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Fewer Americans now say Trump is responsible for Jan. 6, NBC News poll finds

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.

WASHINGTON — If it’s Monday ... Mass shootings across the country leave at least 12 dead over the weekend. ... It’s officially the surgeon (Mehmet Oz) vs. the patient (John Fetterman) in Pennsylvania Senate, per NBC’s Dasha Burns and Abigail Brooks. ... The next round of 2022 primaries is just a day away. ... A New UC Berkeley poll shows Karen Bass and Rick Caruso are headed to a likely runoff in LA mayoral race. ... And meet “Meet the Press NOW” (which begins streaming weekdays at 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC News Now), and also meet our brand-new look for First Read. 

But first: It appears the House’s Jan. 6 committee has some work to do with the American public as it begins a new round of public hearings this week on its findings.

Just 45 percent of Americans say Donald Trump is “solely” or “mainly” responsible for the rioters who overtook the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack, versus a combined 55 percent who say the former president is only somewhat responsible or not really responsible, according to results from the latest NBC News poll.

NBC News Poll
NBC News Poll

That’s a shift from the Jan. 2021 NBC poll — taken days after the attack — when 52 percent said Trump was either solely or mainly responsible, compared with 47 percent who disagreed. 

The erosion in those holding Trump responsible for the attack has come across the board — among Democrats (who declined from 91 percent responsible in Jan. 2021 to 87 percent now), Republicans (11 percent to 9 percent) and independents (44 percent to 41 percent). 

The takeaway from our poll: Time has been on Trump’s side. The question is whether the upcoming hearings can return public opinion to where it was in early 2021. 

Or close to it. 

These new poll results come from last month’s NBC News survey, which was conducted May 5-7, 9-10, and which have a margin of error of plus-minus 4.38 percentage points. They were saved to coincide with this week’s long-planned public hearings. 

Presenting Meet the Press NOW

Watch the premiere of "Meet the Press NOW" at 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC News Now. NBC’s Chuck Todd will interview Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. 

Data Download: The number of the day is … 17

That’s how many days it took to figure out the GOP Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, with former hedge fund manager David McCormick conceding to celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz on Friday. 

Despite the razor-thin margin, Oz’s victory demonstrates Trump’s enduring influence, NBC News’ Dasha Burns and Abigail Brooks report. For months, voters they spoke with remained undecided and expressed skepticism and resistance to Oz, even after Trump’s endorsement. But in the end, the majority of voters they checked in with after primary day ultimately went for Oz. They all cited trust in Trump as the final determining factor.

That wasn’t the only bombshell that came from the race on Friday. In an afternoon news dump, the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, delivered a stunning admission that he almost died from a stroke last month, which came after years of ignoring medical advice. The more candid assessment came as some Democrats began to worry about both Fetterman’s health, and the lack of transparency around his stroke. 

Now, one of the most important races in the country is between a surgeon (Oz) and a patient (Fetterman). 

Other numbers you need to know

18: The number of states (plus Puerto Rico and Democrats abroad) that have applied to host an early Democratic presidential primary, per NBC News’ Natasha Korecki.

$4.7 million: That’s the amount businessman Perry Johnson spent on ads before he was disqualified from the GOP primary for Michigan governor failing to submit enough valid petition signatures. On Friday, a state judge denied Johnson and others’ appeals to get back onto the ballot.

$21.4 million: That’s how much airtime the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure arm has reserved in its first ad buy of the midterms, reserving time across 13 different media markets. 

37 percent: The share of Black voters surveyed in a Washington Post-Ipsos poll who said Biden has not kept most of his campaign promises. 

6 points: California Democratic Rep. Karen Bass’ lead over billionaire Rick Caruso in the new LA Times/Berkley poll in the Los Angeles mayoral race. 

10: The number of new endorsements former President Trump announced this weekend, including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (for his re-election). 

Midterm roundup: Golden State warriors

California will be a top battleground for Republicans looking to take back the House — the Cook Political Report rates 10 Golden State House seats as competitive. But first, Republicans need to make sure their preferred candidates survive tomorrow’s primaries.  

California has a Top 2 primary system, meaning all candidates compete on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the ballot in November. 

That system causes both parties heartburn, and it’s led to some last-minute spending to bolster two GOP incumbents in competitive districts. Democrats have meddled in the 22nd District in the Central Valley, launching an ad boosting a Republican Chris Mathys against incumbent GOP Rep. David Valadao (who voted to impeach Trump after Jan. 6). The GOP super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund launched an ad attacking Mathys on Friday. 

CLF is also engaged in the 40th District in Southern California to bolster incumbent GOP Rep. Young Kim, whose campaign is also spending on the airwaves. That district presents a similar math problem where multiple GOP candidates could split the Republican vote. 

The question for these California Republicans is: Will it be enough to keep them from wiping out? 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail: 

Arizona Senate: The Washington Examiner reports that a new ad from Republican Jim Lamon attacks venture capitalist Blake Masters, who was just endorsed by former President Trump, arguing that in an old writing he “extensively quoted an anti-semite who believes Jews and Zionists are bent on world domination.” 

Nevada Senate: Senate hopeful Adam Laxalt, the state’s former attorney general, released a TV ad featuring Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of the June 14 primary. 

Maryland Governor: A new poll from the Baltimore Sun has State Comptroller Peter Franchot leading the field in the crowded Democratic primary for governor at 20 percent among likely voters, with author and former non-profit leader Wes Moore at 15 percent and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez at 12. Almost a third of those polled were still undecided. 

New York-23: Rep. Chris Jacobs, R-N.Y., announced Friday he would not run for re-election after backing gun control positions following a mass shooting in Buffalo. “If you stray from a party position, you are annihilated,” Jacobs said. Former GOP gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino announced he’d run for the seat and has the backing of House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik

New York-19/New York-23: The special elections to replace former Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado (now New York’s lieutenant governor) and former GOP Rep. Tom Reed (who resigned to join a lobbying firm) have been set for Aug. 23, the same day as the state’s congressional primaries.

Hawaii-02: EMILY’s List took sides in the open seat race for Hawaii’s 2nd District, backing former Democratic state Sen. Jill Tokuda. 

L.A. Mayoral Race: Democratic Rep. Karen Bass and developer Rick Caruso appear to be the candidates most likely to head to a runoff, per a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

Ad watch: Laura Kelly under fire

The Republican Governors Association is out with a new ad attacking Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, for her “liberal agenda.”  

A narrator in the ad says. “Laura Kelly is taking Kansas down the wrong road,” and criticizes her on welfare, the issue of transgender students playing sports and tax cuts. 

As an alternative, the ad boosts state Attorney General Derek Schmidt. The narrator says, “He’s working to keep Kelly’s liberal agenda out of our schools and sports. He’s standing up to Biden, protecting families from rising crime and gas prices.”

This is not the first race the RGA, a national group, has funded ads in. They’ve also run ads boosting Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp over Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, and they’ve funded commercials in New Mexico attacking incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham. 

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Biden postponed a trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel that was planned for later this month, instead planning a broader Middle East trip in July. 

A gunman who shot and killed a retired Wisconsin judge also had a hit list that included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The Washington Post reports on how the White House lost West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin in the quest for a reconciliation bill.