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 the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

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!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of 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!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of 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!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of 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!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of 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!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of 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!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

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!

People in Cleveland sit watching the first debate between President Trump and Joe Biden. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

We all need to be clear-eyed about the social and political volatility heading into Election Day: The chances of sporadic violence, significant unrest or voting issues are quite high, according to basically every federal and state official monitoring voting and its aftermath in 2020.

But all of us — Democrats, Republicans, independents alike — can do our part to minimize the drama and darker scenarios.

1. Vote and then chill until late Tuesday night. There'll be dumb rumors, wild speculation and armchair projections, all of it meaningless.

  • There's no chance you have even a clue who wins until Florida, Georgia and North Carolina are counted and reported.
  • More likely, you will need to wait for clear-cut results in Pennsylvania, where it will take days to count all mail-in votes.

2. Don't expect a quick, clear winner: We can't stress enough the chance of it taking days to fully count mail-in and absentee votes, to determine the real outcome in places like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

  • Be patient: COVID and the mail-in torrent make this election unlike any other.

3. Brace for the possibility of a "Red Mirage." We first told you about this term, coined by the Democratic data firm Hawkfish, on "Axios on HBO" before Labor Day:

  • Because polling and modeling shows Republicans are more likely to vote in person and Democrats are more likely to vote by mail, early counts could look heavier for the GOP than the final result, when absentee votes are all counted.
  • So the trends could look more Trump-friendly than the final outcome. This is not a partisan belief; it's a simple fact. (See the full "Red Mirage" segment.)

4. Don’t share social-media posts that aren't from a source you trust and know well. Period. Too many people share too much garbage too often. 

  • Only pay attention to sources of information you trust and can validate with 100% certainty. Measure twice, tweet once (or, better yet, never).

5. Don’t overreact. You might see images on cable or social media of protests, or what seem like massive voter intimidation or issues. This can often seem bigger or more widespread than it is.

  • Top officials tell us they fear Russia or other actors plan to amplify even the smallest issues to sow chaos. So don't assume the worst.

6. Expect that President Trump may refuse to accept results, if he loses.

  • Why? Because he has told us he will fight the voting rules and results all the way to the Supreme Court. Watch his actions more than his words.
  • Here's a small sign of what may lie ahead: As reported by the N.Y. Times, the Trump campaign — citing the possibility that "multiple states will require recounts" — is raising money to continue ballot fights into mid-December:
Screenshot via WinRed

7. Don’t hyperventilate about court cases. There will probably be many. But wait until there are actual verdicts and appeals to appraise the significance.

8. Brace yourself for 78 days of drama and turmoil from Nov. 4 through the inauguration.

  • No one working for Trump or Joe Biden thinks the post-election period will be remotely normal. Even if you get the result you want, anticipate months of wild maneuvering and protests.
  • Here, too, keep it in perspective and don’t make matters worse by sharing or overreacting to false or misleading reports. 

What's next: The nation is headed into a firestorm. There's no way it's orderly or normal, or even necessarily over when it seems over. 

  • All we can do is be smart about what’s to come, and wise in our responses. 

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Last stand in Georgia

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer, Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

Off the Rails

Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Afghanistan, cyber defense on the agenda for Biden in Brussels

Joe Biden arrives at Melsbroek Military Airport in Brussels on June 13. Photo: Yves Herman/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden touched down in Brussels on Sunday evening ahead of two days of talks with NATO and European Union leaders as part of his first foreign trip as president.

Driving the news: Biden was greeted on the tarmac by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and a slate of other officials, including Douglas Jones and Mark Libby, the U.S. Permanent Representatives to NATO and the EU respectively.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!