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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.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
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A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

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

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.

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