Nashville mayor Megan Barry is out, resigning as part of a plea deal about a month after admitting to an extramarital affair with her bodyguard.
And it could have repercussions in a much bigger contest in November — the Senate battle to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker.
Here's why: A Tennessee observer reminds us that Democratic Senate frontrunner and former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen was a big booster of Barry's during her mayoral run, issuing a rare endorsement of her in August 2015. (A former Nashville mayor himself, Bredesen had declined to endorse in the previous two mayoral races.)
"I have watched Megan Barry in the council, and openness and coalition building is what she does, and she does it very well, and it is what we need to keep doing here in Nashville," he said during that contest.
In a statement Tuesday, Bredesen said Barry's departure was "in the best interest" of the city.
“Megan Barry has done what she needs to do in the best interest of Nashville and I respect her for it," he said. "Now, we all need to rally around Mayor Briley so that he can effectively lead our city and continue without interruption to build on its great success.”
Still, with Barry's ouster reverberating around the state, it's a good bet the Republican Marsha Blackburn may resurface Bredesen's past support for the disgraced mayor in TV ads. And if the #metoo movement comes up in this race, Bredesen may find himself on the wrong side of the issue.
Democratic voters — especially those who are African-American and millennials — are more motivated by activism on specific issues rather than on generic protests of President Donald Trump, according to polling data from the Democratic group Navigator Research.
Overall, 68 percent of Democrats say they were engaged by the anti-gun-violence March for Our Lives, versus 40 percent of Democrats who said they were engaged by generic anti-Trump protests.
Among African-American Democrats, 69 percent feel engaged with Black Lives Matter, and 59 percent with the debate over the future of health care.
In the era of Trump, Democrats also are paying more attention to politics: 58 percent of millennial Democrats say they are more tuned in to political issues, compared with 42 percent of non-Democratic millennials who say the same thing.
While 72 percent of Democrats say they feel angry about politics since Trump was elected, 43 percent of Republicans say they are excited. However, both Democrats (76 percent) and Republicans (53 percent) say President Trump’s Twitter usage exhausts them.
For all of the attention on polls showing President Trump retaining clear support from Republican voters, there’s maybe a more important set of numbers to watch heading in November’s midterm elections – Trump and the GOP’s standing with independents.
And according to a trio of state polls released by NBC News and Marist College, these independent voters are breaking away from the president and the Republican Party.
In Arizona’s poll — which shows Democrat Kyrsten Sinema ahead of her possible GOP opponents by double digits – Sinema leads Republican Martha McSally by 17 points among independent voters, 49 percent to 32 percent.
In Ohio – where Democrat Sherrod Brown is up 13 points — the Democratic senator enjoys a whopping 21-point lead over Republican Jim Renacci among indies, 51 percent to 30 percent.
And in Florida — where Democrat Bill Nelson is ahead by just 4 points (which is within the poll’s margin of error – the Democrat’s lead over Republican Rick Scott among independents is 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent.
And it’s not just the horserace numbers. Trump’s job rating among independent adults is below 40 percent in Arizona (36 percent), Ohio (37 percent) and Florida (39 percent).
Independent voters also prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress in these three states — D+2 in Arizona, D+6 in Ohio and D+8 in Florida.
Additionally, fewer than one-in-three indie adults say Trump deserves re-election — 29 percent in Arizona, 31 percent in Florida and 32 percent in Ohio.
And maybe most significantly of all, independent voters by double-digit margins — 14 points in Florida, 21 points in Arizona and 29 points in Ohio — say their vote in November will be a message to check and balance Trump rather than to pass his agenda.
With news of Justice Anthony Kennedy's departure from the Supreme Court, here are a few data points to keep in mind about politics and court appointments.
Per 2016 exit polls: In 2016, 21% of voters said that appointments to the Supreme Court were the NUMBER ONE factor motivating their presidential vote. They broke for Trump 56 percent to Clinton’s 41 percent.
And via Pew: Republican views of the Supreme Court have jumped since Trump’s election and since his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to join the court. In March 2018, 71 percent of Republicans reported a positive view of the court, compared with 51 percent in August 2016 and just 33 percent in 2015 after the court’s rulings on gay marriage and Obamacare.
President Donald Trump has frequently dismissed the investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election as a “witch hunt,” but polls of three battleground states show that most voters aren’t buying that characterization.
New NBC News/Marist polls of Arizona, Florida and Ohio find that more voters in those states believe special counsel Robert Mueller is running a “fair investigation,” with fewer than four-in-ten agreeing with the president’s language.
