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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

Chris Christie: Trump's legal challenges against election results have been "a national embarrassment"

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sunday denounced a lack of evidence in President Trump's legal challenges against election results as "a national embarrassment," emphasizing that Trump has had his chance to prove allegations of widespread voter fraud in court.

The big picture: Despite the president's legal challenges in various states gaining little to no ground, only a handful of congressional Republicans have acknowledged Biden as president-elect.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The top Republicans who have acknowledged Biden as president-elect

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Some elected Republicans are breaking ranks with President Trump to acknowledge that President-elect Biden won the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The relative sparsity of acknowledgements highlights Trump's lasting power in the GOP, as his campaign moves to file multiple lawsuits alleging voter fraud in key swing states — despite the fact that there have been no credible allegations of any widespread fraud anywhere in the U.S.

Nov 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump campaign says Sidney Powell isn't a member of its legal team

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump's campaign said in a Sunday statement that Sidney Powell is neither a member of its legal team nor a lawyer for Trump in his personal capacity.

Why it matters: Powell was a part of the campaign's wild, conspiratorial Thursday press conference and baselessly floated unfounded conspiracy theories that included a claim that President-elect Biden won the 2020 presidential election thanks to "communist money" from the Venezuelan regime.