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Enthusiasm for upcoming midterms is at all-time high, NBC News poll shows

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: Voters casting ballots for Republican primary election
Voters cast their ballots in the Republican primary election in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Aug. 16, 2022.Thomas Peipert / AP file

WASHINGTON — If it’s Thursday ... A federal appeals court rules the Justice Department can resume using classified documents seized from Trump. ... The New York Attorney General sues Trump and three of his children, alleging business fraud. ... The House Jan. 6 committee  reaches agreement with Ginni Thomas for an upcoming interview. ... The House passes bill to reform Electoral Count Act. ... Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams tells NBC’s Blayne Alexander about Georgia’s importance in November. ... And Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has a new campaign ad touting efforts to lower prescription drug costs.

But first: Are you ready for record midterm turnout in November? 

Our most recent NBC News poll found 64% of voters saying they have high interest in the upcoming midterms, registering either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale of interest.

And that’s higher at this same point in time than our poll showed for any other midterm, including 2018 — which shattered a turnout record for a midterm.  

Here’s our poll, going back to 2006, on those expressing high interest two months before the midterm:

  • Sept. 2006: 55%
  • Aug/Sept. 2010: 53%
  • Sept. 2014: 51%
  • Sept. 2018: 58%
  • Sept. 2022: 64% 

Here was the eventual turnout in these elections (total votes for U.S. House): 

  • 2006: 81 million (40% of voting eligible population)
  • 2010: 87 million (41%)
  • 2014: 79 million (37%)
  • 2018: 114 million (50%)
  • 2022: ??? 

By the way, note that the 64% high interest in our most recent poll isn’t too far off from where our poll has had high interest two months before a presidential contest: 

  • Sept. 2004: 78%
  • Sept. 2008: 78%
  • Sept. 2012: 72%
  • Sept. 2016: 68%
  • Sept. 2020: 80%

And here’s the corresponding presidential turnout: 

  • 2004: 122 million (60% of voting eligible population)
  • 2008: 131 million (62%)
  • 2012: 129 million (59%)
  • 2016: 137 million (60%)
  • 2020: 159 million (67%

So it’s entirely possible that turnout this November could rival the raw votes we saw in the presidential year of 2004.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 9

That’s how many House Republicans sided with Democrats in supporting a bill amending the Electoral Count Act  in an attempt to block future efforts to overturn presidential elections.

None of the nine Republicans will be on the ballot in November. Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Tom Rice of South Carolina and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, all lost their primaries to Trump-backed challengers after voting to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

Four other Republicans who impeached Trump and are retiring also supported the bill: Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, John Katko of New York, Fred Upton of Michigan and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio. New York Rep. Chris Jacobs was the lone GOP “yes” vote who did not vote to impeach Trump. Jacobs is also retiring after clashing with members of his party over his support for gun control measures following a mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., which is near Jacobs’ district. 

Two Republicans who voted to impeach Trump but won their primaries — David Valadao of California and Dan Newhouse of Washington — opposed the bill. 

Other numbers to know:

75: The number of basis points by which the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in an attempt to cool inflation. The federal funds rate is now higher than it’s been since 2008, per CNBC

51%: The share of U.S. adults who strongly or somewhat supported increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court, per a new Marquette Law School poll. 

$3 million: The amount in legal funds National Republican Senatorial Committee has reportedly spent on media costs, which is the subject of a Federal Election Commission complaint, per the New York Times.

$125,000: How much the Democratic super PAC House Majority PAC gave to Democrats Serve, another Democratic group that meddled in the NH-2 GOP primary, per Politico. 

Almost 25 million: How many people in the continental United States “were affected by dangerous smoke” in 2020, per a New York Times project on wildfire smoke’s air pollution. 

Midterm roundup: Georgia’s on her mind

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams sat down with NBC News’ Blayne Alexander for a new interview, in which she underscored the importance Georgia will play up and down the ballot in November.