In Arizona, 36 percent call the probe a “witch hunt,” while 40 percent of Florida voters and 34 percent of Ohio voters agree.
That’s compared with 52 percent of voters in Arizona, 46 percent in Florida and 50 percent in Ohio who believe the investigation is fair and above board.
Unsurprisingly, it's primarily Republicans in each state who agree with the president's view of Mueller's work. About two-thirds of Republicans in Arizona (67 percent), Florida (71 percent) and Ohio (67 percent) call the probe a "witch hunt," compared to only seven percent of Arizona Democrats, 14 percent of Florida Dems and eight percent of Ohio Democrats who agree.
More independents call the probe fair in each state than use the "witch hunt" terminology, too.
In Arizona, it's 52 percent of independents who see the probe as fair, versus 35 percent who take the president's point of view. In Florida, it's 35 percent to 44 percent and among Ohio independents, it's 29 percent to 51 percent.
A new poll from Monmouth University shows Democrat Mikie Sherrill running competitively against Republican Jay Webber in New Jersey's 11th district, with a Democratic enthusiasm gap that could push her ahead.
The survey shows Sherrill with 40 percent compared with Webber's 38 percent among all potential voters. But under a voter turnout model that anticipates a Democratic surge, she leads 45 percent to 39 percent.
Sherrill, a former pilot in the Navy, was one of Democrats' top recruits for this affluent and highly educated district, which is currently represented by retiring Republican Rep. Rodney Freylinghuysen. Donald Trump only barely won the district in 2016, raising Democratic hopes to turn the area blue.
The poll shows that Democrats are indeed energized, with 67 percent of self-identified Democrats saying they have a lot of interest in the election, while just 48 percent of Republicans say the same.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 22 to 25 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points.
Brett Favre may be best known for his Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers, but he's also famed for his time playing college ball at the University of Southern Mississippi — and he's still an occasional dabbler in politics in his home state.
The former quarterback is appearing in a new television ad — paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — for Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, the appointed senator who replaced Thad Cochran this spring.
"I don't like to talk politics," Favre says in the ad, which is "But I love Mississippi way too much to stay quiet in this election. It matters a whole lot to the future of our state. That's why I'm backing Cindy Hyde-Smith."
Hyde-Smith is running to win the seat outright in November, and she faces not only a Democratic opponent but a rival from the right in Chris McDaniel, who's opposed by the Chamber.
It's not the first time that Favre has weighed in on a high-stakes Senate contest in Mississippi. In 2014, he appeared in a U.S. Chamber ad for Cochran as he fended off a runoff challenge from McDaniel.
Virginia Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock is frequently dubbed the most vulnerable House Republican this cycle, and a new poll bears out just how precarious her position may be.
The Monmouth University survey of Virginia's 10th congressional district shows Comstock trailing Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton 39 percent to 49 percent among all potential voters.
Other voter turnout voter models show similar results. A model that anticipates high voter turnout in areas where President Donald Trump is unpopular shows Wexton up 51 percent to 40 percent.
Trump's unpopularity still looms large for Comstock, though. Over half of voters in the district — 53 percent — disapprove of Trump, and 47 percent strongly disapprove.
About a third of voters say Comstock has been too supportive of Trump (34 percent), while just 17 percent say she has not been supportive enough.
Wexton also has a big advantage with white college-educated voters, a voter block that has increasingly turned away from the GOP. Among white college graduates — who are plentiful in this affluent and highly educated distict — Wexton leads 50 percent to 41 percent.
Jason Kander became one of the first big (well, bigish) names to pull himself off the long list of potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates Monday, announcing he will instead run for mayor of his hometown, Kansas City, Missouri.
Kander, an Afghanistan veteran and former Missouri secretary of state, spent 2017 and 2018 crisscrossing the country to campaign for Democrats and speak to local progressive groups, making more visits to the early presidential primary states than perhaps any other potential 2020er.
By late April, his team boasted to NBC News that Kander had visited 39 states to participate in 156 Democratic events, including 10 trips to New Hampshire and 13 to Iowa. The 37-year-old also has a book coming out in August, which draws on his experience in the Army and as one of the first millennials elected to statewide office.
But Kander, who lost a Senate bid in 2016, decided to aim further down the ballot and vie for Kansas City's open mayorship in the off-year 2019 election. “The next mayor has the opportunity to shape the future of Kansas City for generations,” Kander said in a statement. “I’m running because I am up for that challenge.”