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.
Trump’s presidency stands on perilous ground
WASHINGTON — A week after his controversial comments about Charlottesville and ahead of his address tonight to the nation on Afghanistan, President Donald Trump is standing on some shaky ground.
His job approval rating in the three states that won him the White House — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — is below 40 percent, according to a trio of NBC/Marist polls of these three states.
- Michigan: 36 percent approve, 55 percent disapprove
- Pennsylvania: 35 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove
- Wisconsin: 34 percent approve, 56 percent disapprove
What’s more, six-in-10 voters in these states say Trump’s conduct as president has embarrassed them, versus just a quarter who have said it’s made them proud.
- Michigan: 64 percent embarrassed, 28 percent proud
- Pennsylvania: 63 percent embarrassed, 25 percent proud
- Wisconsin: 64 percent embarrassed, 25 percent proud
And Democrats enjoy double-digit leads in Michigan and Pennsylvania on the question of which party voters prefer to control Congress after the 2018 midterms, and they hold an 8-point advantage in Wisconsin.
- Michigan: D+13: (48 percent Democrats, 35 percent GOP)
- Pennsylvania: D+10 (47 percent Democrats, 37 percent GOP)
- Wisconsin: D+8 (46 percent Democrats, 38 percent GOP)
It’s easy to become numb to polls showing Trump’s national job rating to hover between 35 and 40 percent — just 200-plus days into the job. But these three NBC/Marist surveys should provide a jolt: If the president is in the 30s in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he’s in a perilous position right now.
The president’s approval among Republicans is between 70 and 80 percent in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin
And if your approval rating is in the mid-30s in these states, it means a not-so-insignificant portion of your base is no longer supporting you. Here’s a look inside the crosstabs of Trump’s approval ratings, per the NBC/Marist polls (among adults):
- Dems: 7 percent approve, 88 percent disapprove
- GOP: 80 percent approve, 16 percent disapprove
- Indies: 35 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove
- Dems: 8 percent approve, 87 percent disapprove
- GOP: 71 percent approve, 18 percent disapprove
- Indies: 31 percent approve, 56 percent disapprove
- Dems: 5 percent approve, 91 percent disapprove
- GOP: 71 percent approve, 19 percent disapprove
- Indie: 31 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove
Trump gets higher marks on the economy than on international affairs
Trump gets higher marks on the economy in all three states, however. In Michigan, voters by a 42-to-39 percent margin say the U.S. economy has been strengthened by Trump’s decisions as president. In Pennsylvania, it’s 45 percent to 38 percent. And in Wisconsin, it’s dead even at 41 percent each.
But the president’s standing is much lower when it comes to international affairs: Six in 10 voters in all three states believe the United States’ role on the world stage has been weakened under Trump.
And Trump is underwater on the question of whether he’s winning or losing in bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States. In Michigan, voters say he’s losing by a 47 percent-to-40 percent margin. In Pennsylvania, they say he’s losing 51 percent to 37 percent. And in Wisconsin, they say he’s losing 48 percent to 37 percent.
Measuring the most popular political figures in all three states (among registered voters)
- Debbie Stabenow: 38 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable (+7)
- Robert Ritchie or “Kid Rock”: 36 percent favorable, 34 percent unfavorable (+2)
- Democratic Party: 43 percent favorable, 43 percent unfavorable (even)
- Rick Snyder: 37 percent favorable, 48 percent unfavorable (-11)
- Donald Trump: 34 percent favorable, 59 percent unfavorable (-25)
- Republican Party: 30 percent favorable, 55 percent unfavorable (-25)
- Bob Casey: 39 percent favorable, 27 percent unfavorable (+12)
- Tom Wolf: 47 percent favorable, 37 percent unfavorable (+10)
- Democratic Party: 42 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable (-5)
- Lou Barletta: 10 percent favorable, 15 percent unfavorable (-5)
- Donald Trump: 35 percent favorable, 57 percent unfavorable (-22)
- Republican Party: 30 percent favorable, 60 percent unfavorable (-30)
- Tammy Baldwin: 39 percent favorable, 34 percent unfavorable (+5)
- Democratic Party: 39 percent favorable, 49 percent unfavorable (-10)
- Scott Walker: 40 percent favorable, 53 percent unfavorable (-13)
- Republican Party: 33 percent favorable, 57 percent unfavorable (-24)
- Donald Trump: 32 percent favorable, 61 percent unfavorable (-29)
Trump to address nation on Afghanistan at 9:00 pm ET
NBC News: “President Donald Trump will discuss the "path forward" in Afghanistan in a speech on Monday night, the White House said in a statement Sunday. The speech, to be delivered at the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia, at 9 p.m. ET, will ‘provide an update on the path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia,’ the statement said.”
The New York Times has more: “The defense secretary received the authority in June to send as many as 3,900 troops to Afghanistan so that the United States military could expand its efforts to advise Afghan forces and support them with American artillery and airpower. But Mr. Mattis has refrained from building up the American force there until the Trump administration agreed on a broader strategy.
But as our colleague Dafna Linzer reminds us, Trump fired off this tweet back in 2013: “Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024-with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT!”
Democrats’ path to a House majority goes through places like IA-1
“If Democrats are planning to ride an anti-Trump wave to a takeover of the House in 2018, they can’t just rely on seats where voters resisted Donald Trump in 2016. They also face the major task of winning back those rural and blue-collar whites who defected to the president,” NBC’s Benjy Sarlin and Alex Seitz-Wald wrote over the weekend. “That path runs through places like Dubuque County, Iowa, where a 28-year-old Democratic state representative, Abby Finkenauer, is running for Congress against a GOP incumbent, Rep. Rod Blum.”
“‘It’s going to be seats like (Iowa’s 1st district) that are very important to winning a House majority,’ said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of the politics forecaster Crystal Ball. Democrats have a national structural disadvantage, driven by a combination of gerrymandering and the clustering of their voters in cities. That means they’ll have to compete on even tougher terrain than they did ahead of their 2006 wave, which netted 30 seats in the House and a new majority.”
Charlottesville recasts Virginia’s gubernatorial race
The New York Times' Jonathan Martin: “In the aftermath of last weekend’s violence, Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam, the Democratic nominee for governor, has firmed up his call to take down Confederate monuments in the state where much of the Civil War was fought and where so many Confederate leaders, now memorialized in marble, emerged... Mr. Gillespie also believes local communities should make that decision. He argues that the statues should remain in place, but include added context clarifying that the lost cause they represent would have perpetuated slavery, not just the euphemistic ‘states’ rights’ preferred by some traditionalists.”
Also: “In an illustration of this state’s complicated politics, and the expectations of each party’s base, it is Mr. Northam, the descendant of slaveholders and a product of Virginia’s rural eastern shore, who is calling for the statues to come down, while Mr. Gillespie, a New Jersey native who moved to Northern Virginia after establishing a political career in Washington, is more closely aligned with the old guard.”