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Which tech giants rule when it comes to influencing our daily lives?

As recently as 25 years ago, the notions of buying detergent, finding your long-lost college roommate, accessing an obscure fact or sending your latest casual political analysis all with a single click of a button would have seemed, well, pretty ridiculous.

Now, big technology companies have reshaped how we do everything from reading the news to buying toothpaste. So which tech giants rule when it comes to influencing our daily lives? 

A new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal finds that nearly half of Americans or more have incorporated Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple into their routines. 

Fully 70 percent of Americans say they conduct Google searches on a daily basis; 63 percent own at least one Apple product; 50 percent check Facebook daily and 46 percent are members of Amazon.com's "prime" program. 

The exception to the rule? While the president of the United States has long used Twitter as his preferred method of communicating with Americans, just nine percent of adults in the country say they access Twitter on a daily basis. 

Here's how usage breaks down, overall and by generation. 

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Republicans take 'Abolish ICE' opposition to the airwaves

Republicans believe that the left's push to axe the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is a political winner, and they're beginning to put their money behind the theory. 

The GOP has upped the pressure on Democrats in recent weeks to widen their split over whether to "Abolish ICE." Just yesterday, House Republicans held a vote on a nonbinding resolution stating support for ICE in the hopes of forcing Democrats to go on the record on the issue. 

Now, Republicans are also starting to highlight the "Abolish ICE" push in ads, hoping to leverage the controversial issue into victories in November.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC aligned with House Republican Leadership, is out with a new ad that tries to link Democrat Danny O'Connor to the "liberal resistance" that supports the policy. O'Connor is running in next month's special House election in Ohio's 12th Congressional District. 

Another GOP group has been trying to make the issue stick against Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in his tough Senate race. One Nation, an allied group of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, ran ads this month that criticizes the push to abolish ICE and calls on Manchin to back President Trump's call for border security funding. 

Politico reported Thursday that One Nation decided to stop the ad buy a week early, but the group had already spent more than $60,000 to run the ad more than 200 times across the state, according to data provided by Advertising Analytics. 

The issue is also making its way into state-level races as well. The Republican Governors Association is currently running two similar ads highlighting how ICE has been a force in fighting gang violence and sex trafficking while  keeping drugs off the streets, while hitting Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls David Garcia and Kelly Fryer for backing the "Abolish ICE" push. 

While the proposal to shutter ICE has only recently made it to the national conversation, it hasn't polled well in any early surveys. And Republicans see the issue as an easy way to frame their rivals for being too extreme. 

That said, Democrats who support the measure argue the full nuance of the proposal isn't captured by the bumper-sticker slogan. And the hard-line stance on immigration hasn't always worked for the GOP — Republican Ed Gillespie lost his 2017 gubernatorial election in Virginia by a significant margin despite the campaign and its allies trying to rally the GOP around a conservative message on immigration and fighting gangs. 

Microsoft executive says three 2018 campaigns have been targeted by phishing attacks

ASPEN, Colo. — The campaigns of three candidates in the midterm elections were targeted in a phishing attack similar to the ones targeting the Clinton campaign in 2016, a top Microsoft executive said Thursday.

Microsoft could not identify the campaigns targeted and said no individuals were infected by the attack. The tactics were similar to those outlined in the indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller against Russian GRU operatives.

“They were all people who, because of their positions, might have been interesting targets from an espionage standpoint as well as an election disruption standpoint,” Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, said during a panel discussion at the Aspen Security Forum focused on election security issues.

The attempted hackers registered fake Microsoft web domains to serve as a landing page for phishing attacks. Similar tactics were used in 2016 during the Republican and Democratic conventions, though the company did not identify them as being orchestrated by the Russian government, Burt said.

Microsoft has made it a priority to identify such phishing attempts and used a novel legal strategy to prevent them from being successful, quickly seeking court orders to transfer the fake domains to what Burt called a “Microsoft-controlled sinkhole.” He said Microsoft has been working with other large technology firms to share intelligence about such threats.

