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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As President Trump unsuccessfully argues fraudulent voter claims, campaign operatives tell Axios the reality is the joint EDO (Election Day operations) by the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee left them feeling largely unprepared to challenge ballots in real time.

Why it matters: With several states moving toward certifying election results this week, the postmortems are beginning as political operatives try to understand what worked, what didn't and how to adjust going forward.

What we're hearing: Officials in different regions of the country describe a state-by-state patchwork — and a sense that the GOP's litigate-everything posture wasn't matched by operations robust or agile enough to mobilize properly.

  • "They claimed they had a great EDO on the ground, and that was the furthest thing from the truth," said one Trump election adviser who was in Pennsylvania the week of the election. "You have to stop fraud as it happens, not after the fact."
  • An official in the Gulf states said they repeatedly asked the campaign for more resources and were denied.
  • "The campaign fell apart after Election Day," another adviser said. "You can’t audit this in reverse. ... The infrastructure just failed."
  • In contrast, two officials in Florida told me their team had a good plan in place to combat concerns in real time and a strong EDO helped them win there.

The other side: Trump deputy campaign manager and lawyer Justin Clark tells Axios this was "the largest, most organized Election Day operation ever mounted by any campaign in the history of the Republican Party" with more than 50,000 trained volunteers nationwide.

  • "We were prepared, and anyone who says otherwise either wasn't there or is trying to make themselves seem smart by anonymously running to the press."

Be smart: Republican elections lawyer Ben Ginsberg tells Axios' Stef Kight even if the Trump campaign had better EDOs, there's no reason to assume that would have yielded any discoveries to invalidate Biden's margins.

Go deeper

Trump political team disavows "Patriot Party" groups

Marine One carries President Trump away from the White House on Inauguration Day. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Donald Trump's still-active presidential campaign committee officially disavowed political groups affiliated with the nascent "Patriot Party" on Monday.

Why it matters: Trump briefly floated the possibility of creating a new political party to compete with the GOP — with him at the helm. But others have formed their own "Patriot Party" entities during the past week, and Trump's team wants to make clear it has nothing to do with them.

The week the Trump show ended

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Donald Trump was eclipsed in media attention last week by President Biden for the first time since Trump took office, according to viewership data on the internet, on social media and on cable news.

Why it matters: After Trump crowded out nearly every other news figure and topic for five years, momentum of the new administration took hold last week and the former president retreated, partly by choice and partly by being forced off the big platforms.

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.