Nov 4, 2020

Axios Thought Bubble

Situational awareness: The results in six battleground states remain up in the air.

  • There are no guarantees, but we’re most likely to get projected results from Michigan and Wisconsin today. In both states, Joe Biden has clawed back into a slight lead over President Trump as mail-in ballots are counted in urban areas.
  • Democrats are hoping for the same outcome in Pennsylvania, as early votes roll in from Philadelphia, but that count is expected to take longer.
  • Georgia and North Carolina look like Trump’s best bets for wins.

With the election in overtime, live updates continue at Axios.com.

  • Smart Brevity™ count: 376 words ... a 2 minute read.
1 big thing: Trump almighty

President Trump speaks in the East Room early this morning. Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Win or lose, President Trump will emerge more powerful than ever inside the GOP, by defying expectations for himself and lifting fellow Republicans to surprise victories in the House and Senate.

  • Why it matters: Trump enjoyed an almost messianic hold on Republicans before the election. Now, he looks like a prophet again, against the doomsday projections for his candidacy and his party’s congressional hopes.

Between the lines: Trump will use this power to try to invalidate late-counted votes. His advisers tell us Trump expects lawmakers and the courts to fall in line.

  • If he fails, he could create a parallel government-in-waiting, wielding control over Republicans, and heckling and hounding Biden — and the media.
  • Trump did better than expected with white women and with Hispanics.

Top Republican strategists tell us that Trump will have a powerful psychic hold over the party regardless of the result.

  • Trump, if he loses, may signal he'll run again in 2024.
  • By falsely claiming to millions of adoring voters that the election was stolen — and by dangling the possibility of redemption in 2024 — Trump can effectively freeze his party for four years.

The bottom line: The party structure is weak, and Trump is by far the most popular Republican in the land. So top Republican operatives believe the GOP won’t be able to have a serious reset until the party has a new nominee in 2024.

  • But by defying polls and maintaining his grip over the Republican electorate, Trump makes that task extremely difficult if not impossible. This is Trump’s party until he decides it is not.

Jonathan Swan contributed reporting.