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DeSantis’ GOP support declining in new NBC 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.
WILDWOOD, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - JUNE 6: Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis listens to a speaker during a press conference during which he signed a bill to protect the digital rights of Floridians, on June 6, 2023 in Wildwood, Florida. Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Wildwood, Fla., on June 6, 2023.Paul Hennessy / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images file

If it’s MONDAY… Russia’s mercenary rebels back down, but Vladimir Putin’s rule appears more uncertain than ever… President Biden makes announcement on nation’s high-speed internet infrastructure at 11:45 am ET… Prosecutors ask to delay Donald Trump’s classified documents trial until December… And Ron DeSantis, in Texas, releases his plan to secure the border, per NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez and Bianca Seward.

But FIRST… Yes, the headline from our new NBC News poll is how former President Donald Trump has increased his lead in the national GOP horserace since his federal indictment in the classified documents probe.  

Yet the other crucial part of the equation is how Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ standing has declined in that same time. 

In our new poll, Trump gets support from 51% of Republican primary voters, while DeSantis gets 22% -- followed by former Vice President Mike Pence at 7%, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 5% and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at 4%. 

But back in April (after Trump’s first indictment in that alleged hush-money case), the former president’s lead over DeSantis was half its current size — Trump 46%, DeSantis 31%, Pence 6%.  

Bottom line: Trump’s percentage has gone up 5 points since April; DeSantis’ percentage has gone down 9 points. 

And when the NBC News poll reduces the GOP contest to a two-person contest between Trump and DeSantis, the former president is at 60%, while the Florida governor is at 36%. 

In that two-way matchup, Trump overperforms among “very conservative” GOP voters, those without college degrees and Republicans 65 and older. DeSantis, meanwhile, overperforms among “moderate/liberal” Republicans, those with college degrees and those ages 18-49.  

Ask yourself: Which GOP electorate would you rather have? The very conservative/non-college voters? Or the moderate/liberal/college-educated crowd? 

Now there is some positive news for DeSantis in the poll. His fav/unfav rating among Republican primary voters is high (60%-17% vs. Trump’s 65%-23%); he gets the most “second-choice” support on the GOP ballot; and he outperforms Trump in a hypothetical general election against Biden. 

Maybe most important of all for DeSantis (and Trump’s other GOP rivals) is that the Republican Party IS divided, our poll shows — 49% want Trump as the GOP’s leader, 21% want to consider other leaders (though they believe Trump was a good president) and 29% want a new leader with better behavior and a different approach. 

It’s just that 49% is a big number in a multi-candidate field.

Headline of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 32% 

That’s the share of registered voters in a new NBC News poll who say they have a positive view of Vice President Kamala Harris. That’s compared with 49% who have a negative view of her, including 39% who have a “very negative” view. 

Harris’ net-negative rating (-17) is the lowest for any vice president in the poll’s history. 

In Oct. 2019, then-Vice President Mike Pence had a 34% positive, 38% negative rating (-4).  

In Dec. 2010, Joe Biden’s rating was 34% positive, 33% negative (+1).

In May 2003, Dick Cheney was at 47% positive, 24% negative (+23).  

And in March of 1995, Al Gore’s rating in the poll was 42% positive, 27% negative (+15). 

Other numbers to know:

26%: The portion of Florida’s labor force made up by immigrants, many of whom are fleeing the state ahead of July, when an immigration law restricting undocumented workers will take effect. 

10%: The share of former President Donald Trump’s campaign donations that are being diverted to his political action committee, which he’s used for expenses like personal legal fees, the New York Times reports.

Less than 60: The number of hours of debate that have been held on the Senate floor so far this session, down from 440 hours that had been dedicated to debate in the first half of 2017, the Washington Post reports.

114: The number of migrant households New York City Mayor Eric Adams helped resettle across the country and the globe between April 2022 and April 2023, Politico reports. 

4: The number of judicial confirmation votes Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., has missed while on the campaign trail, Axios writes. 

1: The number of people who died in severe tornadoes across the South and Midwest over the weekend.

Eyes on 2024: GOP hopefuls court Christian conservatives

Almost all of the top Republican presidential hopefuls gathered in the nation’s capital over the weekend for the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, a gathering of Christian conservatives, as the nation marked one year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.  

While abortion was a top discussion point at the confab, NBC News’ Matt Dixon reports that former President Donald Trump was the real star of the show. Dixon wrote that “none [of the other candidates] could compete with even the mere mentions of Trump’s name, which each time elicited vocal reaction from the crowd.” 

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the only candidate to directly target Trump, drawing boos from the crowd as he said Trump “let us down,” per NBC News’ Michael Mitsanas. 

“You can boo all you want,” Christie responded. “But here’s the thing, our faith teaches us that people have to take responsibility for what they do. People have to stand up and take accountability for what they do.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s chief rival for the GOP nod, did not mention the former president by name, but took veiled shots at Trump. DeSantis once again vowed to appoint justices to the Supreme Court “in the mold of justices Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito,” after previously criticizing Trump’s appointees, per NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez and Ali Vitali. 

In other campaign news … 

Back to December? Prosecutors have asked that the trial in the case involving Trump’s handling of classified documents be delayed until December so the defense attorneys can get security clearances. 

Pardon? Each of the GOP presidential candidates has been asked if he or she would pardon Trump if they are elected president. NBC News’ Amanda Terkel and JoElla Carman break down where they stand.  

Trump returns: Trump visited Michigan on Sunday to address the Oakland County GOP, his first visit to the battleground state since launching his third run for president. The Associated Press delves into Trump’s primary strategy there and his impact on the Wolverine State. 

Supercharging campaigns: Politico dives into the role that super PACs are playing in the presidential race so far, including the expansion of field operations and fundraising, which “could test the legal limits on coordination between campaigns and super PACs.”

MT-SEN: GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale has told fellow lawmakers that he plans to run for Senate in Montana, per Politico. And the AP reports that Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is taking campaign donations from lobbyists and executives, something he had previously used against an opponent.  

House battle: Democrats are confident that abortion will be a winning issue for their party up and down the ballot in 2024. But in the fight for the House, things could get complicated as many of their targeted districts are in states where abortion rights are protected.  

The threat of a second Trump term: Democrats in key battleground states are warning President Biden’s campaign and others not to underestimate Trump, who won the presidential contest against long odds before and could do it again, they tell NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard and Jonathan Allen.

Special twist: In Utah’s 2nd District, where GOP Rep. Chris Stewart is resigning later this year, GOP delegates chose Celeste Maloy, a former Stewart staffer, as their preferred candidate to replace him at their convention over the weekend. She will be the GOP nominee if no one else qualifies for the primary ballot. 

Jumping in: Delaware Democratic state Sen. Sarah McBride is running for Congress, according to Delaware Online/The News Journal, and would be the first transgender person in Congress if elected. 

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world 

The U.S. Coast Guard is launching an investigation into the submersible that imploded last week and killed five while on a dive to see the Titanic wreckage.

The U.S. intelligence community is divided on whether the origins of Covid-19 were natural or due to a laboratory event, a declassified federal government report says.

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that the federal government can set immigration enforcement priorities by focusing on public safety threats.