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The 2018 midterms showed us America's Great Education Realignment

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.

WASHINGTON — Before Election Day 2018, Republicans held 13 of the 40 congressional districts with the highest share of adults over 25 with a college degree.

After the midterms, however, that’s now down to just four. And if Rep. Mimi Walters in California ultimately loses her still-uncalled re-election race, as expected, it’ll be just three Republicans remaining. (Those three are Van Taylor, who succeeded Rep. Sam Johnson in Texas; Ann Wagner in Missouri; and Susan Brooks in Indiana.)

That surge of Democratic enthusiasm from college-educated voters was captured in the exit polls, too. Overall, college graduates broke for Democrats in the midterms by 20 percentage points, while those with no college degree were equally split. Among only white college graduates, Democrats had an advantage of 8 percentage points. And among just female while college graduates, it was 20 points.

But that college divide isn’t just about midterm races in highly educated districts. We saw a similar divide in 2016, when President Donald Trump won all but three states (Delaware, Nevada, New Mexico) where the share of college graduates is BELOW the national average of 32 percent, while Clinton won all but three states (Utah, Kansas and Montana) where the share is ABOVE the national average. (It’s no coincidence that Republicans experienced midterm setbacks in all three of those states — a possible loss by Mia Love in UT-4; the GOP defeats in KS-GOV and KS-3; and Jon Tester’s re-election in Montana.)

And for 2020 … while exit polls weren’t available for every state in the country, there’s evidence from those that were available that Trump’s approval rating is underwater in at least two more hugely important swing states with a college population that’s close to the national average:

Pennsylvania (Trump job approval: 45 percent approve/55 percent disapprove; 31.4 percent with a college degree)

Wisconsin (Trump job approval: 48 percent approve/52 percent disapprove; 30.4 percent with a college degree).

GOP gets steam-rolled in California and New Jersey

Speaking of our great political realignment, NBC News yesterday declared Democrat Andy Kim the apparent winner in the NJ-3 district represented by Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., who had forged the House GOP compromise on its 2017 repeal-and-replace bill. That means that Republicans will hold only one congressional seat in the Garden State next year.

Meanwhile, Republicans appear to be on the verge of losing almost every competitive race in California as more ballots get counted in the Golden State (we told you that counting process would take a while!).

Count absentee ballots with missing voter info in GA-GOV race, judge rules

Meanwhile, in Georgia, a federal judge ruled that “Georgia counties must count absentee ballots even if the voter’s date of birth is incorrect or missing, and he is preventing the state from finalizing election results until that happens,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

“Although U.S. District Judge Steve Jones agreed with the Georgia Democratic Party and Stacey Abrams’ campaign on this issue, he ruled against them on two others. He will not require counties to accept absentee ballots with incorrect residence addresses or to accept provisional ballots cast by people who attempted to vote in a different county than where they are registered to vote.”

The uncalled Senate races (one)

FL-SEN (Scott leads Nelson by 12,562 votes as the contest heads to a manual recount)

(MS-SEN goes to runoff)

The uncalled GOV races (one)

GA-GOV (GOPer Brian Kemp remains at 50.3 percent)

The uncalled House races (seven)

— CA-10 (NBC News declared Dem Josh Harder the apparent winner)

CA-39 (GOPer Young Kim barely leads Dem Gil Cisernos, 50.0 percent to 50.0 percent)

CA-45 (Dem Katie Porter leads GOPer Mimi Walters, 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent)

— CA-48 (NBC News declared Dem Harley Rouda the apparent winner)

GA-7 (GOPer Rob Woodall is ahead, 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent)

ME-2 (it appears the race is headed to ranked choice to determine the winner)

NM-2 (NBC News retracted its earlier call in favor of the Republicans; Dem Xochitl Torres Small is ahead, 51 percent to 49 percent)

NC-9 (GOPer Mark Harris is ahead, 49.4 percent to 48.8 percent)

