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House Speaker Paul Ryan on Capitol Hill. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images

House Speaker Paul Ryan is expected to tell House GOP members Wednesday morning that last night's special election in western Pennsylvania was much closer than it should have been — and that continued Democratic enthusiasm should serve as a wakeup call, according to a person familiar.

What to watch: Ryan is also expected to argue that Democrat Conor Lamb's strategy —
which Ryan will frame as campaigning as a conservative in a conservative-leaning district — is why the race was razor thin. But the suggestion that Lamb was unique could be a hard message for Ryan to sell, as the GOP has consistently fallen short in key elections in Virginia, Alabama, and New Jersey over the past year.

  • Ryan will say Lamb employed a strategy that will be very tough for other Democrats to replicate in the fall, arguing that Lamb actively distanced himself from Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic brand.
  • He'll also reiterate the importance of selling the tax cuts and note that every single Democrat opposed what he views as an increasingly popular law. 

Go deeper

2 mins ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.

Trump pardons Michael Flynn

President Trump with Michael Flynn in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a former Russian ambassador.

Why it matters: It is the first of multiple pardons expected in the coming weeks, as Axios scooped Tuesday night.