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Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

President Trump heads into the wild days ahead stronger than ever: However things ultimately shake out in the presidential race, he did way better than most expected and was a rare voice saying Republicans could gain ground in the House.

Why it matters: Few Republican officials defied him before. It's hard to see many, if any, standing up to him now. 

The state of play: The president's appeal was broader than believed. He actually found new voters. Many of them were the working-class, white males who are the base of his base. But there were more of them.

  • These results contradict the argument that his 2016 victory was a fluke or mainly a repudiation of Hillary Clinton — or that he’d be resoundingly rejected for his handling of the coronavirus.

And something's happening with Hispanics for Republicans, though their full gains are still not precisely clear. Joe Biden never fully connected with the demographic — and the GOP did better in several areas than expected.

  • Back in August, former 2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro warned Alexi McCammond in an interview for "Axios on HBO" that Democrats could win the presidency in November but lose support with Latino voters, which could "benefit the Republicans in the years to come."

Yes, but: Despite the relative successes, Trump's overnight false claim that he had already won the election — even though key states are uncalled — drew consternation from some notable members of his party.

  • Trump is doing exactly what was foreshadowed — basing his claim on a "red mirage" of in-person votes that skew more heavily Republican than the mail-in votes added later in some battlegrounds.
  • On Fox News, Karl Rove said: "The bigger hand to play is to have confidence in the system ... Nobody is gonna be able to create large numbers of fake votes and somehow submit them into the system."
  • On ABC, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) added: "[A]s a former U.S. attorney, there's just no basis to make that argument tonight."
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

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.