In the same panel, Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Jeanette Manfra, whose portfolio includes election security issues, said that while there has been a “concerning increase” in attempts by foreign states to infiltrate critical U.S. infrastructure, there were no indications that it included elections infrastructure.  

“While we see Russians continuing to attempt to influence and undermine our democracy, we’re not seeing the targeting of the actual state and local elections systems that we saw in 2016 right now,” Manfra said.

MN-02: Rep. Jason Lewis faces backlash from radio show commentary

Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN) is in the news (again) for making disparaging comments about women on his talk radio show, “The Jason Lewis Show”, which he hosted from 2009 to 2014.

CNN’s KFile obtained 15 months of audio in which Lewis laments not being able to call women “sluts”, stating that “it used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. We required modesty from women. Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”

In the audio recordings, Lewis also argues that women vote for Democrats because they are “guided by emotion not reason” and do not understand economics. He also suggests that young women who vote based on birth control coverage are not human beings and do not have a brain.  

Lewis is facing a tough reelection race and is viewed as one of the House's most endangered Republicans. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates MN-02 as a “toss up”. His Democratic opponent, Angie Craig, ran against Lewis in 2016 and lost by less than 2 percentage points. If elected, she would be the first openly gay mother to serve in the House.

This is not the first time Lewis has been in the spotlight for his crude commentary. In 2016, when Lewis was first elected to Congress, The Atlantic published a smaller sampling of Lewis’ radio comments about gender and race, which earned him the title “Mini Trump”.

This time around, in the age of #MeToo, Democrats are not letting Lewis off easy.

Emily’s List, which has endorsed Craig, stated that “time and again, Jason Lewis has shown us just how little he respects or understands women” and the DCCC was quick to email the audio out to its supporters. Craig herself tweeted that she was “deeply disappointed” by Lewis’ remarks and that she would “fight like hell so women have the opportunities they deserve and all families can thrive.”

Lewis's campaign released a statement arguing that  “this has all been litigated before, and as Congressman Lewis has said time and time again, it was his job to be provocative while on the radio.”

 

House Democratic campaign arm wades into Ohio special House election

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is dropping its first television spot in Ohio's 12 Congressional District, which is home to the next special election on the calendar. 

A source familiar with the buy confirmed that the committee is spending $238,000 in Columbus over the next 10 days in order to boost Danny O'Connor, the Franklin County Recorder running against Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson.

The spot focuses on tying Balderson to the GOP's tax reform law, framing the measure as prioritizing big corporations over seniors. 

The new ad will give O'Connor a boost on the air from a national party that's kept its distance publicly so far. As in most red-district special elections, the national party has sought to allow O'Connor to create distance from the Democratic brand. 

His campaign has been the only Democratic group up on the airwaves in the race and he's made his decision not to support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, for a leadership position a central message. 

Balderson, on the other hand, has received a boost from both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the GOP-aligned super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund. The groups have combined to spend about $2 million to help Balderson, with the lion's share coming from CLF, according to data provided by Advertising Analytics.  

While the boundaries have changed over the years thanks to redistricting, the seat has long been held in GOP hands. Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, held the seat during his stint in Congress and former Rep. Pat Tiberi served in it for 17 years before his retirement earlier this year. 

And while O'Connor's campaign released a poll this week that showed him down by just five points, Balderson led the most recent independent poll last month by 11 points. So Republicans are confident that Balderson is in position to defend the seat, which President Trump won by 11.5 points in 2016, and avoid an embarrassing upset.   

Even so, Democrats are bullish on the prospect of flipping the seat, noting that the party has overperformed with the kinds of affluent and well-educated voters who reside in the district. O'Connor also narrowly outraised Balderson during the second fundraising quarter of 2018. 

The two candidates face off in the Aug. 7 special election to fill the remainder of Tiberi's term, but will also be on the ballot in November to win the right to serve a full term in January. 

Montana Democrat devotes ad to breaking with Nancy Pelosi

A Democrat in Montana isn't just saying she won't support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Kathleen Williams devoted an ad almost entirely to getting that message out.

