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Democrats, but not Biden, see their poll numbers rebound after Roe reversal

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.
Abortion rights demonstrators protest outside the Supreme Court
Abortion rights demonstrators protest outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on June 24, 2022 after the court ruled in the Dobbs v Women's Health Organization abortion case, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision.Hannah Beier for NBC News

WASHINGTON — If it’s Thursday … Republicans dispute parts of former Trump W.H. aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s Jan. 6 testimony. ... President Biden holds a news conference before concluding his overseas trip to Europe. ... Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer officially steps down at noon, per NBC’s Pete Williams, and Ketanji Brown Jackson gets sworn in afterwards. ... NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard breaks down last night’s GOP Arizona Governor's debate. ... Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., releases a new TV ad on abortion after the Supreme Court ruling: “I will fight and never back down.” ... And Rep. Liz Cheney debates GOP primary opponent Harriett Hageman and others in Wyoming.

But first: After months of rough poll numbers, Democrats are finally seeing some good 2022 news in the public surveys released after last week’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.  

  • NPR/PBS/Marist has Dems +7 on the generic ballot (when it was +5 last month);
  • Politico/Morning Consult has them +3 on the generic ballot (when it was tied before the ruling);
  • Quinnipiac has Raphael Warnock up double digits in GA-SEN (while Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp are tied in GA-GOV). 

Yet what’s striking is that this bounce for Dems has come without a significant rebound in President Biden’s poll numbers.  

  • NPR/PBS/Marist has Biden’s job rating at 40% (up from 38%);
  • Politico/Morning Consult has it at 43% (up from 42%);
  • And Quinnipiac has Biden’s approval rating in Georgia at a woeful 33%. 

What’s going on here? 

One explanation is that our country’s increased political polarization means there are fewer persuadable voters out there, and so perceptions of a president’s performance might carry less weight than in past midterm cycles. (After all, it’s not hard to think of Democratic voters who might be down on Biden but still fired up about beating Republicans in November.) 

Another explanation is that — out of power — Republicans haven’t reinvented themselves. Trump, after losing, remains in control of the GOP, and the party hasn’t even tried to rebrand itself (like what we saw after its defeats in ’08 and ’12). 

In other words, if you’re a persuadable voter upset at Biden and rising prices, has the GOP given you enough of a reason to vote for it in the fall? 

But maybe the most important thing to watch over the next four months is whether the Supreme Court’s abortion decision made perceptions of Biden’s job performance less impactful than in past midterms. 

Remember, turnout is everything in a midterm cycle. And did Democrats get extra motivation to vote after last week?

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 7

That’s how many House Republicans who voted for an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol have yet to compete in primaries. 

Of the seven facing August primaries, four are facing Trump-backed primary challengers. Those lawmakers include Wyoming’s Liz Cheney, Michigan’s Peter Meijer, and Washington’s Jaime Herrera Buetler and Dan Newhouse. All four also voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack. 

To date, 16 Republicans who voted for the commission have won their primaries and three have lost. Read more about these Republicans on the Meet the Press Blog.

Other numbers to know:

20: The number of months Lev Parnas has been sentenced to prison for after he was convicted of campaign finance violations. Parnas had ties to Trump-world, including Rudy Giuliani.

3: The number of Senate Democratic candidates Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., appeared to endorseWednesday, per Politico, including Wisconsin’s Mandela Barnes, Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman and Ohio’s Tim Ryan.

$1.7 million: How much House Majority Forward, the non-profit arm of the Democratic super PAC House Majority PAC, is spending on a new TV ad campaign touting Democrats’ work to lower gas prices. 

30: The number of years R&B star R. Kelly was sentenced to prison for as part of a sex trafficking case. 

105 million: How many Pfizer Covid vaccines the U.S. government bought in a new order announced Wednesday, which could include shots updated to protect against newer variants like omicron. 

Midterm roundup: Big day in Arizona

Wednesday was a big day in the Arizona GOP gubernatorial primary — first, former Rep. Matt Salmon, who dropped out one day prior, backed establishment favorite Karrin Taylor Robson over the Trump-backed Kari Lake. Hours later, the two squared off in their sole debate on Arizona PBS (which also included two long-shot Republicans). 

Here are some of the key moments, per NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard reporting from Phoenix: 

Lake on the 2020 election: “[Biden] lost the election and he shouldn’t be in the White House. We had a corrupt election.”

Robson, when Lake asked her to raise her hand if she agreed: “I’m not going to play your stunt.” 

Robson on the focus of her campaign: “Republican voters now are worried about putting food on their table & gas in their gas tank. They’re worried about the border.”

Lake on abortion: “I believe life begins at conception. ... I don’t think abortion pills should be legal in Arizona.”

Robson on abortion: “I agree. ... I’m 100% pro-life.”

One interesting note: Arizona PBS is broadcasting a Democratic gubernatorial debate today, which Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is skipping. Instead, former Border Patrol official and Nogales Mayor Marco López Jr. will sit for an interview, as he’s the only candidate attending. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Alaska Senate: Trump announced a July 9 rally in Alaska to boost his preferred candidates, including Kelly Tshibaka, who is challenging GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski; former Gov. Sarah Palin, who is running for the at-large House seat; and GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy. 

Pennsylvania Senate: Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman wants to fine airlines for canceling flights they were previously aware they didn’t have staff to fly. 

Arizona Governor: Robson just booked another $1.45 million in television and spending through the first half of July, extending her massive advantage on the airwaves. 

Illinois Governor: Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is up with a new spot quoting Republican nominee Darren Bailey’s “extreme views” on abortion. Attacks like these are one reason why the party spent tens of millions to elevate Bailey in the primary. 

Nevada Governor: Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is challenging his general election opponent, Republican Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, to two debates, per a campaign press release.

Ohio Governor: Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, the Democratic nominee for governor, is pushing for a ballot initiativecodifying abortion rights in Ohio, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

California-22: Rep. David Valadao, one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump after Jan. 6, advanced past the Top 2 primary and will face off against Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas in November, the NBC News Decision Desk projected late Tuesday.

Michigan-11: EMILY’s independent expenditure arm Women Vote! is launching an $860,000 TV buy in Michigan’s 11th District, its first in the race, where Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens is facing off against fellow Democratic Rep. Andy Levin in the Aug. 2 primary. EMILY’s List has endorsed Stevens.

Arizona Legislature: Trump on Wednesday endorsed former GOP state Sen. David Farnsworth in his primary against Rusty Bowers, the state House speaker who testified during a recent Jan. 6 committee hearing. Bowers is running for a state Senate seat in November.

Ad watch: Hassan goes direct to cam on abortion

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., is up with a new spot where she addresses the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling head on, promising “I will fight and never back down.” 

The new ad features nothing but Hassan talking directly to the camera and it’s one of the first from a battleground incumbent focused solely on the issue since the Court’s ruling overturned a federal right to abortion and kicked the issue to the states. 

“The Supreme Court has taken away a woman’s most fundamental freedom: control over her own body. This decision catapults us backwards,” Hassan says. 

“We will not be intimidated.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Jan. 6 Committee subpoenaed former White House counsel Pat Cippollone. Meanwhile, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump ally Rudy Giuliani are denying that they sought pardons after Jan. 6, which was revealed at a committee hearing this week.

Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential library, Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney called Trump ​​”a domestic threat that we have never faced before.”

And reconciliation remains alive — as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., works with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, NBC’s Sahil Kapur reports.