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Keeping tabs on the most popular – and unpopular – candidate positions in the NBC poll

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: Gas Prices Hit Record Highs In San Francisco Area
A customer pumps gas into their car at a gas station on May 18, 2022 in Petaluma, Calif.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

If it’s Friday… President Biden arrives in South Korea as he begins his presidential trip to Asia… Donald Trump gives up on David Perdue in GA-GOV, per NBC’s Marc Caputo, Allan Smith and Peter Nicholas… Perdue tells NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard: “We may not win Tuesday, but I can damn guarantee you that we are not down 30 points”… Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., stumps for Jessica Cisneros in TX-28… Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., raises money for Mandela Barnes in WI-SEN… Sarah Palin campaigns for Perdue in Savannah, Ga… And NBC’s Benjy Sarlin looks at whether price controls can fix the gas crisis.

But FIRST… Tackling inflation and high prices are among the most popular positions and qualities a 2022 candidate can have.

And the least popular are wanting the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, being endorsed by either President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump, and believing Trump won in 2020.

These are the findings from our combined March and May NBC News polls, which tested the popularity of more than two dozen different candidate positions or qualities heading into November's midterm elections.

(In March, the NBC News poll found funding the police was the most popular candidate position, while defunding the police was the most unpopular.)

The number in parenthesis below is the difference between all registered voters who are more likely or less likely to vote for such a candidate in the March and May polling:

Most popular candidate positions and qualities

  • (March) A candidate who supports funding the police and providing them the resources and training they need to protect our communities: 75% more likely, 11% less likely (+64)
  • (May) A candidate who wants to help control inflation by reducing federal government spending: 69% more likely, 14% less likely (+55)
  • (March) A candidate who supports expanding domestic oil and natural gas production to keep our gasoline and energy prices lower: 69% more likely, 17% less likely (+52)
  • (March) A candidate who supports the bipartisan infrastructure legislation that passed Congress last year that funds road and bridge construction and repairs: 63% more likely, 13% less likely (+50)
  • (May) A candidate who supports expanding clean energy production, like solar and wind projects: 62% more likely, 16% less likely (+46)
  • (March) A candidate who supports President Biden’s proposal to lower costs for health care and prescription drugs: 62% more likely, 16% less likely (+46)
  • (May) A candidate who wants to help control inflation by taxing large corporations that are making record profits: 64% more likely, 20% less likely (+44)

Least popular

  • (May) A candidate endorsed by Joe Biden: 29% more likely, 42% less likely (-13)
  • (March) A candidate endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: 22% more likely, 39% less likely (-17)
  • (May) A candidate endorsed by Donald Trump 29% more likely, 49% less likely (-20)
  • (May) A candidate who supports the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the Roe v Wade decision which says a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion: 26% more likely, 52% less likely (-26)
  • (March) A candidate endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene: 7% more likely, 34% less likely (-27)
  • (May) A candidate who says Donald Trump won the election for president in 2020: 19% more likely, 54% less likely (-35)
  • (March) A candidate who supports defunding the police: 17% more likely, 73% less likely (-56)

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is 14.

That’s the number of states that the Census says had a significant population miscount during the decennial count, the Census Bureau said Thursday.

The populations of Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas were all undercounted, while the populations of Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Utah were all overcounted.

This decade’s Census count faced a number of curveballs — including difficulties posed by the global pandemic, as well as a number of court and political battles over who should be counted and when that count should end.

Other numbers you need to know

$1.6 million: How much Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s campaign says it raised in the 24 hours after he won the party’s Senate nomination

20: The number of incumbent state legislators who lost (either re-election or bids for higher office) in Idaho, per The Hill’s reporting on the “conservative earthquake” there.

$40 billion: The amount of aid for Ukraine that passed the Senate on Thursday, a vote of 86-11.

$0: That’s how much money former Sen. David Perdue has in ad spending booked for the final week of his gubernatorial primary bid, per AdImpact.

Midterm roundup: It's up to you, New York

Newly released draft congressional maps in New York have set off a firestorm among Democrats on Capitol Hill, with Black legislators claiming on the record that the maps would dilute the power of minority voters and put some Black representatives in jeopardy.

What’s more — the map has created growing frustration with DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney, who announced his plans to run in the district currently represented by first-term Rep. Mondaire Jones, one of the first Black, openly gay members of Congress.

Democratic caucus chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. , has said the map “takes a sledgehammer to Black districts” and is “enough to make Jim Crow blush” in new ads.

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y. told NBC News’ Scott Wong and Sahil Kapur, “This special master and overseer is out of their minds. They don’t know anything about the city of New York. They have no clue about the connectedness of neighborhoods, about civil-rights-[protected] districts.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., says she thinks Maloney should resign if he runs against another member, while Rep. Jamaal Bowman argued that Maloney is abdicating his responsibility to help Democrats keep the House majority by deciding to change districts. Maloney has defended the decision by noting the new maps put his home in a new district.

The court-appointed “special master” who was selected to draw the new maps after courts ruled that the original Democratic-drawn maps were unconstitutional is expected to release the final draft of the maps today, after this week’s brief comment period.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail…

IL-GOV: At a meeting with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Republican candidates for governor piled on Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who has attacked other candidates in ads.

PA-GOV: As Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary heads to a likely recount, some Republicans worry that Doug Mastriano, a Trump-acolyte, could cost them the governor’s race in the fall, and that the intra-party divisions he stoked in Georgia could hurt the party there too.

MI-SoS: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told NBC News that she was told then-President Trump suggested she should be arrested for treason and executed. Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich told NBC Benson “knowingly lied throughout her interview with NBC News."

Ad watch: First out of the gate in MD-4

Democrat Glenn Ivey, the Prince George’s County state’s attorney, is out with the first ad in the race for Maryland’s only open seat in the state’s 4th congressional district.

His ad focuses on crime, leaning on his experience to argue he’s the best one to help keep people safe “Every time your kid leaves the house, you worry. Gun violence is out of control. We love our community. We raised our kids here, but we have to make it safer.”

He adds, “As your state’s attorney, I worked with President Obama's Justice Department to lower crime while cracking down on police misconduct.”

Ivey is running in a crowded field to replace Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., who is leaving Congress and running for attorney general in Maryland. The field includes former Rep. Donna Edwards, who represented this district from 2008 to 2017 and has already secured notable endorsements in this race, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Talking policy with Benjy: Can price controls fix the gas crisis?

With inflation stuck at 40-year highs and gas prices worsening, Democrats are seizing on an old idea to confront the problem: price controls.

The House passed a Democratic anti-”gouging” bill on Thursday that would allow President Biden to declare an “energy emergency” to block “unconscionably excessive” gas hikes. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. is promoting another bill that would empower the Federal Trade Commission and state officials to investigate and block large price increases related to the pandemic.

The bills feed into a broader debate over the role of corporate greed in recent price hikes, a focus of Democrats’ midterm message that polls suggest has some traction with voters, but is less popular with experts as an explanation for inflation.

None of these measures are going to become law this year, but some economists and commentators are unhappy that price controls are even being discussed, arguing it's a bad idea that distracts from more relevant inflation causes like excessive demand, labor shortages and supply disruptions.

“The reasons most economists are skeptical about widespread price controls is that they are concerned price controls will lead to shortages, panic buying, and scalping,” Christopher Conlon, an Assistant Professor of Economics at NYU Stern, told NBC News.

At the same time, some on the left argue they at least deserve a fresh look given strong corporate profits and the unique challenges of the pandemic and Ukraine war.

As critics note, though, it wouldn’t be the first time price controls have been tried. In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon instituted temporary freezes on wages and prices that were widely viewed as a failure when prices rose even faster later.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

The CDC has approved a Pfizer Covid booster vaccine for children between the ages of 5-11.

The Jan. 6 committee wants to hear from Georgia Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilkabout a tour he gave the day before the Capitol attack — the congressman responded by arguing he met with a family that day who “never entered the Capitol building.”

The Washington Post reports that Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who has railed against Hunter Biden on his television program for years, asked Biden to write a recommendation letter for Carlson’s son when he applied to Georgetown in 2014.