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The gender gap in American politics is only getting bigger

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.
Truck Convoy Rally At Maryland Raceway
People place their hands over their hearts while singing the National Anthem during a rally at the speedway in Hagerstown, Md., on March 5, 2022 in support of a truck convoy against vaccination and mask mandates related to Covid-19.Bryan Olin Dozier / NurPhoto via AP

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday ... Ukraine’s Zelenskyy addresses the U.N. Security Council. ... President Biden, Vice President Harris and Barack Obama speak on the Affordable Care Act at the White House. ... Ketanji Brown Jackson is on track to be confirmed with 53 Senate votes. ... John Fetterman announces raising $3.1 million for quarter in Pennsylvania Senate. ... NBC’s Benjy Sarlin breaks down the IPCC climate report. ... And California voters go to the polls in the special election to replace former Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

But first: The gender gap in American politics is growing and growing and growing.

Even after the Trump years.

Just look at the numbers from our NBC News poll.

In our combined 2010 polls, Republicans held a 9-point advantage among men in congressional preference, and Democrats held a 7-point edge among women, producing a 16-point gender gap.

In our combined 2018 polls — during Donald Trump one midterm election – the gender gap expanded to 25 points, with Republicans up by 4 points among men, and Democrats ahead among women by 21 points.

And in our combined polls of 2022 so far, the gender gap has now jumped to 33 points, with Republicans holding an 18-point advantage among men, and Democrats a 15-point edge among women.

Educational polarization has helped grow this gender gap.

In 2010, Republicans enjoyed an 8-point lead among men without college degrees; it’s now 20 points. (By comparison, the GOP had a 13-point lead among men with college degrees; it’s now 10 points.)

Also in 2010, Democrats had a 10-point lead among women with college degrees; it’s now ballooned to 38 points. (By comparison, Democrats were up by just 3 points among women without college degrees; and it’s now 1 point.)

And that educational polarization has produced this reality: The swing voting blocs in our current politics are men with college degrees and women without them.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 12

That’s how many high-profile GOP incumbents are facing Trump-backed primary challenges in races that will test the former president’s power in the Republican Party, NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard reports. The figure includes Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and nine GOP House members.

Hillyard sat down with two of those House members facing primary challengers endorsed by Trump: South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, who both voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol.

“It doesn't even have to do with Republican ideals. Trump demands absolute loyalty,” Rice told Hillyard. “That's what he's about.”

Other numbers you need to know today:

$3.1 million: That’s how much Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman raised during the first fundraising quarter of 2022 for the Pennsylvania Senate race, bringing his total haul to $15 million, per a press release.

$2.5 million: How much the Florida Democratic Party is spending on a voter registration drive aimed at Latino voters, whom Democrats are trying to win back, per Politico.

80,395,229: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials.

987,998: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far.

Midterm roundup: Today’s not-so-special election

Voters head to the polls today in California's 22nd District for the low-profile special election to replace former GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, who resigned to run Trump’s social media company. The eventual winner will only serve for a short time — as Nunes’ district was broken up in redistricting.

The race features four Republicans and two Democrats, per the Los Angeles Times. Three candidates are running for a full term in the new 21st District. Candidates from all parties compete on the same ballot for the special election. If no one wins a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters advance to a special election on June 7.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Nevada Senate: Army veteran Sam Brown launched his first statewide TV ad with a 30-second bio spot in his GOP primary race against former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who has Trump’s endorsement.

Ohio Senate: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, endorsed former Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel in the GOP Senate primary.

Georgia 07: Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath released her first TV ad ahead of the May 24 primary, where she faces fellow Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bordeaux in this newly drawn district. The ad focuses on how her son’s murder prompted McBath to pursue public service.

Nebraska 01 special: The special election to replace former Nebraska GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned after he was convicted of lying to the FBI, has been set for June 28, per the Omaha World Herald.

Texas 34 special: There’s another special election in June for Texas’ 34th District, per the Texas Tribune, where voters will head to the polls on June 14 to replace former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela, who resigned to join a lobbying firm.

And Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday that he would approve the state’s new congressional map after a court order had sent Democratic legislative leaders back to the drawing board. After Maryland’s map is finalized, there will be four states — New York, Ohio, Kansas and Florida — who have yet to finish the redistricting mandated after the 2020 census.

Ad watch: Irvin hits back

In a new ad out yesterday, Aurora, Ill., Mayor Richard Irvin hit back against the Democratic Governors Association for running an ad critical of his past as a defense attorney. Irvin is running for the Republican nomination for governor of Illinois.

In the ad, a news anchor says Republicans accused Democrats of “meddling” in the GOP primary and a narrator agrees, “it sure is [meddling].” At the end, the narrator adds, “The next time you see [Gov. J.B.] Pritzker smearing Richard Irvin, don't fall for it.”

So far, Irvin has spent almost $8.5 million on ads in the primary, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm.

Talking policy with Benjy: We have work to do on climate

The IPCC, the international group of scientists tracking climate change, released its latest report on Monday, which outlined steps the world can take to head off its worst effects.

As NBC News’ Evan Bush noted in his writeup, the report contained good news and bad news. One handy chart even listed a variety of hopeful “signs of progress,” along with “continuing challenges” to temper any optimism right next to it.

For example, the best news might be that the technology and business around renewable energy has progressed rapidly, with costs of solar panels dropping 85 percent in a decade, and electric vehicle production taking off. The bad news is that it’s still not happening fast enough – and emissions are ticking back up globally after falling during the pandemic. Even in a best-case scenario, the world is unlikely to keep warming below its original goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“We are at a crossroads. This is the time for action. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming and secure a livable future” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said at a news conference announcing the report.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Senate leaders announced they reached a consensus on over $10 billion of Covid funding, which doesn’t include global vaccination funding.

NBC’s Scott Wong delves into how House Democrats facing tough re-election fights are trying to combat negative perceptions of the economy.

And New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu said he was just joking when he made light of Donald Trump’s mental fitness at last weekend’s Gridiron Dinner.