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Biden and Trump both underperform generic opponents, poll finds

First Read is your briefing from the NBC News Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
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Happening this Tuesday: President Biden, at the White House, speaks on stopping the flow of fentanyl at 11:00 am ET… NBC News poll finds more voters back funding for U.S.-Mexico border than for foreign conflicts… Black voters sour on Biden… And Happy Thanksgiving: First Read will return on Monday.

But FIRST… Voters have been saying for months that they aren’t excited about a rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

And our latest NBC News poll shows both men greatly underperforming a generic opponent.

A generic Republican leads Biden by 11 points among registered voters, 48% to 37% (when Trump is ahead of Biden by just 2 points in the poll’s head-to-head matchup). 

What’s more, the generic GOPer has a 27-point advantage among men (when Trump’s actual lead vs. Biden is +20), a 26-point edge among independents (when it’s Trump +11) and a 10-point lead among Latinos (when it’s D+2 vs. Biden). 

And a generic Democrat is ahead of Trump by 6 points (46% to 40%) — leading by 22 points among women (when Biden’s actual lead over Trump is +13), by 16 points among seniors (when Biden’s lead is +12) and by 10 points among voters ages 18-34 (when it’s Trump +4 here). 

Yes, a generic candidate is almost always going to best an actual candidate in a poll, because generic candidates aren’t defined and don’t have real records.  

But for Biden and Trump, both are significantly trailing how a generic D or R would ordinarily perform.  

Headline of the day

The number of the day is … 74% 

That’s the share of voters who say they would favor providing more funding for security along the U.S. border with Mexico, far exceeding support for more funding for foreign countries embroiled in local conflicts, according to the latest NBC News national poll

 Support for border security funding cuts across party lines, while wider partisan gaps emerge over funding and military aid for Ukraine and Israel amid their ongoing wars. Both conflicts also expose divisions within the parties.   

Two-thirds of GOP voters back more support for Israel, compared to 45% of Democrats. And just 28% of progressive Democrats who say they voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., or Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in the 2020 primary backed more funding and military aid for the country. 

Democrats were more likely to back funding and military aid for Ukraine (77%), compared to just 35% of Republicans. Among Republicans, those aligned with former President Donald Trump and his “Make America Great Again” movement largely opposed aid for Ukraine while self-described non-MAGA Republicans are more evenly divided over Ukraine aid.  

Read more about the poll numbers, including voters’ support funding for Taiwan, on

Eyes on 2024: Black voters sour on Biden

Support from Black voters helped President Joe Biden secure the Democratic nomination and the presidency in 2020, but the latest NBC News poll shows Biden’s support among Black voters is waning. 

NBC News polling has found Biden’s net-approval rating among Black voters has dropped nearly 20 points over the course of this year, from plus-46 points throughout the year to plus-27 points this month. The latest survey finds 61% of Black voters approve of Biden, versus 34% who say they disapprove of the president. 

“I was concerned about President Biden. What has he done for Black people, who were a big reason for him winning? You hear that noise coming from the other side and you think, ‘It’s the same ol’, same old’: People begging for our votes, but not doing anything for us after they get it,” one Black voter from Ohio told NBC News’ Curtis Bunn.

Still, some experts told Bunn, voters expressing discontent for Biden aren’t necessarily going to vote for former President Donald Trump if he’s the GOP nominee next year (the latest NBC News poll finds 69% of Black voters backing Biden and 20% backing Trump). Instead, some Black leaders are worried that voters in their communities won’t vote at all.

“What Black people are saying through the poll is that they are frustrated with both sides and that they’re exploring their options, which could be not showing up at all. That’s my concern: How does that frustration translate into the level of engagement of the Black electorate in 2024?,” a political consultant told Bunn. 

In other campaign news … 

A “compelling” message on abortion: NBC’s Natasha Korecki and Sarah Dean explore former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s position on abortion and how her messaging on the issue could help her win crucial GOP primary voters and donors. 

Falling behind: Despite saying that he plans to stick it out through the Iowa caucuses, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign is falling behind in support and ad spending, the Associated Press reports.  

On the airwaves: A new super PAC backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the GOP presidential primary — Fight Right — has emerged and plans to spend money attacking Haley in TV ads as soon as this week, the New York Times reports.  

To debate or not to debate: That is the question facing Biden, as his campaign declined to comment on an announcement Monday from the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates regarding the schedule of general election debates next year. 

Governor vs. Governor: DeSantis and California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom are moving ahead with plans to debate next week in Alpharetta, Georgia, in an event hosted by Fox News without a live audience, NBC’s Alec Hernandez reports.  

Backing Trump: Republican Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall endorsed Trump on Monday, per Fox News. And Speaker Mike Johnson met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Monday after Johnson endorsed the former president last week, per NBC News’ Garret Haake, Rebecca Kaplan and Zoë Richards.

A new PAC in town: Politico reports that a new super PAC backed by a major cryptocurrency executive is looking to play a role in the 2024 election, and has already spent money for TV ads in House races. 

Getting heated in Arizona: Senate Republicans’ campaign arm launched a new digital ad bolstering Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s Democratic credentials in an apparent effort to lower her support among Republican voters, per NBC’s Sahil Kapur.  

Changing Meijer’s mind: Former GOP Rep. Peter Meijer, who is running for Senate in Michigan, sat down with Politico and explained his reversal on Trump, whom he voted to impeach after Jan. 6 and whom he would now support for president. Meijer said that the “economic damage” from Biden’s presidency “will have far more wide-reaching negative consequences on the country than a second non-consecutive Trump administration.” 

Money woes: House Republicans’ campaign arm struggled to fundraise in October as the House was thrown into chaos over the next speaker, per Politico.  

Heading for the exit: California Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas is not running for re-election, per the Los Angeles Times, the latest in a string of recent retirements.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world 

A key part of the Voting Rights Act was upended Monday when a panel of judges ruled citizens and groups could not sue under a part of the law, NBC’s Jane C. Timm reports. The ruling is expected to be challenged. 

The federal government is distributing four free Covid tests to U.S. households ahead of potential surges in illnesses during the holiday season, per NBC’s Katie Mogg.

Two former California governors — Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger — weigh in on the state of democracy in interviews with NBC News’ Peter Nicholas.