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President Trump speaks in the East Room early this morning. Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Win or lose, President Trump will emerge more powerful than ever inside the GOP, by defying expectations for himself and lifting fellow Republicans to surprise victories in the House and Senate.

Why it matters: Trump enjoyed an almost messianic hold on Republicans before the election. Now, he looks like a prophet again, against the doomsday projections for his candidacy and his party’s congressional hopes.

Between the lines: Trump will use this power to try to invalidate late-counted votes. His advisers tell us Trump expects lawmakers and the courts to fall in line.

  • If he fails, he could create a parallel government-in-waiting, wielding control over Republicans, and heckling and hounding Biden — and the media.
  • Trump did better than expected with white women and with Hispanics.

Top Republican strategists tell us that Trump will have a powerful psychic hold over the party regardless of the result.

  • Trump, if he loses, may signal he'll run again in 2024.
  • By falsely claiming to millions of adoring voters that the election was stolen — and by dangling the possibility of redemption in 2024 — Trump can effectively freeze his party for four years.

The bottom line: The party structure is weak, and Trump is by far the most popular Republican in the land. So top Republican operatives believe the GOP won’t be able to have a serious reset until the party has a new nominee in 2024.

  • But by defying polls and maintaining his grip over the Republican electorate, Trump makes that task extremely difficult if not impossible. This is Trump’s party until he decides it is not.

Jonathan Swan contributed reporting.

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Go deeper

Conservatives warn culture, political wars will worsen

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The verdict is clear: The vast majority of Republicans will stand firm with former President Trump. The next phase is clear, too: Republicans are rallying around a common grievance that big government, big media and big business are trying to shut them up, shut them out and shut them down. 

Why it matters: The post-Trump GOP, especially its most powerful media platforms, paint the new reality as an existential threat. This means political attacks are seen — or characterized — as assaults on their very being. 

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.