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Republicans invest millions in "Democrat district"

President Trump campaigs with Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania. Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Outside GOP groups have spent $10.7 million supporting Rick Saccone ahead of the special election in Pennsylvania's 18th district, per CNN. The funding is a significant investment in what the state GOP chairman Val DiGiorgio called a "Democrat district," despite President Trump winning it by 20 points in 2016.

Why it matters: There's real worry that a Democrat could win this reliably Republican district. "It's a true toss-up and Lamb has a good shot to win," said a national GOP operative. That nervousness has resulted in Republicans outspending Democrats by more than $8 million and mischaracterizing it as a Democrat district.

Another sign of worry from Republicans: They backed off campaigning on the GOP tax plan in the final days ahead of the election, per Politico. Before the end of February, the majority of ads from Saccone, CLF, and the NRCC mentioned taxes, but that topic has been notably missing since March, Politico notes.

  • That matters because it's Republicans' one major legislative victory. Paul Ryan's super PAC has been consistently proud of it, and the party has been banking on using it to campaign throughout the midterm elections.
  • Abandoning this key message suggests it wasn't moving the needle for Saccone.

What they're saying: "The closeness in the race is a result of a good candidate in Lamb and lackluster in Saccone," said the GOP operative.

A breakdown of the money from CNN:

Rick Saccone

  • $3.5 million from the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a Paul Ryan-aligned super PAC
  • $3.5 million from the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC)
  • $1.3 million from the RNC
  • $1.1 million from America First Action, a Trump-aligned group
  • $560,000 from 45Committee, another Trump-aligned group
  • $513,000 from a conservative super PAC called Ending Spending
  • $100,000 from the Club for Growth Action Fund, which regularly helps GOP candidates

Conor Lamb

  • $312,000 from the DCCC, but CNN cites "a Democratic source familiar with the strategy" who says the group has invested more than $1 million in the past 3 months
  • $426,000 of that $1 million investment was transferred to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, per CNN.
  • $340,000 each from and Patriot Majority
  • $250,000 from End Citizens United
  • $112,000 from the Service Employees International Union Committee (SEIU) on Political Education
  • $100,000 from Progressive Turnout Project and Working America, two PACs
Jonathan Swan 6 hours ago
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Trump's two-front war

Photo: Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump is ending the week with a flop — nowhere close to the border wall funding he wanted in the DACA-less spending bill that congressional leaders released last evening. But he's fulfilling one of his most aggressive campaign promises with his anti-China trade action.

The big picture: Trump's expected announcement today of tariffs on Chinese imports is a big deal, and analysts fear it could provoke a trade war — and it comes as Trump has been battling his own party here at home over the government spending bill.

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The worst flu season in eight years

Note: Activity levels are based on outpatient visits in a state compared to the average number of visits that occur during weeks with little or no flu virus circulation; Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

This year's flu season caught many experts off guard with both its sustained prevalence and its virulence. At its peak, there was a higher level of flu-like illnesses reported than any other year during the past eight years. Watch in the visual as it hits its peak around Week 18.

Why it matters: Public health officials try to capture this data when developing the next year's vaccines. And, of course, they want to find better ways to prevent severe flu seasons. There's a "Strategic Plan" to develop a universal vaccine to protect against a wider range of influenza viruses, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Axios.