"Montanans deserve a Congress that can get things done. Unfortunately, this Congress is stuck in endless dysfunction and partisan gridlock,” Williams says in the new spot, speaking straight to the camera from her kitchen. “That’s why I won’t be voting for Nancy Pelosi for leader. Instead, I’ll push to find a new leadership team that ensures Congress works for all of us."

Williams is hardly alone among Democratic candidates seeking to inoculate themselves from GOP attacks by distancing themselves from Pelosi. Some, like Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Penn., who won a special election earlier this year, have even mentioned it briefly in TV ads.

But Williams' "fresh start" message is the core of her 30-second spot -- there's nothing in the ad about health care, jobs, immigration or other policy. Instead, it's all about trying to tap into voters' frustration with Washington.

Williams is a considered the underdog in her challenge to Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, best known for pleading guilty to assaulting a reporter, in Montana's statewide congressional district.

Young voters make up significant portion of new registrations in key states since Parkland shooting

Young voters are flocking to register to vote in key battleground states in the wake of the February school shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school, according to a new analysis from Democratic data firm TargetSmart.  

The report, released exclusively to NBC News, shows that young voters between the ages of 18 and 29 years old make up an increasing share of those registering to vote in a handful of key states.

Pennsylvania has seen the sharpest increase—61 percent of new voter registrations come from young voters, compared to 45 percent before the shooting.

Virginia, Indiana and New York have all seen an increase of about 10 percentage points in the youth share of new voter registrants, while Arizona and Florida have seen gains of about 8 percent. All of these states are home to some key Senate or House races that will play a crucial role in deciding control of Congress.

Other key battleground states—like California, North Carolina and Ohio—have seen more modest increases. And in West Virginia, home to one of the top Senate races on the map, the youth share of new registrants fell 11.5 percentage points.

Democrats are boosted by the general upward trend—TargetSmart found a 2 percent uptick in the share of youth registrants across the country—considering young voters skew more liberal and are more supportive of enacting new gun control measures. The February shooting in Parkland, where 17 people were killed, has served as a motivator for activists looking to make the case to pass new measures like expanding background checks and restricting access to certain weapons 

Take a look at how the share has changed in each of the 38 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have updated their voter files since the shooting on Feb. 14 (states shown in grey haven’t publicly released new voter registration data over this span) on the graph below. And TargetSmart has all of the data here.   

TargetSmart, NBC analysis

How Helsinki is playing out in 2018 midterm races

Democrats are seizing on President Trump's friendly comments toward Russia during his meeting this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, with many vulnerable Republicans even breaking ranks to join the chorus of criticism. 

There's been almost unanimous condemnation of the president's comments on the left, even in red states where Democrats typically walk a fine line on challenging Trump. But it's been more complicated terrain for Republicans in tough elections, since Trump remains popular among the base.

Here's a sampling of how some vulnerable incumbents and top candidates are handling the fallout:

Republicans breaking with Trump

Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., was one of the first Republicans to call for an investigation into Russian interference in  the 2016 election and Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. After Trump's press conference,  he tweeted to call it "embarrassing" to see an "American President taking the side of a Russian dictator over American intelligence agencies."

Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., said after Monday's press conference that Trump "was wrong; we cannot trust the word of Putin." Lance was one of the first Republicans to team up with Democrats to sanction Russia for election meddling. 

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who is the GOP nominee running against Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, told CNN that "President Trump is harder to defend than he is to explain sometimes." He added that Trump should have been "more forceful" and fretted about describing Russian and American intelligence as "morally equivalent."

Republicans decline to criticize Trump

Missouri Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley's spokeswoman, Kelli Ford, framed the discussion as one about the 2016 election in a statement to the Springfield News-Leader. "President Trump won. Hillary lost. ... It's time for Democrats and the media to move on, and the President should keep on being forceful with Russia." Hawley is running against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in the GOP-leaning state. 

Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., criticized the Obama administration for being too weak on Russia in a Facebook post responding to the press conference. He argued that while America "should stand unequivocally opposed to a foreign government meddling in our elections," the Obama administration's "foreign policy failures emboldened Putin." 

Democrats on the attack

Abigail Spanberger, the Virginia Democrat running against Brat, called him out for choosing "his party allegiance over our country" in a tweet responding to Brat's statement. Spanberger is a former CIA agent.

