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Political upheaval persists on both sides of the Atlantic

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: Prime Minister Liz Truss Attends The United Nations General Assembly
British Prime Minister Liz Truss meets with President Biden on Sept. 21, 2022 in New York City. Stefan Rousseau / WPA Pool via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Friday ... The fallout continues from Liz Truss’ resignation as British prime minister. ... NBC’s Peter Nicholas, Carol E. Lee and Mike Memoli look at First Lady Jill Biden’s unparalleled influence and impact on her husband. ... 79% of voters say the economy will be “very important” to their voting decisions, per Pew poll. ... NBC’s Garrett Haake interviews Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and GOP challenger Adam Laxalt in Nevada Senate. ... Early voting begins in Nevada on Saturday. … And Donald Trump holds a rally in South Texas tomorrow.  

But first: Six years later, Britain and the United States still haven’t recovered — politically — from two events that were just months apart.  

Britain’s vote to exit the European Union (in June of 2016) and Donald Trump’s presidential victory (in November 2016). 

After Liz Truss’ resignation on Thursday, Britain is on the cusp of its fifth prime minister in six years since that Brexit vote. The governing Conservative Party — after scandal, sky-high inflation and its panned economic plan — is in shambles. And the opposition Labour Party, while now leading in the polls, has been a loser at the ballot box.  

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Meanwhile, this is the political situation in the United States: After losing the popular vote by 7 million votes, Donald Trump still hasn’t conceded he lost the 2020 election; nearly 300 GOP nominees for House/Senate/Gov/Secretary of State have cast doubt on the 2020 election; and the Democratic Party — after sky-high inflation, an unpopular president, and an inability to compete in Rural America — is on the cusp of losing at least one chamber of Congress next month.  

What Britain and the United States also share is that they’re locked in urban-versus-rural political trench warfare, highlighted by deep disagreements over economics, culture and immigration. 

Yet as unstable as the United States feels right now, its presidential, two-party system allows for more stability in unstable times. 

Otherwise, think of how many different prime ministers we’d have over the last six years if we had a parliamentary system. 

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 272

That’s at least how many GOP nominees for Senate, governor, Secretary of State and the House who have denied or actively questioned the legitimacy of President Biden’s election, per an NBC News analysis.

That figure includes 52% of House GOP nominees — 227 out 419 House nominees (since some races do not feature a Republican candidate and Louisiana’s primary is in November). The figure also includes 18 gubernatorial nominees, 17 Senate nominees and 10 Republican nominees for Secretary of State. 

The prevalence of GOP standard-bearers who have denied or actively cast doubt on Biden’s 2020 victory underscores how former President Donald Trump’s lies about the last election have taken hold of the party, fueling a battle over election integrity. For more on how that battle is playing out, don’t miss the latest episode of Meet the Press Reports. 

Other numbers to know:

79%: The share of registered voters in a new Pew survey who said the economy will be “very important” to their voting decisions. 

$50 billion: The potential cost of a new Ukraine aid package lawmakers in both parties are considering amid concerns a GOP-led Congress might be hesitant to provide more aid to the country, NBC News’ Dan De Luce, Julie Tsirkin and Scott Wong report.

$34 million: How much money the Justice Department says it needs for its Jan. 6 investigation, NBC News’ Sahil Kapur and Ryan J. Reilly report.

90 years old: The age of Daniel Smith, “one of the last remaining children of enslaved Black Americans,” who died on Wednesday per the Washington Post. 

57: How many times more Democratic secretary of state candidates are spending on TV ads than Republican candidates this cycle, per the New York Times, as the Democrats continue to struggle to break out in races where GOP nominees have denied or cast doubt on elections.

Nearly 75%: How much of Twitter’s workforce billionaire Elon Musk has said he’d cut if his deal to buy the company goes through, according to the Post.  

Midterm roundup: Laxalt tries to keep focus on Biden

President Joe Biden may have joined Democrat John Fetterman on the trail in Pennsylvania Thursday, but a trip to Nevada on the same day shows the clear limits Democrats have when using Biden as an ally on the trail. 

NBC News’ Garrett Haake and Frank Thorp swung through Nevada and spoke with both Senate candidates there — Republican nominee Adam Laxalt and Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto — and a clear theme emerged. Laxalt’s the one who wants to be talking about Biden, not the Democrat. 

“She never breaks from her party,” Laxalt said of Cortez Masto. “People are really upset with Joe Biden.”

When asked about Biden, Cortez Masto told Haake “my priority has always just been Nevadans first and foremost.” Pressed twice to discuss the president, the Democrat never mentioned his name.

“​​I can tell you what I hear from Nevadans, and that’s my priority. And it’s not what you just asked me. It is about everyday issues, kitchen table issues,” she said. 

The dynamic typifies how both parties are trying to win control of the Senate when the dust settles on November: Republicans by going through Biden, and Democrats by going around him. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Georgia Senate: The New York Times explores Republican Herschel Walker’s claims that he has “overcome” his struggles with dissociative identity disorder. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock released his first TV ad referencing the allegations that Walker paid for an abortion for an ex-girlfriend, while Walker and the NRSC are up with a new spot that links Biden and Warnock and says they are “radically changing America” with things like “driving us into recession” and “teaching our kids to hate America.” 

Nevada Senate: Senate Leadership Fund added another $2.1 million to their TV buys in the race, per AdImpact. 

Pennsylvania Senate: President Joe Biden addressed donors at a fundraiser for John Fetterman, saying, “The rest of the world is looking to this election,” per the Philadelphia Inquirer. And the Associated Press delves into how Republican Mehmet Oz “may have made his reputation as a surgeon. But he made a fortune as a salesman.”

Utah Senate: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., hit the campaign trail on Thursday with independent Evan McMullin, who is running against GOP Sen. Mike Lee. Kinzinger knocked Lee’s penchant for carrying a small copy of the Constitution saying, “I wouldn’t be able to find fake electors in that pocket Constitution,” per the Deseret News.  

Pennsylvania Governor:  Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro is leaning into his Jewish faith in his run for governor as he also tries to paint his opponent, GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano, as extreme, per the Washington Post. Mastriano, meanwhile, released a new TV ad Thursday that covers a range of issues and promises, “We can restore freedom.” 

Ad watch: A “poster child for term limits”

In a new ad, Republican nominee for Congress J.R. Majewski attacks his opponent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, for being too close to President Joe Biden.

“Marcy has been lying to us for 40 years. In district, she’s a moderate. But when she’s in D. C., she votes with Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi every time,” he says in the ad. He adds, “Marcy Kaptur is the poster child for term limits.”

Majewski and Kaptur are locked in a tight race, but one where Democrats appear to have gained momentum. After the Associated Press reported he misrepresented his military service last month (Majewski denies that), national Republicans cut their ad investment in the race. Kaptur had been hitting Majewski for months over his presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (although Majewski claims he did nothing wrong).  

This is the Republican’s second direct-to-camera ad where he uses national Republican talking points and tries to rehabilitate his image from an extreme conspiracy theorist to a mainstream candidate.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., must testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating possible election interference, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

NBC News’ Peter Nicholas, Carol Lee and Mike Memoli sat down for an exclusive interview with First Lady Jill Biden to discuss her family’s future and whether President Biden should run again.