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Joe Biden speaks at an outdoor Black Economic Summit in Charlotte yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Joe Biden or President Trump could win the election narrowly — but only one in a popular and electoral vote blowout. 

Why it matters: A Biden blowout would mean a Democratic Senate, a bigger Democratic House and a huge political and policy shift nationwide.

  • The reason this scenario is worth reflecting on is both the consequences, and because campaign advisers in both camps see it as a possibility. 

Polls show the path for Biden is quite plausible: He is winning in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and essentially even in Florida — all Trump states in 2016.

  • And remember: Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million last time to a much more unpopular Democrat, Hillary Clinton. 

Biden, thanks in part to changing demographics, is running close or better in red states Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Iowa and North Carolina.

  • In 2018, Democrats saw record turnout, especially among women. The early requests for ballots in key states suggest the enthusiasm persists at record levels. 
  • Democrats are raising money like rich Republicans — and, in fact, have a lot more than Trump and his allies, even though they are out of power.

Between the lines: The N.Y. Times' Nate Cohn puts it this way: "[A] Biden landslide is just as real a possibility as a Trump victory."

  • "If Mr. Biden outperformed today’s polls by just two points, he would be declared the winner early on election night and have a good shot at the largest electoral vote landslide since 1988."

The bottom line: Trump has few paths to the presidency if he loses Florida or in the upper Midwest. His team believes Minnesota is a state he lost that he could now win, but polls suggest otherwise. 

  • So, once again, his best and maybe only chance is to lose the popular vote and replicate razor-thin wins in the same states as last time. 

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jan 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell slaps back Trump — repeatedly

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell departs the Capitol on Dec. 11. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

It took four years and an election defeat. But someone with real power inside the Republican Party is standing up to — and swatting back — President Trump: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Why it matters: This is a preview of the power struggle that will define the Republican Party in 2021.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.