— NJ-3 (NBC News declared Dem Andy Kim the apparent winner)

UT-4 (Dem Ben McAdams is ahead, 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent)

The state of play for Pelosi’s speakership fight

As we noted yesterday, there’s a not-insignificant number of Democrats who have publicly expressed reservations about supporting Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker. The struggle for those foes had been that no obvious alternative had emerged to challenge her. Now, a few names are now bubbling up, including Marsha Fudge of Ohio (who says “I need to give it some thought and see if I have an interest”) and Karen Bass of California. And somewhere around 17 Democrats so far are reportedly preparing to release a letter pledging not to support Pelosi on the floor — rather than just opposing her behind closed doors.

The questions we have: How much support will those Pelosi foes ultimately get and can they maintain that level of opposition until the vote is actually held early next year?

Trump lashes out again on Mueller

Here’s what the president tweeted early this morning about the Mueller investigation: “The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t... care how many lives they ruin. These are Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years. They won’t even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!”

First, a quick fact check here: Mueller worked as the nonpartisan FBI director under George W. Bush for eight years and then continued his tenure for four years under Obama.

Second: Where exactly did this come from? And is it an indication that the president thinks Mueller will be speaking up in the form of a legal filing or two this week?

Trump backs sentencing-reform bill

“President Donald Trump pledged his support for a major overhaul of sentencing laws and prisoner re-entry programs at the White House on Wednesday,” NBC’s Jonathan Allen and Hallie Jackson write. “Trump's backing for the package, which is still being drafted in the Senate, has been seen as a key factor in providing political cover for Republicans and Democrats to vote for an overhaul that would diminish criminal penalties for some offenders and make it easier for former inmates to find work.”

National security aide targeted by first lady leaves the White House

NBC News: “Melania Trump got her wish when the Trump administration said Wednesday that Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel was leaving the White House a day after the first lady called for Ricardel to be fired.”

“‘Mira Ricardel will continue to support the president as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the administration,’ White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday. ‘The president is grateful for Ms. Ricardel's continued service to the American people and her steadfast pursuit of his national security priorities.’”

“Ricardel's next assignment wasn't immediately announced.”

Texts show Stone and friend discussing WikiLeaks plans in 2016

“Six days before WikiLeaks began releasing Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, Roger Stone had a text message conversation with a friend about WikiLeaks,” per NBC’s Anna Schecter. "‘Big news Wednesday,’ the Stone pal, radio host Randy Credico, wrote on Oct. 1, 2016, according to the text messages provided by Stone. ‘Now pretend u don’t know me.’”

“‘U died 5 years ago,’ Stone replied.”

“‘Great,’ Credico wrote back. ‘Hillary’s campaign will die this week.’”

“Credico turned out to be wrong on one count — nothing incriminating about Clinton came out that Wednesday. But two days later, on Oct. 7, WikiLeaks released its first dump of emails stolen from Podesta, altering the trajectory of the 2016 presidential election.”

Our take: The question has always been whether Stone shared this WikiLeaks information with the Trump campaign. What did they know? And when did they know it?

Theresa May’s government is crumbling

The latest from across the pond, from NBC News: “Bleary-eyed political and business leaders across Europe were on Thursday digesting the 585-page Brexit deal, the latest milepost in the E.U. divorce saga gripping the world’s fifth-largest economy. Even as most were still finishing breakfast, the agreement was dealt a potentially fatal blow when one of its key architects, the U.K. Brexit Secretary, resigned in protest. Dominic Raab quit Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, saying her proposals could lead to the constitutional breakup of the United Kingdom. He is the second Brexit Secretary to have quit in less than six months.

MORE: "It was one of four ministerial resignations early Thursday — casting doubt on May’s claim to have secured the support of her cabinet — and came even before she addressed angry lawmakers in the House of Commons. The British pound slumped on the currency markets.” May also could face a vote of no confidence in the midst of the Brexit crisis.