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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. 

In photos: Life slowly returning to normal as restrictions lift across U.S.

Fireworks near the Statue of Liberty in New York City marking the end of New York State's pandemic restrictions in New York State and honoring frontline workers. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New Yorkers and Californians celebrated most COVID-19 restrictions lifting on Tuesday, as the two states became the latest to move toward fully reopening their economies.

The big picture: The pandemic has now claimed over 600,000 lives in the U.S., but vaccines have helped drive down the seven-day average to roughly 14,000 new cases and fewer than 400 deaths per day, helping most states to ease restrictions.

2 hours ago - World

China's government issues warning after sending 28 planes over Taiwan

A J-11B fighter aircraft from China's air force flying over the Dafangshen airport in Changchun, China. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

China's government issued a warning to "foreign forces" after Taiwan reported a record 28 Chinese military planes flew over the self-governed island's airspace Tuesday, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The warning and deployment of aircraft including fighter jets and bombers comes after G7 leaders issued a statement Sunday urging the Chinese government to respect human rights and calling on peace and "stability across the Taiwan Strait."