Top officials in the West Wing — including President Trump and Steve Bannon — will closely monitor Tuesday's special election in Georgia's 6th congressional district. (The vote is to replace Tom Price, the new Health and Human Services Secretary.)

Why Trump cares: Whether he likes it or not, the media will portray this election as an early verdict on his presidency. The year's first special election, in Kansas' usually reliable deep-red 4th district, was way closer than it should've been. A loss in Georgia would further weaken Trump and make his legislative agenda — which relies on him holding his popularity like a knife over recalcitrant Republicans — a fair bit tougher.

What Nate Silver thinks will happen on Tuesday:

  • "If the polls are right, then Democrat Jon Ossoff will receive by far the most votes..."
  • "But Ossoff will probably finish with less than 50 percent of the vote, which would trigger a runoff between him and the next-highest finisher — most likely the Republican Karen Handel, but possibly one of three other Republicans (Bob Gray, Dan Moody Judson Hill) who are closely bunched behind her in polls."
  • Complicating matters further: "[T]he combined vote for all Republican candidates will probably exceed the combined vote for Ossoff and other Democrats, although it should be close. And the district has historically been Republican-leaning, although it was much less so in the 2016 election than it had been previously. All of this makes for a fairly confusing set of circumstances and a hard-to-forecast outcome."

What's next? Silver says Tuesday "won't actually resolve that much — unless Ossoff hits 50 percent of the vote and averts the runoff entirely. (That's an unlikely but hardly impossible scenario given the fairly high error margins of polls under these circumstances.)" Even if Ossoff finishes close to 50 percent, he adds, that's no guarantee he'll win the runoff because the district leans red and Republicans will have a chance to regroup for the June 20 rematch.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Mike Bloomberg's anti-chaos theory

CNN's Anderson Cooper questions Joe Biden last night at a drive-in town hall in Moosic, Pa., outside Scranton. Photo: CNN

Mike Bloomberg's $100 million Florida blitz begins today and will continue "wall to wall" in all 10 TV markets through Election Day, advisers tell me.

Why it matters: Bloomberg thinks that Joe Biden putting away Florida is the most feasible way to head off the national chaos we could have if the outcome of Trump v. Biden remained uncertain long after Election Day.

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,065,728 — Total deaths: 944,604— Total recoveries: 20,423,802Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,674,070 — Total deaths: 197,615 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans would not get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.