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Biden’s economic handling hits rock bottom in new poll

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: President Biden Signs Policing Executive Order
President Joe Biden listens as U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris gives remarks at an executive order signing event for police reform in the East Room of the White House on May 25, 2022.Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Thursday ... The Jan. 6 committee argues how Donald Trump put Mike Pence’s life “in danger.” ... President Biden signs Ocean Shipping Reform Act into law . ... The Fed raises interest rates in biggest hike since 1994. ... Mudslinging starts in Nevada Senate general election, per NBC’s Natasha Korecki. ... Democrats play the blame-game after losing Texas-34 special. ... And the Daily Beast reports on yet another bombshell on Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate.

But first: How low can President Biden’s economic poll numbers go?  

Answer: Just look at these numbers in Fox News’ latest national survey that was released Wednesday night. 

Biden’s overall job rating among registered voters stands at 43%, which is higher than other recent national surveys, including our NBC News poll (where Biden was at 39%).

But approval of Biden’s handling of the economy is at 29%, and his handling of inflation is even lower, at 23%. 

What’s more, Republicans hold a 19-point lead in the poll on which party better handles inflation and rising prices, with 55% picking Republicans versus 36% preferring Democrats.  

And in case you think the public isn’t concerned about inflation, here’s the poll on the one issue that’s most important to deciding respondents’ vote for Congress — inflation/higher prices at 41%, guns at 12%, abortion at 10% and border security at 7%. 

Biden’s economic problems are twofold. 

One, there are things he can do at the margins to lower gas prices — like go hat in hand to Saudi Arabia and scuttle China tariffs — but those things also carry political risks (look subservient to a regime that approved killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, upset unions that support the tariffs). 

Two, demand for gas and other goods doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down this summer. Vacations are booked. Americans are still eager to spend after a two-year pandemic. 

And that adds up to an economic situation that doesn’t look likely to change soon — as we head into the fall midterm elections.  

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Data Download: The number of the day is … $65 million

That’s how much money candidates and outside groups in both parties have reserved in airtime in the Nevada Senate race, second only to the Georgia Senate race, per AdImpact. 

The ad reservations in Nevada are lopsided so far, with Democrats reserving $46.6 million worth of airtime, and Republicans reserving $18.4 million. Democrats in Nevada have also outspent Republicans on Spanish language ads, spending $2.7 million to Republicans’ $176,000, NBC News’ Natasha Korecki reports. Expect a flood of more money in the coming months, as both sides zero in on Nevada as a major battleground. 

Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and newly minted GOP nominee Adam Laxalt, the state’s former attorney general, wasted no time going after each other on the airwaves, both launching negative ads on Wednesday, per Korecki.

Other numbers to know:

0.75%: How much the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to combat inflation, the largest increase since 1994. 

49: How many states have pre-ordered Covid vaccine doses for young children ahead of the potential approval soon, with Florida the only state that did not. The state said it’s leaving the decision up to individual providers. 

2.9 million: How many Ford vehicles have been recalled over concerns they may roll while parked. 

239,416: The number of migrants encountered by border patrol in May, per NBC’s Julia Ainsley, a record (Ainsley notes that many are likely to be repeat encounters). 

72: The number of confirmed monkeypox cases in America over the last month. 

109,232: The average of daily Covid cases over the last week, per NBC News. 

Midterm roundup: Texas-sized warning signs for Democrats

Republicans’ victory in a special election this week in Texas' 34th District has some Democrats in Congress, particularly Latinos, worried that their party is taking Latino voters for granted, according to Politico. Some lawmakers and Democrats involved in the race criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for not fully engaging in the South Texas race, with a handful asking to meet with DCCC Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney. 

Maloney defended the committee’s actions by noting the district will soon disappear, thanks to redistricting, noting the new 34th District favors Democrats. 

But the episode underscores concerns about whether there’s dwindling support for Democrats among Latino voters, particularly in traditionally bluer areas like South Texas. Republicans see an opportunity to make gains there, with the three of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s four targets in Texas located in the southern part of the state. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Alaska Senate: GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski made her first TV buy, spending $528,000 on an ad reservation starting in late September and running through Election Day, per AdImpact. Murkowski faces a Top 4 primary on Aug. 16.

Kentucky Senate: Former Democratic state Rep. Charles Booker spoke to NBC News’ Janelle Griffith about racism he’s faced, and how embracing uncomfortable discussions about race in inequality is part of his strategy against GOP Sen. Rand Paul.

Maine Governor:  Former Maine GOP Gov. Paul LePage appears to be moderating his image after building a reputation as a bombastic and controversial executive, NBC News’ Alex Seitz-Wald reports. 

Nevada Governor: Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak made his first TV ad buy tracked by AdImpact, reserving $2.4 million in airtime for the fall. 

Michigan-03: GOP Rep. Peter Meijer, one of 10 House Republicans to impeach Trump after Jan. 6, is up with his first TV adtracked by AdImpact ahead of the Aug. 2 primary. In the ad, Meijer highlights his military service and says he is “standing up to Joe Biden.”

Nevada-01: NBC News’ Decision Desk projected retired Col. Mark Robertson won the GOP primary to take on Democratic Rep. Dina Titus. 

Nevada-04: The Decision Desk also projected that Air Force veteran Sam Peters will be the Republican to take on Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in the competitive district.

Virginia-02: Winning for Women Action Fund is up with a new ad touting Navy veteran Jen Kiggans as a “hard-core conservative” as she looks to make it out of her primary and take on Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria. 

Ad watch: Mississippi mud(slinging)

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership, is going after Michael Cassidy in Mississippi’s 3rd District, the Republican who recently forced GOP Rep. Michael Guest, into a June 28 primary runoff. Guest is one of the few Republicans who voted for an independent Jan. 6 commission. 

“Cassidy supported Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All socialist scheme, raising middle class taxes and making inflation skyrocket,” a narrator says in the ad.

The narrator adds later, “Cassidy even wanted taxpayers to give $20,000 to every newlywed couple.”

An older version of his campaign website included policies like universal Medicare eligibility and a gift for newlyweds (that must be returned if they divorce). His website now claims that he’s shifted some policies “based on helpful feedback from many conservatives in the 3rd District,” and links to a lengthy statement where he said he changed his mind on Medicare “within a week or two” and that the federal wedding gifts were aimed at stopping “out of wedlock births.”  

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world  

The Washington Post reports the Jan. 6 committee has evidence that Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, spoke with a lawyer who played a key role in trying to pressure Pence. 

President Biden told his secretaries of State and Defense to tone it down after they said they wanted Ukraine to win their war against Russia, concerned about setting unrealistic expectations and inflaming the relationship with Russia, NBC News is reporting

The bipartisan group negotiating gun legislation are working through a stumbling block over how to draft the grants for “red flag” laws and to restrict domestic abusers from having guns. 

The World Health Organization is calling for more research into the theory that Covid leaked from a Chinese laboratory. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of t​​he National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has tested positive for Covid.