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Early voting in Austin earlier this month. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Texas' early and mail-in voting totals for the 2020 election have surpassed the state's total voter turnout in 2016, with 9,009,850 ballots already cast compared to 8,969,226 in the last presidential cycle.

Why it matters: The state's 38 Electoral College votes are in play — and could deliver a knockout blow for Joe Biden over President Trump — despite the fact that it hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976.

  • Polling suggests that Texas — in part because of its changing demographics — has become increasingly favorable for Democrats.
  • Hillary Clinton lost the state by over 800,000 votes in 2016, but former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D) lost to Sen. Ted Cruz (R) by only around 215,000 votes in its 2018 Senate race.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden's vice presidential nominee, is heading to Texas on Friday, but Democrats in the state are still urging the campaign to pour more money into the state.

The big picture: Texas is the second state to surpass its 2016 turnout purely from early voting. Hawaii became the first to do so earlier this week.

Go deeper

Jan 25, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

What's next for Minnesota's COVID vaccine rollout

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

State officials say President Biden's pledge to complete 100 million coronavirus vaccinations in his first 100 days could result in the state getting enough doses to come close to hitting herd immunity in the coming months.

Why it matters: If successful, it could mean returning to a state more closely resembling normalcy this summer. But getting there would require a big lift.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 22 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.