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Trump at his recent Ohio rally. Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

President Trump uses internal polling and approval rating data from the Republican National Committee to decide where to hold his midterm rallies — including one held just before Ohio's special election, a GOP official with knowledge of the data sharing told Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first look inside the data that gives Trump part of his power over the primaries. He knows how to energize his Republican base, but pushing long-shot candidates over the finish line only works if he's in the right place and speaking to the right people.

Republicans believe this data helped Troy Balderson achieve his narrow lead in the Ohio special election — because it's the reason Trump held a crucial rally in Delaware County shortly before election day. (Balderson declared victory, but his Democratic opponent, Danny O'Connor, hasn't conceded.)

“Once President Trump says ‘go’, we use RNC data to pinpoint the best place to hold a rally," Brad Parscale, Trump's 2020 campaign manager, told Axios. "[W]e’re replicating it across the country as we head to November.”

How it works: The RNC shares this information with the White House political operation team and his 2020 re-election team when the president has picked a state to visit.

  • In Ohio, early and absentee voting put Balderson up by 135 votes in that county before election day, their data showed. And Trump has a 52% approval rating there — three points higher than the vote share Balderson was getting — so they considered that their best pickup opportunity.
  • After Trump’s visit last Saturday, Balderson won Delaware County by 5,000 votes.
  • The RNC data predicted Balderson would win by 1% (48-47% over Danny O'Connor). His actual lead based on unofficial election returns: 0.8%.

Go deeper: Inside Trump's frenetic rally schedule.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel almost resigned over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel almost resigned in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelations stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

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