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Unpopularity Contest: Trump Is Off to a Historically Poor Start

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: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump listens to speakers in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Tuesday.Evan Vucci / AP
  • Barack Obama: 63% (March 16-22, 2009)

  • George W. Bush: 53% (March 26-28, 2001)

  • Bill Clinton: 53% (March 12-14, 1993)

  • George H.W. Bush: 56% (March 12, 1989)

  • Ronald Reagan: 60% (March 15, 1981)

  • Jimmy Carter: 75% (March 20, 1977)

What’s more, George W. Bush never hit 36% in Gallup until 2006 -- well after Hurricane Katrina and after the Iraq war had turned south. And Obama never ever dropped to that level over his eight years as president, which included a government shutdown, a debt-ceiling crisis, and a HealthCare.Gov failure. So we’re at Day 68 of Trump’s presidency, and he’s at a dangerously low place. “In any other presidency, we'd be talking about 36% approval as an existential crisis,”NBC’s Benjy Sarlin quipped. The good news for Trump: He’s got plenty of time to turn things around. The bad news: This early time is typically as good as it gets for a president’s ability to get things through Congress.

The president needs to work with Democrats, but his tweets don’t make that task easy

So President Trump desperately needs a win. And to get there, he probably needs to work somehow with congressional Democrats. As Axios reports, the Trump administration is looking to pursue tax reform and infrastructure “concurrently” -- with the hope that Democrats want infrastructure. But ask yourself: How much harder is it to enlist Democratic help after Trump’s tweets from last night alone? Consider:

  • “Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech....”

  • “ to Bill, the Hillary Russian "reset," praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!”
  • “The Democrats will make a deal with me on healthcare as soon as ObamaCare folds - not long. Do not worry, we are in very good shape!”

Fact check: No, Obamacare isn’t in a death spiral. But neglect could create some big problems

Speaking of health care, NBC’s Sarlin does a fact-check check-up on the state of Obamacare. “Molina's [health-insurance] company is considering whether to participate in various markets next year and where to set premiums, but the top concerns he described heading into that decision primarily involved ‘uncertainty’ about the Trump White House's intentions, not the law itself. In particular, he's worried that the administration might halt subsidies to help low-income Americans with out-of-pocket costs that Republicans have challenged in court and that they might stop enforcing the individual mandate requiring people to purchase insurance. ‘I don't think the marketplace is collapsing,’ he said. ‘I think we need to stop playing partisan politics and convene bipartisan groups to start negotiating the future of the health care system.’” More from Sarlin: “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded this month that the exchanges were stabilizing and would likely remain solid in the future. S&P Global Ratings has also indicated that it believes insurance markets will become more stable as insurers figure out how to properly price plans in the still-new exchanges.”

Democrats call for Nunes to recuse himself from Russia probe

To recap House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) actions over the past week: He claimed Trump and his associates may have been “incidentally” swept up in foreign surveillance by U.S. intelligence community, but he didn’t share that information with fellow committee members, including Democrats. He admitted he met with his source on White House grounds, hinting that his information came from those close to the Trump administration. And he cancelled a planned public hearing featuring former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

Those actions have spurred Democrats, including the top Dem on the House Intelligence panel, to call for Nunes to recuse himself from the Russia probe, per NBC’s Jane Timm. Add this all up, and you’re either going to end up with a special prosecutor/ independent commission here, or you’re going to see Speaker Paul Ryan replace Nunes. “I think you put his objectivity in question at the very least,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said of Nunes on “Today” this morning, adding: “I think he has to repair the damage” -- by disclosing his sources and information to committee Democrats

Trump administration takes aim at Obama’s climate policies

NBC’s Ali Vitali: “The White House will take a major swipe at President Barack Obama's climate change legacy on Tuesday with the signing of an executive order on energy independence. The order will ask the EPA to review Obama's Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and is considered one of the past administration's signature pieces of climate policy. The plan's implementation was already put on hold by the Supreme Court in February of 2016. The move should come as little surprise, however. While Obama called climate change a national security threat, Trump mocked the sentiment on the campaign trail.”

What were other presidents doing on March 28?

AP analysis says North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” could cost state almost $4 billion

“Despite Republican assurances that North Carolina's "bathroom bill" isn't hurting the economy, the law limiting LGBT protections will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years, according to an Associated Press analysis,” the AP writes. “Over the past year, North Carolina has suffered financial hits ranging from scuttled plans for a PayPal facility that would have added an estimated $2.66 billion to the state's economy to a canceled Ringo Starr concert that deprived a town's amphitheater of about $33,000 in revenue. The blows have landed in the state's biggest cities as well as towns surrounding its flagship university, and from the mountains to the coast.”