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The Political Elite Fights Trump -- And They're Still Not Winning

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Trump holds a rally with supporters in Aston, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally with supporters in Aston, Pennsylvania, Sept. 22.JONATHAN ERNST / Reuters

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Elites vs. Trump -- and the elites haven’t won yet

In a general election unlike any we’ve covered before, this fact stands out: Almost every elite institution in America is united (or mostly united) against Donald Trump. Consider:

  • Current or ex-presidents: Zero current or living ex-presidents are supporting Trump, versus four who are backing Hillary Clinton (Obama, Clinton, Bush 41, Carter), with the other (Bush 43) on the sidelines.
  • Big business: Not a single Fortune 100 CEO has endorsed Trump, while 11 are supporting Clinton, per the Wall Street Journal. (The other 89 haven’t picked a side.)
  • Cabinet members: By our count, only 9 of George W. Bush’s 34 cabinet secretaries are backing Trump.
  • Silicon Valley: Just 1% of the political donations from the internet industry in this presidential election ($28,272 out of nearly $4 million total) has gone to Trump, while 60% has gone to Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
  • Newspaper endorsements: By our count, 15 newspapers have endorsed Hillary Clinton in the general election, versus just one for Trump (The National Enquirer); in fact, Gary Johnson has more newspaper endorsements (four) than Trump does (one). And most recently, USA Today calls Trump “unfit for the presidency.”

Twilight of the Elites?

In short, elites and elite opinion are united against Trump. But guess what: Trump is still in the ball game. So what’s going on? Well, one explanation is that while almost all elites are AGAINST Trump, they’re all not necessarily FOR Clinton right now (see the USA Today editorial). Maybe more importantly is the public’s lack of confidence in our elite institutions. In our April 2014 NBC/WSJ poll, just 19% of Americans said they had confidence in the news media; only 16% said they had confidence in the federal government; just 13% had confidence in large corporations; and only 13% had confidence in the financial industry. Indeed, this is the subject of our colleague Chris Hayes’ book, “Twilight of the Elites.” So perhaps it’s not a bad thing for elites to oppose a presidential candidate; it could actually be helpful -- allowing Trump to run his populist campaign. And while he’s not winning the presidential campaign, you could argue Trump is winning the message.

More signs of a Clinton bump after the first debate

Check out these new polls from this morning:

  • Florida (via Mason-Dixon): Clinton 46%, Trump 42% (up from Clinton’s two-lead from late August)
  • Michigan (via Detroit News): Clinton 42%, Trump 35%, Johnson 9%, Stein 3%
  • New Hampshire (via WBUR): Clinton 42%, Trump 35%, Johnson 13%, Stein 4%.

Bottom line: If Clinton is winning in all three states, she’s on her way to getting more than 300 electoral votes -- more than the 270 needed for victory.

Trump is still talking about Alicia Machado

On Monday night, millions of Americans first heard about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, when Hillary Clinton first brought her up at the debate. And guess what: On Friday morning, we’re still talking about her, because Trump started tweeting about her after 5:00 am ET this morning.

Guys, it’s not every day when a presidential nominee tells you to watch a sex tape (especially at the same time the sitting president is eulogizing Shimon Peres).

On the trail

Hillary Clinton, in Florida, delivers remarks on national service in Ft. Pierce at 11:30 am ET and then stumps in Coral Springs at 3:30 pm ET… Donald Trump campaigns in Novi, MI at 5:00 pm ET… And Mike Pence holds a rally in his home state of Indiana.

Countdown to VP debate: 4 days

Countdown to second presidential debate: 9 days

Countdown to third presidential debate: 19 days

Countdown to Election Day: 39 days