McCaskill blasted Trump by arguing his "statements fly in the face of the consensus of the Intelligence Community, the Director of National Intelligence, the Special Counsel, and a bipartisan investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee."

Heitkamp sang largely in agreement with her opponent, Cramer, in her own statement. She called it a "sad day" when the "American president stood with Russia over our own country." 

And Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, tweeted that Trump "turned his back on this country" and told the Dallas Morning News he would "vote to impeach the president" after the meeting.  

Courtney Buble contributed to this report. 

Mark Murray

Trump backs Kemp in brutal Georgia gov primary

President Trump threw his weight behind Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp over Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in next week's gubernatorial primary runoff, a move that injects the president into the center of an ugly primary battle. 

Trump tweeted his endorsement of Kemp Wednesday afternoon, describing him as "tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration," similar language he's used to endorse other GOP candidates this cycle.

There isn't much of an ideological difference between the two GOP candidates, making Trump's endorsement a notable one. It also puts him at odds with current Gov. Nathan Deal, who has backed Cagle. 

The final days of the race have been dominated by leaked audio in which Cagle described the primary as a contest to see "who has the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck and who could be the craziest.”

And a new leak showed Cagle calling to "cut poverty in half," a pledge his opponents have seized on to frame him as too dependent on government to fight poverty.

Cagle entered the runoff as the presumed frontrunner after winning 39 percent of the vote in the May primary compared with Kemp's 26 percent. But a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 poll found the race within the margin of error. 

The winner of next Tuesday's primary faces Democrat Stacey Abrams, who had a head start on the general election after finishing well above the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff in her primary in May.

Leah Vukmir rising in Wisconsin Senate primary poll

Wisconsin State Sen. Leah Vukmir is neck and neck with Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson in the GOP Senate primary, according to a new poll of likely voters.

Vukmir leads Nicholson by two points — 34 percent to 32 percent — in Marquette University Law School's latest poll. While that result is still well within the poll's margin of error, it shows Vukmir appears to be closing the gap with Nicholson.

Last month's Marquette poll found Vukmir down five points and the school's February poll found her behind by nine points. 

The conservative state senator has the backing of state GOP bigwigs like House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Republican National Committee chairman and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. She also won the state party's endorsement during its spring convention. 

Nicholson has remained undeterred even as key state party figures break in Vukmir's direction. He holds the fundraising advantage so far and has sought to highlight his own conversion from an active Democrat to a staunch Republican as a way to reach out to disaffected voters of all stripes.  

Both candidates remain relatively unknown — more than 50 percent of both Republican and general election voters didn't have a favorable or unfavorable opinion on either Vukmir or Nicholson. 

The winner of the Aug. 14 primary will go onto face Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who holds an 11-point-lead over Nicholson in a hypothetical matchup and a 9-point-lead over Vukmir. 

Baldwin has a 41 percent favorability rating, slightly below the 43 percent who view her job performance unfavorably. 

Seven Senate races where the Kavanaugh nomination is an issue

Now more than a week since President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, here are seven Senate races where the nomination has become an issue in the contest.

 

Indiana

What Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., has said: “I will take the same approach as I have previously for a Supreme Court vacancy. Following the president’s announcement, I will carefully review and consider the record and qualifications of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.” 

What Republican challenger Mike Braun has said: “President Trump has chosen another outstanding justice in Brett Kavanaugh. I can immediately say without hesitation that I would support this nomination and I hope the Senate moves quickly to confirm the president's choice."

 

Florida

What Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has said: “I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh to discuss his views on several issues such as protecting women's rights, guaranteeing access to health care for those with pre-existing conditions & protecting the right to vote, just to name a few. I’ll make my decision after that,” Nelson said in his original statement via Twitter. Then, in a July 16 fundraising email, Nelson said: “If you want to stop McConnell's plans to put another right-wing extremist on the Supreme Court, gut affordable health care and dismantle Medicare, you need to give right now to make sure Democrats take back the Senate by winning in Florida.”

What Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Nelson’s challenger, has said: “I am glad President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and look forward to learning more about his record. Even though Bill Nelson pledged last week he would vote against the nominee without knowing who it was, he needs to do his job and give him a fair hearing. Unlike Nelson, I actually waited on commenting on the nominee until there was one.”

 

Missouri

What Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has said: “I look forward to thoroughly examining Judge Kavanaugh’s record in the coming weeks as the Senate considers his nomination to replace Justice Kennedy.”

What Republican challenger Josh Hawley has said: “Judge Kavanaugh is a remarkably qualified nominee for the Supreme Court. I have full confidence he will uphold the Constitution as the people wrote it, not impose his values from the bench. And that’s what the people deserve. The balance of the court turns on this nomination and I applaud the President for his thoughtfulness on this decision. Unfortunately, the deciding vote may well rest with Senator Claire McCaskill – who has been wrong on Supreme Court nominees every single time.”

 

Nevada

What Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has said: “Judge Kavanaugh has a record of adherence to the Constitution and has demonstrated a commitment to interpreting the law – not making it. I expect the U.S. Senate to conduct a fair, thorough confirmation process, and I look forward to meeting with the nominee.”         

What Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen has said: “Based on President Trump’s own statements, it’s critical the next Supreme Court justice affirm their belief that the Constitution protects individual liberties – including reproductive rights. I have serious reservations about whether Judge Kavanaugh will meet that standard. Nevadans will be watching closely to see whether Sen. Heller will be an independent voice who will ask these tough questions, or if he will once again bend to his party leaders and rubber stamp another nominee from President Trump.”

 

North Dakota

What Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has said:  “All that changes for me is that we now have a nominee … Now I’ll get to work to thoroughly review and vet his record to provide advice and consent for filling this vacancy. … An exhaustive and fair process took place for Justice Gorsuch, who I supported, and it should and must take place again now,” she said in a statement via Twitter.

What Republican challenger Kevin Cramer has said: “He is strongly committed to the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution and holds tight to the concept of the constitutional separation of powers to ensure government accountability and protect our liberty. His temperament, academic background and past judicial experience more than qualify him to serve on the highest court in the land. I believe these characteristics and values match perfectly with the expectations of the majority of North Dakotans and for these reasons, I support his nomination and strongly encourage our North Dakota Senators to unite in support of this outstanding nominee. This is a winning pick for North Dakota and deserves our two votes.”

 

Tennessee

What Democrat Phil Bredesen has said: “An important part of a Senator's job is to approve or reject appointments the President makes to the Judiciary. In the Senate, I’ll vote for or against a nominee based solely on whether I believe them to be highly qualified and ethical —not based on partisan politics. Looking ahead: the President’s Supreme Court nominee deserves a fair and timely confirmation hearing. This is an opportunity for the Senate to get back to basics and show it can do its job.”

What Republican Marsha Blackburn has said: “Judge Brett Kavanaugh will make a fine Supreme Court Justice, and I thank President Trump for nominating a strong constitutionalist with a proven track record of upholding the rule of law. Tennesseans are frustrated by liberal activist judges and justices who too often legislate from the bench. I know they will be well served by Judge Kavanaugh.” 

 

West Virginia

What Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., has said: “I take my responsibility to advise and consent on a nominee to the Supreme Court very seriously. As I did when Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch were nominated, I am evaluating Judge Kavanaugh's record, legal qualifications, judicial philosophy and particularly, his views on healthcare. I encourage West Virginians to review his qualifications themselves and share their thoughts and concerns with me.”

What Republican challenger Patrick Morissey has said: “West Virginians are tired of Sen. Manchin’s spineless political calculation and pandering to liberal elites. West Virginia voters were clear in 2016 when they overwhelmingly elected President Trump by more than 40 points, and now they have an opportunity to remind Sen. Manchin to stand with our President and a highly-qualified Supreme Court nominee.” Morissey added, “What you will see over the next month, you began to see it last week, is that Joe Manchin is flopping along, straddling that fence. Joe Manchin knows that he will ultimately vote for Kavanaugh, that he is going to be in a very difficult position with Chuck Schumer and his liberal donors.”