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First Read’s Morning Clips: Digging into the Polls

OFF TO THE RACES: Digging into the polls

Here’s our in-depth report on our new polls of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

CLINTON: The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent looks at how more Democratic voters are viewing Clintin – not Sanders – as the candidate of change.

The Washington Post writes that she’s pivoting away from attacking Sanders. “Clinton has largely abandoned a strategy that appears to have done little to improve her standing with voters here: trying to directly discredit the senator from Vermont and his unstintingly liberal proposals.”

The RNC is up with what it considers the “Top 5 Rules Clinton Broke.” A sampling:

“Rule Violation #1: Clinton violated a Non-Disclosure Agreement she signed upon becoming Secretary by retaining records with classified information.

Rule Violation #2: Clinton violated State Department regulations forbidding the storage of classified information anywhere other than "the chancery" or "consulate" even for "reasons of personal convenience."

Rule Violation #3: Clinton used a BlackBerry to transmit classified information despite State Department policy prohibiting its use.

Rule Violation #4: Clinton violated State Department policy by giving classified material to her lawyer despite the fact that he lacked an "approved classified material storage facility."

Rule Violation #5: Clinton violated federal rules requiring she turn over work-related emails upon leaving office.”

CRUZ: NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard has the details on Cruz’s challenge to Trump.

RUBIO: He’s cut back his ad buys in New Hampshire and South Carolina, NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.

SANDERS: He spoke to NBC’s Lester Holt yesterday about how he plans to win in Iowa.

Here’s where Clinton and Sanders are dominating in the Democratic electorate.

The Washington Post editorial board is out with a tough analysis of his agenda, saying he is “politician selling his own brand of fiction to a slice of the country that eagerly wants to buy it.”

He’s challenging Clinton to three new debates.

TRUMP: The New York Times: “With Mr. Trump declaring he will skip the debate, scheduled for Thursday at 9 p.m. ET, the most potentially consequential fight on the campaign trail is not between Mr. Trump and his fellow candidates, but between Mr. Trump and the top-rated cable television news network, which is also one of the most important forces in Republican politics.”

He’s not heeding the grumbles of Iowans as he sticks to his debate boycott, writes POLITICO.

More, from the Washington Post: “His threatened absence from the debate stage is a demonstration of Trump’s perception of his own self-worth, his verifiable status as a ratings-generating gargantuan whose screen persona can translate into millions of advertising dollars. In a sense, it’s an act of subversion by a candidate who has broken all the normal rules of modern campaigns. But it’s also a manifestation of Trump’s philosophy about getting what he wants when he wants it.”

NBC’s Hallie Jackson reports: A new ad from an anti-Donald Trump PAC accuses him of backing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants as recently as late June. The ad also references his debate no-show.

PROGRAMMING NOTES.

*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: Andrea Mitchell hosts the show live from Des Moines, Iowa! NBC's Hallie Jackson, Kasie Hunt, Katy Tur , Kristen Welker, Monica Alba and “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd will join us for the countdown to the caucuses! Tad Devine, Senior Advisor for the anders campaign and Lily Adams, Iowa Communications Director for the Hillary Clinton campaign will also join.