be facing a worst-case scenario when they take office at the height of winter.

Go deeper

Jan 20, 2021 - Health

Amazon offers to help Biden administration with COVID vaccine efforts

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the White House with Jill Biden in 2016. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Amazon's worldwide consumer CEO Dave Clark has offered to help the Biden administration with its coronavirus vaccination goals by mobilizing efforts to inoculate its employees, according to a letter sent to President Biden on Wednesday.

Why it matters: As demand for the coronavirus vaccine is outstripping supply, Amazon has about 800,000 employees, many of whom are essential workers. The Biden administration wants to vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Podcasts

Net neutrality on the line under Biden

Federal net neutrality rules are back on the table in the Biden administration, after being nixed by Trump, but now might be complicated by the debate over social media companies' behavior.

Axios Re:Cap digs into why net neutrality matters and what comes next with Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of The Verge and host of the Decoder podcast.

House grants waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead Pentagon

Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House voted 326-78 on Thursday to grant retired Gen. Lloyd Austin a waiver to lead the Pentagon, clearing the way for the Senate to confirm President Biden's nominee for defense secretary as early as this week.

Why it matters: Austin's nomination received pushback from some lawmakers, including Democrats, who cited a law that requires officers be out of the military for at least seven years before taking the job — a statute intended to reinforce the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon.