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Canada wildfire smoke hits U.S. and NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson's in-laws found dead: Morning Rundown

The northern part of the U.S. near the Great Lakes could have poor air quality “for the next few days,” the National Weather Service said.
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Voters who “somewhat disapprove” of Joe Biden could make or break his 2024 re-election bid. Smoke from Canadian wildfires leaves some regions with poor air quality. And Costco takes a page from Netflix’s playbook. 

Here’s what to know today.

How a choice between ‘the lesser of two evils’ could swing the 2024 election

President Joe Biden’s approval rating was 43% in the latest NBC News national poll. In terms of re-election, that amount of support is not enough to translate into a win in 2024. 

But there is another 10% of registered voters who say they only “somewhat disapprove” of the president’s performance. And in a hypothetical rematch with former President Donald Trump, those voters could have a big influence on who makes it to the White House. 

This group of voters tends to break against the president’s party in elections. However, data shows how concerns about Republican candidates and the GOP broadly kept Democrats competitive in the last election and could keep Biden competitive in 2024.

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That’s backed up by NBC News exit poll respondents’ own words when asked to describe why they would choose Biden over Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

One voter wrote, “Donald Trump is nuts.” Another said she would rather “vote for a dead shark” than for DeSantis. And a self-described “very liberal” voter said choosing between Biden and Trump is like “choosing the lesser of two evils.” Here’s what else respondents said.

More coverage of the 2024 election:

Wildfire smoke triggers poor air quality in northern U.S.

The northern part of the U.S. near the Great Lakes could have poor air quality “for the next few days,” the National Weather Service said last night. Blame it on a low-pressure system that has blown in smoke from Canadian wildfires.

The air was so polluted yesterday that Chicago and Detroit had among the world’s worst air quality, according to tracking service IQAir.com. Follow our live blog for the latest on the wildfire smoke.

Trump discusses ‘big pile of papers’ in post-presidency recording

In an audio recording recently obtained by NBC News, Donald Trump appears to discuss a document he described as a “plan of attack” on Iran and acknowledges he did not declassify it while he was president. “Isn’t it amazing?” he said of the info given to him by Gen. Mark Milley. In the recording, Trump is heard talking with an author publisher and two Trump staffers at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The 2021 recording is consistent with a partial transcript included in his indictment by federal prosecutors this month. 

On Monday night, after CNN first reported about the recording, Trump claimed the audio had been “leaked.” The next day, he took a different approach when explaining the recording.

Backlash follows ‘we’re coming for your children’ chants at Drag March

Listen to a 21-second clip of New York City’s recent Drag March, and you will hear dozens of people chanting, “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going shopping.” 

But one voice that is louder than the crowd is heard saying at least twice, “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re coming for your children.” It is unclear whose voice it is or whether the speaker was a member of the LGBTQ community.

To conservative pundits, activists and lawmakers, the video confirms allegations they’ve levied in recent years at the LGBTQ community is “grooming children.” But some attendees insist the quip was taken out of context.

NASCAR driver’s in-laws found dead

NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson withdrew from a race scheduled for this weekend after the deaths of his in-laws and their grandson in an apparent murder-suicide over the weekend in Oklahoma. A Muskogee police department spokesperson said they believe Johnson’s mother-in-law, Terry Janway, killed her husband, Jack Janway, as well as her her 11-year-old grandson Dalton before she died by suicide. Here’s what else we know.

▼ Today’s Talker 

Costco is cracking down on…

… membership card sharing. The move comes after the retailer said it noticed more abuse of card-sharing since it expanded self-checkout to more stores. Sure, Costco has always asked shoppers for their membership cards at the cash registers when they check out. But now you’ll have to show a membership card with a photo at self-checkout registers — or, if your membership card has no photo, you’ll have to show a photo ID.

▼ Politics in Brief

2024 election: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy expressed some doubt that Donald Trump is the best GOP candidate. “Is he the strongest to win the election? I don’t know,” he said. He later walked the comment back.

Fighting for Trump: House Republicans are using their majority to carry out the former president’s quest for retribution against his political adversaries. These are some of their key battles.

Exclusive: Nancy Pelosi will headline a fundraiser for the Democrat seeking Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat.

▼ Staff Pick

The rise of Hindu nationalism in the U.S.

Thousands of South Asians flooded Washington, D.C., landmarks last week when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited, but not everyone in the diaspora was there to cheer him on. While Modi’s supporters credit him with making India a presence on the global stage, his critics accuse him of fanning the flames of Hindu nationalism in India and abroad. Sakshi Venkatraman’s critical look at Modi is an informative look at a movement that’s spreading in the U.S. — Elizabeth Robinson, newsletter editor

▼ In Case You Missed It

More than $200 billion in Covid relief loans and grants were distributed to potentially fraudulent actors, according to a new estimate.

Kevin Spacey arrived at a London court for the start of a four-week trial where he faces a dozen sexual offence charges he denies.

A 56-year-old student considers quitting after 27 attempts at China's college entrance exam, regarded as one of the most challenging in the world. 

Ryan Seacrest will take over as host of “Wheel of Fortune” after Pat Sajak retires at the end of next season.

Actor Julian Sands was confirmed dead after remains found in mountains near Los Angeles were confirmed to be his.

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Mallett died in an apparent drowning at a Florida beach. He was 35.

A former Maryland police chief was sentenced to multiple life terms after he was convicted of setting dozens of fires that targeted people whom he felt had snubbed him.

▼ Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Select’s first-ever Best for Your Pets Awards are here. They’re the culmination of hours of trying dozens of products and interviewing experts, and include brushes, cleaning products, food, toys and more. Take a look at the best pet products for under $25.

Sign up to The Selection for exclusive reviews and shopping content from NBC Select.

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