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After the conventions, Trump is still stuck in the low 40s

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.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Aug. 10, 2020.Andrew Harnik / AP

WASHINGTON — We have our first live-caller national polls since the Republican convention concluded, and President Trump continues to trail challenger Joe Biden, with the president’s numbers still stuck in the low 40s.

And that’s a precarious position for an incumbent with 62 days until Election Day.

A USA Today/Suffolk poll shows Biden ahead by 7 points among registered voters, 50 percent to 43 percent — down from Biden’s 12-point lead back in June.

And a Grinnell College poll, conducted by Des Moines Register pollster Ann Selzer, finds Biden up by 8 points among likely voters, 49 percent to 41 percent.

More important than the size of Biden’s leads are Trump’s 41 percent and 43 percent ballot numbers in both polls. They show an incumbent with a low ceiling after his convention and before the debates begin later this month.

Maybe that changes. But it hasn’t changed yet.

Also in the Grinnell poll, Trump’s overall job rating stands at 42 percent, just 39 percent approve of his handling of the coronavirus, and only 38 percent say they approve of his understanding of people like me.

But 52 percent of likely voters in the poll approve of his handling of the economy.

Fauci issues Labor Day warning

In an interview with NBC’s Sheinelle Jones on “Today,” Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Americans to be careful about their activities over the Labor Day holiday.

“When you have a holiday like Labor Day — we have seen, after Fourth of July, we saw after Memorial Day, a surge in cases. Wear a mask. Keep social distancing. Avoid crowds. You can avoid those kind of surges. You don't want to be someone who's propagating the outbreak. You want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” he said.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

6,100,320: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 44,588 more than Tuesday morning.)

185,909: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,133 more than Tuesday morning.)

78.4 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

17.1 million: The number of people across the world who have recovered from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

14.1 percent: The share of households with children who said they sometimes or often go hungry as of July.

5.5 percent: The national increase in home prices, according to the analytics provider CoreLogic.

11: The number of days New York City will delay its first day of in-person schooling, as announced Tuesday.

2020 Vision: Markey, Neal win in Massachusetts

In one of the last marquee primary contests of the 2020 cycle, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., defeated challenger Joe Kennedy III, 55 percent to 45 percent.

It is the first time a member of the Kennedy clan has lost a Democratic primary in Massachusetts.

Also in the Bay State, Rep. Richard Neal — chair of the Ways and Means Committee — easily beat progressive challenger Alex Morse, 59 percent to 41 percent.

Back to Kennedy’s loss: It’s notable how so many political dynasties have come to an end (or close to it) over the last four years. The Bushes. The Clintons. And now the Kennedys.

Tweet of the day

Ad Watch from Liz Brown-Kaiser

Today’s Ad Watch looks at Republican Bob Good’s first campaign ad in VA-5 — an ad a top DCCC aide was quick to label a “racist dog whistle.”

“With chaos in our streets, Cameron Webb would make things worse. Webb would defund the police while crime spikes,” the TV spot’s narrator says over dissolving footage of destruction and protests into a photo of Webb, Good’s Democratic opponent.

“Look past the smooth presentation. Webb’s real agenda: government-run health care, higher taxes on the middle class, police defunded, crime unchecked.”

Webb, a practicing physician and public health expert, would be the first Black doctor in Congress if elected.

“Let’s say it plainly, this #VA05 ad is a racist dog whistle running because Bob Good knows he can’t explain why voters should trust him over Cameron Webb to keep them safe during COVID-19,” DCCC communications director Cole Leiter tweeted Monday.

Asked to respond to the DCCC’s accusation, the Good campaign told NBC News that, "We categorically deny there is anything that is racist or a ‘dog whistle’ in the ad and would ask what specifically are the Democrats claiming would make it so?"

The controversial spot is airing in the Roanoke-Lynchburg media market in southwest Virginia, according to Advertising Analytics, part of the New Jersey-sized district spanning most of central Virginia and including Charlottesville.

Still no relief

Despite an entire summer of negotiating, Congress is still not close to passing another round of coronavirus relief legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday, and this was her take from that call: “Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America’s working families are facing.”

And without Democratic support, any Republican bill is likely going nowhere. Despite that, GOP Sen. John Barrasso told reporters that Senate Republicans intend to vote on a skinny coronavirus package next week. "We have a focused, targeted solution that we hope that the House would pass and the House would agree to. It's focused on getting people back to work, getting kids back to school,” Barrasso said.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Department of Homeland Security delayed the release of an intelligence bulletin that warned Russian actors were going to try to influence the 2020 election by criticizing the mental and physical health of the presidential candidates.

The effort to elect Joe Biden is expected to announce raising more than $300 million in August alone.

America will not join a global effort to develop and equitably distribute a coronavirus vaccine co-led by the World Health Organization, an organization President Trump has maligned.

The Trump administration is delaying evictions for four months through the CDC’s quarantine powers, as concerns about the implications of pandemic-related lost income rise.

An NIH panel has said that despite the FDA’s emergency authorization for convalescent plasma as a COVID-19 treatment, there remains no solid evidence for recommending it.

Mississippi Democrat Mike Espy has launched his first TV ad, which hits Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith for a past remark referencing a “public hanging.”

Melania Trump used private email accounts and an encrypted messaging app for official business, a former colleague claims.