Illustration:Aïda Amer/Axios

All eyes will now turn to the deep southeast, with potential recounts and a potential runoff for extremely high stakes gubernatorial contests.

The big picture: Florida could be heading to three statewide recounts, and Georgia Democrats are prepared to use litigation as they search for the roughly 25,000 votes needed to force a gubernatorial runoff.

In Georgia: Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp resigned today as the state's secretary of state. Kemp was due to face a lawsuit brought by Georgia voters for his role overseeing his own race.

  • Kemp currently has 50.3% of the vote, per the AP, and must finish with a clean majority to prevent a runoff.
  • The race has been marred by allegations of voter suppression and conflicts of interest, with Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams pledging Tuesday night not to concede to Kemp until "every vote gets counted."

And in Florida: "These are the first statewide recounts since the case of Bush v. Gore, which prompted Florida to switch from antiquated paper punch-card ballots to touch screen machines that were soon discarded and replaced with the current system of optical-scan paper ballots," the Miami Herald reports.

  • If the gubernatorial race maintains its current .47% margin, there will be recounts for governor, Senate and agriculture commissioner.
  • “The recounts will be nationally watched … [we’re] under a microscope,” Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said on a Thursday conference call per the Herald.

The bottom line, via Axios' Alexi McCammond: The slim margins and the possibility that both Democrats could actually win these races in the end would be huge news not just for Dems in 2018, but for those with an eye on challenging Trump in the next presidential election.

  • People have been pointing to Andrew Gillum's loss as an example of why Democrats can't run a progressive nominee in 2020. That argument would be weakened if he pulls out a win after the recount.

Go deeper: Take a look at results across the country, with our handy map

Go deeper

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NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

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Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

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Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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