First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
A Democratic wave isn’t coming -- at least not yet
Four months to go until Election Day 2016, and Hillary Clinton holds the early advantage in the presidential race. Our national NBC/WSJ poll shows her ahead of Donald trump by five points; the Washington Post/ABC poll has up 12; and this morning’s NBC|SurveyMonkey online tracking poll shows her leading by eight, Clinton’s largest advantage in that survey. So that’s the good news for Democrats. The bad news? It doesn’t look like that advantage is translating into the building of a significant wave -- at least not yet, according to our NBC/WSJ poll. On a generic presidential ballot, 45% of voters prefer a Democrat to win the White House, versus 42% who want a Republican. (At this same time in 2008, by comparison, Democrats held a 16-point edge on this question, 51%-35%.) What’s more, voters are split, 46%-46% over which party they’d prefer to control Congress. (It was 52% Democrat, 33% Republican in June 2008, though 45%-44% in June 2012.) So best-case scenario for Democrats, per our poll, is that 2016 is shaping up to look more like 2012 (when Democrats won a handful of House and Senate seats) than 2008 (when they routed Republicans up and down the ballot). And consider these final numbers from the NBC/WSJ poll: By a 40%-16% margin, voters say they’d be less inclined to back a Republican who endorses Trump. And the margin isn’t that different for a Democrat who endorses Clinton -- 32% less inclined, 15% more inclined.
Trump right now is underperforming Romney in 2012
So if it doesn’t look like a Democratic wave is coming, what accounts for Clinton’s early advantage? Answer: The NBC/WSJ poll shows Trump below Mitt Romney’s performance among key voting groups.
- Women: Clinton 52%, Trump 35% (Clinton +17) -- was Obama +11, per the 2012 exit polls
- White Women: Trump 44%, Clinton 43% (Trump +1) -- was Romney +14 in 2012
- Whites: Trump 49%, Clinton 37% (Trump +12) -- was Romney +20 in 2012
- Latinos: Clinton 69%, Trump 22% (Clinton +47) -- was Obama +44 in 2012
Trump makes his first general-election stop in Ohio
Eight weeks have now passed since Trump became his party’s presumptive nominee, and today he makes his first visit to battleground Ohio since his primary campaign there last March -- with a rally in St. Clairsville (Eastern Ohio near West Virginia) at 7:00 pm ET. By contrast, Clinton has held three events in Ohio (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincy) in the three weeks since she became her party’s presumptive nominee. This comparison makes Trump’s visit to Scotland last weekend all the more puzzling. Before his rally in Ohio, Trump delivers a 2:30 speech on trade from outside of Pittsburgh, PA entitled, “Declaring American Economic Independence.” (Brexit, anyone?)
Don’t be surprised if Trump invokes Bernie Sanders on trade
When Trump speaks on trade, don’t be surprised if he invokes Bernie Sanders and his opposition to TPP, especially since Sanders is fighting with the Democratic Party platform writers on the issue. “The Democratic Party must go on record in opposition to holding a vote on the [TPP] trade deal during the lame duck session of Congress and beyond,” Sanders said in a statement released yesterday. “This is about preventing the outsourcing of jobs, protecting the environment, stopping pharmaceutical companies from increasing the price of prescription drugs, preserving our democracy and respecting human rights.” What’s extraordinary about Sanders demand here on TPP is that it’s a shot across the bow at President Obama, who is hoping to pass TPP during the lame-duck session of Congress (especially if Democrats win the White House).
Another reminder: Sanders still hasn’t conceded
It’s been 22 days since Hillary Clinton was declared her party’s presumptive presidential nominee, and he still hasn’t officially conceded or endorsed Clinton (though he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday that he’d vote for Clinton). By comparison, it took Clinton four days to endorse Obama after he became the presumptive nominee in 2008.
Clinton to roll out tech agenda in Denver
As for Clinton, she campaigns in Denver, CO, where she rolls out her teach agenda, per NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald. One part of that tech agenda is offering young entrepreneurs a three-year deferment on student-loan payments. NBC’s Kristen Welker has more on Clinton’s rollout.
House Republicans unveil their Benghazi report
“After a more than two-year investigation into the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, House Republicans are set to release a lengthy report Tuesday recounting the events that led to the deaths of four American diplomats,” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Alex Moe, and Abigail Williams report. “It sheds new light on the breakdown in the U.S. military's response to the attack and offers new details about why U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was at the compound in the Libyan city with only two State Department bodyguards, months after the British and others had evacuated the area. NBC News obtained the first 175-page section of the full 800-page House Select Committee on Benghazi report that will be released later Tuesday. The Democratic minority released its own report Monday.”
NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell talked to John Thune, who says he knows “nothing” about the vetting process and has not had any direct contact with the Trump campaign… Scott Brown suggested that Elizabeth Warren could “take a DNA test” to prove her Native American heritage… Chris Christie is backing a plan to hike the gas tax but cut sales tax in New Jersey… Alex Seitz-Wald takes a look at the power of the Warren-Clinton alliance… Wall Street is not happy about the Warren VP chatter, writes the Boston Globe … Sherrod Brown doesn’t think he’s the pick because of the risks of losing his Senate seat.. The AP writes on just how seriously Clinton is taking Senate control as she weighs her options… If Tim Kaine is the pick, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he doesn’t want the Senate seat for himself… And NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard has a look at GOP VP prospect Mary Fallin of Oklahoma.
On the trail
Clinton campaigns in Denver, CO at 12:15 pm ET before heading to Los Angeles… Trump gives a trade-policy speech outside of Pittsburgh, PA at 2:30 pm ET, and then holds a rally in St. Clairsville, OH at 7:00 pm ET. Don’t forget to check out the political unit’s rolling minute-to-minute coverage of all the latest 2016 developments at the On the Trail liveblog at NBCNews.com.