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The Week in 2016: What Mattered (And What Didn't)

A look back at the past week in the 2016 presidential contest, making sense of the developments and events that we think mattered – and those that didn't.
Former US president and founding chairman of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Bill Clinton, speaks during the opening session of the CGI Middle East and Africa on May 6, 2015 in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. AFP PHOTO / FADEL SENNAFADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty ImagesFADEL SENNA / AFP - Getty Images

In today's rapid-fire political news cycle, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the different news out there. So here's a look back at the past week in the 2016 presidential contest, making sense of the developments and events that we think mattered – and those that didn't.

What Mattered

1. Hillary Goes Big on Immigration: Her announcement that she would take executive action beyond what President Obama has done was a win-win-win political move for her. It pleased the Democratic base, excited the Latino community (which once again will be key in the 2016 general election) and baited Republicans to reenter the immigration debate. Remember how that DHS funding/immigration debate played out earlier this year for the GOP?

2. The Republicans Who Reacted to Hillary’s Immigration Move (And Those Who Didn’t): Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Carly Fiorina all criticized Hillary’s move. But two Republicans didn’t say a word: Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. And that silence speaks volumes.

3. Bill Talk: In his interview with NBC News, Bill Clinton forcefully defended the Clinton Foundation from the accusations that donations to it turned into action by Hillary Clinton’s State Department. But he also gave some problematic quotes: “There’s one set of rules for us and another set for everybody else.” And: “I gotta pay our bills.” It’s all a reminder – again – of Bill’s strengths and weaknesses as the supportive spouse in a presidential contest.

4. Obama at 48 percent: Six months ago, few would have guessed that President Obama would be the most popular politician in the NBC/WSJ poll and that his approval rating would stand at 48 percent. Yet here we are. We have 18 months to go until Election Day 2016, but Obama in the high 40s is great news for Hillary Clinton. By contrast, George W. Bush approval rating at this same point in the 2008 cycle was 35 percent.

What Didn’t Matter As Much

1. Jeb in First Place in The NBC/WSJ Poll: Also in the NBC/WSJ poll, Jeb Bush was in first place in the GOP horserace. That’s the good news for the former Florida governor. The bad news: Of the Republican presidential candidates the poll tested, Jeb had the worst fav/unfav rating among conservatives.

2. The Week’s 2016 State Polls: What was worse polling news for Jeb was his SEVENTH-place position in the Quinnipiac poll of Iowa. And Chris Christie was just at 3 percent in the WMUR poll of New Hampshire. But here’s a friendly reminder about early state polls:

  • May 2007 Des Moines Register poll: Romney 30 percent, McCain 18 percent, Giuliani 17 percent… Huckabee 4 percent.
  • June 2007 WMUR poll: Giuliani 29 percent, McCain 29 percent, Romney 17 percent.

3. The Democratic Fight Over Trade: Yes, we’ve talked about how the Great Democratic Trade War – and Hillary caught in the middle of it – has mattered. But all of a sudden, according to our NBC/WSJ poll, it seems Democrats are much more pro-free trade than the DC political back-and-forth suggests. Does this mean that Hillary could support the TPP free-trade agreement and not pay much a price with Democrats?