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The Wisconsin State Capitol. Photo: Andy Manis/Getty Images

In state capitals around the country, we're seeing year-end power plays aimed at permanently icing out the political opposition.

Why it matters: The architects of these drives say they’re just running to the tape before they lose juice. But at a time of declining faith in public institutions, these moves can alienate voters, and make it harder for states to be responsive when the electorate demands change.

Driving the news:

  • New Jersey Democrats want to change the state constitution so that the redistricting process is no longer bipartisan, but rather largely led by whoever controls the statewide offices. The state's Democratic governor has vowed to fight the effort, calling it undemocratic.
  • Wisconsin and Michigan Republicans, who lost statewide races but control their state legislatures, are using lame duck sessions to strip incoming Democratic governors and attorneys general of their power and tighten their control on redistricting committees.

The big picture: "The Republican efforts could hurt the party’s image with moderate voters [in the Midwest] ... Yet GOP leaders are determined to push ahead, fearing that their decade-long dominance in the Midwest is coming to an end as newly elected Democrats and the prospect of more competitive districts threaten to shift the balance of power." [NYT]

Be smart: Some of America's most difficult political problems tend to trickle up from the states. Reformers might want to refocus their efforts on where the problems begin.

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
6 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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