“Georgia is essential. We know that Raphael Warnock is going to be essential to holding the Senate. We know that Sanford Bishop’s race down in the 2nd District can be part of the puzzle to holding the House,” she said.

“For women in particular, Georgia is going to be vital, because every single state in the South has been on a rampage to make abortion difficult, if not impossible, to get, and having me elected as governor can change the future for women in the state and in this region.”

Despite Democratic inroads in the state in recent years, most notably their success in the 2021 Senate runoffs, new polling shows Abrams struggling to close the gap with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Warnock locked in an extremely tight race against Republican Herschel Walker.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Florida Senate: Democratic Rep. Val Demings will not attend Biden’s rally next week with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, NBC News’ Marc Caputo and Natasha Korecki report. Democratic Rep. Val Demings authored one of the bills that’s included in a policing and public safety package that the House is voting on this week. Demings has made her background in law enforcement central to her campaign. 

Georgia Senate:  The new Monmouth poll finds Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock with a higher favorability rating, 48% to 44%, than Republican Herschel Walker, who 42% of registered Georgia voters viewed favorably while 48% viewed him unfavorably. 

Pennsylvania Senate: A Philadelphia Inquirer analysis shows that Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman outspent Republican Mehmet Oz 38-to-1 on Facebook ads from mid-May through mid-September. On the campaign trail, Fetterman also announced that he’s campaigning on Saturday with Democratic Rep. Susan Wild, who is in a competitive re-election race. 

Nevada Senate: Club for Growth Action, a GOP-aligned group, booked $3.2 million in television ads over the next two weeks. 

Wisconsin Senate: Some Democrats are concerned that Republicans are outspending Democrats in Wisconsin’s Senate race, per HuffPost. 

California Governor: Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, placed his first ad buy of the general election, worth over $1 million, per AdImpact. 

Connecticut Governor: A new Quinnipiac poll of likely Connecticut voters finds they overwhelmingly back Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont over Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski, 57% — 40%.

Iowa-03: Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne voted by proxy for the Inflation Reduction Act, and Fox News reported that Axne was on a family trip to France at the time, per her son’s Instagram post. Fox says Axne did not respond to its request for comment. 

Michigan-03: Republican John Gibbs wrote sexist comments on the website of a “think tank” he founded while at Stanford University, including that “the United States has suffered as a result of women’s suffrage,” CNN reports. Gibbs’ spokesperson dismissed the website as “nothing more than a college kid being over the top.”

New Hampshire-01: Republican Karoline Leavitt is up with a new spot focused solely on inflation, as Democrats try to hit her for being too close to Trump. The inflation focus matches the theme of a new Congressional Leadership Fund ad in the district

New York-22: Democrat Francis Conole is up with a new spot that highlights his military service and criticizes “both parties [for] putting corporate greed ahead of people.” 

Ohio-09: The Associated Press reports that while Republican J.R. Majewski has said he served in Afghanistan as a combat veteran after 9/11, military records do not show him deployed to the country or in a combat zone. 

Ad watch: Murray launches new ad on drug costs

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is touting her efforts to lower prescription drug costs in the latest TV ad of her re-election campaign. 

The 30-second ad, shared first with NBC News, will begin airing in the Spokane media market, with plans to expand the ad to other parts of the state as part of a six-figure ad buy, per Murray’s campaign.

The ad features a senior couple, describing how they’ve struggled to afford their medications as the husband has diabetes.

“Thankfully, we have Patty Murray fighting for us in the U.S. Senate. She kept at it ‘til Congress finally lowered the cost of prescription drugs and capped insulin for seniors at $35 dollars a month,” they said in the ad, referencing a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act, which promises to lower drug prices, particularly for people on Medicare.

Read more about the ad on the Meet the Press Blog.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

An appeals court sided with the Justice Department late Wednesday, lifting a hold that barred them from using classified documents recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.

In a speech in front of the U.N. General Assembly, Biden accused Russia of “shamelessly” violating U.N. principles when they invaded Ukraine earlier this year.