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NBC News poll finds Trump’s pull within GOP increasing after FBI search

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.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 26, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 26, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.Joe Raedle / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — If it’s THURSDAY… Reactions pour in to President Biden’s action to cancel some student-loan debt… Biden heads to Montgomery County, Md., for an afternoon DNC fundraiser and then a DNC rally… Cook Political Report revises down House GOP pick-up estimate from 15-30 seats to 10-20 after Dems’ NY-19 win… And Dan Goldman continues to lead NY-10 Dem primary, but NBC News still characterizes the race as too close to call.

But FIRST… Former President Donald Trump’s pull over his party has gotten stronger since the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago.

And we have the numbers to show it from our latest NBC News poll

Forty-one percent of Republicans in the poll say they identify more with Trump than the party, and that’s up 7 points since our previous poll in May. 

That’s compared with 50% who identify more with the party than Trump — down 8 points from last spring. 

Yet while the Trump-first side has grown, the larger two-year trend after Jan. 6 remains pretty clear: For the seventh-straight NBC News poll, half or more Republicans identify more with the party than the former president. 

Now we don’t know if our poll is a one-time snapback after the big Mar-a-Lago search. Or if it’s the beginning of a new trend (with increased Trump scrutiny destined to be in the news over the next few months). 

But to show you Trump’s long shadow over the GOP — whether you’re a Trump-first Republican or a party-first Republican — just look at this remark from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about Dr. Anthony Fauci to see how non-Trump GOPers have adopted the former president’s style. 

And have no qualms targeting institutions and officials to score points.  

“I’m just sick of seeing him! I know he says he’s gonna retire—someone needs to grab that little elf and chuck him across the Potomac,” DeSantis said. 

Tweet of the Day

Data Download: The number of the day is ... 43 million

That’s how many borrowers the White House estimates will benefit from its student loan forgiveness plan announced Wednesday. 

President Biden announced on Wednesday that he plans to cancel $10,000 in federal student loans for borrowers who make less than $125,000 a year (or for couples who make less than $250,000 combined). Biden also announced that Pell Grant recipients will be eligible for an additional $10,000 in loan forgiveness. 

In addition to the debt cancellation announcement, Biden also said the pause on federal student loan payments, which began due to the Covid pandemic, will be extended for a final time through Dec. 31. 

Other numbers to know

3: How many U.S. service members were injured in rocket attacks in Syria. 

$342,000: The pension benefits former President Donald Trump has received since leaving office, NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell reports.

25 years old: That’s the age of Maxwell Frost, who won Florida’s 10th District Democratic primary this week and is on track to be among the first Generation Z members of Congress.

$1 million: How much the GOP super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund is spending on ad buys criticizing Democratic Reps. Elaine Luria and Kim Schrier

92: How many days after the tragic mass shooting at an Uvalde, Texas elementary school that the city’s school board decided to fire the district’s police chief.

70%: The share of new registered voters in Kansas in the week after the Supreme Court overruled Roe vs. Wade that were women, per a New York Times analysis

Midterm roundup: Swing-seat Dems lukewarm on Biden’s student loan move

While many Democrats cheered Biden’s student loan relief decision, the reviews have been more mixed among those facing tough elections in the fall.  

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet said in a statement the program should have been “further targeted” and paid for; Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said her disagreement lied with the fact it “doesn’t address the root problems that make college unaffordable”; and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan echoed a similar point — that the move “sends the wrong message to millions of Ohioans without a degree working just as hard to make ends meet.” 

That wasn’t the sentiment from all swing-seat Democrats — some were more supportive, like New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, who called the plan a “balanced compromise approach,” and Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock said the plan “will provide long-term benefits for hardworking Georgians of all ages, as well as our economy.” 

It’s a reminder that what may be good politics for President Biden may not always be good politics for his swing-seat allies, particularly as they look to parry attacks the party contributed to a rise in inflation. 

But it’s also worth noting that the disagreement here may give some Democrats a relatively low-stakes opening to break with their party in the hopes of touting their independence.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail…

Pennsylvania Senate: New emails released by the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis show Republican television doctor Mehmet Oz emailing top Trump administration officials at the start of the pandemic boosting hydroxychloroquine as a Covid treatment

Washington Senate: Republican Tiffany Smiley is launching a new TV buy Thursday, spending $648,000 on the airwaves, per AdImpact. 

Texas governor: Democrat Beto O’Rourke is out with his first two television ads, both on abortion. One warns that “women across Texas are no longer free to make decisions about our own bodies,” while the other features a supposed Republican voter saying “this is a free country, we need a governor who gets that.” 

Colorado 8th District:  National Journal delves into the race for Colorado’s new battleground House district

Montana 1st District : The Interior Department’s inspector general wrote in a report released Wednesday that former Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the GOP nominee in Montana’s new 1st District, “knowingly provided incorrect, incomplete, and misleading answers” to investigators probing a decision to block a Native American casino. 

Pennsylvania 10th District: GOP Rep. Scott Perry sued the Justice Department, demanding the Justice Department return the data from his personal cell phone that the FBI seized earlier this month. 

Virginia 7th District: Vulnerable Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger is hitting the airwaves Friday, spending $289,000 on a new TV ad buy starting Friday and running through Sept. 5, per AdImpact. 

Ad watch: A break from the ‘Veggie Wars

Republican Mehmet Oz highlights his career as a heart surgeon in a new ad, telling viewers, “Doctors fix big things. I fixed hearts and fought for every last one.”

The Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee released the ad amidst an online spat with his opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, which started after a video resurfaced of Oz gathering ingredients to make a crudité for his wife.

The new ad attacks Fetterman, saying, “Radical John Fetterman spent a career in politics, making things worse,” but the rhetoric is toned down compared to a statement his campaign gave Insider earlier this week blaming Fetterman’s May stroke on his lack of vegetable consumption.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

A federal judge temporarily blocked Idaho’s abortion ban from taking effect.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel asked major GOP donors to invest more money in Senate races, Politico reports.

Biden appointed a new Secret Service director.